• Coconut



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978-177439-023-8 | 2021 April | 108 Pages


In her debut collection, Canadian National Slam Champion Nisha Patel commands her formidable insight and youthful, engaged voice to relay experiences of racism, sexuality, empowerment, grief, and love. These are vitally political, feminist poems for young women of colour, with bold portrayals of confession, hurt, and healing.

Coconut rises fiercely like the sun. These poems bestow light and warmth and the ability to witness the world, but they ask for more than basking; they ask readers to grow and warn that they can be burnt. Above all, Nisha Patel’s work questions and challenges propriety and what it means to be a good woman, second-generation immigrant, daughter, consumer, and lover.

“The table of contents of Coconut reads like a poem I wish I could write. Patel’s words collapse well established defences into nothing but excuses. Poems entitled 'chai latte' and ‘father' are both gorgeous and gut wrenching, like a sunset over a tsunami. Readers will hold their breath. The exhale will not bring relief but rather, perspective.”
— Rebecca Thomas, author of I place you into the fire

Coconut is a book of conversation-starters. It prompts questions we didn’t realize we needed to ask and challenges those answers we thought we knew best. Here, readers will find a collection that is by turn tongue-in-cheek, full of rage and longing, contradictory, defiant, and bold. Patel invites us to embrace all these things, these confessions and confrontations alike, to engage with the political and the poetic, recognizing that in her hands, they are one and the same.” full review
— Anuja Varghese, Hamilton Review of Books

“There may be no manual for being a woman, for being a person of colour, for being fat, or for being queer, but I believe this is as close as I will get to having one.” full review
— Namitha Rathinappillai, Plenitude Magazine

“Patel’s unapologetic voice in this debut collection of heart-wrenching, truth-telling stories screams into the skies to take up space where it has never been welcomed. As you inhale and exhale her words, they begin to give way to deeper, unique meaning-making and perspectives.”
— Amanda Jeysing, Arc Poetry Magazine

“Nisha Patel’s debut poetry collection, Coconut, is a much-needed and powerful exploration of racism, sexuality, and mental health.... After finishing this passionate and insightful debut, readers will be eager for more from this young, rising talent.”
— Matthew Stepanic, in Quill & Quire

“Nisha Patel deftly channels her thoughts and feelings into dazzling texts that are powerful, political, confrontational and heartbreaking.” full review
— Christopher DiRaddo, Xtra Magazine

vulnerable, political, feminist."
— CBC Books

I tell my mother that I want to be a poet

and do not flinch when 26 years of
licking the dirt off the earthworms
no longer tastes like home

I think we forget that the great pyramids of giza
were burial chambers, never meant to hold
anything close to a beating heart or a living dream
and I wonder why it is that when a child of immigrants
wants to be a poet, we pray instead for a prosperous afterlife

I tell my mother that I want to be a poet
and for a second, we fall in love
leave the men we think we
aren’t beautiful enough to abandon
touch palms to the cool tables of our cheeks
hold each other as women do
chest to chest, like we are enough

but if I could write a poem for every time
I have made my mother proud
I would, for once, have nothing to say