Dionne Brand: Nomenclature - New and Collected Poems
Penguin, 2023, Softcover, 672 pages, 20 x 15 cm
Spanning almost four decades, Dionne Brand's poetry has given rise to whole new grammars and vocabularies. With a profound alertness that is attuned to this world and open to some other, possibly future, time and place, Brand's ongoing labours of witness and imagination speak directly to where and how we live and reach beyond those worlds, their enclosures, and their violences.
Nomenclature: New and Collected Poems begins with a new long poem, the titular "Nomenclature for the Time Being," in which Dionne Brand's diaspora consciousness dismantles our quotidian disasters. In addition to this searing new work, Nomenclature collects eight volumes of Brand's poetry published between 1982 and 2010 and includes a critical introduction by the literary scholar and theorist Christina Sharpe.
Nomenclature: New and Collected Poems, features the searching and centering cantos of Primitive Offensive; the sharp musical conversations of Winter Epigrams and Epigrams to Ernesto Cardenal in Defense of Claudia; the documentary losses of revolutions in Chronicles of the Hostile Sun, in which "The street was empty/with all of us standing there." No Language Is Neutral connects language, coloniality, and sexuality. Land to Light On explores intimacies and disaffections with nationality and the nation-state, while in thirsty a cold-eyed flâneur surveys the workings of the city. In Inventory, written during the Gulf Wars, the poet is "the wars' last and late night witness," her job not to soothe but to "revise and revise this bristling list/hourly." Ossuaries' futurist speaker rounds out the collection, and threads multiple temporal worlds - past, present, and future.
This masterwork displays Dionne Brand's ongoing body of thought - trenchant, lyrical, absonant, discordant, and meaning-making. Nomenclature: New and Collected Poems is classic and living, a record of one of the great writers of our age.