My Dear Comrades

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Expected release date is 28th Mar 2023

In this poetry collection, Sunu P. Chandy includes stories about her experiences as a woman, civil rights attorney, parent, partner, daughter of South Asian immigrants, and member of the LGBTQ community. These poems cover themes ranging from immigration, social justice activism, friendship loss, fertility challenges, adoption, caregiving, and life during a pandemic. Sunu’s poems provide some resolve, some peace, some community, amidst the competing notions of how we are expected to be in the world, especially when facing a range of barriers. Sunu’s poems provide company for many who may be experiencing isolation through any one of these experiences and remind us that we are not, in fact, going it alone. Whether the experience is being disregarded as a woman of color attorney, being rejected for being queer, losing a most treasured friendship, doubting one’s romantic partner or any other form of heartbreak, Sunu’s poems highlight the human requirement of continually starting anew. These poems remind us that we can, and we will, rebuild. They remind us that whether or not we know it, there are comrades who are on parallel roads too, and that as a collective, we are, undoubtedly, cheering each other on.

Praise for My Dear Comrades

“Sunu Chandy’s My Dear Comrades thrives in that charged space in which politics and personal story connect. Here, each experience pulls the weight of its complicated history; each observation is viewed through the lens of a social justice warrior, but also through a guide leading us toward enlightenment and empathy. Chandy’s poems burst with an empowering energy that’s unshakable, unstoppable.”

– Rigoberto González, author of five poetry collections including The Book of Ruin

“In Sunu Chandy’s My Dear Comrades, she turns her exquisite attention toward everyday rituals of violence, indoctrination, and subjugation. Over and over, she interrogates some of our most-metabolized rituals, denying them the safety of invisibility, as when she writes: ‘Years later, during the middle of law school, I learned / this rule by observation: We must stand / when the judge enters the courtroom.’ And then later: ‘In that moment I learned / much of what I needed to know about the law.’ At the heart of her refusal is a poetics and an ethics of discipline, tenderness, and attention that reminds me of the work of Martín Espada and Audre Lorde. My Dear Comrades is a stunningly lucid and deeply personal work about law and power, race and queerness. Love.”

– Aracelis Girmay, author of the black maria and Kingdom Animalia

“At the foundation of My Dear Comrades is a belief in the strength of community, whether that is intimate family, a wider chosen community or a geographically determined ‘general public.’ Each kind of community deserves–requires–the same kind of care. The attentions these poems give is indeed intimate but their intention and embrace is wide and public. Sunu Chandy is a generous poet, wise and willful and fierce and kind.”

– Kazim Ali, author of several books including most recently, The Voice of Sheila Chandra and Northern Light

“Sunu Chandy’s debut collection My Dear Comrades is a love letter to the creation of community, queer family building, and fighting against injustice. In language that both challenges and consoles, Chandy investigates, as in the poem ‘Calculate,’ ‘[w]ords that can build us / up or tear us to shreds…’ This book looks closely at language, questioning who owns it, who silences it, and what silence protects. Chandy asks: how do we repair our broken world? And the poems answer, in a brilliant call for social justice, workers’ rights, new constructions of family and most of all, deep compassion.”

– Nicole Cooley, author of Breach, Girl After Girl After Girl, and Of Marriage

“From the love underpinning LGBTQ adoption to the struggles of immigration, this lyrically inclusive and politically unifying debut collection makes the best and most beautiful argument toward belonging.”

-Roger Sedarat, author of Ghazal Games and Haji as Puppet: an Orientalist Burlesque

My Dear Comrades lives at the intersection of the personal and the political. Fearlessly, with candor and grace, these poems bear witness, shatter oppressive silences, and call injustice by its many names. At the same time, they acknowledge the complicated matrices that make us human—our relationships, desires, the gnarled pathways of the heart. Bracing and compassionate, fortifying and vulnerable, Chandy debuts here as a necessary voice that reminds us: ‘Remember integrity. / Remember what is at stake.’”

-Lauren K. Alleyne, author of Difficult Fruit and Honeyfish

“Sunu Chandy’s My Dear Comrades considers the multiple boundaries and borders that the poet crosses into justice: political, social, and the deeply interior. In sure language Chandy shows her own path towards her personal ethics as a mother, a queer daughter, an activated empath searching for a deep love that transforms as it creates community. I have been thirsty for a poetry that demonstrates fierce allyship and what it means for queers of color living in the United States. My Dear Comrades is a map into the heart’s country that abolished borders. Indeed, this collection proceeds from a damaged and flawed world and forges a complicated, abounding beauty.”

-Rajiv Mohabir, author of Cutlish and Antiman: A Hybrid Memoir

”Sunu Chandy’s poems are evocations of how we build bonds and resemblance, how we live in community, how we work towards justice. With courage and commitment, My Dear Comrades breaks open the details of life — queer romance, city living, family gatherings, adoption processes, legal document review — to investigate the possibilities and power of practices of repair, rebuilding, forgiveness, compassion, and justice. These poems are rituals of rearrangement: Chandy shows us how to build and rebuild relationships, cities, gender, labor, and our relationships to ourselves so that we can collectively offer a ‘footstep/towards something possible.’ My Dear Comrades is an invitation into community, into possibility, into the work of justice.”

-Purvi Shah, author of Miracle Marks and Terrain Tracks

“Sunu Chandy’s poems are miniature stories: sensual flashes, immersive scenes in which whole lives are glimpsed and revealed. Flatbush, Jerusalem, Kingston, Kerala, and more: In close quarters and intimate spaces, the speaker of the poem sits on the floor or breaks bread while keenly observing how power moves through and within the people she encounters. Rituals of justice and resistance wend their way through moments of grief and care. The book is wide-ranging in its subjects, but ultimately it is family, given and chosen, that forms the tender, beating heart of this beautiful collection.”

– Minal Hajratwala, author of Leaving India: My Family’s Journey from Five Villages to Five Continents and Bountiful Instructions for Enlightenment; Founder of Camp Unicorn

“Sunu Chandy’s debut poetry collection, My Dear Comrades, is relentless in its ability to speak truth to power. Readers travel along this poetic journey with Chandy as she documents injustices, reflects on her past, and gives us a glimpse into her own struggles, fears and joys. Chandy’s poems are intimate and vulnerable, poems of protest and praise, poems that break us and bring us delight. She embraces the complicated and exquisite parts of herself and we are left better for it. The silences in Chandy’s poems often speak volumes. When the relative of a friend sexually harasses the narrator, Chandy uses sparse descriptions to frame a disturbing, yet familiar scene: ‘It was not dark. It was not night. I was not outside. I was not alone. I was not with strangers. There were women in the vicinity.’ In ‘Too Pretty,’ Chandy’s effective use of repetition captures the narrator’s fears for herself, a queer woman of color, along with her genuine concern for queer pre-teens during a homophobic incident on a NYC subway. She closes the poem with a heartfelt silent wish/prayer, ‘You all sitting there, laughing laughing/ sitting there on your sixth grade girlfriend’s lap/ so free and easy, laughing laughing,/ be safe my handsome girls, be safe my pretty boys.’ Many of her poems evoke the powerful political poetry of Margaret Walker and Pat Parker, such as ‘Shelter-In-Place.’ Here, Chandy defiantly affirms ‘I pledge allegiance to facing conflict head-on/and choosing our battles./ I pledge allegiance to the organizers,/ to the ones moving through the tears, to people sitting around /a table and writing our poems anyway.’ This political praise poem ignites the page; words become a mantra invoking the power of both organizers and poets. Ultimately, My Dear Comrades, uplifts and centers the compelling voice of Sunu Chandy, a queer woman of color, whose dedication to community, social justice activism and family center this stunning collection.”

-J.P. Howard, author of SAY/MIRROR, bury your love poems here, Praise This Complicated Herstory: Legacy, Healing & Revolutionary Poems and co-editor of Sinister Wisdom’s Black Lesbians–We Are the Revolution!

My Dear Comrades is a collection of fierce hymns to guide us through those daily atrocities, that seem benign, yet haunt us. Chandy profoundly feels every blow of social injustice, and rather than rage, Chandy hurls sharp wit, pristine imagery, and a cinematic brilliance that takes you through her journey as an immigrant daughter, wife, mother & activist. Chandy shows us how taking in the hard truths in our urbane dailiness crafted with profound self-reflection and metaphor can result in the gorgeous act of rebuilding the human soul. As we navigate our identity in an unprecedented 21st-century global crisis, Chandy shows us that poetry can hold us up.”

– Regie Cabico, Split This Rock co-Founder, Poet, Capturing Fire Publisher

“To read Sunu Chandy’s My Dear Comrades is to participate in a revelation. Through details of chai and military tanks, peppermint soap and broken doorknobs, the poems in Chandy’s collection remind us that the smallest moments in life can hold our whole humanity. And isn’t this a form of justice, Chandy’s poems seem to say, to claim a connected way of being–queer, woman, of color, survivor, parent, spouse, advocate–fully human and vulnerable, awake to both the heartbreaks and the wonders of the world.”

-Jen Soriano, author of Making the Tongue Dry and forthcoming Nervous: Essays – on embodied history and the neuroscience of healing – Amistad/HarperCollins 2023

“The poems in Sunu Chandy’s My Dear Comrades sing, shine, shimmer, and slide into our consciousness. They are alive with the everyday and leap to make connections between our personal choices and the direction the world is moving. They remind us that justice is a daily responsibility. And the poems are also deeply personal—funny and heartbreaking in equal measure. Sunu’s poems share and praise their origins, discuss their process, and open up conversations within us. They delight, surprise, and complicate at every turn. My Dear Comrades should be required reading for anyone who cares about this world.”

-Jeffrey Perkins, author of Kingdom

“Sunu Chandy’s My Dear Comrades makes me uncomfortable in the best of ways. She is generous with her personal stories – her path to becoming a parent and mothering, from fertility to adoption to pandemic parenting; her journey to becoming a lawyer, and her never-ending ability to navigate systems that were not built for her, for me, or for so many of us. I’m grateful for the reminder that there can be humor in some of life’s toughest moments and sadness in our greatest achievements. And I feel lucky to be one of the comrades on her journey.”

-Fatima Goss Graves, President and CEO, National Women’s Law Center

My Dear Comrades, a book of poems by Sunu Chandy, is beautifully written, bursting with emotion, heart wrenching, and thought-provoking. I remember feeling hit in the heart in the first few minutes after reading ‘Just Act Normal.’ I was hooked after that. I recommend checking this out if you love poetry with a purpose.”

– Stacey Stevenson, Chief Executive Officer, Family Equality

“Make space in your life to accompany Sunu Chandy as she travels across country, culture, personal experience, and injustices from the merely irritating to the enraging. Feel with your hands the thickly woven tapestries of being: the colors, the heartbreak, the commitment, the joy, the vulnerability, the humanity, the awful harms we humans do each other. It’s all threaded together with love: Love of self, of others, of humanity, of justice. Everything, big, small, or in-between is suffused with meaning and the complexity it calls for and deserves. Chandy has a way of capturing our many and varied experiences, and she’s laid them down in verse so we can join her and feel our own lives more deeply.”

– Lauren R. Taylor, director of Defend Yourself and author of a forthcoming book on empowerment self-defense.