The Great Black North

The Great Black North is a contemporary remix of the story of Black Canada. Told through the intertwining tapestry of poetic forms found on the page and stage, The Great Black North presents some missing pieces of the jigsaw puzzle that help fit together a poetic picture of the Black Canadian experience. Many African Canadians know their history in North America since the 17th century. However, the rest of the world may be unaware of the history of enslaved Africans and slave auctions north of the 49th parallel, as well as the free Blacks, Loyalists and Maroons who made their journeys to the “promised land” of Canada. The Great Black North should be a valuable resource for the preservation of culture that is written and/or performed as dub poetry, spoken word and slam. At the heart of this book is a poetic blend of literary and oral traditions that recognizes the past and present as they form a tangible foundation for future generations of poets. This collection of over 90 poets documents the many styles that Black Canadians use to express themselves. The rhythms felt in The Great Black North stem from the vibrant pulse of poets such as the much translated and internationally honoured Africadian George Elliott Clarke who has just been appointed Toronto’s fourth Poet Laureate; Ian Keteku, who was crowned the 2010 World Poetry Slam champion; Lillian Allen, founder of the dub poetry tradition in Canada; and Afua Cooper, who brought to light the hanging of an enslaved African woman, Marie Joseph Angélique, for the alleged burning of Montreal in 1734. Olive Senior, Frederick Ward, Lorna Goodison, Tanya Evanson, Pamela Mordecai and Harold Head are just a few of the many other poets in the anthology who have pieced together this timely map of Black Canada.