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49th Parallel Psalm

james hörner

the cover describes it as a "poetic, historical revision of the migration of blacks to Canada, when the first black settlers - facing an increasingly hostile racist government - left San Francisco in 1858 and travelled north." this might have you thinking it is a historical re-interpretation, sort of like Michael Ondaatje's Coming Through Slaughter. although the two books do give off a similar feeling at times, 49th Parallel Psalm takes us from the past into the present, along the way giving us music and mythology.

book cover music is one of the most obvious aspects of this book. when you read the lines you feel the rhythm. there is a beat throughout the book. at times it reads like rap, sounds like break-beats.

throughout the text there is a profound sense of something gone wrong in history. of racism. of culture.

Wayde is finding himself finding meaning out of the past. with words he looks at what was and criticizes - and realizes how the present is a continuum. these poems explore the present and make you wonder where the future will be for black canadians.

this is, without a doubt, the best poetry i have read in a long time. the words are alive, organic, flowing, all the while telling a story of struggle. after reading 49th Parallel Psalm you will be compelled to re-read it in order to hear that voice again, all the while waiting for his next book to come out.


Wayde Compton's website

Wayde's poem Extraction

published by arsenal pulp press
ISBN 1-55152-065-6



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