AE4. Call & Response: Poems in Conversation with Adeeba Shahid Talukder

Poem for poem prompt with Adeeba Shahid Talukder, Kundiman Prize-winning author of "Shahr-E-Janaan: The City of the Beloved" (Sep 2020)

Once a month or twice as often, I hope to be mitigating the loneliness of poetry practice by writing poems in conversation with other poets. Each time, one poet will write a poem as a “call,” to which the other will respond. These poems will appear on this Substack and YouTube.


the call: “Shackle”

by Adeeba Shahid Talukder

Beauty—goddess,
vast shrine of desire:

your night has
fallen, there is no one

to bear witness—

in this age we know each other
only by our eyes.


the response: “Open House”

by Karthik Purushothaman

What we know
as war is actually
imperialism she says
only with her eyes
unclenching the jaw
of a Papa John’s box
extracting her slice
peppered with olives
like infringements
on the sovereignty
of an unrecognized
nation whose absence
is the shape of our lives
I imagine but unmasked
by the pizza she says
she’s eating because
she’s hungry &
believes she’ll be
a fit with insert
institution run
by pricks with
or without dicks
to which daughters
who may or may not
be estranged from
their fathers who
may or may not be
illegally detained
by dictator’s regimes
may or may not apply
depending on the
sizes of their slices


Adeeba Shahid Talukder is a Pakistani American poet, singer, and translator of Urdu and Persian poetry. She is the author of What Is Not Beautiful (Glass Poetry Press, 2018) and her debut collection, Shahr-e-jaanaan: The City of the Beloved (Tupelo Press, 2020), is a winner of the Kundiman Prize. Her poetry has appeared in Poem-A-Day, Gulf Coast, Meridian, Aleph Review, and The Margins, and her translations in PBS Frontline and Words Without Borders. A Best of the Net finalist and a Pushcart nominee, Adeeba holds an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Michigan and an Emerging Poets fellowship from Poets House.