Academic journal article British Journal of Canadian Studies

Imaginary Origins: Selected Poems 1977-2002

Academic journal article British Journal of Canadian Studies

Imaginary Origins: Selected Poems 1977-2002

Article excerpt

Cyril Dabydeen, Imaginary Origins: Selected Poems 1977-2002 (Leeds: Peepal Tree, 2004), 256pp. Paper. £9.99. ISBN 1-900715-94-5.

Imaginary Origins represents over thirty years of poetry by the Guyana-born Canadian poet Cyril Dabydeen. Including poems from ten different collections ranging from 1977 until 1997, as well as a final section of 'New Poems', the collection proves him as a mature and established voice in the panorama of Caribbean-Canadian literature. Although he is a prolific writer whose work ranges from poetry to fiction, and was appointed a Poet Laureate of the City of Ottawa during 1984-7, his work has not received the critical attention he deserves. Having worked in race relations for some years, Dabydeen's poetry illustrates his deep commitment to Canada's ideals of tolerance and cultural plurality as evinced in his most often anthologised poem, 'Multiculturalism', which unfortunately is not included in this collection. Many of his poems verge on the political, dealing with the immigrant and the diasporic subject, but his themes range from the history and myth of countries as far apart as Greece, Mexico and Ireland, to a confessional vein recounting the joys and trials of throes of love and family affairs. It is in this register that he is at his truest, as in 'For Claire', where his lines indulge in rhetorical strategies unusual in his otherwise terse but effective sense of imagery and rhythm.

Cyril Dabydeen's mixed East Indian, Caribbean and Canadian 'origins' make him a fascinating writer to explore. …

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