Dionne Brand is the winner of the Griffin Poetry Prize, the Governor General’s Literary Award, the Trillium Book Award, and many more accolades. Brand was Toronto’s Poet Laureate from 2009 to 2012. In 2017, she was inducted into the Order of Canada. The Unpublished City, an anthology Brand edited, was recently shortlisted for the Toronto Book Award.
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The Blue Clerk
On a lonely wharf, a clerk in an ink-blue coat inspects bales and bales of paper that hold a poet’s accumulated left-hand pages — the unwritten, the withheld, the unexpressed, the withdrawn, the restrained. In The Blue Clerk, award-winning poet Dionne Brand stages a conversation/argument between the poet and the Blue Clerk, who is the keeper of the poet’s pages. In their dialogues — which take shape as a series of prose poems — the poet and the clerk invoke a host of writers, philosophers, and artists, from Jacob Lawrence and Lola Keipja to Josephine Turalba and Jorge Luis Borges. Through these essay poems, Brand explores memory, culture, and time, offering beautiful and jarring juxtapositions and endlessly haunting language.
Theory’s narrator sets out, like many a graduate student, to write a wildly ambitious thesis on art, culture, race, gender, class, and politics — a revolutionary work that’s supposed to transform the world.
While our narrator tries to complete this magnum opus, three lovers enter the story, one after the other: beautiful and sensual Selah, who scoffs at the narrator’s tinkering with academic abstractions; then altruistic and passionate Yara, who rescues every lost soul who crosses her path; and finally, spiritual occultist Odalys, who values magic and superstition over the narrator’s intellectual circles..