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Poetry Canadian

The Dyzgraphxst

by (author) Canisia Lubrin

Publisher
McClelland & Stewart
Initial publish date
Mar 2020
Category
Canadian, Women Authors, General
  • Paperback / softback

    ISBN
    9780771048692
    Publish Date
    Mar 2020
    List Price
    $21.00

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Description

Windham-Campbell Prize, Winner
OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature, Winner
OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature Poetry, Winner
Griffin Poetry Prize, Winner
Derek Walcott Prize for Poetry, Winner 
Rebel Women Lit Caribbean Readers' Awards, Finalist
Governor General's Literary Award for Poetry, Finalist
Trillium Book Award for Poetry, Finalist
Raymond Souster Award, Longlist
Pat Lowther Memorial Award, Longlist
Quill & Quire 2020 Books of the Year: Editor’s Picks
CBC Best Canadian Poetry of 2020
Winnipeg Free Press Top 10 Poetry Picks of 2020
The Paris Review, Contributor's Edition, Best Books of 2020
 

The Dyzgraphxst presents seven inquiries into selfhood through the perennial figure Jejune. Polyvocal in register, the book moves to mine meanings of kinship through the wide and intimate reach of language across geographies and generations. Against the contemporary backdrop of intensified capitalist fascism, toxic nationalism, and climate disaster, the figure Jejune asks, how have I come to make home out of unrecognizability. Marked by and through diasporic life, Jejune declares, I was not myself. I am not myself. My self resembles something having nothing to do with me.

About the author

Canisia Lubrin was born in St. Lucia. She has had work published in literary journals including Room, The Puritan, This Magazine, Arc, CV2 and The City Series #3: Toronto Anthology. She has been an arts administrator and community advocate for close to two decades. Lubrin has contributed to the podcast On The Line, hosted by Kate Sutherland for The Rusty Toque. She studied at York University where she won the President's Prize in poetry and the Sylvia Ellen Hirsch Memorial Award in creative writing. Lubrin holds an MFA from the University of Guelph and teaches at Humber College. She lives in Whitby, Ontario.

Canisia Lubrin's profile page

Excerpt: The Dyzgraphxst (by (author) Canisia Lubrin)

in an infinite series where we approach each oth’r
Jejune, forked in some road that might have
cropped up anyhow to cross us barely ready

or were we unaware that we had cracked I
to save us, split us three ways
as the centuries that made us possible left us

with all possible comprises, we have this one
existence, this so many elsewheres, in others,
I, and in every elsewhere, us both

and so you have arrived, Jejune, and so I
in a million pictures of our face, and still
I was not myself, i am not myself, myself

resembles something having nothing to do
with me and the idea that I would like
a holiday, a whole lifetime from this bend

Editorial Reviews

Praise for Canisia Lubrin and The Dyzgraphxst:
"This book changed me when I was reading it. The first encounter felt almost grilling. It was as if one of those machines that opticians use was opening up in my insides, click, click, click, blurring and re-focusing my eyes until I saw afresh with stunning clarity and in a greater field of vision than before. From section to section, there was this repeated process of re-visioning. These poems take apart our individual personal pronoun, the 'I', questioning and finding new ways to feel and think and know what we suppose to be our self. Some books use language to keep running smoothly, this book shifts what language can be and do. It is thrilling to read it and to relish giving up the illusion of mastery of meaning, revel in the not fully understanding, like swimming beyond the breakers in a sea full of flotsam and jetsam. Reading The Dyzgraphxst a second time, aware of its stunning intelligence and moral commitment, I was taken back afresh, this time, by the beauty of the poetry. The intelligence plays through vivid, and a true ecology of being in which a butterfly can open from an eye.” —Vahni Capildeo, Overall Judge, OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature

“[A] journey where meaning is often an unpaved road, but the ride is richly satisfying. . . . Reading this collection makes you hold your breath and dive to the ocean-floor and emerge riding the waves.” —OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature, Jury Citation

The Dyzgraphxst is Canisia Lubrin’s spectacular feat of architecture called a poem. Built with ‘I’—a single mark on the page, a voice, a blade, ‘a life-force soaring back’—and assembled over seven acts addressing language, grammar, sentence, line, stage, and world, the poet forms, invents, surprises, and sharpens life. Generous, generating, and an abundance of rigour. A wide and widening ocean of feeling are the blueprints of this book. It is shaped to be ‘the shape of the shape / of the shape of a thing that light curves over time / length to width to depth and all of us its information.’” Griffin Poetry Prize, Jury Citation
“Gorgeously layered, ambitious in scope, The Dyzgraphxst performs a marvelous resistance to simple orthodoxies of selfhood in poetry. Lubrin reimagines the contours of genre and form, even language’s possibility for complexity, plenitude, fracture, and assemblage.” —Major Jackson, Judge's Citation, The Derek Walcott Prize for Poetry

“[A] startling and ambitious work on several levels: its sustained meditation on the limits of ‘I,’ its subversion of poetic genre, its radical preoccupation with language’s negating effects, its insightful realizations of the body: historical, gendered, racialized.”—The Malahat Review
The Dyzgraphxst recalibrates the colonial orientation of the tongue that has been taught to language, to hold and protect speech for only one, expected empire. Here are poems that not only trouble the lexicography, they ramfle the library of the regime; they make mas in the gayelles of Black queer survival and thriving. Open to any page, and Lubrin’s language prompts you to brocade it large in your diary of finest utterances.”—Caribbean Beat

“[A]n ambitious project, combining a lyric attention to the representation of the self with an epic scope and focus on the fate of a community, in this case on a planetary scale. If Lubrin’s 2017 debut, Voodoo Hypothesis, presented a significant new poetic talent on the Canadian scene, The Dyzgraphxst marks a considerable development in that talent’s achievement.” —Quill & Quire (Starred Review)

“Patwa, French, and English reverberate together in the text sonically, geographically, and essentially—and showcase Lubrin’s multi-linguistic dexterity.”—The Humber Literary Review
“Lubrin shows us how far poetry can stretch, and how malleable and pliable the medium. Lubrin is also a master of code and page play.” —Hamilton Review of Books
“A complex and unconventional collection of crinkly and deep-cutting lines.” —Winnipeg Free Press
“The Dyzgraphxst is its own vocabulary, its own knowingness. It is an incredible, elliptical journey, a masterful work that demands to be reread.” —Alycia Piromohamed, The Ampersand Review
“I keep returning to Canisia Lubrin’s The Dyzgraphxst. Among the questions it poses is how the lyrical I affirms the first person of neoliberal individualism, 'the fantasy of the discontinuous.' Lubrin’s visionary syntax locates hierarchical violence where it roots in the language itself. She thinks as intricately at the level of the syllable ('where I walks the split-tongued edge begging for nil') as she does across larger formal architectures. Speakers of the poem, which Lubrin terms 'an ocean drama,” include “i: First person singular. I: Second person singular. I: Third person plural,' and Jejune: 'the chorus, the you, the we/unnavigable self.' Together they enact an infinite capaciousness, 'this thing big enough for laughter, an exhumed patois.'” —Margaret Ross, The Paris Review blog

“This book is a triumph of anticolonial poetics. In this poet’s steady hands, the world within flashes a perfectly dark mirror. Here, our fractured history is projected through Lubrin’s fractured voices, her dazzlingly splintered verse. By inventing her own lyric architecture, imbued with startling and slant textual experiments, each line sings with a multitude of tongues, until Lubrin’s verse coalesces into her own individual patois. Her lines twist like roots gathering voices, roiling waves of language that immerses the reader inside the poet’s distinct rhythm. Unsparingly political, and charged with great wit, these poems tackle climate change, the immigrant experience, and critiques the long colonial shadow of the west. Settled in its marrow is a sense of loss—loss of selves, of country, of family, of a mother tongue, all transformed by The Dyzgraphxst into its own potent kind of singing, armed with this defiant blaze of being alive.” —Safiya Sinclair, author of Cannibal
“Canisia Lubrin’s extraordinary second collection, The Dyzgraphxst, ‘[is] a moonlit knife.’ By which I mean, it is as sharp-witted as it is sharp-eyed. With the blade pointed up, Lubrin unceasingly and masterfully holds the hypothetical knife up to the face of Jejune, the poem’s protagonist, so she might see her reflection—so we, lucky readers, might see ourselves. And, I’m here for all of it.”—Nicole Sealey, author of Ordinary Beast

“Canisia Lubrin’s The Dyzgraphxst disrupts the conventional grammars of knowing, the grammars that represent as much as they create invidious divisions—between the ionic column of the self-important ‘I’ and the he/she/you; between subject and object; between the political and the personal; between the times we live in and the writing that seeks not merely to represent it but to (re)create it as well; between utter brokenness and carrying on. Though the dyzgraphxst is one who suffers from disgraphia, this disgraphia seems to be claimed (even stylized) as the legitimate language of the time and for the self, therein subverting conventional and oppressive hierarchies internal and external to oneself, in which the creolized or pidginized selves dominate the dialectic, are given agency and are those best suited to negotiate the modern unravelling world and self. The particular challenge and conceit of the collection, is that most of this is found in the grammar itself, in the sinews of language and canyons between one word and the next, as in the consonantal angularity of its title, in the sometimes unlanguageable darknesses of self-searching in a fractured, confusing world.” —Vladimir Lucien, author of Sounding Ground

“We who come from songs will recognize ourselves in Canisia Lubrin’s The Dyzgraphxst. Lubrin sings us into being and breathing us through these times with lyrical energy that is at once delicate and forceful.”—Juliane Okot Bitek, author of 100 Days

The Dyzgraphxst pushes the envelope of the lyric self to describe the human self. Canisia has shuffled the deck and added a new identity to the creative table.”—Nick Makoha, author of Kingdom of Gravity

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