Red

Red - George Elliott Clarke Though not an experienced poetry reader, I sampled this collection because it was included in the 2012 ReLit Awards longlist; I sampled thirteen poems.

The breadth of the poems' titles hints at the diversity of the collection's styles and content. Whether writing in classical forms or reflecting the influence of more recent musicians and poets, whether writing about the pre-Christian dissection of sexuality in Imperial Rome or commenting on the media coverage of the Persian Gulf War, whether inspired by an imagined interview between James Baldwin and Malcolm X or by Alma Duncan's painting Young Black Girl (1940) or by a KahlĂșa bottle label, George Elliott Clarke writes with a passionate voice that makes the reader want to squeeze every bit of life from every single moment.

"Red is the red-white-and-blue and the red-black-and-green
Red is Aboriginal and African and Chinese and Cuban and Nova Scotian
Red is George & Rue, Illuminated Verses, Trudeau: Long March/Shining Past Blues and Bliss, I & I, and Red --
Poetry in the blood." ("Other Angles")

There are obviously many layers of meaning in the structure and themes of these works that I am not properly appreciating because I don't recognize the forms and styles at work, so I hope that more experienced poetry readers will leave comments on this collection, but even so, it's a powerful experience to sample these pieces.