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ISBN: 978 1 847770 43 1
Categories: 21st Century, Black and Asian, British, Caribbean
Imprint: Carcanet Poetry
Published: May 2009
216 x 135 x 8 mm
Publisher: Carcanet Press
Demerara whose east coast raised me
From a mere stalk to stand straight
To stand tall no matter what current
Help me find your grain your flow
And Demerara sweeten me
So my art keeps your river's caveat
Your sense of cane fields bathed in sweat
from 'Demerara Sugar' by Fred D'Aguiar
Continental Shelf traces a journey, across continents and from youth to maturity. It moves from memories of childhood in Guyana, through a long elegiac exploration of the shootings at Virginia Tech University in 2006, to the reflective closing section which gives its title to the book. Fred D'Aguiar celebrates individuals and the histories embedded in places. He conjures up a sensuous childhood world of characters, stories, a loved particularity - a smell of bitumen, the local hero who comes last in a National Cycle Championship, a distant train's incantation of 'greenheart, mora, baromalli' - impressions so distinct and powerful that 'fumes... spin my head / Back whenever I catch a whiff from a car'. In D'Aguiar's Elegies for the thirty-three people who died in Virginia, that loss of unique and particular individuals is mourned, in a scrutiny of what civil and private life has become, and how, alongside grief, we may recover delight in the world. In his first full-length collection since Bill of Rights (1998), D'Aguiar celebrates how imagination and memory enable us to cope with violence and death. Love, above all, is the mainstay.
Bring Back, Bring Back
A Clean Slate
R O Y G B I V
Snake and Ladder
The Shell Pond
National Cycle Championship
Houses not Homes
Guyana Dreaming Wilson Harris
'D'Aguiar interrogates and reassesses whatever he sees in a poetry that is flexible and fast paced, every action, every relationship thrown into fierce relief by a sense of threat and insecurity...'
Charles Bainbridge, The Guardian
Praise for Fred D'Aguiar 'D'Aguiar is not generally concerned with textual translation in this collection: he applies the word in a broader sense... abbreviations seem part of the serious trans-cultural game, inviting recognition, but also making the outsider notice the limits and exclusions their own education has entailed. Whether the planet's human creatures might coexist without radically mistranslating each other is one of the vigorously posed questions.'
'Reformation' was The Guardian's Poem of the Week, September 24th 2018
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