Whether you’ve encountered his celebrated verse-dramas (such as Whylah Falls or Québécité) or the lush, animated language of his poetry, it is not difficult to recognize George Elliott Clarke’s affinity for the genius of William Shakespeare. In this new work, Clarke borrows brazenly from and rewrites (The Bard’s very own working method) one of Shakespeare’s most contentious comedies, The Merchant of Venice, reinvigorating a play that on many points seems “retrograde politically and retarding dramatically”. The result is a spectacle of swinging lyricism that casts Jewish Shylock not as the villain, but as the victim of the ingrained bigotry of the Venetian State.
About the author
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.
Other titles by George Elliott Clarke
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
A Portrait in Words
Writers on Writing in Canada
J. J. Steinfeld
Essays on His Works