Registers of Illuminated Villages

Registers of Illuminated Villages
Tarfia Faizullah

“These poems open slowly, elegantly, cradling anger, compassion, and fear.”—

“Faizullah’s entire collection—powerful, wide-ranging—is an affirmation, an accomplished second book.”—The Millions

About the Book

“Tarfia Faizullah is a poet of brave and unflinching vision.”—Natasha Trethewey

Somebody is always singing. Songs
were not allowed. Mother said,
Dance and the bells will sing with you.
I slithered. Glass beneath my feet. I
locked the door. I did not
die. I shaved my head. Until the horns
I knew were there were visible.
Until the doorknob went silent.

—from “100 Bells”
Registers of Illuminated Villages is Tarfia Faizullah’s highly anticipated second collection, following her award-winning debut, Seam. Faizullah’s new work extends and transforms her powerful accounts of violence, war, and loss into poems of many forms and voices—elegies, outcries, self-portraits, and larger-scale confrontations with discrimination, family, and memory. One poem steps down the page like a Slinky; another poem responds to makeup homework completed in the summer of a childhood accident; other poems punctuate the collection with dark meditations on dissociation, discipline, defiance, and destiny; and the near-title poem, “Register of Eliminated Villages,” suggests illuminated texts, one a Qur’an in which the speaker’s name might be found, and the other a register of 397 villages destroyed in northern Iraq. Faizullah is an essential new poet, whose work only grows more urgent, beautiful, and—even in its unsparing brutality—full of love. 

Additional Reviews

“Intimate and prophetic. . . . A fierce confrontation of grief and belonging.”The Riveter

“In her fiercely original second collection, Tarfia Faizullah traverses the globe—northern Iraq; Flint, Mich.; West Texas; Bangladesh—and employs a range of formal experiments to illuminate acts of resistance in the face of injustice and violence.”Star Tribune (Minneapolis)

“This collection glows.”Signature Reads

“Remarkable. . . . Striking, insightful poems that will move and delight readers. Highly recommended.”Library Journal, starred review

“A mesmerizing inventory. . . . Mingling cemeteries and spelling bees, fables and reality, religious faith and remarkable irreverence, these commanding, radiant, image-rich poems time and again spin ‘the dark into song’—and it’s electrifying.”Booklist

Registers of Illuminated Villages has remapped my heart. I love this book. Its far-ranging empathies. Its attention to the whole wide world. . . . [Faizullah] makes sure we are able to vividly experience the individual impact of each unit of thought. More importantly, she makes sure we are able to experience the illuminating beauty of the many lives for which these poems serve as a register.”—Camille T. Dungy, On the Seawall

“In Registers of Illuminated Villages, Faizullah’s unflinching poems sing and soar, and ultimately pierce the spirit. . . . To live is always to be forgetting, uncovering, remembering, denying and reviving, and with tremendous grace and bravery Tarfia Faizullah captures humanity, both her own and others.”Fork & Page

“Identity is never simple, and Faizullah’s central speaker allows us to witness an intimate portrait of a young woman straddling two very different cultures. . . . This book prays and chants and screams and hums, and it projects a harsher tone than [Faizullah’s] first. Swear words dot the landscape like desert cacti and fold into the soft-textured language of orange sunsets and starfish skies. They mark a staccato of gunshots through the tapestry of memory and, perhaps unexpectedly, deep love.”World Literature Today