Skip to main content Skip to search Skip to search

Biography & Autobiography Personal Memoirs

Where Beauty Survived

A Memoir of Race, Family Secrets, and Africadia

by (author) George Elliott Clarke

Publisher
Knopf Canada
Initial publish date
Jan 2023
Category
Personal Memoirs, African American, Cultural Heritage
  • Paperback / softback

    ISBN
    9780345812292
    Publish Date
    Jan 2023
    List Price
    $23.00

Add it to your shelf

Where to buy it

Description

“Powerful.” —Toronto Star
A vibrant, revealing memoir about the cultural and familial pressures that shaped George Elliott Clarke’s early life in the Black Canadian community that he calls Africadia, centred in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

As a boy, George Elliott Clarke knew that a great deal was expected from him and his two brothers. The descendant of a highly accomplished lineage on his paternal side—great-grandson to William Andrew White, the first Black officer (non-commissioned) in the British army—George felt called to live up to the family name. In contrast, his mother's relatives were warm, down-to-earth country folk. Such contradictions underlay much of his life and upbringing—Black and White, country and city, outstanding and ordinary, high and low. With vulnerability and humour, George shows us how these dualities shaped him as a poet and thinker.

At the book’s heart is George’s turbulent relationship with his father, an autodidact who valued art, music and books but worked an unfulfilling railway job. Bill could be loving and patient, but he also acted out destructive frustrations, assaulting George’s mother and sometimes George and his brothers, too.

Where Beauty Survived is the story of a complicated family, of the emotional stress that white racism exerts on Black households, of the unique cultural geography of Africadia, of a child who became a poet, and of long-kept secrets.

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.

George Elliott Clarke's profile page

Other titles by George Elliott Clarke