Canticles III

An 'epic-in-progress' work of poetry by Toronto poet and scholar George Elliott Clarke.

George Elliott Clarke

The cover of George Elliott Clarke's poetry book Canticles III, featuring white and green text over a purple background.

In Zanzibar, in 2008, George Elliott Clarke began to write his Canticles, an epic poem examining the Transatlantic Slave Trade, Imperial and colonial conquest, and the resistance to all these evils. That is the subject of Canticles I (MMXVI) and (MMXVII). In Canticles II (MMXIX) and (MMXX), Clarke rewrites significant scriptures from an oral and "African" or "Africadian" perspective.

Now, in Canticles III (MMXXII) and (MMXXIII), Clarke shifts focus — from world history and theology — to the specific history and bios associated with the creation of the African ("Africadian") Baptist Association of Nova Scotia. By so doing, he concludes the most remarkable epic ever essayed in Canadian letters — an amalgam of Pound and Walcott — but entirely and inimitably his own.

Canticles III is available on Nov. 1, 2022.

Acclaimed for his narrative lyric suites (Whylah Falls, which was a contender in the inaugural edition of Canada Reads in 2002, defended by author Nalo Hopkinson; and Execution Poems), his lyric "colouring books" (Blue, Black, Red, and Gold), his selected poems (Blues and Bliss), his opera libretti and plays (Beatrice Chancy and Trudeau: Long March, Shining Path), George Elliott Clarke now presents us with his epic-in-progress, Canticles, a work that views History as a web of imperialism, enslavement and insurrection.

A native Africadian, Canada's seventh Parliamentary Poet Laureate ranges the atlas and ransacks the library to ink lines unflinching before Atrocity and unquiet before Oppression. (From Guernica Editions)

Interviews with George Elliott Clarke

George Elliott Clarke reads the poem he wrote for civil rights activist Joan Jones

5 years ago
Duration 1:54
CBC News met up with poet George Elliott Clarke at the Halifax airport on Sunday night to capture him reading, 'For Joan Jones, Sanctified and Righteous.'
For our occasional series about Canadian novels that have not had the attention they deserve, poet, playwright and scholar George Elliott Clarke introduces us to a book by the late Austin Clarke. The Origin of Waves describes one night in the lives of two friends, as they recall five decades worth of memories.


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