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The Cartographer Tries to Map a Way to Zion

Kei Miller

Cover of The Cartographer Tries to Map a Way to Zion by Kei Miller
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ISBN: 978 1 847772 67 1
Categories: 21st Century, Caribbean
Imprint: Carcanet Poetry
Published: May 2014
216 x 132 x 8 mm
80 pages
Publisher: Carcanet Press
Also available in: eBook (Kindle), eBook (EPUB)
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  •                                                                   A question
    has wedged itself between his learning and his awakening:
    how does one map a place that is not quite a place? How does one draw
    towards the heart?

    Winner of the 2014 Forward Prize for Best Collection

    Shortlisted for the 2014 International Dylan Thomas Prize

    Shortlisted for the 2014 Costa Book Awards for Poetry

    In his new collection, acclaimed Jamaican poet Kei Miller dramatises what happens when one system of knowledge, one method of understanding place and territory, comes up against another. We watch as the cartographer, used to the scientific methods of assuming control over a place by mapping it (‘I never get involved / with the muddy affairs of land’), is gradually compelled to recognise – even to envy – a wholly different understanding of place, as he tries to map his way to the rastaman’s eternal city of Zion. As the book unfolds the cartographer learns that, on this island of roads that ‘constrict like throats’, every place-name comes freighted with history, and not every place that can be named can be found.

    The verse movement here, the interplay of sound values in inner rhyme and consonantal pairing, in fact the whole lyrical movement of the text, I find exemplary.
    Peter Riley, Fortnightly Review

    The Shrug of Jah
    Establishing the Metre
    Quashie’s Verse
    What the Mapmaker Ought to Know
    The Cartographer Tries to Map a Way to Zion
      i. in which the cartographer explains himself
      ii. in which the rastaman disagrees
      v. in which the rastaman offers an invitation
    A Prayer for the Unflummoxed Beaver
      ix. in which the cartographer travels lengths and breadths
    Place Name: Me-No-Sen-You-No-Come
      x. in which the cartographer asks for directions
    A Ghazal for the Tethered Goats
      xii. in which the rastaman begins to feel uncomfortable
    Place Name: Swamp
    For the Croaking Lizards
    Place Name: Wait-A-Bit
      xvi. in which every song is singing Zion
    Place Name: Shotover
    Place Name: Corn Puss Gap
      xx. in which the cartographer tells off the rastaman
    Place Name: Half Way Tree
    Place Name: Edinburgh Castle
    Hymn to the Birds
    Filop Plays the Role of Papa Ghede (2010)
    When Considering the Long, Long Journey of 28,000 Rubber Ducks
      xxiv. in which the cartographer attends Reggae Sumfest
    The Blood Cloths
    Place Name: Bloody Bay
    For Pat Saunders, West Indian Literature Critic, after her Dream
    In Praise of Maps
    My Mother’s Atlas of Dolls
    Place Name: Flog Man
    Place Name: Try See
    What River Mumma Knows
      xxvi. in which the rastaman gives a sermon
      xxvii. in which the rastaman says a benediction

    Kei Miller was born in Jamaica in 1978. Kei writes across a range of genres: novels, books of short stories, essays and poetry. His poetry has been shortlisted for awards such as the Jonathan Llewelyn Ryhs Prize, the Dylan Thomas Prize and the Scottish Book of the Year. His fiction has ... read more
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