A collection of poems partially based on the Reena Virk murder case. Virk was an Asian adolescent whose drowned body was found in the Gorge Waterway in a Victoria, BC suburb, in 1997. Some of the poems use found material from court transcripts. The murder made international headlines due to the viciousness employed by Virk’s assailants: seven girls and one boy between the ages of 13 and 16, five of whom were white. The poems examine in part the poet’s remembrances of girlhood, the unease of adolescence, and the circumstances that enable some to pass through adolescence unhurt.
Praise for Tell: poems for a girlhood:
“Harrowing and deeply empathetic, Tell: poems for a girlhood traces the events surrounding the 1997 murder of teenager Reena Virk by a group of high school classmates. Peerbaye bears brave witness to the unspeakable brutality of these events, drawing from testimonies of the convicted, the victim’s autopsy report, and a history of the landscape itself. And yet, the power of this book derives only partly from the unbearable facts of violence, hatred, and alienation. The true miracle of Tell is not merely its choice to sing of such things, but its ability to sing in such a way as to urge the reader to embrace painful sympathies. Peerbaye’s language becomes a vehicle not just for exploring what others in the world may be capable of, but also of drawing readers into excruciating proximity with our own adolescent longing, fear, shame and rage.” — Griffin Poetry Prize judges’ citation
“Peerbaye’s brilliance—and yes, this poetry is transcendentally brilliant — is her commitment to image as memory, and memory as empathy.” — Corrine Gilroy
“…an uncommonly meaningful collection.” — Dr. Bakul Banerjee
Griffin Poetry Prize nominee’s work based on case of slain B.C. teen Reena Virk — CTV News