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Blues and Bliss

The Poetry of George Elliott Clarke

Jon Paul Fiorentino

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

Title Page, Copyright Page

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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 is becoming a vulnerable art, for reasons that don’t need to be rehearsed....

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Biographical Note

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pp. viii-ix

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...

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Introduction

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pp. xi-xvii

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

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pp. 1-

Halifax Blues

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pp. 2-

Hammonds Plains African Baptist Church

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pp. 3-

Campbell Road Church

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pp. 4-

Watercolour for Negro Expatriates in France

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pp. 5-7

Look Homeward, Exile

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pp. 8-

The Wisdom of Shelley

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pp. 9-

The River Pilgrim: A Letter

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pp. 10-11

Blank Sonnet

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pp. 12-

The Symposium

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pp. 13-14

Rose Vinegar

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pp. 15-

Blues for X

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pp. 16-

Vision of Justice

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pp. 17-

Chancy’s Menu

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pp. 18-

Chancy’s Drinking Song

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pp. 19-

Beatrice’s Defence

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pp. 20-

George & Rue: Pure, Virtuous Killers

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pp. 21-

Ballad of a Hanged Man

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pp. 22-23

Child Hood I

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pp. 24-

Child Hood II

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pp. 25-

Hard Nails

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pp. 26-

Public Enemy

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pp. 27-

The Killing

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pp. 28-29

Trial I

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pp. 30-

Trial II

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pp. 31-

Avowals

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pp. 32-

Negation

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pp. 33-

Calculated Offensive

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pp. 34-

À Dany Laferrière

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pp. 35-

Haligonian Market Cry

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pp. 36-

Nu(is)ance

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pp. 37-

Onerous Canon

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pp. 38-39

April 1, 19—

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pp. 40-

from Blue Elegies

I.i

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pp. 41-42

I.ii

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pp. 43-

I.iii

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pp. 44-46

I.iv

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pp. 47-

I.v

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pp. 48-49

I.vi

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pp. 50-51

Blues de Malcolm

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pp. 52-

May ushers in with lilac

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pp. 53-

George & Rue: Coda

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pp. 54-

Letter to a Young Poet

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pp. 55-

Of Black English, or Pig Iron Latin

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pp. 56-

Africadian Experience

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pp. 57-

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Afterword: Let Us Now Attain Polyphonous Epiphanies, George Elliott Clarke

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pp. 59-63

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...

Acknowledgements

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pp. 65-66


E-ISBN-13: 9781554582341
Print-ISBN-13: 9781554580606
Print-ISBN-10: 1554580609

Page Count: 90
Publication Year: 2008

Series Title: Laurier Poetry

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