nightfall or, the other half is silence

Doyali Islam

copyright ©2019 by Doyali Islam

being turns ear
a rose

a crowd diminishes

hazard a call.listen
as your heart echoes back
its longings

a luminous turning
will be your body
abandoning all fear

Notes on the Poem

In her 2020 Griffin Poetry Prize shortlisted collection heft, Doyali Islam crafts with particular thought and care how her poems are presented on the page. While she uses her poems' layout to powerful effect, it is just as potent when she does not. In this interview ... Islam discusses the parallel poem form that she uses throughout the collection, with each poem displayed sideways on each page to accommodate two columns of poetry separated by a slim middle column. As we observed in a previous Poem of the Week examination of heft, readers will discover as they make their way through the collection, the relationship of each set of two columns varies from poem to poem. As readers, we are swiftly charmed and intrigued, and grow comfortable with the form Islam's poems take as we work our way through the collection. Two-thirds of the way through the collection sequentially, the poem "nightfall or, the other half is silence" verges on startling because Islam seems to eschew the form she has forged, although the page layout pointedly displays an empty left column. From the interview, Islam offers advice to other poets that they "render [their] technique in a rigorous way", and she also contends from the outset that poetry is "capacious, fluid and agile" in its approach to space and time. With this poem, she simultaneously follows her own advice but releases that rigorously followed form to the fluidity that poetry affords, to striking effect. Whether that empty parallel poem of silence disturbs or comforts you as a reader, you certainly do not forget it as you navigate the balance of this collection.

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