Arts·Poetic License

Dream 17: Canisia Lubrin reads from her Griffin Poetry Prize-shortlisted book The Dyzgraphxst

"Let them say I have seen the long days. I have seen them rising from the huts as smoke, I have seen them, as forests turned brown & flat for remembering themselves."

'Let them say I have seen the long days. I have seen them rising from the huts as smoke'

Dream 17: Canisia Lubrin reads from her Griffin Poetry Prize-shortlisted book The Dyzgraphxst

CBC Arts

2 months ago
1:33
"Let them say I have seen the long days. I have seen them rising from the huts as smoke, I have seen them, as forests turned brown & flat for remembering themselves." 1:33

It's National Poetry Month, and for the fifth edition of Poetic License, we decided to celebrate short poems from poets across Canada. In these illustrated videos, you'll hear from emerging talent, award-winning poets and poets laureate, plus the three Canadians on the Griffin Poetry Prize shortlist — the world's largest international prize for a first-edition single collection of poetry written in or translated into English.

Canisia Lubrin is having a great year. A month ago, the Saint Lucian-born writer, who is now based in Whitby, Ont., was named one of two winners of the Windham-Campbell Prize in poetry — a $165,000 USD (about $200,000 CAD) grant to support her writing. And this month, her second critically acclaimed book, The Dyzgraphxst — a long poem exploring race, oppression and colonialism — made the Canadian shortlist for the $65,000 Griffin Poetry Prize. Lubrin is also one of three members of the jury for the 2021 CBC Poetry Prize.

In this video, Lubrin performs an excerpt from The Dyzgraphxst. For more, check out Lubrin's first collection of poetry, Voodoo Hypothesis, which was nominated for the Gerald Lampert and Pat Lowther memorial awards, and was a finalist for the Raymond Souster Award. It was also named one of the 10 must-read books of 2017 by the League of Canadian Poets. 

Listen to Canisia Lubrin perform Dream 17, an excerpt from her Griffin Poetry Prize-shortlisted book The Dyzgraphxst in the video above and read the poem below.

Dream 17

by Canisia Lubrin

-----

let them say I have seen the long days
I have seen them rising from the huts
as smoke, I have seen them, as forests
turned brown & flat for remembering 
themselves, wishing that we had not 
factored into their algorithms, & now
I have seen the long days arrive with
Things I do not know, nothing too much
If I'm lonely, nothing too little if I'm
Able to drain the desert & leave the ocean
Empty long enough for a new beginning,
Why have the long days arrived far from 
The valley of the kings, still with the mach-
inery bearing the insignia of ruling govern-
ments, what monotonous pride if they say
I drank milk they bought with a fraction
of our natural selection, be-
live them such reckless regard for a few
hours over the long reach of us into some
hot place, a future perhaps? I have seen
us with their machinery & watched them
arrive knowing our desires and leaving 
with our deaths, and now you have, too
where is your problem with dream

-----

See more from Poetic License.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Lucius Dechausay is a video producer at CBC Arts, as well as a freelance illustrator and filmmaker. His short films and animations have been screened at a number of festivals including The Toronto International Film Festival and Hot Docs. Most recently he directed KETTLE, which is currently streaming at CBC Short Docs.

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