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The Cartographer Tries to Map a Way to Zion
RRP: GBP 9.95
ISBN: 978 1 847774 32 3
Categories: 21st Century, Caribbean
Imprint: Carcanet Poetry
Published: May 2014
71 pages (print version)
Publisher: Carcanet Press
Also available in: eBook (Kindle), Paperback
Digital access available through Exact Editions
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?
Shortlisted for the 2014 Forward Prize for Best Collection
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 Shrug of Jah
Establishing the Metre
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
Awards won by Kei Miller Short-listed, 2014 Costa Book Awards for Poetry (The Cartographer Tries to Map a Way to Zion) Short-listed, 2014 International Dylan Thomas Prize (The Cartographer Tries to Map a Way to Zion) Winner, 2014 Forward Prize for Best Collection (The Cartographer Tries to Map a Way to Zion)
'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 Praise for Kei Miller 'A tremendous range of writing as excellent Jamaican poets rub shoulders with peers from Haiti, Trinidad and the Bahamas. Diverse and stimulating.'
Independent on Sunday 'These captivating poets write from the heart with poems which range from the spare and haunting to the risky and experimental. There are surprises, there is beauty, there are pleasures to be discovered, there is much to be enjoyed.'
Bernardine Evaristo 'Some of the most exciting poetry I've read in years. Radiant utterance that speaks of island experiences and gender politics from a deep well of understanding, with empathy, humour and insight. An extraordinary new voice singing with clarity and grace.'
Olive Senior 'Raise high the roofbeams, here comes a strong new presence in poetry...Kei Miller's is a voice we will hear much more of, for it speaks and sings with rare confidence and authority.'
Lorna Goodison 'Miller's charming second collection [There Is an Anger that Moves] is an affectionately jaunty glimpse of a life caught between the cold and baffling England he has adopted and the fiery warmth of his Jamaican home.'
No. 7 in 'The Ten Best New poetry collections' - the Independent, 2007
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