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Priscila Uppal

Poet and novelist Priscila Uppal was born in Ottawa, Ontario in 1974 to a Brazilian mother and a father of South Asian origin. She completed a double honours B.A. in English and Creative Writing from York University in 1997, an M.A. in English from the University of Toronto in 1998, and a Ph.D. in English literature from York University in 2003. Uppal was an assistant professor of Humanities and Co-ordinator of the Creative Writing Program at York University in Toronto.
Uppal served as poet-in-residence for Canadian Athletes Now during the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics and in 2011 became the first Rogers Cup Tennis Tournament poet-in-residence.
Priscila Singh Uppal died in Toronto, September 5, 2018 after a long battle with a rare cancer.


Confessions of a Fertility Expert

Toronto: Exile Editions, 1999.
PS8591 .P62 C65 1999


How to Draw Blood from a Stone

Toronto: Exile Editions, 1998
PS8591 .P62 H6 1998


Live Coverage

Toronto: Exile Editions, 2003.
PS8591 .P62 L49 2003

Publisher’s Synopsis

In Live Coverage Priscila Uppal deftly negotiates between the contemporary and the mythic, in a bourgeoning 21st century that bristles with biblical and classical justice. Taking the form of a news report, complete with news crawl and mid-broadcast interruptions, this risky and unique collection of poems presents pscyhologically stark and wrenching portraits of individual lives here and now, while managing to be both a modern document and prophetic utterance.


Ontological Necessities

Toronto: Exile Editions, 2006.
PS8591 .P62 O68 2006

Publisher’s Synopsis (from its website)

… From poems that explore questions of identity (who is anyone, anyway?) to those that attempt to examine human relationships with the onslaught of horrors depicted daily in the news, this collection uses surrealist and absurdist language in subversive and startling ways to grapple with an increasingly absurd world.


Pretending to Die

Toronto: Exile Editions, 2001.
PS8591 .P62 P73 2001

Publisher’s Synopsis

Pretending to Die continues [Uppal’s] exploration of myth and mourning, how the past survives in the present, and how we stay afloat against the knowledge of mortality.

Sabotage book cover



Toronto: Mansfield Press, 2015.
PS8591 .P62 S23 2015

Publisher’s Synopsis

Sabotage is a covert exploration of public and private acts of destruction, disruption, and vandalism in the 21st century. With devious grace, award-winning author Priscila Uppal probes vital sites that are under attack or at risk, such as the human body, the communities and families we live among, and the cultural legacies that shape us. Sabotage frames this investigation of violations through recognizable legal and literary methods: Accusations, Discussions, Adaptations, Riddles, Arguments, and Defenses.


Successful Tragedies: Poems 1998-2010

Highgreen, Tarset, Northumberland: Bloodaxe Books, 2010.
PS8591 .P62 S83 2010

Publisher’s Synopsis

… includes work from six books published in Canada, including Ontological Necessities, …, and her latest collection, Traumatology. Readers experiencing Priscilla Uppal for the first time will enter a turbulent but vital landscape, discovering a poet dedicated to uncovering the motivations behind our cruelties and our compassions and determined to explore the absurdity of the world.

Summer Sport Poems_book_cover


Summer Sport: Poems

Toronto: Mansfield Press, 2013.
PS8591 .P62 S84 2013

Publisher’s Synopsis

Following the success of Winter Sport: Poems, the celebrated poet went on to become the first-ever Rogers Cup Tennis Poet-in-Residence in 2011 and resumed her position for Canadian Athletes Now for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.  The acrobatic verse collected out of those unique experiences will enable you to wrestle with Plato, volley with Elizabeth Barrett Browning, eat yams with Usain Bolt, fence with Don Quixote, make soccer history with Canada’s women, and bash chairs in wheelchair rugby.  Uppal also offers valuable insights about sport and artistic practice and outlines how to run your own “Sports Writing Boot Camp.”



Holstein, ON: Exile Editions, 2010.
PS8591 .P62 T73 2010

Publisher’s Synopsis

In … [Traumatology], the standards by which we define our mental, physical, and spiritual health are dissected in the poet’s holistic laboratory. Men with wands patrol the neighbourhood charting cellular death, past selves smuggle themselves aboard airplanes for exotic trips, while the unhappy spin the psychological wheel of blame. Playful, satirical, surreal, yet unflinchingly humane in its examination of states of being, this new collection will change the way you think about your body, you mind, and your spirit. And will lead you off into uncharted regions.


Winter Sport: Poems

Toronto: Mansfield Press, 2010.
PS8591 .P62 W56 2010

Publisher’s Synopsis (from its website)

Have you ever wondered what a luge poem or snowboarding poem or hockey poem would look like? In this collection by celebrated poet Priscila Uppal, who was the poet-in-residence for Canadian Athletes Now during the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Games, physical and verbal acrobatics meet in a dazzling competition of risky play, inventive movements, and daring heights. Try a speed skating suit on for size, slide down the skeleton track, seek out a date with a curler, make love to a snowboarder, and play hockey with the nation’s best – experience winter sport fun like never before.

Fiction (Short stories)(Chapbook)

Cover Before Striking

Images by Tracy Carbert.
Toronto: Lyricalmyrical Press, 2004.

Limited edition.
A text only version appears in the CVC: Carter V. Cooper Short Fiction Anthology Series. Book Three described below.

 Cover Before Striking book cover

Fiction (Short stories)

Cover Before Striking: Stories

Toronto: Dundurn Press, 2015.
PS8591 .P62 C693 2015

Publisher’s Synopsis (from its website)

Uppal’s characters in Cover Before Striking are all people pushing their lives to new levels of intensity, danger, or passion as they test their limits and those of the world. The pyromaniac at the heart of the title story — winner of the Gloria Vanderbilt Short Fiction Prize — desperately uses fire to reconnect with lost lovers and family members. In “Vertigo,” an injured Olympic athlete becomes a research guinea pig in a surreal scientific experiment. In “The Boy Next Door,” a teenager recounts how her mother took her and fled Canada for Brazil, along with the local Catholic priest.
Implacable and just a little unhinged, the stories of Cover Before Striking each move toward that moment of contact when the sparks begin to fly, when destruction and beauty seem to blur together. With this collection, Priscila Uppal offers the literary equivalent of playing with fire.



The Divine Economy of Salvation

Toronto: Doubleday Canada, 2002.
Toronto: Anchor Canada, 2003.

Publisher’s Synopsis


To Whom it May Concern

Toronto: Doubleday Canada, 2009.
PS8591 .P62 T62 2008

Publisher’s Synopsis

In this modern retelling of King Lear set in multicultural Ottawa, Priscilla Uppal explores the vulnerability and complexity of family and inheritance. She exposes the tragic and comedic and dimensions of our failures to communicate and the unexpected consequences of our betrayals.

6 Essential Questions book cover


6 Essential Questions

Toronto: Playwrights Canada Press, 2015.
PS8591 .P62 A133 2015

Publisher’s Synopsis

6 Essential Questions tells the story of Renata as she travels to Brazil to reunite with the mother who abandoned her when she was just five years old. In Rio, Renata discovers more than she bargained for in her quest to uncover the truth of who abandoned whom. She is continually tossed about by her undead grandmother and a semi-invisible uncle as they choreograph the ultimate dance of mother and daughter, both of whom must confront their dreams before they can ever attempt to confront each other. Imaginations run wild in this strangely beautiful and funny story loosely based on Uppal’s critically acclaimed memoir, Projection: Encounters with My Runaway Mother ….

Anthology (Short stories)

CVC: Carter V. Cooper Short Fiction Anthology Series. Book Three

PS8329.1 .C83 2013

Uppal, Priscila. “Cover Before Striking.” In CVC: Carter V. Cooper Short Fiction Anthology Series. Book Three. Selected by and with a preface by Gloria Vanderbilt. Holstein, Ont.: Exile Editions, 2013, 83-121.
This story was a co-winner with Austin Clark’s “They Never Told Me” of the Best Story by a writer at any point of career in the 3rd annual CVC competition.

Anthology (Short stories)

CVC: Carter V. Cooper Short Fiction Anthology Series. Book Five

PS8329.1 .C83 2015

Uppal, Priscila. “Bed Rail Entrapment Risk Notification Guide.” In CVC: Carter V. Cooper Short Fiction Anthology Series.  Book Five.  Selected by and with a preface by Gloria Vanderbilt.  Holstein, Ont.: Exile Editions, 2015, 130-150.


Red Silk: An Anthology of South Asian Canadian Women Poets

Edited by Rishma Dunlop & Priscilla Uppal.
Toronto: Mansfield Press, 2004.
PS8283 .A8 R43 2004

Anthology (Short stories)

Her Mother’s Ashes 3: Stories by South Asian Women in Canada and the United States

PS8329.1 .H45 2009

Uppal, Prscila. “The Man Who Loved Cats.” In Her Mother’s Ashes 3, edited by Nurjehan Aziz. Toronto: Tsar, 2009, [61]-66.


Tok. Book 2

PS8237 .T6 T54 2007

Uppal, Priscila. “My Father’s South-Asian Canadian Dictionary.” In Tok. Book 2, edited by Helen Walsh. Toronto: Zephyr Press, 2007, 27-29. [poem]

“Recipes for Dirty Laundry.” p. 31-51. [short story]

Non-Fiction (Autobiography)

Projection: Encounters with my Runaway Mother

Markham: Thomas Allen, 2013.
PS8591 .P62 Z46 2013

Awards and Honours

2013 Governor-General’s Literary Award — Non-fiction, English language (Finalist)

2013 Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Prize for Non-fiction (Finalist)

Selected Criticism and Interpretation

Whyte, Ewan. “Priscila Uppal: Live Coverage.“ In Desire Lines: Essays on Art, Poetry & Culture. Toronto: Guernica Editions, 2017, 105-107.
PS8645 .H96 D47 2017


Publisher Bloodaxe Books

Publisher Doubleday Canada, an imprint of Penguin Random House Canada

Publisher Exile Editions

Publisher Mansfield Press

Publisher Playwrights Canada Press

Publisher Thomas Allen & Son

Publisher Zephyr Press

Diaspora Dialogues Charitable Foundation

Priscila Uppal on Winter Sports: Poems, part of CBC Radio One’s The Next Chapter with Shelagh Rogers,  episode “Thomas King, Priscila Uppal” first broadcast February 4, 2013