From Poetry Magazine

A Playlist for Poetry’s July/August 2017 Issue

Faizullah, Tarfiac

For our July/August 2017 playlist, we asked contributor Tarfia Faizullah to curate a selection of music for us. You can read about her approach to creating the playlist below. Click here to open the playlist in your Spotify app.

This past November, I started making playlists on Spotify in earnest—something had frozen in me, something that I couldn’t explain to others, or even engage completely with myself. I had started to feel like I was becoming someone whose thoughts didn’t feel like my own. When I wasn’t working, I was listening and playlisting, trying to use any generation and genre of music to unfreeze whatever in me refused to thaw. I began to ask myself this question: Do we know what we like when no one is watching? Both this playlist and my participation in the current issue of Poetry is motivated by a desire to answer that question as honestly as possible through the filter of “Asian American,” which, as co-editor Lawrence-Minh Búi Davis eloquently says, can be seen as “a fabrication, a blinkered prayer for something like solidarity.”

This playlist was also constructed using the following additional filters: 1) songs by artists I already love (“Like a G6”—my 2010 jam!); 2) songs by artists I’ve never heard of (“Sunlight”: my new artist motivation jam!); 3) artists my friends, a few contributors, and/or the internet recommended (“Space Foreva”: whew/wow!). I love how many of these songs, also, are collaborations (“I Know” by Big Sean and Jhene Aiko, what a great duet!) between and across genres and cultures: a reminder that these filters are only as useful as they ring true. As Curtis Mayfield sings in “We the People Darker than Blue,” the final track on this playlist: “I know we’ve all got problems/that’s why I’m here to say/keep peace with me and I with you/let me love in my own way.” Something I noticed along the way: so many of these musicians name-check other countries and cultures, and name-check themselves, too. I’m fascinated by the moment of encounter, and why music can cause something in us to melt and move to make new grooves. 

Originally Published: August 15th, 2017

Bangladeshi American poet Tarfia Faizullah grew up in Midland, Texas. She earned an MFA from the Virginia Commonwealth University program in creative writing. Her first book, Seam (2014), won the Crab Orchard Series in Poetry First Book Award. Focused around a long sequence “Interview with a Birangona,” the book explores...