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Giving Visibility to ‘queer’ Experiences: Vivek Shraya

Posted on 10 February 2012 by admin

Writing is only one of the things Vivek Shraya does well. This Toronto-based multimedia artist’s first collection of short stories, “God Loves Hair” was a finalist at the 2011 Lambda Literary Award and is currently being used as a textbook at several post-secondary institutions.

Why did you feel the need to take to writing?

I am in love with words. Nothing excites me like a new word, a well-structured sentence, a beautifully articulated sentiment.

How has writing impacted your outlook and life?

I employ writing in a number of ways: journaling, songwriting, (non) fiction writing etc. Each format provides a different release and reward but overall being a writer, working through ideas and emotions through word, has resulted in a healthier and richer life than I can imagine without.

A lot of good literature is coming from South Asia these days. What would you attribute this to?

I think increasingly we are feeling inspired to fill a gap that a lot of us have experienced for so long. I also think that significant changes in the publishing industry, such as the increase of E-books, have made it more accessible for our stories to be shared and consumed.

What is your view of Canadian-SA literature?

I think it’s crucial, especially when I think of growing up in Edmonton and not seeing my experience or my family’s experience reflected in art and literature.

What issues do you wish to talk about through your writing? Why are these important to you?

Generally themes relating to sexuality, gender, race, religion and how they intersect are at the forefront of my writing because again, as queer person of colour, I am passionate about giving visibility to the kinds of experiences that aren’t at the forefront.

What do you think about Canada’s multicultural claim?

I can be cynical about it at times, especially when I consider the racism I have experienced or witnessed in Canada. But this softens when I travel, especially to the US, and see the way racial politics play out or how strong the lines of segregation are there.

How has the diaspora experience impacted your writing?

Navigating a sense of not quite belonging to the country I was born and raised in or my homeland is an intrinsic part of my daily lived experience so it definitely shapes and manifests in my work, not just my writing.

What can we expect from you in the days to come?

I recently put out a new EP called 1:1 which is available via iTunes. My first book, God Loves Hair, sold out earlier this year and I am hoping the second edition will be out in January/February of 2012. I am also currently working on my next book project, but have no idea when it will see the light of day.

For more information, please visit www.vivekshraya.com.

 

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