Alluring both on the surface and in its depths, 'Letters To My Mother' conjures a mother through her absence and a daughter through her attunement to a home’s changing weather. The piece is remarkable in the intimacy of its observations, its unwavering restraint and quiet precision. It’s a fierce quiet rattling with candour and risk, treating the difficult subject matter of maternal abandonment, family dislocation, and mental illness with deep courage.
The text gathers force and textural vitality through its evolving epistolary voice, which begins with a beguiling jumble of phonetic spellings. As the story progresses, the segmented form draws attention to the empty spaces surrounding the story—including information withheld or unavailable.
In some music, if you listen very carefully, you will hear interludes of silence lending the surrounding sounds greater punch and power. Writing is not only words, it is also the space around words. 'Letters To My Mother' opens space around the writing for meaning to resonate and echo.
- Kyo Maclear
I was deeply moved by Lishai Peel’s creative nonfiction manuscript. Peel explores motherhood from the perspective of both mother and child, and her profound reflections on how this experience is linked to our sense of belonging and identity are intelligent and original. The writing is heartfelt, haunting, and lyrical. This is a manuscript that takes countless risks, both in form, style and theme. Lishai boldly tackles ‘big’ topics such as mental illness, immigration, and mother-daughter relationships, while also giving voice to the Jewish Indian experience, a small community whose story has yet to be told in literature. And she does all that with humanity, authenticity, and heart.
- Ayelet Tsabari
Illanot Review, Jewish Gold, 2023
Lillith Magazine, My Return ToJewish Culture, 2021
Hey Alma, Connecting to My IndianJewish Roots, 2020
Middleground Magazine, Riverbend,2019
Arc Poetry Magazine, Issue 97, 2022
Room Magazine, Issue 42.4, 2020
The Malahat Review, Issue 205, 2019
Awards & shortlists
2020 recipient of the Writers' Trust mentorship Award in CNF
Winner of The Malahat Review's 2019 open season award in CNF
Second place in The Vancouver Writer's Fest Annual Contest, 2017
Shortlisted for: The Puritan Poetry Prize, Room Magazine CNF and Poetry Prize.