Forlorn Light

Nazifa Islam’s elegant collection, Forlorn Light, is an absorbing journey of emotional revelations. Created through a process of selecting words from paragraphs in Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway and The Waves, these found poems go even further than Woolf in disembodying the feelings and thoughts expressed. The perspective shifts from first person to second to third without offering a grounding in time, space or story that would allow the reader to determine whether the “I,” “you” and “she” are distinct from each other or different views of the same person. “I am multitudes of people,” Islam writes in the poem The Middle of Alone. The effect is compelling, with the manuscript unfolding in a way that simultaneously seems deeply personal and universal. “We are the left behind,” says the speaker in This Bald Summer. And Islam frankly depicts the despair of dealing with our troublesome world. But there also are moments of hope and resilience, as in these beautiful lines from It Is Written: “Yet this is a broken world. A spirit/must fly on—one comes/into the storm then one goes out—/wings must beat.” This is a book that, like Woolf’s novels, reveals new layers of meaning with each reading. You will go back to it again and again. Forlorn Light is available here.

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