Letter Out : Letter In is a poetic synthesis of social commentary, political-economic analysis and philosophical meditation. Re-interpreting meanings and frames of reference by taking distance, the poems delve into the complexities of divisions, and explore the Sufi notion of love. The first section, Letter to South Africa, offers a uniquely Canadian perspective on post-Apartheid South Africa. Letter to Canada is a re-examination of Canada following from experiences of South Africa. Letter to All moves beyond borders, to larger frames of reference. The final section, Letter Out : Letter In, attempts to relocate the individual within the big picture.
In Letter to South Africa Valiani holds a mirror to our faces. She shines a torch on the selves we may not wish to illuminate and on those we’d like to remodel. Blink, close your eyes, shift, crouch, turn around, hide – her words expose like the midday sun.
—Makhosazana Xaba, Poet, these hands (2005) Tongues of Their Mothers (2008)
Salimah Valiani’s work embodies a miraculous fusion of talents and perspectives. She shows us the world through a poet’s eyes but with a political-economist’s understanding of power and structure. Above all she conveys an undying respect for the dignity and staying power of humanity, and an undying hope that we will make it better.
—Jim Stanford , Economist, Canadian Auto Workers
Salimah Valiani asks, “how can we know ourselves/ if we don’t know each other?” Entering “a dialect of internationalism,” her poems push us to expand our contexts, to look more closely into global dynamics as home. From revisiting Inuit sculptures in a Canadian airport to a black history tour of Halifax and much more, Letters In: Letters Out responds to what’s happening in our streets and planet today with urgent love. As Valiani reminds us, “umuntu ngumuntu ngabanto”
—Rita Wong, Poet, Winner of the 2008 Dorothy Livesay Prize, for forage (2007)