Asian Heritage Month Highlight: Poetry Part One May 21, 2019 – Posted in: Highlights – Tags: ,

Today, we’re featuring some interesting poetry titles for Asian Heritage Month. You’ll find that each of these titles, both new and old, catch the essence of what it means and feels like to be of Asian heritage in Canada.

“Rouge” by Adrian De Leonis a collection that takes us on a ride through the TTC – except you don’t have to use the transfers, or wait for hours upon hours of delays. Rouge goes deeper than the city though; we end up at Scarborough, particularly Danzig Street, where in 2012 there was a mass shooting at a block party.

“How To Dance in This Rarefied Air” by Rienzi Crusz offers a poetics fashioned to meet the demands of writing on the cusp between two worlds, hence the songs of exile, the idioms of defiance and survival, a poetry fashioned to meet the existential concerns of the immigrant encounter.

An anthology of South Asian Canadian women’s poetry, “Shakti’s Words” gives a voice to Third World and immigrant concerns; decrying racism and bigotry; invoking the real, magical, and mythical, old worlds and the new; analytical or synthetical. These poems represent the new voices that are gradually changing the landscape of Canadian literature.


Bits of Cantonese, Mandarin, Hokkien, and Shanghainese are translated and altered to explore the dynamics between language and identity. “Flesh, Tongue” by Yaya Yao confronts her inherited fragmented self and her hunger for a home, using scraps of personal and communal memory to bridge languages, worldviews, and physical distance from her ancestoral homeland.

“Another Nirvana” by Archna Sahni explores the meaning of home and belonging and a search for transcendence through love and art. They reflect on what it means to live between cultures and continents, question traditional female roles, ponder over the role of art in life.

In recent times, Tamil poetry from Sri Lanka has taken a new turn, serving as a countermemory–a witness to torture, loss, trauma, and exile. Ahilan gives us a unique voice and style, in which he expresses the trauma of the violence in Northern and Eastern Sri Lanka with great nuance and subtlety in “Then There Were No Witnesses.”

In a series of highly evocative, personal poems, “Firesmoke” by Sheniz Janmohamed explores the meaning of truth and the self, finding them both in form and emptiness.

A bilingual edition of R. Cheran’s poetry, “You Cannot Turn Away” contains 40 poems that cover a range of experiences, including love, war, despair, hope, and diaspora.

Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha in “Love Cake” explores how queer people of colour resist and transform violence through love and desire. It maps the complicated, luscious joy of reclaiming the body and sexuality after abuse, examines a family history of violence with compassion, and celebrates the beautiful resistance of queer people of colour in love and home-making.

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Asian Heritage Month Highlight: Fiction Part One »