Vivek Shraya’s debut collection of poetry, even this page is white, is a bold, timely and personal 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.
“call in sick” also appears in The Remedy: Queer and Trans Voices on Health and Health Care, edited by Zena Sharman.
Essays by Vivek
- Publishing Triangle Award · Trans and Gender-Variant Literature
- Lambda Literary Awards · Transgender Poetry
This brave and very contemporary lyrical collection dares to ask the unspoken yet screaming questions, to finish the sentence that hurts, that reveals, that provokes, that celebrates. Like a Durga goddess, Shraya juggles with deft hands the multiple aspects of desire, race, gender, queerness and contemporary pop culture.
Vivek Shraya radically centres radiant darkness in even this page is white. In and around and between the lines I see multi-dimensional reflections of myself; all the possibilities of my becoming. Beasts are everywhere, outside and in, and Vivek’s words root my courage to face them in love-a-lutionary soil.
even this page is white demands that all of us account for our visions of ‘colour’ and/or ‘race’ frontally and peripherally, with ocular proofs. Shraya is the poet-optometrist, correcting our vision and letting us see our identities without rose-coloured glasses, but with naked optics. even this page is white isn’t even-handed, but dexterous and sinister, in demonstrating, in revelatory poem after revelatory poem, why ‘often brown feels like but’ and why even a good white person—with a ‘golden heart’—‘can be racist.’ Reader, you have work to do!
A provocative meditation on what it means to grow up anything other than white in Canada, tackling institutional racism and sexual identity from a unique viewpoint, all delivered with astute observation and trenchant insight.
If there’s an award for the fusion of a book’s design with its content, surely it should go to even this page is white, the first poetry collection of author, filmmaker, and singer/songwriter Vivek Shraya. In even this page is white, Shraya offers an accessible and intimate primer on white supremacy, starting with the borders between internalized and externalized racism in embodied craving, and expanding to interrogate hierarchies of belonging, from anti-black racism among people of color to displacement and colonialism in everyday experience, activist spaces, cruising mentalities, families of origin, and families of choice. Shraya indicts not just the places and spaces where white supremacy makes itself visible and invisible, but also her own participation, guiding us through the pages, stages, and rages of awareness, inspiration, collaboration, and defiance.
Vivek Shraya’s even this page is white was a fantastic book of poems. It challenges complacency and widens your scope of the world. And you will enjoy having your perception heightened. It is a delicate play between pop cultural references and profound reflections on systematic inequality. I gave it to my daughter’s friend who refuses to read books, because it is so seductive.
I predict it’s going to be one of the foundational texts writers and artists, especially QTPOC ones, will look back on and come back to as the groundwork that informed their practices and inspired their work, artistic and political… It’s not hyperbolic to say that this is a book everyone should read. It’s the kind of poetry collection that makes you feel privileged just to have read it.
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