by Preeti Kaur Rajpal


“[L]onging and vividness, emotive intelligence and beauty that’s fresh as the ‘first bite in the fleshed apple of language,’ … a very moving and beautiful book.” —Ilya Kaminsky


Format: Paperback
Published: November 2023

Available on backorder

ISBN: 978-1-946482-98-3 Categories: ,

Preeti Kaur Rajpal’s book opens with an epigraph from June Jordan: ‘I am a stranger/learning to worship the strangers/around me.’  This sensibility of ardor and commitment (to familial and non-familial others) sustains this collection. Rajpal is also attentive to the ways in which arrival is sometimes conditional, the way it might augur or feel like departure: ‘how one enters/the door knowing/there will be an exit.’ And beyond the threshold? A ‘bone rain’ is falling, relentlessly, like a wall that can’t be translated. Body, alphabet, ancestor, bread.

Bhanu Kapil, Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature

“Confronting the forced removals of the 1947 partition of India and their physical and spiritual consequences for her family, Preeti Kaur Rajpal writes her own ‘partition from the shredding documents / lit feathers by history’s can of black oil.’ In this falling empire, she lights a match. Rajpal’s membery is a combustive literary debut by a poet whose five linguistic, intergenerational quests extend from the palm of a deft and true hand.”

Jennifer Kwon Dobbs, author of Interrogation Room

“‘In the house of language I enter through brick’ writes Preeti Kaur Rajpal in this terrific debut where songs of exiles become a ceremony as the poet gathers her tribes and confronts history through family visions and invocations, ‘a canopy / of memory opening against bone rain.’ As Rajpal calls on heritage to shield against the pains of racism and injustice, the language of the poems elevates, resulting in longing and vividness, emotive intelligence and beauty that’s fresh as the ‘first bite in the fleshed apple of language,’ making membery a very moving and beautiful book.”

Ilya Kaminsky, author of Dancing in Odessa and Deaf Republic

In Preeti Kaur Rajpal’s debut collection, she searches for what it means to be part of the modern world with its many divisions and violences. She writes through the memory of her Sikh family’s violent expulsion during Historical India’s Partition. She threads this history with her experiences as a Sikh American woman during the post-9/11 era. Formally daring and lyrical, the poems of membery weave memory, Sikh spiritual tradition, family, country, and language acquisition as they forge the author’s own language.

Preeti Kaur Rajpal
credit: Anna Min – Min enterprises

Preeti Kaur Rajpal grew up in California’s San Joaquin Valley. Preeti first began writing as a student of June Jordan in her Poetry for the People program at UC Berkeley. Her work can be found in The Sikh Review, South Asian Magazine for Action and Reflection, Spook, Tupelo Quarterly, The Lantern Review, and other publications. Her poems are anthologized in The World I Leave You: Asian American Poets Speak on Faith and Spirit and the forthcoming They Rise Like a Wave: An Anthology of Asian American Women Poets. She has been a Fellow with Loft Literary Center’s Mentor Series, Poetry Foundation and Crescendo Literary’s Emerging Poet’s Incubator, Writing by Writers, Tin House Summer and Winter Workshops, Fine Arts Work Center’s Workshops, Mendocino Coast Writers Conference, and Kearny Street Workshop. Her work is supported by the Minnesota State Arts Board and the Jerome Foundation. Preeti was a 2019-2020 inaugural Jerome Hill Artist Fellow in Literature. She is a 2021 Storyknife and Anderson Center Writer-in-Residence and will be a Djerassi Artist Resident in 2022. Her debut poetry manuscript explores issues of belonging, to both family and the nation-state. She writes through post-memory in the shadow of historic India’s Partition and the racialization of Sikhs in the post-9/11 Global War on Terror era.

Additional information

Weight 0.33 lbs
Dimensions 7.5 × 9.25 in