Vivek Shraya's debut collection of poetry is a bold and timely interrogation of skin—its origins, functions, and limitations. Poems that range in style from starkly concrete to limber break down the barriers that prevent understanding of what it means to be racialized. Shraya paints the face of everyday racism with words, rendering it visible, tangible and undeniable.
Vivek Shraya is a writer, musician, and filmmaker whose previous books include God Loves Hair and She of the Mountains. She lives in Toronto.
Shraya (She of the Mountains), a multidisciplinary Canadian artist, fashions an activist text in her debut poetry collection, one that is timely in its focus on identity (queer and racial), racism, colorism, the Black Lives Matter movement, and Shraya's own struggles with gender, her body, and her place in the world. But the book's potency lies also in Shraya's deftness as a writer. Shraya's poetry, like her prose work, is gifted, evocative, assured, and maintains a tightrope balance between nuance and bluntness. The result is a collection that is both culturally and socially conscious. The best of the poems are shorter and sharp, such as "Bloody Mary," ("white supremacy/ white supremacy/ white supremacy.") and "Thank You For Naming All Your Privileges" ("now what?"). Though it is not just those works that can be recited in moments that linger with readers. Present and potent, too, are long conversations between Shraya and friends, found poetry, free verse, and a variety of other forms on display. It is a magnificent collection straddling both current conversations in the U.S. and much more universal and introspective questions about how to see and go beyond the things that divide one thing from another.