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Fierce Departures

The Poetry of Dionne Brand

Leslie C.Sanders

Publication Year: 2009

The selections in Fierce Departures, drawn from Dionne Brand’s work since 1997, delineate with searing eloquence how history marks and dislocates peoples of the African diaspora, how nations, concretely and conceptually, fail to create safe haven, and how human desire persists nevertheless. Through a widening canvas, Brand unfolds the (im)possibilities of belonging for those whom history has dispossessed. Yet she also shows how Canada, and in particular Toronto, remade by those who alight on it, is a place of contingency. Known for her linguistic intensity and lyric brilliance, Brand consoles through the beauty of her work and disturbs with its uncompromising demand for ethical witness.

In her introduction, editor Leslie C. Sanders traces the evolution of Brand’s poetic concerns and changing vision. In particular, she observes Brand’s complex use of landscape and language to delineate the ethical and emotional issues around the desire for place. She argues that Brand reformulates Northrop Frye’s question “Where is here?,” disturbing and expanding the national imaginary.

As afterword, Brand has selected passages from her evocative collection of essays A Map to the Door of No Return. Read as an ars poetica, the passages summon the presences of those whose lives are circumscribed by the histories the poet narrates as her own.

Published by: Wilfrid Laurier University Press

Title Page, Copyright

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Table of Contents

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pp. v-vi

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Foreword

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pp. vii-

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...

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Biographical Note

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pp. viii-

Born in Guayguayare, Trinidad, on January 7, 1953, Dionne Brand moved to Canada in 1970. She settled in Toronto, where she attended the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto, completing her M.A. and doctoral coursework. Brand has held several university positions...

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Introduction

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pp. ix-xvi

Dionne Brand’s writing charts a complex history, a resolute politics, an ethics of witness, and the occasional hopefulness wedded to deep despair. The long poem is Dionne Brand’s form, and so this anthology invites its readers to return these excerpts to their sources...

No language is neutral

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pp. 1-6

No language is neutral...

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pp. 1-

There it was anyway, some damn memory...

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pp. 2-

Pilate was that river I never crossed as a child...

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pp. 3-

I walk Bathurst Street until it come like home...

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pp. 4-

But wait, this must come out then...

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pp. 5-

In another place, not here, a woman might touch...

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pp. 6-

Land to Light On

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pp. 7-12

V iii

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pp. 9-

V iv

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pp. 10-

V vi

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pp. 12-

Thirsty

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pp. 13-21

XIII

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pp. 15-

XVII

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pp. 17-

XVIII

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pp. 18-20

Inventory

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pp. 22-34

One year she sat at the television weeping...

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pp. 22-

nothing personal is recorded here...

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pp. 23-

what confidences would she tell you then...

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pp. 24-

she’s heard clearly now, twenty-three...

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pp. 25-

beating on the tympanic bone, by suicide bomb...

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pp. 26-

At least someone should stay awake, she thinks...

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pp. 27-

and bones beatific, sharpened with heat, at least...

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pp. 28-

“It is worst during the night...

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pp. 29-

there’s another life, she listens, each hour, each night...

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pp. 30-

If they’re numb over there, and all around her...

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pp. 31-

she’ll gather the passions of women...

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pp. 32-

till then...

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pp. 33-

she is a woman who is losing the idea...

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pp. 34-

Afterword

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pp. 35-38

Acknowledgments

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pp. 39-40


E-ISBN-13: 9781554581733
E-ISBN-10: 1554581737
Print-ISBN-13: 9781554580385
Print-ISBN-10: 1554580382

Page Count: 60
Publication Year: 2009

Series Title: Laurier Poetry