The Dyzgraphxst presents seven inquiries into selfhood through the perennial figure Jejune. Polyvocal in register, the book moves to mine meanings of kinship through the wide and intimate reach of language across geographies and generations. Against the contemporary backdrop of intensified capitalist fascism, toxic nationalism, and climate disaster, the figure Jejune asks, how have I come to make home out of unrecognizability. Marked by and through diasporic life, Jejune declares, I was not myself. I am not myself. My self resembles something having nothing to do with me. (From McClelland & Stewart)
The Dyzgraphxst is a finalist for the 2020 Governor General's Literary Prize for poetry.
Canisia Lubrin is a writer, editor and teacher. Her debut poetry collection Voodoo Hypothesis was longlisted for the Gerald Lambert Award, the Pat Lowther Award and was a finalist for the Raymond Souster Award.
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"The poem began, I think, before I had any conception that I was actually writing this particular poem. I'd always been very uncomfortable inhabiting the lyric 'I' in my studies as a creative writing student and an amateur practitioner of poetry.
"The 'I' was something that I always felt a great deal of suspicion toward. Many years of maybe just sweeping that suspicion aside led me to The Dyzgraphxst.
"I was in Dionne Brand's master's poetry class, and she said to me, 'Canisia, where is the 'I' poem? I haven't seen an 'I' poem from you this whole while.' And in my mind, I was thinking, 'What even is an 'I' poem?'
It's about the legibility that reduces people to produce, to work, to be consumed in different forms and fashions.
"Reading Christina Sharpe's In the Wake: On Blackness and Being, where she theorizes what she calls a dysgraphia — which is produced by a rapid and repetitive dissemination of images and narratives of Black people reduced to criminality, pathologies and other kinds of tropes and stereotypes — and how those things just proliferate wildly via the news and social media. She calls that as creating a kind of dysgraphia.
"For me as a poet, thinking of dysgraphia and its Greek etymology, which is 'difficult writing,' that, for me, crystallized this idea of selfhood and selfishness — and how the categories of humanity force people into a kind of legibility that has almost nothing to do with the fact that we're complex beings."