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Vivek Shraya

Artist, Educator, & Performer

Vivek Shraya is an acclaimed artist whose body of work crosses the boundaries of music, literature, visual art, and film.

Calgary, Alberta, Canada


I’m Afraid of Men
Drawing from her newest book, I’m Afraid of Men, Vivek discusses the powerful overarching themes and experiences around its creation. A sincere and passionate speaker Vivek takes audiences through her fear and upheaval as she transitioned into the woman she is today. Shraya discusses our culture of fear, the role of entitlement/male privilege and the outdated idea of a “good” man. In this emotional presentation, Vivek explores how the masculinity that was imposed on her as a boy continues to haunt her as a girl–and how we might reimagine gender for the twenty-first century.

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.

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.

Platform Plus

Multimedia Presentation | I’m Afraid of Men

Summary Profile

Vivek Shraya’s best-selling new book, I’m Afraid of Men, was her­ald­ed by Vanity Fair as “cultural rocket fuel,” and her album with Queer Songbook Orchestra, Part‑Time Woman, was included in  CBC ’s list of Best Canadian Albums of 2017.

She is one half of the music duo Too Attached and the founder of the publishing imprint VS. Books. A Polaris Music Prize nominee and four-time Lambda Literary Award finalist, Vivek was a 2016 Pride Toronto Grand Marshal, was featured on The Globe and Mail’s Best Dressed list, and has received honours from The Writers’ Trust of Canada and The Publishing Triangle.

She is currently a director on the board of the Tegan and Sara Foundation and an Assistant Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Calgary.

Followed by TWO @tooattachedpop shows on Friday & Saturday! @CalgaryPride @evolveprideyyc https://t.co/b9pQzKaAdE (2019-05-19 02:42:54)
Calgary! I haven’t forgotten you! Three gigs in YYC next week, starting with this joint book launch on Wednesday… https://t.co/sslNEaX26Q (2019-05-19 02:38:47)
@RogersShelagh So great to speak to you always! (2019-05-19 02:32:17)