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and bales of paper that hold a poet’s accumulated left-hand pages–the unwritten, the withheld, the unexpressed, the withdrawn, the restrained.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.