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Black Writers’ Series: Focus on Poetry
Our next literary focus for Black History Month is poetry. Read below to learn more about some of the Black authors and their books we have here on All Lit Up.
The writer: Assiyah Jamilla TouréAssiyah Jamilla Touré is a multidisciplinary artist of West African descent. They were born and raised on Skwxwú7mesh land and lived for many years in Kanien’kehà:ka territory (Montreal) and are now based on the lands of the Mississaugas of the Anishinaabe, the Haudenosaunee Confederacy and the Wendat (Toronto). In 2018 their chapbook feral was published by House House Press. Autowar is their first full-length collection.The book: Autowar (Brick Books)2022 Gerald Lampert Memorial Award Longlist * 2022 ReLit Awards LonglistWe’re often told that we are given only what we can bear. For some of us our first lessons are in how much pain we’re made to think we deserve — and the resulting scars are always meant to be kept secret. Assiyah Jamilla Touré’s debut collection is a record of those scars — not those inflicted on us by the thousands of little wars we live in everyday, but those that come afterwards, those we inflict upon ourselves to mark the path. The writer: David BradfordDavid Bradford is a poet, editor, and organizer based in Tiohtià:ke (Montréal). He is the author of several chapbooks, including Nell Zink is Damn Free (Blank Cheque Press, 2017) and The Plot (House House Press, 2018). His work has appeared in The Capilano Review, The Tiny, filling Station, The Fiddlehead, Carte Blanche, and elsewhere. He holds an MFA from the University of Guelph and is a founding editor of House House Press. Dream of No One but Myself is his first book.The book: Dream of No One but Myself (Brick Books)Winner of the 2022 A. M. Klein Prize for Poetry * 2022 Griffin Poetry Prize Finalist * 2022 Governor General’s Literary Award Shortlist * 2022 Gerald Lampert Memorial Award Shortlist * 2022 Grand Prix du Livre de Montréal Jury Selection * 2022 Concordia University First Book Prize Shortlist An expansive, hybrid, debut collection of prose poems, self-erasures, verse, and family photo cut-ups about growing up in a racially trinary, diversely troubled family. Dream of No One but Myself is an interdisciplinary, lyrical unravelling of the trauma-memoir-as-proof-it’s-now-handled motif, illuminating what an auto-archival alternative to it might look like in motion. Through a complex juxtaposition of lyric verse and self-erasure, family keepsake and transformed photo, David Bradford engages the gap between the drive toward self-understanding and the excavated, tangled narratives autobiography can’t quite reconcile. The writer: Afua CooperAfua Cooper is a multidisciplinary scholar, author, and artist. Her indomitable research on slavery and Black history has made her one of the leading figures in African Canadian studies and the authority on Canadian slavery.The book: Black Matters (Roseway Publishing)Halifax’s former Poet Laureate Afua Cooper and photographer Wilfried Raussert collaborate in this book of poems and photographs focused on everyday Black experiences. The result is a jambalaya, a dialogue between image and text. Cooper translates Raussert’s photos into poetry, painting a profound image of what disembodied historical facts might look like when they are embodied in contemporary characters. This visual and textual conversation honours the multiple layers of Blackness in the African diaspora around North America and Europe. The result is a work that amplifies black beauty and offers audible resistance. The writer: Chantal GibsonChantal Gibson is an award-winning writer-artist-educator living on the unceded, traditional, ancestral lands of the Coast Salish Peoples. Working in the overlap between literary and visual art, her work confronts colonialism head on, imagining the BIPOC voices silenced in the spaces and omissions left by systemic cultural and institutional erasure. Her visual art has been exhibited in museums and galleries across Canada and the US, most recently in the Senate of Canada building in Ottawa.The book: with/holding (Caitlin Press)with/holding is a collection of genre-blurring poems that examines the representation and reproduction of Blackness across communication media and popular culture. Together, text and image call up a nightmarish and seemingly insatiable buzzing-clicking-scrolling-sharing appetite for a daily diet of Black suffering. As an act of protest, this collection imagines how to survive the unspeakable present. As an act of reclamation it seeks to build a meaningful connection to the past through transcending acts of resistance.
* * *This month, we’re highlighting some of the Black authors within a genre specific framework. Follow along on the blog and across our social channels at @alllitupcanada