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Wednesday April 16, 2014 in Books
A hundred years ago this year, the Japanese steamship Komagata Maru set sail for Canada with 376 Sikh, Muslim, and Hindu migrants travelling from Punjab, India. They were refused entry at Vancouver, even though all passengers were British subjects. The Komagata Maru sat moored in Vancouver’s harbour for two months while courts decided the passengers’ right to access – and while the city’s white citizens lined the pier taunting those onboard. Eventually, Canada’s racist exclusion laws were upheld and the ship was forced to return to India.
In his third poetry collection, dream / arteries, Phinder Dulai connects these 376 passengers with other New World settler migrants who travelled on the same ship throughout its thirty-six-year history, including to ports of call in Hong Kong, Japan, India, Turkey, Halifax, Montreal, and Ellis Island. By drawing on ship records, nautical maps, passenger manifests, and the rich, detailed record of the Komagata Maru, Dulai demonstrates how the 1914 incident encapsulates a broader narrative of migration throughout the New World.
Dulai’s hybrid poetics fuse historical fact with the fictive. He interweaves words of loss and silence with the cacophonous sound bites of TV news culture, war coverage, and the manifestations of contemporary ennui. Framing the “I” in the provisional realm of the observer and “subjectless” space, Dulai draws out the poetic line to explore hope, possibility, and regeneration.
ISBN 13: 9780889229136 | ISBN 10: 0889229139
5.75 W x 8.75 H inches | 136 pages
$19.95 CAN / $19.95 US
Backlist | Poetry
QUOTES OF NOTE
“Combined rhythmic discipline and a wide descriptive palette, wielded by a talented composer of word images; this would be the definition of anyone’s preferred reading. These essential elements are richly present in dream / arteries … While a pointed, heartfelt and lyrical precis of a sore spot in Canada’s expansive immigration history, dream /arteries is no less a work of agile poetics and vivid juxtaposition … a full range of common life experience and observation, shifting its focus from the specific immigrant experience on into a wider observance of the world and its offerings. The volume is elegantly produced and includes strategically placed archival photos, some faintly impressed as sepia ghostings upon translucent panels. The effect is one of contemporaneous immediacy within an irresistible sense of the importance of the past. It is a testament to Phinder Dulai’s consummate skill, aside from his personal connection to the material, that we come away from dream /arteries with a heightened awareness of all travel phenomenon, the harshness and revelatory thrill of new lands, the coldness of alienation and the vivacity of new connection.”
– Vancouver Sun
“With a sharp ear tuned to the language of past and present, Phinder Dulai returns the Komagata Maru and her passengers to the contemporary moment. We hear the voices of boats, oceans, the dead, the betrayed, the unloved and unwanted beside the voices of lovers, children, government officials, and newspaper reports. This book acknowledges life in its many forms and valences, and considers human agency in acknowledging who is loved and allowed to live, and who is unloved and left to drift and die. These are words of incisive rage and heartfelt longing. Dulai mourns in the precise materiality of a present that remembers. He knows that the injustice inflicted has consequences for love, family connection and human relation in the present.”
– Larissa Lai
“In dream / arteries, Phinder Dulai gives us the book we have needed for a hundred years, so that we can know ourselves – a book that is currently historical, epistolary, and mythic. The real multiculturalism belongs to the poet, and Dulai shows us how and why in multiple voices and registers of discourse. These poems do the miraculous: they find song in survival and render an alternate possibility of encounter in the language of imaginative memory.”
– Wayde Compton
About the ContributorsPhinder Dulai
Phinder Dulai is the Vancouver-based author of dream/arteries (forthcoming in Fall 2014 from Talonbooks) and two previous books of poetry: Ragas from the Periphery (Arsenal Pulp Press, 1995) and Basmati Brown (Nightwood Editions, 2000).
We gratefully acknowledge the financial support of the Canada Council for the Arts; the Government of Canada through the Canada Book Fund (CBF); and the Province of British Columbia through the British Columbia Arts Council for our publishing activities.