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Sister Tongue

Books, Forthcoming, Poetry, Wick First Book

Tracy K. Smith, Judge

Description Winner of the 2021 Stan and Tom Wick Poetry Prize

“In Sister Tongue, Fatemi shines gorgeous light on the liminal space between languages, bearing witness to the joy and longing that accompany every act of translation.”—Tracy K. Smith, from the Foreword

The poems in Sister Tongue explore negative spaces—the distance between twin sisters, between lovers, between Farsi and English, between the poet’s upbringing in California and her family in Iran. This space between vibrates with loss and longing, arcing with tension. Farnaz Fatemi’s poetry delves into the intricacies of the relational space between people, the depth of ancestral roots, and the visceral memories that shimmer beyond the reach of words.

Language is one of the origins of the poet’s displacement and the evidence of her non-belonging—in both Farsi- and English-speaking communities. The long lyric essay that makes up the spine of this book plumbs years of wordlessness and a journey of reconciliation, as Fatemi asks how her tongue might be a passport to the otherwise inaccessible territories within a self.

The poems in Sister Tongue metabolize longing while holding space for the poet’s multiple inheritances, offering a vision of a porosity of self. Through the work of this reckoning, Fatemi reveals how connections between people and places might be forged.

Author Farnaz Fatemi is a founding member of the Hive Poetry Collective and was a writing instructor at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Her poems and prose appear in Catamaran Literary Reader, Crab Orchard Review, Grist Journal,Tupelo Quarterly, and several anthologies, including Essential Voices: Poetry of Iran and Its Diaspora.