George and Rue.

Author:Byrne, Dara N.
Position:Book review
 
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* George and Rue by George Elliott Clarke Carroll & Graf, February 2006 $23, ISBN 0-7867-1620-7

At age 13, I felt George Elliott Clarke's revolutionary impact when he gave a reading of his breakthrough poetry collection Whylah Falls (Polestar Press, 1990) at my high school. This was the first time I'd ever met an African Canadian writer, much less heard someone boldly assert the validity of the African Canadian voice. That day, I learned how to really read our poetry, lyrical and flowing free from the restrictions of traditional Western verse and stanza. I learned I could proudly draw on blackened English to let our histories speak in the richness of our own tongues. Though we don't formally know each other, I have followed his career and collected almost all of his work. I also attended many of the readings he gave while quickly rising to national and international prominence. His poetry, one opera and critical scholarship continue to revolutionize the mainstream by painting vivid portraits of Africadian culture without the presumption of literary and historical significance. (Africadian is a term that refers to African and Acadian, and denotes black culture in the Maritime region, particularly communities in Nova Scotia).

It is no surprise then, that voice, rhythm and the free flow of blackened English take center stage in Clarke's debut novel George and Rue. It is a poetic retelling of the gruesome 1949 murder of a white cab driver by two of Clarke's distant cousins George and Rufus Hamilton, in Fredericton, New Brunswick. Racial conflict ensues, of...

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