The Quest for a 'National' Nationalism

By George Elliott Clarke

The Quest for a 'National' Nationalism
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In his 2018 Pratt Lecture, The Quest for a ‘National’ Nationalism, renowned author and critic George Elliott Clarke investigates E. J. Pratt’s poetic attempt to become the epic poet of Canada. And while Pratt’s epic poems, such as Brebeuf and His Brethren and Towards ... Read more


Overview

In his 2018 Pratt Lecture, The Quest for a ‘National’ Nationalism, renowned author and critic George Elliott Clarke investigates E. J. Pratt’s poetic attempt to become the epic poet of Canada. And while Pratt’s epic poems, such as Brebeuf and His Brethren and Towards the Last Spike, stand as lofty poetic achievements, the poet is never able to escape his own identity and speak convincingly for all Canadians. Unable to speak for Francophones, Indigenous peoples, and People of Colour, Pratt becomes the epic poet of the establishment, but never truly of the people.

The PRATT LECTURES were established in 1968 to commemorate the legacy of E. J. Pratt. Over the years, the series has hosted a litany of world-renowned authors and scholars, including Northrop Frye, Seamus Heaney, Helen Vendler, and Dionne Brand.

George Elliott Clarke

Born in Windsor, Nova Scotia, at the beginning of the 1960s, George Elliott Clarke is a seventh-generation Africadian. He has published more than a dozen volumes of poetry and prose, including Whylah Falls and Execution Poems, an acclaimed novel George & Rue, and the celebrated opera, Beatrice Chancy. His many awards include the Governor General's Award for poetry and the Martin Luther King Jr. Achievement Award.

Reviews

"This is Breakwater’s first published Pratt Lecture, a slim, crisp, pocketful of learned-ness. "

Joan Sullivan

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