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Poetry Canadian

I Am Still Your Negro

An Homage to James Baldwin

by (author) Valerie Mason-John

foreword by George Elliott Clarke

The University of Alberta Press
Initial publish date
Feb 2020
Canadian, Women Authors, Black Studies (Global)
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Feb 2020
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  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Jan 2020
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Social Justice Poetry Spoken-word poet Valerie Mason-John unsettles readers with potent images of ongoing trauma from slavery and colonization. Her narratives range from the beginnings of the African Diaspora to the story of a stowaway on the Windrush, from racism and sexism in Trump’s America to the wide impact of the Me Too movement. Stories of entrapment, sexual assault, addictive behaviours, and rave culture are told and contrasted to the strengthening and forthright voice of Yaata, Supreme Being. I Am Still Your Negro is truth that needs to be told, re-told, and remembered.

I was your Negro Captured and sold I am still your negro Arrested and killed —from “I Am Still Your Negro”

About the authors

Poet, author, and public speaker Valerie Mason-John (a.k.a. “Queenie”) highlights issues of the African Diaspora and the Black, female, Queer identity, and resists the currently existing overt and covert forms of colonialism through their fierce and brave writing. They are the author /editor of ten books. Their debut novel, Borrowed Body, won the 2006 Mind Book of the Year Award. They co-edited the award-winning anthology, The Great Black North: Contemporary African Canadian Poetry, and co-produced Their most recent book is an edited collection: Afrikan Wisdom: New Voices Talk Black Liberation, Buddhism, and Beyond. Valerie lives in Vancouver. Find them online at

Valerie Mason-John's profile page

George Elliott Clarke is a Canadian poet and playwright. Born in Windsor Plains, Nova Scotia, he has spent much of his career writing about the Black communities of Nova Scotia and served for a time in the African-American Studies department at Duke University. He earned a BA Honours degree in English from the University of Waterloo (1984), an MA in English from Dalhousie University (1989), and a PhD in English from Queenâ??s University (1993). In addition, he has received honorary degrees from Dalhousie University (LLD), the University of New Brunswick (LittD), the University of Alberta (LittD), and the University of Waterloo (LittD). He is currently professor of English at the University of Toronto.

In 2001 he won the Governor Generalâ??s Literary Award for poetry for his book Execution Poems. Clarkeâ??s work largely explores and chronicles the experience and history of the black Canadian community of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, creating a cultural geography that Clarke often refers to as Africadia. Clarkeâ??s Whylah Falls was one of the selected books in the 2002 edition of Canada Reads, where it was championed by Nalo Hopkinson.

George Elliott Clarke's profile page


  • Winner, AUPresses Book, Jacket, & Journal Show - Poetry and Literature
  • Short-listed, Gerald Lampert Memorial Award, League of Canadian Poets
  • Short-listed, Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize, BC and Yukon Book Prizes, West Coast Book Prize Society

Editorial Reviews

"This poetry collection grabs you... Readers are confronted with the violence of the Black experience, from the haunting spectre of slavery to the current and ongoing terrorizing of the Black diaspora at the hands of the police. All of the messy, the painful, the enraging -- what we’re conditioned to believe as shameful -- is laid bare for the readers and brought to the fore. Many of these accounts traverse various places -- whether in the U.K., the U.S., or Canada -- and the bluntness and force of her words arrest you." [Full article at]

Junie Desil

"[T]he wide range of Mason-John’s vision ... traverses history, geography, and culture.... [Her poetry] is significant for its reappraisal of our collective past, which so often overlooks or writes over marginalized voices and experiences. [Mason-John is] explicit in calling out a hypocritical Canadian multiculturalism that pays lip service to inclusion while simultaneously entrenching systemic biases and processes that maintain a racist and exclusionary status quo." [Full review at ]

Quill & Quire

Included on CBC Books's list of top Canadian poetry of the year in December 2020.

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