Dream of No One but Myself by David Bradford

A poetry collection that examines the experience of growing up in a "troubled" mixed-race family.

A poetry collection that examines the experience of growing up in a "troubled" mixed-race family

Dream of No One but Myself is an interdisciplinary, lyrical unravelling of the trauma-memoir-as-proof-it's-now-handled motif, illuminating what an auto-archival alternative to it might look like in motion. Through a complex juxtaposition of lyric verse and self-erasure, family keepsake and transformed photo, David Bradford engages the gap between the drive toward self-understanding and the excavated, tangled narratives autobiography can't quite reconcile. The translation of early memory into language is a set of decisions, and in Dream of No One but Myself, Bradford decides and then decides again, composing a deliberately unstable, frayed account of family inheritance, intergenerational traumas, and domestic tenderness.

More essayistic lyric than lyrical essay, this is a satisfyingly unsettling and off-kilter debut that charts, shapes, fragments, and embraces the unresolvable. These gorgeous, halting poems ultimately take the urge to make linear sense of one's own history and diffract it into innumerable beams of light. (From Brick Books)

Dream of No One but Myself is a finalist for the 2022 Governor General's Literary Award for poetry. The winner will be announced on Nov. 16, 2022.

David Bradford is a poet, editor and organizer based in Montreal. His work has appeared in The Capilano Review, The Tiny, The Fiddlehead, Carte Blanche and elsewhere. He is a founding editor of House House Press.

Why David Bradford wrote Dream of No One but Myself

"Dream of No One But Myself is a book that goes after the idea of certain kinds of personal history, certain kinds of trauma. From the get-go, as soon as I started writing about some of these family stories, I think I was always going after the idea of irresolvability — there isn't necessarily a solution in sight. Doing this work led to all kinds of revelations, insights, new ideas.

Doing this work led to all kinds of revelations, insights, new ideas.- David Bradford

"But the flip side is that I cycled through all those revelations when I edited the book, and then again when I launched the book. It can always be unloaded all over again. I was interested in a book that showed that process.

"Maybe it could help other people who are struggling with something similar, where you can't resolve things — where you just kind of exhaust the material for yourself to get to some other things."

Read his full interview with CBC Books.

More about Dream of No One but Myself

Canadian poet David Bradford joined us to share a special reading from his debut collection, Dream of No One But Myself, which is shortlisted for this year's Griffin Poetry Prize.

Add some “good” to your morning and evening.

A variety of newsletters you'll love, delivered straight to you.

Sign up now


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Account Holder

Join the conversation  Create account

Already have an account?