Griffin Poetry Prize winner Dionne Brand's startlingly original work about the act of writing itself.
On a lonely wharf a clerk in an ink blue coat inspects bales and bales of paper that hold a poet's accumulated left-hand pages--the unwritten, the withheld, the unexpressed, the withdrawn, the restrained. In The Blue Clerk, award-winning poet Dionne Brand stages a conversation and an argument between the poet and the Blue Clerk, who is the keeper of the poet's pages. In their dialogues--which take shape as a series of haunting prose poems--the poet and the clerk invoke a host of writers, philosophers, and artists, from Jacob Lawrence, Lola Keipja, and Walter Benjamin to John Coltrane, Josephine Turalba, and Jorge Luis Borges. Through these essay poems, Brand explores memory, language, culture, and time, offering beautiful and jarring juxtapositions ("The Wire is the latest version of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn"), and endlessly haunting language ("On a road like this you don't know where you are. Whether you have arrived or whether you are still on your way. Whether you are still at the beginning or at the end. You are in the middle all the time. What would be the sign?").
An essential observer and one of the most accomplished poets writing today, Dionne Brand's latest engages intimately with the act and difficulty of writing, the relationship between the author and the world, and the relationship between the author and art. Profound, moving, and wise in equal parts, The Blue Clerk is a work of staggering intellect and imagination, and a truly sublime piece of writing from one of Canada's most renowned, honoured, and bestselling poets.
DIONNE BRAND's literary credentials are legion. Her 2010 book of poetry, Ossuaries, won the Griffin Poetry Prize; her nine others include winners of the Governor General's Literary Award, the Trillium Book Award, and the Pat Lowther Memorial Award. Her novel In Another Place, Not Here was selected as a NYT Book Review Notable Book and a Best Book by the Globe and Mail; At the Full and Change of the Moon was selected a Best Book by the LA Times, and What We All Long For won the Toronto Book Award. Her works of non-fiction include Bread Out of Stone and A Map to the Door of No Return. In 2006, Brand was awarded the Harbourfront Festival Prize for her contribution to the world of books and writing, and was Toronto's Poet Laureate from 2009 to 2012. In 2017, she was named to the Order of Canada. Brand is a Professor in the School of English and Theatre Studies at the University of Guelph. She lives in Toronto.
GRIFFIN POETRY PRIZE FINALIST
TRILLIUM BOOK AWARD WINNER
GOVERNOR GENERAL'S LITERARY AWARD FOR POETRY FINALIST
PAT LOWTHER MEMORIAL AWARD LONGLIST
"Brand melds the intellectual with the sensory in these searching think-pieces." --Toronto Star
“[Dionne Brand] is gracious, endlessly curious and eager to push the intellectual boundaries of her audience.” —Globe and Mail
“Dionne Brand’s The Blue Clerk is many things at once: a book-length ars poetica; an act of memory and reconfiguration; an extended meditation (one that moves at times directly, at others by a kind of philosophical osmosis) touching on the realms of history, politics, race and gender; an internal, consciously curated and interrogated dialogue that manages to create a space for all of these. Expansive, beautifully written, structurally compelling, and above all moving, The Blue Clerk is a book to be read (and re-read), not just for the pleasures of its language, but for the breadth of its vision, and the capaciousness of its thinking.” --Griffin Poetry Prize Jury Citation
“Dionne Brand’s ‘ars poetica in 59 versos’ is an impassioned, masterfully crafted interrogation of language, process, and representation that tests both the boundaries and boundlessness of the creative process. At once an epic poem, polemic, fragmentary novel, creation story, and grimoire, The Blue Clerk suggests an entirely new literary form, a magnificent literary achievement made accessible with a sly sense of humour, striking imagery, devout worship, and sharp questioning.” --Trillium Book Award Jury Citation