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Priscila Uppal is the author of four previous collections of poetry: How to Draw Blood From a Stone (1998); Confessions of A Fertility Expert (1999); Pretending to Die (2001); Live Coverage (2003) and a novel, The Divine Economy of Salvation (2002), which was published by Doubleday in Canada and Algonquin Books of Chapel Hall in the United States, and translated into Dutch and Greek. Her poetry has been translated into Korean, Croatian, Latvian, and Italian. She is professor of Humanities at York University and co-ordinator of York’s Creative Writing Program. Priscila Uppal lives in Toronto, Canada.

Priscila Uppal’s vibrant energy imbued everything from her academic and literary work to how she engaged with colleagues, students, friends and readers. Her poetry collection Ontological Necessities graced the Griffin Poetry Prize shortlist in 2007, and she supported and brightened every Griffin occasion she could attend. At the news of her passing on September 5, 2018, our deepest sympathies go to her loved ones, and to all who admired and connected with her work.

Ontological Necessities

Exile Editions
2007 Shortlist
Canada

Judges’ Citation

Uppal has done the rare and difficult thing: she has brought a brand new voice to poetry.

Who are you? One of Priscila Uppal’s poems keeps asking itself. Are you the oyster shell of the new millennium, the sundial waitress in her two-bit automobile with a license to fish, the wristwatch of the nation, the woman’s shelter of the soul? The poems in Ontological Necessities are all that and much more. Audacious, irreverent, funny and, at the same time, deeply serious, they explore our notions of identity and various other conventions we live by striving to see through the lies. The ever-present horrors of our age; the injustice, the violence, the abuse and slaughter of the innocent, are almost always present. Uppal is a political poet who sounds like no other political poet, someone bound to get in trouble in every political system in the world. Her subject matter tends to be dark, but her telling of it is exhilarating. Every poem in her book comes as a surprise, and that includes the free translation of the Anglo-Saxon poem ‘The Wanderer’ with which the book concludes, and which in her version deals with the Iraq war and the fate of people displaced by such calamities. Uppal has done the rare and difficult thing: she has brought a brand new voice to poetry.