She has previously been published in anthologies and journals such as Iris: A Journal About Women, Room of One's Own, Long Shot, the Jewish Women's Literary Annual, and the Harrington Lesbian Literary Quarterly. More information can be found on her website .
When Women Poets Die Young: Feminist Meditations on Life and Death and Poetry
Death is a universal experience and it is the job of poets to bear witness to the universal through the close observation of the particular. For women poets, early death and suicide, the fates of Nadia Anjuman and Reetika Vazirani respectively, are writ large in our collective narratives. Plath and Sexton are the canonical examples in poetry, Woolf in prose. In some ways, all women writers feel the strictures of these tragic narratives. These famous icons and the narratives they impose continue to hamper contemporary women writers from conceptualizing themselves as writers and from imagining a long, prolific, and productive life. Despite the fact that we now live in a world of long-lived and prominent women poets, including Maxine Kumin, Adrienne Rich, Grace Paley, and May Sarton among many others, the spectre of death and suicide lingers.
I don't mean to suggest that early death and suicide are limited to women and women poets. Quite to the contrary, suicidal depression doesn't discriminate based on sex or occupation or creativity or artistic vision. Thoughtful treatments of the impact of suicide and early death in male poets is certainly in order, but I am interested in how we come to understand the oeuvre of women poets who die young and in the formation of the poetic voice among women against the backdrop of suicide and early death.
This essay explores the work of Nadia Anjuman, an Afghani poet who was killed in 2005, and Reetika Vazirani, an Indian-American poet who killed herself and her young son in 2003. Anjuman authored one full book of poetry before her death and Vazirani authored two. This is a close exploration of their lives through their work and a feminist meditation on life, death, and poetry. It is my hope that a close examination of the work of Vazirani and Anjuman and their individual experiences will illuminate something universal for women poets, or at least for me.
Nadia Anjuman died in Afghanistan on November 4, 2005 at the age of twenty-five. The circumstances of her death are contested by her husband and family. Despite that, it seems that she was murdered by her husband. He contends that he only hit her and that she was alive when he left after which she committed suicide; however, confirmation of the cause of Anjuman's death will never be obtained as her family declined an autopsy. More than one western news report noted that some members of Anjuman's family believe that her book with poems about love and beauty "brought shame to the family." In spite of the views of some family members, Anjuman's book, Gul-e-dodi, translated as "Dark Red Flower" and published while a student at Herat University, was well received and popular in her homeland.
Reports of Anjuman's death spawned memorial sites for the poet in the West and a flurry of poems by Western writers as paean's to her life and work. In spite of this apparent affinity for her work, few translations of Anjuman's actual work are available to English-language readers. Four people have translated a total of eight of Anjuman's poems; all are available online. It is rumored that a full translation of her book, Gul-e-dodi, is planned for English readers.
Until that time, we are left with the translated poems from disparate sources. Six of Anjuman's poems translated by two writers were published in the Winter 2006 issue of the online magazine MindFire. Three ghazals and a nazm translated by the Pakistani poet, Khizra Aslam, are included in that issue. The three ghazals taken together reflect the lyricism that traditionally characterizes ghazals as well as public declarations of love and beauty referenced by her family at the time of her death. Individually, each of the ghazals explore issues universal to poetry in general and poetry by women in particular.
The first ghazal, titled by its opening phrase "From this cup of my lips," speaks of Anjuman's lyrical impulse: "From this cup of my lips comes a song;/It captures my singing soul, my song." The formal mechanism of a ghazal are the two-line stanza and the repeated phrase at the conclusion of each stanza, in this case, the phrase, "my song." This opening asserts Anjuman's baring of her young soul through poetry, a theme she explores throughout the subsequent stanzas. In a ghazal, the stanzas read individually are complete, self-contained and insightful in their two-line simplicity. Read together, however, the stanzas of a ghazal layer and amplify the meaning in the poem. In Anjuman's case and in this first ghazal, the fact of Anjuman's death resonates in stanzas like this one, "Do not ask of love, O it tells me of you;/My words of love speak of death, my song." Anjuman's words seem prescient, as though she might have known that her words would lead to her death; however, neither Anjuman nor any of the other women poets who have died early were gifted with the knowledge of the future. Despite this, we look for clues in their words and often their poems deliver. The final stanza of this ghazal concludes, "From this hand, these feet and words, it looks strange/That my name is written on the slate of this age, my song." Anjuman did not know that her name would be written on the slate of the age more deeply because of her untimely death, but this stanza in retrospect seems foreboding.
While that first ghazal translated by Aslam consumes itself with the questions of Anjuman's lyricism as a poet, the second ghazal that Aslam translates addresses the voice and voicelessness of the poet. It opens with this stanza, "There is no desire to speak again; whom to ask, what to say?/I, who was treated ill, what should I not read, what not to say?" In this ghazal, the fact of a young Afghani woman speaking about being treated poorly is potent after the United States invasion and purported liberation of Afghanistan from the Taliban. To hear a young woman continue to struggle with voicelessness, to read her assertion that there are things she cannot read and say inevitably resonates with western readers, and especially western feminists. We want her voice to be heard and remembered. Anjuman concludes this ghazal with these stanzas,
Though that I am quiet and cannot remember any song,
Yet all the time, something stirs in my heart that I should say.
Ah, remember the good day when this cage was broken;
That loneliness is gone, my delight, I sing the cares away.
I am a frail stick that trembles in air each time;
An Afghan daughter who can say wherever she needs to say.
In these stanzas, Anjuman defies the opening and asserts her ability to say what should be said. She states her purported frailty directly in the final stanza and allusively in the broken cage in the penultimate stanza. Anjuman understands her limitations as a woman in a sexist world but she refuses to accept them in her conclusive assertion to say whatever "she needs to say." In spite of being quiet, Anjuman has words to say, and, as a daughter of Afghanistan, she will speak what needs to be spoken. Such defiance, read through a western lens, reminds us how large the struggle is for women's liberation and how valuable each voice is, especially voices that speak against desires to repress or squelch them.
The final ghazal translated by Aslam in MindFire describes how powerful and personally compelling Anjuman's poetic voice was for her. It begins, "It is night and these words come to me/By the call of my voice words come to me." In this ghazal, Anjuman attributes her words to divine inspiration-a common theme in Farsi poetry. Anjuman writes:
I do not know from where these great words come
The fresh breeze takes loneliness away from me
That from the clouds of light comes this light
That there is no other wish that comes to me
Here, Anjuman acknowledges her creator who takes away loneliness, brings light, and most importantly provides words and verse to her. The magical transcendence of the poetic voice, an unknown gift to the poet from beyond the breeze, beyond the clouds, is a source of awe for Anjuman. The poem concludes,
My madness can be found in his book
O do not say no, my master, O look once at me
It is like the day of judgment
Like doomsday my silence comes at me
I am happy that the giver gives me silk
And all night, all along these verses come to me
In this ghazal, Anjuman both pays tribute to her maker, a conventional move in ghazals, and also raises the issue of madness, another conventional move but this time for women poets. Anjuman connects doomsday with her silence, reflecting a feminist consciousness of silence for women, and she rejoices in the silk her giver provides and the verses that come to her. Anjuman asserts her happiness as long as verses come to her, affirming the power of poetry and the voice it gives her.
The form of the ghazal is more familiar to most western readers as a popular lyric form; the nazm is also a popular Persian form but for narrative, descriptive, or didactic poems, and it may be less familiar to western readers. Aslam translates a nazm of Anjuman's that begins with the line, "O the one who hides in the mountain of unfamiliarity!" This poem asserts the redemptive power of the natural world as in this section:
If the river stops to flow,
And if the clouds open a way to your heart,
And yes, if the daughter of the moon blesses you with her smiles.
If the mountains become soft, greenery grows
Anjuman demonstrates that the natural world is always regenerating itself in spite of the perceived cruelness in the natural life cycle. She recapitulates her message of light and hope in the final three lines of the poem:
Those memories that are hidden from our eyes
And while frightened from the flood and the rain of cruelness
Will the light of hope appear?
Anjuman's nazm demonstrates her lyricism and poetic voice in a less formally constrained structure which allows her to expand the themes and images in her work.
The winter 2006 issue of MindFire contains two other poems of Anjuman; these two are translated by David Tayyari, an Afghani poetry lover living in the United States. Both poems further illuminate Anjuman's lyricism, and they also begin to expose the darker emotions of despair that Anjuman also considers in her work. In "Memories of light blue," Anjuman opens with these strong, declarative lines,
You, exiles of the mountains of oblivion
You, diamonds of your names sleeping in quagmire of silence
You the ones your memories faded, memories of light blue
In the mind of muddy waves of forgotten sea
Where are your clear flowing thoughts?
Which plunderer's hand ransacked the pure gold statute of your dreams
In this horrendous storm
Where did your peace-marked silver boat moon craft go?
This poem flashes the anger that Anjuman observes, and presumably experiences, in the world. In particular, she contrasts the natural world with the actions of humans, particularly in the "muddy waves of forgotten sea" with "clear flowing thoughts" and the hand of the plundered with the "silver boat moon craft." This poem, though, returns to an optimist conclusion as Anjuman writes,
Sunrise of your memories
memories of light blue
In the eyes of tired-of-flood-water fish and
scared of rain of darkness
will it become a sight of hope?
The optimism of the poet, however, is in the form of an unanswered question in contrast to the declaratives of Anjuman's opening line.
The second poem translated by Tayyari asserts Anjuman's earlier theme of her words being an essential part of who she is and how she wishes to be remembered, but "Strands of Steel" also appears to expose more of Anjuman's anger. The poem begins,
Since my song was rid from cup of lips
broke the murmur in my poetic spirit
do not seek in my words the meaning of joy
since died in fever of sorrow, my happy taste
In the eyes of my book if you read the stars
It is just a tale from my endless dreams
Here, a darker equation of Anjuman's words and poetry emerges from the previously discussed ghazal. Anjuman says that within her words are not the meaning of joy which died in a fever of sorrow. She cautions that "happy taste" is the stuff of endless dreams-intimating that it is not a lived experience. After this opening, the next two lines of the poem become even darker. Anjuman writes, "Do not question love as it is the inspiration of your pen/My loving words had in mind death." This poem shows a dark and angry side of the poet. Without a concordance of Anjuman's work and the translation notes, however, it is difficult to know definitively much about the development of Anjuman's work and changes in her formulations of joy and happiness counterpointed by anger and despair. Nevertheless, what we do have is tantalizing.
In addition to the poems presented in MindFire, there are two other translated poems that have appeared on web pages about Anjuman since her death. The first, posted in response to a blog entry is a translated by Abdul S. Shayek and is titled, "Soundless Cries." This translation explicitly addresses the situation of girls in Afghanistan with these lines:
Girls, grown up with hurting soul
And wounded bodies
Happiness has escaped their faces
Hearts, old and cracked
This poem shows more of the anger that Tayyari's translations in MindFire capture. The poem concludes with a final powerful quatrain:
Oh dear God!
I do not know if their soundless cries
Reach the clouds, The skies?
I hear the green paces of the rain
The last line is a direct recapitulation of the first line of the poem. In this poem, the natural world and its relationship to the voice of the poet, to the voice of Anjuman, is a powerful metaphoric element. The formulations of gender in relationship to the metaphors in the natural world are intriguing in the poems of Anjuman that we have available in English translation. Moreover, the exposure of more anger and despair in Anjuman's work as discovered through these poems in disparate translations begins to illuminate the power of Anjuman's writing and the need for an authoritative translation.
One final poem by Anjuman has been translated by US-based poet, Mahnaz Badihian. It initially appeared on Badihian's blog, Mahmag.org. This poem begins with the line, "No desire to open my mouth," which reflects a shorter line than the other poems of Anjuman. "No desire to open my mouth" is a poem of defiance filled with sorrow and despair. It is included here in its entirety with the permission of the translator.
No desire to open my mouth
What should I sing of...?
Me, who is hated by life,
No difference to sing or not to sing.
Why should I talk of sweetness?
When I feel bitterness.
Oh, the oppressors feast
Knocked my mouth.
I have no companion in life
Who can I be sweet for?
No difference to say, to laugh,
To die, to be.
Me and my strained solitude.
With sorrow and sadness.
I was borne for nothingness.
My mouth should be sealed.
Oh my heart, you know it is spring
And time to celebrate.
What should I do with a trapped wing?
Which does not let me fly.
I have been silent for too long,
But I never forget the melody,
Since every moment I whisper
The songs from my heart,
Reminding myself of
A day I will break the cage.
Fly from This solitude
And sing like a melancholic.
I am not a weak poplar tree
To be shaken By any wind.
I am an Afghan woman,
Makes sense to moan always.
This poem, with its anger-justified, deep sadness, and profound despair, demonstrates the emotional range of Anjuman and creates a powerful statement on behalf of the significance of Anjuman's work for English-speaking audiences.
The range of emotive language that is seen in these translations, as well as the positioning of Anjuman's experiences as a woman and the emotions associated with her gender, could be reflective of Anjuman's work and the message she desired to share with the world. It also could be a result of various differences among translators. Likely, it is some combination of the two.
I am not able to read or speak Farsi so I cannot evaluate the individual translations, although clearly each of the poems presented above show the hands of different writers doing the translations. Moreover, I cannot orient these poems in the larger corpus of Gul-e-dodi or in the current context of Persian poetry. The fact is, I was drawn to Anjuman's work in the same way and for the same reasons as the other western writers: the intrigue of a personal narrative of a poet that ends in a tragic death. As a feminist poet and reader of poetry, there is a visceral appeal of Anjuman's work that is amplified by the tragedy of her death. I was drawn into the story immediately upon hearing the first reports in the news. There is something arresting about a young person dying, whatever the circumstances, but it seems emotionally resonant when the person is a woman and a poet. We search their words for some clue about their life and more importantly, their death. Anjuman is no exception to this phenomenon.
Despite the current challenges with finding Anjuman's poetry in translation and the paltry amount of it that exists in English, it seems clear from the web response to her death that when Anjuman's book is released in English she will find an audience in the English-speaking world. At that point, we can look more fully at her work and evaluate it-both in the literary context of contemporary Persian as well as world poetry and in the political context in which it was written. In the meantime, we will wait for the certain pleasure that her work in translation will bring.
Just as the work and life and death of Nadia Anjuman is intriguing to me as a US feminist, the work and life and death of Reetika Vazirani has a similar appeal. Reetika Vazirani, born in India in 1962, emigrated to the United States with her family as a child, ultimately settling in Maryland. Her first book of poetry, White Elephants, was selected by Marilyn Hacker in 1996 for the Barnard New Women's Voices Prize. Her second book, World Hotel, was published by Copper Canyon in 2002. Vazirani's poems were widely published and she was the recipient of numerous honors and prizes for a young poet.
On July 16, 2003, suffering with depression, Vazirani killed herself and her three-year-old son, Jehan, at the home where she was living in northwest Washington, DC. Like Anjuman, Vazirani's death sent shockwaves through the poetry community, particularly in the United States. Vazirani's life and work were eulogized and honored online and off. Vazirani was known as a hard-working poet who just seemed to be gaining professional stability as she was expecting to take an appointment at Emory University the fall of 2003.
Vazirani's work is grounded in the experience of being an immigrant to the United States. Early in White Elephants, she writes, "Learn to live where you are/And forget about the local myths,/They will only fool you." Vazirani embraced the new world in which she lived, saying "there is nowhere to go and anything is possible." Still she remained rooted in being bicultural and being required to balance between the world of India, to where her parents looked, and the world of the United States, where she lived. This tension, the pressure of being the fulcrum between these two worlds, is the grist for much of Vazirani's published work.
A flashpoint of the tension was in the realm of sexuality. In "Mrs. Biswas Banishes a Female Relative," Vazirani writes,
That is not the way.
That is not the way to behave.
What kind of way is that to behave.
No she has no shame.
We don't know her anymore.
This poem, in the voice of Vazirani's grandmother, shows the pressure for a female sexuality that is congruent with the values of the original country, India, while living in the U.S. The poem ends with this invective, "Let her wander, then./Let her clothes grow thin." To reject the values of the original country is to face exile and its paltriness.
Pressure around sexuality is not limited to preserving behavior from the original country; it also includes mocking and deriding behavior associated with this country. The grandmother rejects another female relative thusly:
This is what news I have heard:
she is expecting only seven months
after the wedding.
Did she come to my house
to tell me of the wedding?
No, she phone me up.
She is a daring girl-
from the beginning when she came
to this country she was always
rebellious and disobedient.
In this poem, "Mrs. Biswas Breaks Her Connection with Another Relative," the grandmother enforces the notions of sexuality from her native land and notes that the transgressions, rebellion and disobedience which lead inexorably to pregnancy outside of marriage began with arrival in this new land. Mrs. Biswas concludes, "Nobody can please her except God,/she is that type of girl." Vazirani captures the voices of these elders and evokes them carefully in her work while also capturing the emotional experience of the shamed-in these cases not the ill-behaved relative or the knocked-up bride, but the poet herself-the young woman living between these two cultures.
White Elephants is filled with the examples of the pressures that Vazirani had to navigate in this new land with her family from India. Shame, confusion, anger and pride all find their way into her well-crafted poems, but above all, Vazirani seems to wend her way in life with grace and humor. In the final part of the book, also titled White Elephants and consisting of forty-two sonnets about traveling in India, Vazirani writes,
Give me the summary, you said. What did
the journey come to? It came to this:
inheriting your richest lands, words:
. . . .
I felt at home again, or
Calm among words, their clear panes through which views
Peered back as greetings to a traveller.
White Elephants captures the cultural anxiety of a US immigrant in a collection that both utilizes and subverts the conventions of modern and formalist poetry. It is a masterful blending of old and new in all facets of the words.
Vazirani's second collection, World Hotel, continues to explore the bicultural themes she established in White Elephants. In "What My Best Friend Said to Console Me," Vazirani writes that her best friend tells her, "Catch the American/you have two years I have one." With these words, Vazirani captures the anxieties of young women; anxieties that are both unique to Vazirani and the friend and universal to women in the United States. She gently mocks and consoles with a deft hand for language and understatement.
While in World Hotel Vazirani retains and presses her bicultural existence, she also establishes her break from a life rooted in India. In the pantoum "My Brother, the Wedding," she writes about going to the wedding but "I don't recognize anyone/I sat with in class for sixteen years." She concludes, "Daddy walks me slowly past the guests/and they rise, wishing for me,/I for you. Ship's in./I don't recognize anyone." Although World Hotel is filled with the bicultural imagery of Vazirani's life and while many poems place her not as a US poet nor a US-Indian poet but as a world poet, the collection is rooted ultimately in Vazirani's daily life-a life she lives in the United States.
Vazirani captures in World Hotel the contemporary themes and anxieties of women in the United States. She writes in "Boucheron, Shalimar, More Shoes," "Friday I get paid checks for debt/cosmetics Christmas bounty". Another poem explicates "What I look for in a Man." In "Lullaby," Vazirani captures a contemporary curse worthy of Margaret Atwood:
I would not sing you to sleep.
I would press my lips to your ear
and hope the terror in my heart stirs you.
Just as in the tense space of U.S. life where race, ethnicity, and immigrant status merge, Vazirani captures the gender tensions and anxieties in contemporary life with her sharp, critical, and unflinching eye.
While Vazirani's poetry contains the essential emotions of contemporary-US poetry, there is very little that belies her depression or indicates to what outcome that depression will lead eventually. The poem of Vazirani most often reprinted posthumously is titled, "It's Me, I'm not Home." In the poem, a villanelle, Vazirani takes this form for mourning and combines it with the language of telephone answering machines concluding with this quatrain:
I'll leave a key for you, play the tape
when you come in, or pick up the receiver.
It's late in the city and I'm asleep.
Please leave a message at the beep.
The pain of lost connections in the city between friends and lovers intermediated by technology is evident in this poem structurally and in its diction, but the despair is belied by the playful way in which Vazirani weaves this villanelle.
In the final poem of the collection, "It's a Young Country," Vazirani opens with "and we cannot bear to grow old" and continues in the second stanza with "we leave for a better job/cross the frontier." Perhaps this poem became her final one by accident in the assembly of World Hotel. Certainly, she did not know at the time of its publication how her life would end but there in this final poem are the images of death punctuated by Vazirani's free sampling of American popular culture, Marilyn Monroe, the Supremes, dungarees, and the Golden Gate bridge. A poet of America, Vazirani gives us these instructions: "pack lightly we move so fast." Reetika Vazirani's life ultimately moved too fast for her to live it. What we are left with are the words of her two books, her memory, and our desire to understand.
Two poets. Two countries. Two ethnicities. Two deaths. There is very little that holds these two women, or their work, together, except that they are united in a creative center in my mind. I cannot qualify the enduring potential of Anjuman's book based on the eight translations available on the Internet. Vazirani's work contains the kernels of a poet who could have been a major voice in US poetry. White Elephants and World Hotel include many fine and shining poems, but I fear Vazirani's legacy will be "what might have been." While I marvel at both Anjuman's and Vazirani's poems, I am drawn to them more by the power of their personal narratives.
The lives and works of Anjuman and Vazirani raise important questions about women's poetry. How do we resist sexism and survive? How do we live in the world resisting depression and despair? How do we create a world where women writers can envision and live productive, long, and expansive lives? What is the relationship between depression and happiness and where does the creative poetic impulse lie in that configuration? Why is life shortened by tragedy or by one's own hand fascinating to those of us who survive? How can we undo the mythology of the desperate, depressed woman poet, while still honoring the truth and narrative of women's lives?
While I am fascinated by the poetry and personal narratives of Anjuman and Vazirani, I also am aware of the feminist implications of their lives. Reifying women who die young by their own hand entrenches the "madwoman in the attic" syndrome that feminist scholars and writers have sought to undo. Mourning women who are killed by sexist violence like Anjuman may serve to highlight the situation which brought about the death and through awareness inspire amelioration, but it does not serve the women who have survived sexist violence. Feminism for me always lies between the reality of memory, which requires us to know and remember the life and work of women like Nadia Anjuman and Reetika Vazirani, and the promise of the beloved future. In this liminal space between a remembered reality and a promised future, we must live and write simultaneously against and without the shackles of sexism.
I want to end this feminist meditation on life and death and poetry with a particularly powerful poem of Jane Cooper. Cooper, an underrecognized U.S. poet, was born in 1924 and has had a career that reflects the tragedy of a woman not able to see herself as a poet. For many years, Cooper stopped writing, believing that being a woman and a poet was an oxymoron. In her 1974 essay, "Nothing Has Been Used in the Manufacture of This Poetry that Could Have Been Used in the Manufacture of Bread," Cooper wrote, "I saw how hard it would be for me to make a lasting relationship, bring up children, and "live a full life as a woman," while being a committed writer. The woman poets I read about were generally not known for their rich, stable sexual and family lives." Despite Cooper's long publishing silence, however, she returned to writing, after learning "that no choice is absolute and no structure can save us." Cooper notes, "For if my poems have always been about survival-and I believe they have been-then survival too keeps revealing itself as an art of the unexpected."
Originally from Green Notebook, Winter Road: Poems: 1981-1993, "The Recorder of Suicides" is a poem by Cooper that celebrates her survival. Here is the complete poem:
The Recorder of Suicides
With a pocketful of stones
one walked toward the water,
propped her head in the oven,
broke his body on the beach.
And did they discern
before the soft impact of
nothing at all?
Your words, Shirley,
who just as succinctly
left us in September
for a reserve unsought,
Left me here doodling
on a secondhand typewriter.
Composure wears the heart out. Child-
where he stopped the car, the stones.
Virginia Woolf, Anne Sexton and John Berryman are the suicides that Cooper is recording. In doing so she is writing her life beyond these deaths of these poets. Cooper tells us that she is "here doodling." She has survived these three great writers and her friend, Shirley. She is now the witness to the death, and she notes, "Composure wears the heart out." The details, "Where he stopped the car, the stones," linger. The details linger as our life persists. We may be composed in our grief, in our pain, and in our anger, but it tires us; it exhausts us.
I want to do for Nadia Anjuman and Reetika Vazirani what Cooper has done for Virginia and Anne and John and Shirley. I want to be the recorder of their lives and their poetry. I want to ensure they are remembered, not lionized, not sanctified, but remembered in a way that is honest and truthful. I do not want their deaths to overwhelm me or the category of women poets.
I want to be like Jane Cooper, the recorder of these deaths, not the one who dies. It is a big shift for me as one touched by many close deaths in my early adulthood. To now conceptualize myself beyond forty is a gift; to conceptualize myself as a poet beyond forty is an even greater one. I am doodling here on an aging Macintosh computer. I want to remember their words, the hair that Nadia covered, her passion for life. I want to remember the white elephants, the message after the beep. I want to record them and preserve them, but I want to outlive them. I want the legacy of a long life.
If Anjuman and Vaziran's deaths offer insight into women's poetic voices at the beginning of the twenty-first century, the insight that is offered is not a kaleidoscope to the future but a mirror to the past of women's writing that must be no longer. I may single out these two for memory as the final examples of the madwoman in the attic or the vatic truth-teller who is silenced through death, but our future is-and must be-one that is released from these oppressive narratives. Our future is-and must be-one where we are the recorders, not the suicides. Our future is-and must be-where we bear witness to death and to life so that we can all live inspired, not shackled, by the poetic muse.
 Lamb,Christina. "Woman Poet ‘Slain for her Verse'." London: The Times, November 13, 2005. http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2089-1869842,00.html
 Mindfire: http://www.mindfirerenew.com/
 Available online here: http://www.mindfirerenew.com/issue5winter2006/0106-Khizra.html
 http://www.pulpmovies.com/gagwatch/2005/11/lethal-poetry/ with this note from the translator: This poem was publish in the Farsi site of BBC with the news of the Afghan poetess's brutal murder by her husband in Heart, Afghanistan on 11/11/ 2005. Nadia Anjuman was 25 years old.
 See for instance: http://www.sawnet.org/books/authors.php?Vazirani+Reetika & http://www.nathanielturner.com/reetikavazirani.htm.
 See for instance: Callaloo, Vol. 27, No. 2. (Spring, 2004)
 Vazirani, Reetika. White Elephants, p. 13.
 Vazirani, Reetika."The Dock." White Elephants, p. 5.
 Vazirani, Reetika. "Mrs. Biswas Banishes a Female Relative." White Elephants, p. 12.
 Vazirani, Reetika. "Mrs. Biswas Breaks her Connection with Another Relative." White Elephants, p. 20.
 White Elephants, p. 64.
 Vazirani, Reetika. World Hotel. Port Townsend, WA: Copper Canyon Press, 2002. p. 28.
 Ibid, p. 30.
 Ibid, p. 66.
 Ibid. p. 82.
 Ibid. p. 75.
 Ibid, p. 116.
 Gilbert, Sandra M. and Susan Gubar. Madwoman in the Attic: The Woman Writer and the Nineteenth Century Literary Imagination. New Haven : Yale University Press, 1979.
 Cooper, Jane. The Flashboat: Poems Collected and Reclaimed. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2000. p. 114.
 Ibid, p. 122.