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Seam

Tarfia Faizullah

Publication Year: 2014

The poems in this captivating collection weave beauty with violence, the personal with the historic as they recount the harrowing experiences of the two hundred thousand female victims of rape and torture at the hands of the Pakistani army during the 1971 Liberation War. As the child of Bangladeshi immigrants, the poet in turn explores her own losses, as well as the complexities of bearing witness to the atrocities these war heroines endured.

Throughout the volume, the narrator endeavors to bridge generational and cultural gaps even as the victims recount the horror of grief and personal loss. As we read, we discover the profound yet fragile seam that unites the fields, rivers, and prisons of the 1971 war with the poet’s modern-day hotel, or the tragic death of a loved one with the holocaust of a nation.

Moving from West Texas to Dubai, from Virginia to remote villages in Bangladesh and back again, the narrator calls on the legacies of Willa Cather, César Vallejo, Tomas Tranströmer, and Paul Celan to give voice to the voiceless. Fierce yet loving, devastating and magical at once, Seam is a testament to the lingering potency of memory and the bravery of a nation’s victims.

Published by: Southern Illinois University Press

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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Contents

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pp. vii-viii

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Acknowledgments

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pp. ix-xii

Many thanks to the editors of the publications in which some of these poems have appeared previously, sometimes in different forms...

1971

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pp. 1-10

En Route to Bangladesh, Another Crisis of Faith

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pp. 11-12

Reading Willa Cather in Bangladesh

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pp. 13-14

[I place one foot then the other . . .]

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p. 15-15

Dhaka Aubade

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p. 16-16

Elegy with Her Red-Tipped Fingers

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pp. 17-19

Reading Tranströmer in Bangladesh

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pp. 20-22

Instructions for the Interviewer

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p. 23-23

[Tell her what happened to you . . .]

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p. 24-24

Interview with a Birangona: 1. What were you doing when they came for you?

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p. 25-25

Interview with a Birangona: 2. Where did the Pakistani military take you, and were there others there?

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p. 26-26

Interviewer’s Note: i. [You walk past white high-rises]

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p. 27-27

Interview with a Birangona: 3. Would you consider yourself a survivor or a victim?

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p. 28-28

Interviewer’s Note: ii. [You listen to the percussion]

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p. 29-29

Interview with a Birangona: 4. Were there other women there? Did you get along with them?

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pp. 30-31

The Interviewer Acknowledges Desire

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pp. 32-33

Interview with a Birangona: 5. Who was in charge at this camp? What were your days like?

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p. 34-34

Reading Willa Cather in Bangladesh

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pp. 35-37

Interviewer’s Note: iii. [If burnt, she said, I’ll turn to ash,]

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p. 38-38

Interview with a Birangona: 6. Many of the birangona had children by Pakistani soldiers. Did you have a child as well?

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pp. 39-40

Interviewer’s Note: iv. [Today there is no drinking]

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p. 41-41

The Interviewer Acknowledges Shame

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pp. 42-43

Interview with a Birangona: 7. Do you have siblings? Where were they?

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pp. 44-45

Interviewer’s Note: v. [But wasn’t it the neat narrative]

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p. 46-46

The Interviewer Acknowledges Grief

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pp. 47-48

Interview with a Birangona: 8. After the war was over, what did you do? Did you go back home?

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pp. 49-50

Reading Celan at the Liberation War Museum

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pp. 51-57

[Many corpses are stacked, . . .]

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p. 58-58

Aubade Ending with the Death of a Mosquito

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pp. 59-60

Dhaka Nocturne

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pp. 61-62

Reading Willa Cather in Bangladesh

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p. 63-63

En Route to Bangladesh, Another Crisis of Faith

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p. 64-64

[I struggled my way . . .]

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p. 65-65

Other Works in the Series, Back Cover

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E-ISBN-13: 9780809333264
E-ISBN-10: 0809333260
Print-ISBN-13: 9780809333257
Print-ISBN-10: 0809333252

Page Count: 80
Publication Year: 2014

Series Title: Crab Orchard Series in Poetry