Crossing Black Waters is an exploration of borders through one family's personal odyssey from the time of their violent upheaval from Lahore during the partition of India in 1947 to the time Kashyap emigrated to the U.S.. Kashyap's debut poetry collection delves into loss and its aftermath—loss of a father, loss of a child, loss of home. It explores the psychological impact of leaving behind a past that keeps "pulsating behind swinging shutters of thought" and searches for "home"—a "lonely room in (the] mind," a "heartache" at the "end of rainbows," or else a new "country," built around "hubs" of friendships forged over "glasses of wine and tandoori chicken." A key phrase is "I am knot"—the "not" that comes with borrowed identities coupled with the idea that one cannot truly be separate but is "knotted" with the past for life.

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What People Are Saying About the Book:

Athena Kashyap's powerful poetry creates a bridge between America and India with its surprising phrases, syncopated rhythms and poignant family stories. Her keen and compassionate eye for the immigrant's complicated condition makes these poems at once poignant and pleasurable.
—Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, author of Palace of Illusions and One Amazing Thing.

Crossing Black Waters is an evocative poetry collection exploring the lasting power of history, memory, and the homeland in immigrant identity. Athena Kashyap reveals in deeply personal ways the impact of travel and dislocation on individuals and communities. Her poems juxtapose themes of trauma and hope, family bonds and motherhood, leaving and arriving; all illustrate the universal search for home. —Emily Moberg Robinson, joint editor: Voices of the Asian American and Pacific Islander Experience

Athena Kashyap’s poetry dances between worlds with an acrobat’s sense of balance, knowing every border is a wire to be walked, knowing when to fall to be transformed by the black waters she never doubts dissolve one’s skin. The rhythm of crossing, dissolving, losing one’s place, finding it, making it, is quintessentially “American” the way Walt Whitman is American. To be American, Kashyap writes, is to be alone. To be alone, one learns if one takes the time these poems demand, is to be entangled. I am so free / I float away but family cling / like seaweed. The road trip only looks like flight. It is the last leg / of our journey before / we make it home. —Steven Schroeder, Virtual Artists Cooperative

In Crossing Black Waters, Athena Kashyap offers us poetically sensitive, tensile works on politically sensitive, tense topics. These poems are important for their themes of rarely discussed Indian history and immigrant experience, as well as for their artistically investigative approach and awareness. —Stacy Doris, author of Knot and Conference

Kashyap’s poetry explores a diverse world of multiculturalism, themes of family, humanity, and nature. Readers will find themselves considering a world greater than themselves alongside the nameless characters that allure the senses even in their most casual of actions. The slice-of-life poems evoke the reader’s deeper consideration of their place in a vast and variant culture. —Lauren A. Faw, editor, Sanskriti magazine