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Shailja Patel

CNN calls Shailja Patel “the people-centered face of globalization”. An internationally acclaimed Kenyan poet, playwright, activist, and public intellectual, her performances have received standing ovations on four continents. Trained as a political economist, accountant and yoga teacher, she uses text, voice, body, and critical thinking to delve for truth and dissect power. Patel has been African Guest Writer at Sweden’s Nordic Africa Institute and poet-in-residence at the Tallberg Forum, Sweden’s alternative to Davos. She has appeared on the BBC World Service, NPR and Al-Jazeera, and her political essays appear in Le Monde Diplomatique and The New Inquiry, among others. Her work has been translated into 16 languages, and appears in No Serenity Here, the groundbreaking multilingual Chinese–African poetry anthology. Honors include a Sundance Theatre Fellowship, a Creation Fund Award from the National Performance Network, the Fanny-Ann Eddy Poetry Award from IRN-Africa, the Voices of Our Nations Poetry Award, a Lambda Slam Championship, and the Outwrite Poetry Prize. Patel is a founding member of Kenyans For Peace, Truth and Justice, a civil society coalition which works for an equitable democracy in Kenya. In 2012, she was Kenya’s poet for Poetry Parnassus, in the London Cultural Olympiad. Migritude has been published in Italy and Sweden, and was was shortlisted for the prestigious Camaiore Poetry Prize in Italy. 

 

books
Migritude

Migritude

Kaya Press 2010

MIGRITUDE, the US debut of internationally acclaimed poet and performance artist Shailja Patel, dodges categories and confounds expectations. Part poetic memoir, part political history, part performance tour-de-force, MIGRITUDE weaves together family history, reportage, and monologues of violence, colonization, and love, to create an achingly beautiful portrait of women’s lives and migrant journeys undertaken under the boot print of Empire.

Patel, who was born in Kenya and educated in England and the US, honed her poetic skills in performances that have received standing ovations throughout Europe, Africa, and North America. She has been described by the Gulf Times as “the poetic equivalent of Arundhati Roy” and by CNN as “the face of globalization as a people-centered phenomenon of migration and exchange.”

The lavishly illustrated US publication of Migritude will include interviews with the author, as well as performance notes and essays.

 
praise

“Illuminates with compelling artistry and eloquence the shameful secrets of Empire’s history.”
– – -Howard Zinn, “A Peoples’ History Of The United States”

“A vibrant, gendered, wordsmith’s voice, speaking Africa, Asia, the metropole, history, the present – the world. Shailja Patel is that rare thing – an activist poet in prose and verse.”
– – Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, Avalon Professor in the Humanities, Columbia University

“A work of unwavering moral conscience, a battle cry for justice, expressed through a poetic talent that deserves a global audience.”
– – Dennis Brutus

Shailja Patel news

MIGRITUDE is #2 on Aaron Bady’s List of African Must-Reads

Critic Aaron Bady at the New Inquiry recently highlighted Shailja Patel’s MIGRITUDE on his blog Zunguzungu. Patel’s text is part memoir and part political history, a hybrid of poetry and performance in written form to create a portrait of women’s lives and migrant journeys. It nearly topped Bady’s list of African must-reads. He movingly describes the impact of […]

Kaya Turns 20 in San Francisco

Kaya Press celebrates 20 years of publishing innovative Asian Pacific American and Asian diasporic literature in San Francisco, April 16 – 19, in conjunction with the Association for Asian American Studies Conference. Kaya 20th Anniversary Reading at City Lights Bookstore | Thursday April 17 | 7:30 p.m. | 261 Columbus Avenue at Broadway Come to […]

‘Beyond Bollywood': the Smithsonian Focuses on Indian America for the First Time

On February 27, the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center will unveil its first in-depth look on Indian Americans and their contributions to United States history. “Beyond Bollywood” will be on display at the Smithsonian for one year before touring libraries, community centers, and museums throughout the country. Among the exhibit’s featured artists will be Kaya […]

Shailja Patel Guest Stars on KDVS’s New Day Jazz

On February 9, Kaya author Shailja Patel appeared on the UC Davis radio station’s New Day Jazz, to discuss her book Migritude. To hear her interview (and a great set of jazz and soul), visit New Day Jazz host Justin Desmangles’s blog here.

 
 
 

“The most consistent intelligent wide-ranging committed press I know – Kaya is an example of how to turn ‘small’ books into literary arrows that shoot straight and true into the heart of our culture and (of course) ourselves.”

— Junot Díaz