Blues and Bliss
The Poetry of George Elliott Clarke
Publication Year: 2008
Blues singer, preacher, cultural critic, exile, Africadian, high modernist, spoken word artist, Canadian poet—these are but some of the voices of George Elliott Clarke. In a selection of Clarke’s best work from his early poetry to his most recent, Blues and Bliss: The Poetry of George Elliott Clarke offers readers an impressive cross-section of those voices. Jon Paul Fiorentino’s introduction focuses on this polyphony, his influences—Derek Walcott, Amiri Baraka, and the canon of literary English from Shakespeare to Yeats—and his “voice throwing,” and shows how the intersections here produce a “troubling” of language. He sketches Clarke’s primary interest in the negotiation of cultural space through adherence to and revision of tradition and on the finding of a vernacular that begins in exile, especially exile in relation to African-Canadian communities.
In the afterword, Clarke, in an interesting re-spin of Fiorentino’s introduction, writes with patented gusto about how his experiences have contributed to multiple sounds and forms in his work. Decrying any grandiose notions of theory, he presents himself as primarily a songwriter.
Published by: Wilfrid Laurier University Press
Series: Laurier Poetry
Title Page, Copyright Page
Table of Contents
At the beginning of the twenty-first century, poetry in Canada—writing and publishing it, reading and thinking about it—finds itself in a strangely conflicted place. We have many strong poets continuing to produce exciting new work, and there is still a small audience for poetry; but increasingly, poetry is becoming a vulnerable art, for reasons that don’t need to be rehearsed....
Born in Windsor, Nova Scotia, in 1960, George Elliott Clarke is the son of William and Geraldine Clarke, descendants of African American, Cree, and Barbadian immigrants to Nova Scotia. Raised in Halifax, Nova Scotia, in North End working-class, immigrant, multicultural, and military neighbourhoods, Clarke attended Alexandra, Joseph Howe, and Bloomfield schools, and the...
The blues singer, the preacher, the cultural critic, the exile, the Africadian, the high modernist, the spoken word artist; the Canadian poet. These are some of the voices and identities of George Elliott Clarke. His influences are many. Derek Walcott, Amiri Baraka, Ezra Pound,Wallace Stevens, and many others are intertextually linked to his practice. He is a poet who...
Salvation Army Blues
Hammonds Plains African Baptist Church
Campbell Road Church
Watercolour for Negro Expatriates in France
Look Homeward, Exile
The Wisdom of Shelley
The River Pilgrim: A Letter
Blues for X
Vision of Justice
Chancy’s Drinking Song
George & Rue: Pure, Virtuous Killers
Ballad of a Hanged Man
Child Hood I
Child Hood II
À Dany Laferrière
Haligonian Market Cry
April 1, 19—
from Blue Elegies
Blues de Malcolm
May ushers in with lilac
George & Rue: Coda
Letter to a Young Poet
Of Black English, or Pig Iron Latin
Afterword: Let Us Now Attain Polyphonous Epiphanies, George Elliott Clarke
On a sunny Saturday Halifax, Nova Scotia, afternoon in April 1972, my father gathered up his three sons and a few of our friends, crowded us all into a station wagon, and just went driving. I sat up front, near the car radio, and listened intently as Bobby Vinton sang “Sealed with a Kiss” (from sometime...