By Adebe DeRango-Adem
Titled after the Latin term for “unknown land”—a cartographical expression referring to regions that have not yet been mapped or documented—Terra Incognita is a collection of poems that creatively explores various racial discourses and interracial crossings both buried ... Read more
Titled after the Latin term for “unknown land”—a cartographical expression referring to regions that have not yet been mapped or documented—Terra Incognita is a collection of poems that creatively explores various racial discourses and interracial crossings both buried in the grand narratives of history and the everyday experiences of being mixed-race. The poet asks how the discourse of multiculturalism speaks to the particular history of interracial figures—a history that has remained largely silenced, and a people who have continued to experience inequity on various fronts. In this collection, the quest for identity in the interracial sense becomes part of the quest to unearth the territory of those who cross borders—racially, ethnically, culturally and geographically. Terra Incognita looks forward to the possibility of new poetic conventions and metaphoric structures to re-imagine the face of Canada’s so-called multicultural milieu, and map the similar “psychic” spaces shared by different geographies (America and Canada, for example) and demographies (mixed-race populations). Poems seek to engage the cultural memory and legacy of those whose histories have been the site of erasure, and who have thus—riffing on the Heraclitus’s dictum that “geography is fate”—been forced to redraw themselves into the texts of history. An important contribution to the history of Afro-Canadian and Afro-American arts and letters, Terra Incognita is at the frontlines of exploring what it means to be mixed-race in the world—within the nexus of both celebrations of diversity and the overcoming of oppressive structures using the creative medium.
Adebe DeRango-Adem is a writer and doctoral student at the University of Pennsylvania. Her work has been published in various North American sources, including Descant, CV2, Canadian Woman Studies and the Toronto Star. She won the Toronto Poetry Competition in 2005 to become Toronto's first Junior Poet Laureate. In 2008, she attended the summer writing program at Naropa University, where she mentored with Anne Waldman and the late Amiri Baraka.Her debut poetry collection, Ex Nihilo (Frontenac House, 2010) was one of ten manuscripts chosen in honour of Frontenac House's Dektet 2010 competition, using a blind selection process by a jury of leading Canadian writers: bill bissett, George Elliott Clarke, and Alice Major. Ex Nihilo was longlisted for the Dylan Thomas Prize, the world's largest prize for writers under thirty. She is also the co-editor, alongside Andrea Thompson, of Other Tongues: Mixed-Race Women Speak Out (Inanna Publications, 2010).
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