2 Poems

Poetry / Nazifa Islam


:: I Was Afraid Too ::

a found poem: L.M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables 
I beat her 
when she said— 
shyly, afraid— 
that she felt like 
she didn’t belong 
to anybody 
that the outside 
of her heart  
was a sad lonely blue; 
I was her mother 
and I wanted 
her to believe 
that I was 
a cold sorrowful 

:: Every Frightened Moment ::

a found poem: L.M. Montgomery’s Emily of New Moon 

She was a nervous wild thing— a heretic with a sorrowful waste of desecrated fear in her angry red mouth. She destroyed any beautiful garden she was working in had failed to always do good and was haunted by impending calamity— how briskly it was waving at her— dreaded horribly what awaited her at the end of the long unknowable white road. She reached for the moon because it was lofty and mysterious and who couldn’t it twist lovely and sacred?

From the writer


:: Account ::

These poems are part of a series of L.M. Mont­gomery found poems I’m cur­rent­ly work­ing on. To write these poems, I select a para­graph from a Mont­gomery text—so far, Anne of Green Gables, Ril­la of Ingle­side, A Tan­gled Web, The Blue Cas­tle, Emi­ly of New Moon, Emily’s Quest, and The Select­ed Jour­nals of L.M. Mont­gomery—and only use the words from that para­graph to cre­ate a poem. I essen­tial­ly write a poem while doing a word search using L.M. Mont­gomery as source mate­r­i­al. I don’t allow myself to repeat words, add words, or edit the lan­guage for tense or any oth­er con­sid­er­a­tion. These poems are simul­ta­ne­ous­ly defined by both Montgomery’s choic­es with lan­guage as well as my own. They’re an homage to Mont­gomery that is heav­i­ly influ­enced by my per­son­al inter­est in exam­in­ing exis­ten­tial dread and the stark real­i­ties of men­tal ill­ness; where Montgomery’s nov­els are (almost) utter­ly joy­ful, these found poems are often bleak and despair­ing. There is (often) an obvi­ous con­trast between the source mate­r­i­al and the fin­ished found poems that may appear jar­ring to those famil­iar with Montgomery’s work. Know­ing that Mont­gomery her­self very like­ly lived with bipo­lar dis­or­der, I feel that I’m express­ing through these poems ideas and emo­tions she was very famil­iar with and which she does touch on explic­it­ly in nov­els like Emily’s Quest.


Naz­i­fa Islam is the author of the poet­ry col­lec­tions Search­ing for a Pulse (White­point Press) and For­lorn Light: Vir­ginia Woolf Found Poems (Shears­man Books). Her poems have appeared in Gulf Coast, The Mis­souri Review, Boston Review, Smar­tish Pace, and Beloit Poet­ry Jour­nal among oth­er pub­li­ca­tions. She earned her MFA at Ore­gon State Uni­ver­si­ty. You can find her @nafoopal