Searching for a Pulse by Nazifa Islam

 Amazon Review:

“Nazifa Islam’s volume of poetry ‘Searching for a Pulse’ is a searing collection that gets to the heart of one individual’s unease in a society of disquiet. Islam considers the disease of depression and wills us to come out on the other side. A brave work.”

From Today’s Book of Poetry:

“Nobody has the heart to tell Rosemary that she’s dead.  Rosemary is in a hellish void where Wheel of Fortune plays non-stop on the television and no one comes to call.

searching for a pulse does not have a happy ending.

Many of the best books don’t.”

Read the entire review here.

Goodreads & LibraryThing reviews:

“Searching for a Pulse by Nazifa Islam is a short collection of poems focused on the story of Rosemary, a doomed character who ‘broke into two pieces at seventeen, though nobody really noticed.’

“The book’s dedication (“for every Sylvia”) gives readers a clue to the theme before even turning to the first piece. Most of the poems trace Rosemary’s depression and multiple suicide attempts, as well as her struggles with friends and lovers, though readers may question at times which characters are ‘real’ and which are merely extensions of Rosemary’s own unquiet mind.

“The poems themselves are thankfully free of the intentional abstruseness that typically turns readers away from contemporary poetry, though it would be inaccurate to refer to Searching for a Pulse as simply straightforward. Instead, there’s a subtlety here that careful readers should find rewarding.

“The subject matter may not suit everyone, but Rosemary’s assertion that ‘some people were just never meant to be happy’ will resonate strongly with anyone who has suffered, or loved someone who has.”


“This chapbook contains a series of interconnected poems about Rosemary, a woman trapped in a state of suicidal depression. As the story unfolds with each poem, you learn about the people in her life who try to help her, but can’t keep up with the brunt force of her sorrow.

“Most of these poems are presented in smooth, plain language with moments of poetic beauty that caught my attention and resonated well. The words are full of raw edges and hurt, and I could feel for Rosemary’s sorrow and her friend’s inability to connect with her.”


“Poetically tragic but quite lovely all the same. The story is told out of order so it’s interesting to read more than once and understand anew.”


“I really enjoyed these poems, though I wouldn’t exactly call them uplifting. They all concern a broken girl named Rosemary, who desperately wants to die, but just can’t seem to get there. Love the ending poem, but I think my favorite is Lavender-Scented Stationery.”


“A unique look at suicide and mental illness through the eyes and mind of the person attempting, or succeeding, at suicide. The poem is an interesting format choice for this; it has that broken-thought feel that many with severe depression can have.”


Searching for a Pulse tells the story of Rosemary, a woman who repeatedly attempts to commit suicide. The story is set up in the form of many poems. Although I got an uncorrected version of the book, I feel that it was well written. Some of what was said in these poems were things that I was able to relate to and that made the work so much more meaningful. All in all, the story itself is sad but definitely worth the read.”