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'SEAM' explores the plight of women during the Bangladesh Liberation War

May 27, 2015

Tarfia Faizullah is a Delbanco Visiting Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Michigan.
Credit Jamaal May

Tarfia Faizullah was born in Brooklyn, raised in Texas, and now makes her home in Detroit.

Her first book of poems called Seam, won the Crab Orchard Series in Poetry First Book Award.

The poems bring us the stories of the 200,000 to 400,000 Bangladeshi women who were raped during that country's 1971 Liberation War, a conflict that saw East Pakistan and India at war with West Pakistan. That war led to the birth of the Bangladeshi republic.

"I wanted to try to embody the voice of someone who had gone through that experience in war time, but I eventually hit, I guess, a kind of ethical wall. I felt like I wasn't sure if I had the permission or authority to speak for these women, and I realized a lot of my research was so superficial, little bits and pieces here and there."

Credit Southern Illinois University Press

With the support of a Fulbright Scholarship, Faizullah made the trip to Bangladesh where she interviewed a number of women and began to write her poems.   

Faizullah says she too was a victim of sexual violence and because of that she felt a kinship of sorts with the women.

"I think the most powerful thing that happened is I stopped being afraid," said Faizullah.