Books·Canadian

The Blue Clerk

In The Blue Clerk award-winning poet Dionne Brand stages a conversation and an argument between the poet and the Blue Clerk, who is the keeper of the poet’s pages.

Dionne Brand

On a lonely wharf a clerk in an ink blue coat inspects bales and bales of paper that hold a poet's accumulated left-hand pages — the unwritten, the withheld, the unexpressed, the withdrawn, the restrained. In The Blue Clerk award-winning poet Dionne Brand stages a conversation and an argument between the poet and the Blue Clerk, who is the keeper of the poet's pages. In their dialogues — which take shape as a series of haunting prose poems — the poet and the clerk invoke a host of writers, philosophers and artists, from Jacob Lawrence, Lola Keipja and Walter Benjamin to John Coltrane, Josephine Turalba and Jorge Luis Borges. Through these essay poems, Brand explores memory, language, culture and time, offering beautiful and jarring juxtapositions ("The Wire is the latest version of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn"), and endlessly haunting language ("On a road like this you don't know where you are. Whether you have arrived or whether you are still on your way. Whether you are still at the beginning or at the end. You are in the middle all the time. What would be the sign?").

An essential observer and one of the most accomplished poets writing today, Dionne Brand's latest engages intimately with the act and difficulty of writing, the relationship between the author and the world, and the relationship between the author and art. Profound, moving, and wise in equal parts, The Blue Clerk is a work of staggering intellect and imagination, and a truly sublime piece of writing from one of Canada's most renowned, honoured, and bestselling poets. (From McClelland & Stewart)

The Blue Clerk was a finalist for the 2018 Governor General's Literary Award for poetry and is a finalist for the 2019 Griffin Poetry Prize and the Trillium Book Award.

From the book

I have left this unsaid. I have withheld. What is withheld is the left-hand page. Nine left-hand pages have already written their own left-hand pages, as you will see. They are chronic. I have withheld more than I have written. Evergreen and deciduous. Incurable. And uneasy, and like freight.


From The Blue Clerk by Dionne Brand ©2018. Published by McClelland & Stewart.

Interviews with Dionne Brand

In this video from the CBC Archives, Dionne Brand talks about exploring dispersal, diaspora and the desire to belong. 0:52
Last month, Alan talked to poet Dionne Brand about her two new books. One of which is now up for the Governor General's literary award in poetry. She's at the Ottawa Writers Festival tonight and saturday, so we thought we'd revist our conversation. 15:35
Dionne Brand answers The Next Chapter's Proust Questionnaire. 6:00
The celebrated writers joined Eleanor Wachtel on stage in Toronto for a discussion about the significance of location in literature. 58:10

Other books by Dionne Brand

Comments

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.