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The Canary's Songbook

Karen Press

Cover Picture of The Canary's Songbook
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Categories: 21st Century, African, Women
Imprint: Carcanet Poetry
Publisher: Carcanet Press
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(Pub. Mar 2005)
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(Pub. Mar 2005)
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  • Description
  • Excerpt
  • Author
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  • In The Canary's Songbook Karen Press explores the inescapable shaping power of personal and public histories in individual lives and political processes. The theme has deep roots in Press's native South Africa. The desire to find ancestors who can be invoked as sources of wisdom, or validations of unwisdom, is a central preoccupation of the poems, given force by Press's understanding of South Africa's continuing, painful dialogue with its own past. The Canary's Songbook affirms how universal such themes are, placing Africa on its own terms within a global culture whose attractions and corruptions touch all, and in which individuals struggle to make whole lives from the fragments they inherit.

    Karen Press's first Carcanet collection, Home (2000), was acclaimed by the South African Sunday Independent for its 'finely wrought poems... by one of our finest poets'.
    The sea roaring softly


    Broken bits of the past
    Knocking series
    That house
    When you're older you'll understand
    Treasure trail
    Stones for my pockets
    The poem each woman poet writes
    Men wear the secret masks
    Living children and dead children

    In Jakob's house


    Ox blood poisons the ground with longing
    Visiting home
    He can't explain
    Outside and inside the temple
    Corruption - a lexicon
    Evolution: details
    How her mother prepared her
    Engineers of dreams


    In the cradle of humankind
    Every revolution begins in the streets
    Tannie Lettie plays the guitar
    Prometheus resigns from the Party
    Only a good man
    The personal assistant
    Redistributing it
    Preparing to govern
    Oral tradition
    Stop child abuse
    Wind parted the buildings
    Three-stringed necklace
    So very sick
    Flakes of the light falling




    It seems that if you write
    This other place
    In doorways
    Between them
    In my sleep
    The hurting pillow


    Walking songs for Africans abroad
    Everywhere in the Duomo
    Globalisation 1
    Globalisation 2
    Letters to the president
    Distantly heard signals
    Collioure, September 2001
    Apprehension, north
    A certain history
    Wednesday morning in the Café Caprice
    He is often mentioned in books
    Reaching Siran
    Translation rights
    Ends that hang over the lake
    The work the poets do
    The canary's songbook
    Karen Press lives in Cape Town. She has published eight poetry collections as well as mathematics textbooks and children’s books. Her poetry has appeared in journals in South Africa, Britain, the United States, Australia and Canada, and in translation in French, Italian, Turkish and Tamil. She co-founded the publishing collective Buchu ... read more
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