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Early Works

By Dionne Brand
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Paperback : 9781554583744, 180 pages, October 2011

Table of contents

Table of Contents for Chronicles: Early Works by Dionne Brand
Leslie Sanders
A Note on the Text
Primitive Offensive (1983)
Winter Epigrams and Epigrams to Ernesto Cardenal in Defense of Claudia (1983)
Chronicles of the Hostile Sun (1984)


One of Canada’s most distinguished poets, Dionne Brand explores and chronicles how history shapes human existence, in particular the lives of those ruptured and scattered by New World slaveries and modern crises. This republication of three early volumes presents a view of the trajectory of her poetic journey. Read retrospectively, the earlier work is haunting, a testament to a historical moment in which change seemed possible, even imminent, a belief nourished by the various social movements that galvanized a generation. Individually and as a whole, Brand’s work charts a collective as well as a personal journey, delving into the burdens of history and the fugitive, contingent, dynamic, and mutable geographies of the African diaspora. She locates herself within matrices of language, place, gender, sexuality, and politics and maps what she calls the “murmurous genealogy” of her city, Toronto, and the denizen-citizenship of the contemporary global.


In this welcome republication of Brand's early poetry collections, readers will find themselves drawn into one of the more powerful imaginations of our times. Here is the violently wrenching sadness, the weight of history and loss, and in the face of such pain, the refusal to compromise for which she remains best known. But there is also a sometimes playful and self-deprecating humour along with the more biting commentary that carries an edge. Brand believes in the difference words can make, even when lamenting their inadequacy, and she makes us believe too.

- Diana Brydon, Canada Research Chair in Globalization and Cultural Studies,University of Manitoba, 2011 September