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Blues and Bliss

The Poetry of George Elliott Clarke

By George Elliott Clarke
Edited by Jon Paul Fiorentino
Subjects Literary Criticism, Canadian Literature, Poetry
Series Laurier Poetry Hide Details
Paperback : 9781554580606, 90 pages, November 2008
Ebook (EPUB) : 9781554586844, 90 pages, April 2011
Ebook (PDF) : 9781554582341, 90 pages, November 2008

Table of contents

Table of Contents for Blues and Bliss: The Poetry of George Elliott Clarke selected with an introduction by Jon Paul Fiorentino
Foreword | Neil Besner
Biographical Note
Introduction | Jon Paul Fiorentino
Salvation Army Blues
Halifax Blues
Hammonds Plains African Baptist Church
Campbell Road Church
Watercolour for Negro Expatriates in France
Look Homeward, Exile
The Wisdom of Shelley
The River Pilgrim: A Letter
Blank Sonnet
The Symposium
Rose Vinegar
Blues for X
Vision of Justice
Chancy’s Menu
Chancy’s Drinking Song
Beatrice’s Defence
George & Rue: Pure, Virtuous Killers
Ballad of a Hanged Man
Child Hood I
Child Hood II
Hard Nails
Public Enemy
The Killing
Trial I
Trial II
Calculated Offensive
À Dany Laferrière
Haligonian Market Cry
Onerous Canon
April 1, 19—
from Blue Elegies
Blues de Malcolm
May ushers in with lilac
George & Rue: Coda
Letter to a Young Poet
Of Black English, or Pig Iron Latin
Africadian Experience
Afterword: Let Us Now Attain Polyphonous Epiphanies | George Elliot Clarke


Blues singer, preacher, cultural critic, exile, Africadian, high modernist, spoken word artist, Canadian poet—these are but some of the voices of George Elliott Clarke. In a selection of Clarke’s best work from his early poetry to his most recent, Blues and Bliss: The Poetry of George Elliott Clarke offers readers an impressive cross-section of those voices. Jon Paul Fiorentino’s introduction focuses on this polyphony, his influences—Derek Walcott, Amiri Baraka, and the canon of literary English from Shakespeare to Yeats—and his “voice throwing,” and shows how the intersections here produce a “troubling” of language. He sketches Clarke’s primary interest in the negotiation of cultural space through adherence to and revision of tradition and on the finding of a vernacular that begins in exile, especially exile in relation to African-Canadian communities.
In the afterword, Clarke, in an interesting re-spin of Fiorentino’s introduction, writes with patented gusto about how his experiences have contributed to multiple sounds and forms in his work. Decrying any grandiose notions of theory, he presents himself as primarily a songwriter.


In being removed from their original contexts, these poems shine anew. Viewed apart from the rest of the poems in Black, Letter to a Young Poet seems even stranger, a successful and disturbing piece of standalone verse that fusses the high modernism of Ezra Pound with frightening, dare I say, Stephen King-like imagery.... A welcome feature to the books in the Laurier Poetry Series are the autobiographical postscripts provided by the poets, a nice touch that will appeal to readers unfamiliar with the names behind the poetry.

- Christopher MacKinnon, Chronicle Herald (Halifax), April 5, 2009, 2009 April