Kaie Kellough on the 'remarkable' Collected Poems of Lorna Goodison
April is National Poetry Month! To celebrate, we're canvassing Canadian poets and asking them what Canadian poetry book has been meaningful to them.
Poet Kaie Kellough's latest book is Magnetic Equator. The Montreal artist's third collection plays with geography and self-determination, drifting between South and North America. It looks at the nature of language and dialect in the works of Caribbean and Canadian writers, seeking origin, identity and understanding.
Kaie Kellough says that a poetry collection that is meaningful to him is Collected Poems by Lorna Goodison.
"In June 2018, I was attending the Calabash Literary Festival in Jamaica, where Lorna Goodison, poet laureate of Jamaica, was reading from her recently issued Collected Poems. I knew that Lorna had spent some time in Toronto, and was connected to Canadian literary circles, but I did not know the extent of her oeuvre. Her Collected Poems is a dense 700 pages published by Carcanet, U.K. It contains remarkable sections in which she explores various Jamaican personae: Market vendors, Rastamen, women who head families, school girls and musicians. Through each character we glimpse the life and culture of the island. The language is often spare and exact, and the portraits cut directly to the social realities that shape peoples lives. Many of these poems are detailed studies in character and they teach much about culture: it resides in people, and by contemplating others, we expand our understanding of our culture. Lorna Goodison goes further: she maps language onto this, and it is an English deeply inflected with the speech, life and rhythms of Jamaica."