License to relate her story
In her voice, to tell History
Who she was—as I hear her say
But still you will come face-to-face
With a "Portia," whose life outshines
All brilliance this black ink divines....
In his unique brand of spoken word, Africadian poetry, the incomparable George Elliott Clarke explores a personal subject: his great-aunt Portia White. The result is a stirring, epic poem vibrating with energy and music that spans White's birth in 1911, a coming of age amidst the backdrop of two World Wars, and her life-long love affair with music—from singing in to directing the Cornwallis Street Baptist Church choir to her bel canto tutlege at the Halifax Conservatory of Music to her final, command performance before Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in 1964.
Portia White is a stunning testament to the first African Canadian to become an international star. Features vibrant illustrations by contemporary artist Lara Martina.
About the authors
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.
“Lara Martina is one of Nova Scotia's contemporary landscape artists, a writer, and illustrator. A Canadian of Mi'kmaw, French, and Italian heritage, she divides her time between Italy and Canada. Born in Chicopee Falls, Massachusetts in 1955, Martina was educated at NSCAD University, Mount Saint Vincent University, and The European Graduate School. Martina's research interests include diaspora subjects of eastern Canada; space and time; issues of culture and identity; culture and tradition; history and landscape, and interpretation of cultural identity. Her work, both narrative and landscape, can be found in collections in North America and Europe.
Other titles by George Elliott Clarke
Where Beauty Survived
A Memoir of Race, Family Secrets, and Africadia
Canticles III (MMXXII)
Blacks in Canada
The Quest for a 'National' Nationalism
E.J. Pratt’s Epic Ambition, ‘Race’ Consciousness, and the Contradictions of Canadian Identity
I Am Still Your Negro
An Homage to James Baldwin
Canticles II: (MMXIX)
Writers on Writing in Canada
J. J. Steinfeld
Essays on His Works