An Anthology of South Asian Canadian Women Poets

Red Silk

As rich and exuberant as its title, Red Silk, an anthology of poems by women who identify as South Asian, is an important contribution to the growing body of South Asian Canadian literature. Ably edited by Rishma Dunlop and Priscila Uppal, with a superb “Introduction,”Red Silk launches some powerful SouthAsian female, and feminist, voices on the Canadian literary scene. These poets explore the complexity, diversity, and heterogeneity of South Asian Canadian identity by examining their relationships, as women,to the South Asian cultures that they live in their bones, memory, and daily lives. These poemsenact how an ordinary household object, a word, a smell, a gesture, canall trigger a cascade of memories and responses soaked in cultural significance, and mark one as South Asian.Drawing on the deep well of South Asian cultural memory and its semiotic treasure house, these poets redefine and expand both Canadian culture and Canadian literature.

(Mansfield Press, 2004)

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Red Silk yields rich and divergent verse that addresses, frequently, the stresses between ‘home’ cultural traditions and ‘dominant’ Canadian values. . . The anthology attacks orthodox prejudices, but is also savvy about processes of hybridity and multiculturalism. . . Priscila Uppal recalls her search for her run-off mother in powerful lines. . . Red Silk is a fine anthology.”

~ George Elliott Clarke, The Globe and Mail

“Reading the whole thing is important because, as the book demonstrates, there is no single distinctive South Asian Canadian woman’s experience…What readers will find instead are eleven poets exploring their various unfixed identities and a wide variety of thematic concerns…Priscila Uppal’s compelling sequence, “Poem for the Runaway Mother” investigates the impact of her own mother’s absence on her family. But hers is an imaginative rather than documentary process… An important addition to Canada’s postcolonial literature.”

–Susan Briscoe, Books in Canada

“As each poet probes issues of history and culture, the red silk becomes a palimpset layered with debate about the meanings of independence, inheritance, knowledge, love, religious devotion and politics. The book’s pleasures are considerable…this anthology invites reader-travellers who, “like us”, perceive the valuable space between worlds, space in which material reality meets tradition, love meets anger, and feminist poetics meets the diaspora and cultural politics.”

–Tanis MacDonald, Centre for Feminist Research