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Vivek Shraya

Artist, Educator, & Performer

Vivek Shraya is an acclaimed artist whose body of work includes several albums, films, and books.

Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Presentations

Thinking About Suicide
Through the screening of her short film, “I want to kill myself,” artist Vivek challenges the idea of “wellness” as a static destination and the stigma around suicide itself. Highlighting her experience as an example for others, she shows how thinking about suicide is often a result of experiencing various forms of oppression, including racism, homophobia and misogyny. She also discusses the importance of talking about suicide and mental illness, and the impact that love and listening has had on her mental health and her relationship to thinking about suicide.

What I Love About Being Queer
As a response to the dominant narratives of tragedy and hardship associated with being queer, Vivek created a film called “What I LOVE about being QUEER” where participants share the reasons why they also celebrate their queerness. This presentation will feature a screening of this film and a broader discussion about the film’s genesis, with an emphasis on need for conversations about queer celebration in the face of ongoing homophobia and transphobia. The presentation will be followed by an interactive component where queer audience members will be given an opportunity to be photographed and write down what they love about being queer, which will then become part of the ongoing multidisciplinary project.

Celebrating Femininity
Being forced into masculinity, Vivek has spent most of her life fighting for and reclaiming various parts of her femininity. Using her multi-faceted artwork—poetry, prose and music—Vivek shares her journey to celebrating femininity, in herself, her mother, her religious up-bringing, and in pop culture, despite her early experiences of misogyny, sexism and homophobia. In addition to inspiring audience members to celebrate their own femininity, this presentation will address the ways we are taught to think about gender, and the danger of not recognizing our complicity in the prevalence of misogyny and sexism.

Queering the Classroom
Queer and gender creative youth remain largely invisible in the classroom in both the curriculum and in the texts themselves. This often perpetuates feelings of isolation for queer youth. In this presentation, Vivek discusses her own experiences of invisibility in school as inspiration for creating art that features gender creative protagonists and the impact this work has had in the classroom. This will feature a reading from several of her acclaimed books including “The Boy & the Bindi” and “God Loves Hair.” This presentation will leave educators with informed perspectives on the necessity of queering their own classrooms.

How to Write a Poem About Racism
In writing her award-winning book of poetry, “even this page is white,” Vivek was met with a series of challenges including how to convey the experience of racism beyond “overt” forms, and how to acknowledge her own privilege as a settler and her complicity in the perpetuation of anti-black racism. Through the performance of various provocative poems from her book, Vivek discusses these various challenges and offers insight on how to use art and poetry as means to change deep-seated biases.

Summary Profile

Vivek’s first book of poetry, even this page is white, won a 2017 Publisher Triangle Award and was longlisted for CBC’s Canada Reads. Her debut novel, She of the Mountains, was named one of The Globe and Mail’s Best Books, and her first children’s picture book, The Boy & the Bindi, was featured on the National Post Bestseller List.

Vivek has read and performed inter­nationally at shows, festivals and post-secondary institutions, including sharing the stage with Tegan & Sara. She is one half of the music duo Too Attached and the founder of the publishing imprint VS. Books.

A four-time Lambda Literary Award finalist, Vivek was a 2016 Pride Toronto Grand Marshal, and has received honours from Toronto Arts Foundation and The Writers’ Trust of Canada.

i went to a business meeting this morning without eyeliner i hate myself so much rn (2018-02-23 05:14:36)
Did something fun with @SpaceChannel today! 🚀 https://t.co/b2wVipiBvm (2018-02-22 10:06:55)
RT @RoomMagazine: ONLY 1 WEEK until the annual #GrowingRoom2018 Lit Fest! Registering online for your favourite readings/panels/workshops/l… (2018-02-22 08:49:37)