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Jack Hodgins

George Elliott Clarke is an Africadian poet, with books in Chinese, Italian, and Romanian translation. Formerly the poet laureate of Toronto, he is Canada's Parliamentary Poet Laureate from 2016 to 2017. His latest book of poetry is Gold.


Lara Martina

Lara Martina, a seventh-generation Canadian of Mi'kmaq French, Italian-American heritage, is a doctoral candidate in Philosophy Art and Social Thought at the European Graduate School. She lives in Bear River, N.S.


Paul Watkins

Paul Watkins is Professor of English at Vancouver Island University. He's published a number of reviews and articles on multiculturalism, Canadian poetry, jazz and improvisation, and is currently working on a manuscript on African Canadian poetry, as well as a paper on music and sound in David Lynch's Twin Peaks.


































A George Elliott Clarke Reader

What better way to start the summer than with some serious fun?

Open The Malahat Review's Summer 2016 issue and read "Othello: By Donatien Alphonse François, Marquis de Sade," a new long poem by George Elliott Clarke, drawn from his opus-in-progress, Canticles. This stirring and disturbing romp of a poem is also illustrated by one of a series of works by the Nova Scotia-based artist, Lara Martina, that respond to George's take on Shakespeare's tragic hero, as channeled through Sade. Lara is one of Clarke's long time collaborators.

To celebrate George's most recent appearance in the Malahat, we've assembled a "reader" composed of separate interviews with the poet and with his illustrator, starting with and departing from "Othello:.."; a video-clip of George in performance at a club in Nanaimo; and the first-time, web-exclusive publication of "The Testament of Ulysses X," another poem from Canticles. You may read the full text of this poem or listen to George's performance of it, recorded while he was the 2015 Ralph Gustafson Distinguished Poet at Vancouver Island University in Nanaimo.

George Elliott Clarke has been an invigorating force in Canadian writing for almost three decades. His second book, Whyllah Falls (1990), a book-length "blues spiritual" about life and love inspired by the history and culture of Africadian community of Nova Scotia, brought his writing to immediate national attention, where it has stayed ever since, with the rest of the world increasingly turning an attentive ear. The author and editor of more than twenty books of poetry, fiction, critical studies, and anthologies of Africadian literature, he won the Governor General's Award for Poetry for Execution Poems in 2001. His most recent book, Gold, was published by Gaspereau in 2016. His interests are global and his energy unflagging.


Harmonious Dissonances: Paul Watkins in Conversation with George Elliott Clarke

Paul Watkins: I really admire your unique ability to signify, to riff, to echo, to mimic, to use ironic compromise, to bolster, and engage with multiple canons and writers, often within a single poem. In "Othello: By Donatien Alphonse François, Marquis de Sade" we have Othello as if written by Marquis de Sade. Marquis de Sade and Othello (and Shakespeare) appear in other poems of yours, and so I'm curious how this poem fits in your larger body of work, particularly the upcoming collection Canticles.

George Elliott Clarke: I've always been intrigued by "extreme" works and/or writers, and the Marquis de Sade ranks as one of the most repugnant—and yet influential—of the Occidental canon. Not only that, his scatological and sacrilegious writings do unfurl a coherent philosophy—republican, libertine, libertarian. To me, Sade is the logical extension of Ayn Rand: their utopias are palimpsests of each other, only that Sade is truly radical, allowing for Crime—theft, robbery, rape, murder—as corrective tactics that the intelligent poor can and should wield against the debauched plutocracy.

Read the rest of this interview on the Malahat website.


My Muse States: John Barton in Conversation with Lara Martina

John Barton: How long have you been working with George Elliott Clarke?

Lara Martina: I cold-called Dr. Clarke in the fall of 2009, asking his permission to use his words, "We are the Coloured Christians of the Guysborough Road Church" for the title of a painting. When the Nova Scotia Art Bank bought it, I sent GEC a letter to let him know. He wrote back, sending a poem, "Letter to the (African Baptist) Messiah." As soon as I read the second line, "Blunt Black Being from Beyond," a very strong image came to mind.

Read the rest of this interview on the Malahat website.


"The Testament of Ulysses X"

Decayed is Troy, crumbled
            into smoke, ash, stink.
Debilitated are her gods;
            all em drab corpses now,
and reek from every field,
            every temple.
Their armour—extraordinarily—
            is worthless as a chopped-off arm.
Their bronze, their brass, is ludicrous
            as sunflowers on a grave.
No Beauty alleviates this Disaster
            whelped by Helen’s hellish beauty,
her unmistakable beauty.

Read the rest of this poem on the Malahat website.

Listen to George read "The Testament of Ulysses X."


George Elliott Clarke at the Corner Lounge

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