Read George Elliott Clarke's Poem "The Killing."
Although not a resident of the city, George Elliott Clarke’s poetry has had a significant impact on Fredericton because of its evocation of the city’s past. Born in the black Loyalist community of Three Miles Plain near Windsor, Nova Scotia in 1960, Clarke endeavours to depict the unique experience of life as an “Africadian” through his writing. In 2000 Clarke published a collection called Execution Poems: The Black Acadian Tragedy of “George and Rue,” which recounts the lives of the last two men to be hanged at the Fredericton gallows (which now houses the Science East museum). After killing a white taxi driver in their attempt to rob him, Clarke’s distant cousins George and Rufus Hamilton were charged with murder and sentenced to death by hanging in July of 1949. Execution Poems explores the two men’s motives behind their damning decision, tackling many difficult topics such as systemic racism, poverty, and human agency. The collection was very well received across the country, and won the Governor General’s Award for Poetry in 2001. Clarke is a prolific writer, having published over a dozen poetry collections, a novel entitled George and Rue which further explores the themes laid out in Execution Poems, four plays, and numerous independent publications in literary magazines and journals. He has received many awards and honours, including being named the Parliamentary Poet Laureate of Canada in 2016. Clarke currently lives in Toronto, where he teaches at the University of Toronto and serves as the Poet Laureate.
For More Information:
Atlantic Canadian Poetry Archive: http://www.stu-acpa.com/george-elliott-clarke.html
The Parliamentary Poet Laureate: https://lop.parl.ca/About/Parliament/Poet/current-poet-laureate-e.html
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Illicit Sonnets. London: Eyewear Publishing, 2013.
Lasso the Wind: Aurelia's Verses and Other Poems. Illus. Susan Tooke. Halifax: Nimbus Books, 2013.
Traverse. Toronto: Exile Editions, 2014.
Gold. Kentville: Gaspereau Press, 2016.
Canticles I (MMXVI). Toronto: Guernica, 2016.
Canticles I (MMXVII). Toronto: Guernica, 2017.
Photo credit to Harvard University.