Priscila Uppal

Priscila Uppal, poet, novelist, professor (b at Ottawa 30 Oct 1974). Uppal teaches creative writing and English literature at York University, where she also earned a BA (1997) and a PhD (2003). Her MA was completed at the University of Toronto (1998). Uppal is a politically pointed voice in contemporary Canadian poetry whose 6 major collections have been commended by critics. Her academic affiliations and interests are often reflected in her creative work: her writing addresses issues surrounding women, violence, sexuality, culture, religion, illness and loss.

Priscila Uppal's poetry charts the violence and injustice of the contemporary world. Her voice characteristically blends the absurd and the serious, using startling wit to provoke her audience. Her first collection, How to Draw Blood from a Stone, was released in 1998, and was followed by Confessions of a Fertility Expert (1999), Pretending to Die (2001, shortlisted for a ReLit Award for Poetry), and Live Coverage (2003). In 2005 she released Holocaust Dream with photographer Daniel Ehrenworth, a meditation on the horror of Auschwitz. Ontological Necessities (2006) was shortlisted for the 2007 Griffin Poetry Prize. Within this collection Uppal questions personal identity and the complexities of human relationships, exploring these themes through the lens of a surreal world. Uppal's sixth major collection, Traumatology (2010), scrutinizes the different aspects of self - physical, mental and spiritual - and our definitions of those selves. With strong images and wit, Uppal pushes the standard limits of questioning the world. A selection of her poems, Successful Tragedies: Poems 1998-2010, has recently been released.

Uppal has also released 2 novels. Her first, The Divine Economy of Salvation (2002), explores the ways in which childhood sins can taint and overshadow one's later life. The novel follows the life of a woman, in anguish over her past, who seeks to find refuge by entering a convent. Her past, however, refuses to remain hidden in this disturbing yet beautiful work. To Whom It May Concern (2009) travels the life of a disabled man struggling to keep his world from falling to pieces. The novel is a powerful and unpredictable re-telling of King Lear that draws upon both the tragedy and comedy of betrayal and of love.

Priscila Uppal is also the author of an academic work, We Are What We Mourn: The Contemporary English-Canadian Elegy (2009), and has edited or co-edited several anthologies, including Red Silk: An Anthology of South Asian Canadian Women Poets (2004), The Exile Book of Poetry in Translation: 20 Canadian Poets Take on the World (2009), and collections of essays on both Barry Callaghan and Matt Cohen. She was the Canadian Athletes Now Fund poet-in-residence for the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics and Paralympics, and released Winter Sport: Poems in October 2010. Uppal is also a member of the Board of Directors for the Toronto Arts Council. Her works have been translated into a number of languages, including Croatian, Dutch, Greek, Korean, Italian and Latvian.