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Poetry African American

Dream of No One but Myself

by (author) David Bradford

Brick Books
Initial publish date
Oct 2021
African American, Canadian, Family
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    Publish Date
    Oct 2021
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    Oct 2021
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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 translation of early memory into language is a set of decisions, and in Dream of No One but Myself, Bradford decides and then decides again, composing a deliberately unstable, frayed account of family inheritance, intergenerational traumas, and domestic tenderness.

More essayistic lyric than lyrical essay, this is a satisfyingly unsettling and off-kilter debut that charts, shapes, fragments, and embraces the unresolvable. These gorgeous, halting poems ultimately take the urge to make linear sense of one's own history and diffract it into innumerable beams of light.

About the author

David 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, Tiny Mag, Prairie Fire, 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.

David Bradford's profile page

Excerpt: Dream of No One but Myself (by (author) David Bradford)

Fight Calendar

Fruit of the ocean month. Fight about the library. Feculents. Closing soon. Asking about the computer. Ecreamed milk. Explosion. Fight about seeing each other. Herring, mackerel, and salmon. Only 30 minutes. Fight about language. Sardines and melon. Fight about badminton. Dill shrimp. David not understanding the thing about badminton. Fight about the garbage. The bed of rice, low-fat feta, cantaloupe wedges. Chicane (fight) about chocolate. Spicy French toast. The school's funding drive. Let rest. Fight about Liar, Liar. Grams of fat. At Video Plus. Fight in front of Eaton's. Grease holder, parcoured distance. About her not wanting to wait 45 minutes until it opens. A little extra. Fight about David's homework. Pie plate. David's sleeping bag. Thick tranches. About David asking how to save a file. Blank tuna. About his school bag, vegetables, etc. Zest, vanilla and muscade. Night fights about his apple (heart). Broccoli quiche sans pâte. About yelling. Little bouquets. Fights about mentioning there's snow again. The night before. And about snow on the ground, surprise, in the morning. A fine paste. Fight about the gas. Margarine. Fight about parquet for the office. A half-moon of Boston. And cheapness. Fight about blaming. Real parmesan cheese. David and language. Three-herb. All our problems. The walking away. The folding. Fight about the chicken again.

About a year removed from him, sunk into the decades-old, formless sofa, in front of Dawson's Creek with my mother, outcast but by design, I tell her what it is and I beg for meds.
I tell her there's nothing else I can do right now. Just TV and French YA crap. She can't imagine it won't pass.

Editorial Reviews

"How does sound assemble meaning, assemble relationships across time lines, patterned, steeped, torn and adorned? David Bradford's lyric compositions and decompositions perform narration erasures, narrating to unnarrate, visual, textual--and to somehow also live again in language, in consideration and construction, as recognition's dream."--Hoa Nguyen, author of A Thousand Times You Lose Your Treasure

"In Dream of No One but Myself, the structural instability of a dream is mapped onto a family. It is then reflected in the mutability of poetic form. A father's estrangement pulls a child into contradiction, toward desiring connection while straining away from that connection. Poetic form also strains, stretches from prose poems in compact rhythmic units to disjunctive works that slice across the page, to suites of anguished, cut-up family photographs and beautifully abstract, decomposing erasure works that bloom into ruinous new shapes. These formal strategies are never forced; rather, they establish a narrative that doubles - that infuses and is transformed by--the Dream of No One but Myself."--Kaie Kellough, author of Magnetic Equator

"Perhaps I would have held my breath for the entirety of this text if not for the wisp and grey, the ventilation surfacing in tide pools of visual poems--bramble relief against whiteout smears--watercolours, combed thru brunt and backhand. The poet's vision, the constant footnote to a whole contingency, manages to bear, be bearable, to be here, to pull through, and with, "survivor-survivor" narratives held carefully and hauntingly. Much love and relation to the composite shards, difficult folds and dovetail joints Bradford realizes in this important book."--Cecily Nicholson, author of Wayside Sang