by Fred D'Aguiar - £9.95 Carcanet Press Ltd (2009) paperback
ISBN 13: 9781847770431 | ISBN 10: 1847770436
"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 cave at
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.
(Price & availability last checked: October 2018)
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