Tarfia Faizullah


TARFIA FAIZULLAH is the author of two poetry collections, REGISTERS OF ILLUMINATED VILLAGES (Graywolf, 2018) and SEAM (SIU, 2014). Tarfia’s writing appears widely in the U.S. and abroad in the Daily Star, Hindu Business Line, BuzzFeed, PBS News Hour, Huffington Post, Poetry Magazine, Ms. Magazine, the Academy of American Poets, Oxford American, the New Republic, the Nation, Halal If You Hear Me (Haymarket, 2019), and has been displayed at the Smithsonian, the Rubin Museum of Art, and elsewhere. The recipient of a Fulbright fellowship, three Pushcart prizes, and other honors, Tarfia presents work at institutions and organizations worldwide, and has been featured at the the Liberation War Museum of Bangladesh, the Library of Congress, the Fulbright Conference, the Lannan Center for Poetics and Social Practice, the Radcliffe Seminars, and elsewhere. Tarfia’s writing is translated into Bengali, Persian, Chinese, and Tamil, and is part of the theater production Birangona: Women of War. Tarfia’s collaborations include photographers, producers, composers, filmmakers, musicians, and visual artists, resulting in several interdisciplinary projects, including an EP, Eat More Mango. In 2016, Tarfia was recognized by Harvard Law School as one of 50 Women Inspiring Change, and is a 2019 USA Artists Fellow. Born in Brooklyn, NY to Bangladeshi immigrants and raised in Texas, Tarfia currently lives in Dallas. Source

Self-Portrait as Slinky

It’s true I wanted

             to be beautiful before

                         authentic. Say the word

                                      exotic. Say minority


a coiled, dark curl

            a finger might wrap

                         itself in—the long

                                    staircase, and I was


the momentum

           of metal springs

                       descending down

                                    and down,

a tension


—the long staircase,

            and I was a stacked series

                       of spheres finger-tipped

                                  again into motion—say


taut, like a child

            who must please

                        the elders and doesn’t

                                    know how, a curl pulled


thin. I wanted to be

            a reckoning, to tornado

                       into each day’s hard

                                  hands, that wanton


lurching forward

            in the dark, another

                        soaked black ringlet,

                                    that sudden halting





Literary Movements:


Anthology Years:



Body & Body Image


Intersectionality & Culture

Poetic Form

Literary Devices:


a line break interrupting the middle of a phrase which continues on to the next line

Extended Metaphor

a metaphor that extends through several lines or even an entire poem


an instruction or a command

Internal Rhyme

A rhyme involving a word in the middle of a line and another at the end of the line or in the middle of the next.

Interrupted Clause

a word group (a statement, question, or exclamation) that interrupts the flow of a sentence and is usually set off by commas, dashes, or parentheses


a comparison between two unrelated things through a shared characteristic


a comparison between two unlike things using the words “like” or “as”

Visual Poetry

Poetry written on the page with intentional form to add meaning to the poem.