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Raena Shirali


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Shirali’s debut poetry collection Gilt is an altar wrought in gold and black: to conflict; to tradition and its alienation; to the American South and the way it erodes the female body; to expectations and the dark ecstasy of falling short. Shirali is clearly more interested in bringing traditionally hidden subjects to light. She often acknowledges and honors victims of violence in India—particularly women and children—as well as the trauma of eating disorders, domestic abuse, and sexual violence. Shirali, the daughter of Indian immigrants, has written a collection that dissects experiences against a white Southern background and begs the question: “What does America demand of my brown body?