Coconut

By Nisha Patel

Coconut
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In her debut collection, Canadian National Slam Champion Nisha Patel commands her formidable insight and youthful, engaged voice to relay experiences of racism, sexuality, empowerment, grief, and love. These are vitally political, feminist poems for young women of colour, with ... Read more


Overview

In her debut collection, Canadian National Slam Champion Nisha Patel commands her formidable insight and youthful, engaged voice to relay experiences of racism, sexuality, empowerment, grief, and love. These are vitally political, feminist poems for young women of colour, with bold portrayals of confession, hurt, and healing.

Coconut rises fiercely like the sun. These poems bestow light and warmth and the ability to witness the world, but they ask for more than basking; they ask readers to grow and warn that they can be burnt. Above all, Nisha Patel's work questions and challenges propriety and what it means to be a good woman, second-generation immigrant, daughter, consumer, and lover.

Nisha Patel

Nisha Patel is a queer spoken word poet & artist. She is the City of Edmonton's 8th Poet Laureate and the 2019 Canadian Individual Slam Champion. She is a prominent organizer and community builder, having worked with festivals across Canada, participating in both the Canadian Festival of Spoken Word and the Canadian Individual Slam Championship. Her chapbooks, Limited Success, Water, Edmonton Girl, and I See You have reached audiences around the world with their discussions of family and grief, racism, and feminism. Over the years, Nisha has led many workshops and performed from small town Moose Jaw to metropolitan Seoul, South Korea over the course of four national and international tours. With nearly 200 performances to date, Nisha is committed to furthering her goals of reaching audiences that need it and the pursuit of excellence in spoken word. To that end, she has self-started community-focused residencies and mentored poets from multiple disciplines, curated showcases, taught performance and writing, and worked within new genres. In 2019, she co-founded a national queer femme South Asian artist collective, Maza Arts, and co-founded Moon Jelly House, a publishing house centering the work of marginalized poets.

Excerpt

I tell my mother that I want to be a poet

and do not flinch when 26 years of
licking the dirt off the earthworms
no longer tastes like home
I think we forget that the great pyramids of giza
were burial chambers, never meant to hold
anything close to a beating heart, or a living dream
and I wonder why it is that when a child of immigrants
wants to be a poet, we pray instead for a prosperous afterlife
I tell my mother that I want to be a poet
and for a second, we fall in love
leave the men we think we
aren't beautiful enough to abandon
touch palms to the cool tables of our cheeks
hold each other as women do
chest to chest, like we are enough
but if I could write a poem for every time
I have made my mother proud
I would, for once, have nothing to say

Reviews

Praise for Coconut:
"The table of contents of Coconut reads like a poem I wish I could write. Patel's words collapse well-established defences into nothing but excuses. Poems entitled 'chai latte' and 'father' are both gorgeous and gut wrenching, like a sunset over a tsunami. Readers will hold their breath. The exhale will not bring relief but rather, perspective. "
~ Rebecca Thomas, author of I place you into the fire

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