Tarfia Faizullah
Dallas, TX and Chicago, IL
2019 USA Fellow

This award was generously supported by Helen Zell.

Tarfia Faizullah is the author of two poetry collections, Registers of Illuminated Villages (Graywolf, 2018) and Seam (SIU, 2014). Faizullah is the recipient of a Fulbright fellowship and three Pushcart prizes and, in 2016, she was recognized by Harvard Law School as one of 50 Women Inspiring Change. Her writing has appeared widely in publications across the U.S. and abroad, including in the Daily Star, Hindu Business Line, BuzzFeed, PBS NewsHour, 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 on display at the Smithsonian and the Rubin Museum of Art, to name a few.

Faizullah’s writing has been translated into Bengali, Persian, Chinese, and Tamil, and is part of the theater production Birangona: Women of War. Her collaborators include photographers, producers, composers, filmmakers, musicians, and visual artists, resulting in several interdisciplinary projects, including an EP, Eat More Mango. She 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, NYU, Barnard, UC Berkeley, the Poetry Foundation, the Clinton School of Public Service and Brac University, among others.

Born in Brooklyn to Bangladeshi immigrants and raised in Texas, Faizullah currently teaches in the Writing Program at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago as a Visiting Artist-in-Residence.

Portrait photo courtesy artist.


Poem Full of Worry Ending With My Birth, 2018

I worry that my friends
will misunderstand my silence

as a lack of love, or interest, instead
of a tent city built for my own mind,

I worry I can no longer pretend
enough to get through another

year of pretending I know
that I understand time, though

I can see my own hands; sometimes,
I worry over how to dress in a world

where a white woman wearing
a scarf over her head is assumed

to be cold, whereas with my head
cloaked, I am an immediate symbol

of a war folks have been fighting
eons-deep before I was born: a meteor.