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by Colin Channer

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Longlisted for the 2016 OCM Bocas Prize for Poetry

"The Caribbean policeman is a character both foreign and familiar at the center of this intimate debut poetry collection. Combining Jamaican patois and American English, it tells the story of violence, loss, and recovery in the wake of colonialism."
--O, the Oprah Magazine

One of LargeUp's Ten Great Books by Caribbean Authors in 2015

"Jamaican-born Channer draws on the rich cultural heritage of the Caribbean and his own unique experience for this energetic, linguistically inventive first collection of poetry....Channer's lyrics pop and reel in sheer musicality....A dextrous, ambitious collection that delivers enough acoustic acrobatics to keep readers transfixed 'till the starlings sing out.'"

"Channer...skillfully examines the brutality that permeates Jamaica's history in this moving debut poetry collection....Channer's poems rise to present the reader with a panoramic view of a place 'built on old foundations of violence,' of 'geographies where genocide and massacre/hang like smoke from coal fires.'"
--Publishers Weekly

"[Channer's] technique and foresight bring the underlying story of the collection, and the history he expounds, into full daylight and the collection succeeds in revealing a life and history as an essay might, but with the beauty of lyric added to narrative in an exercise that is cohesive in its ability to maintain its trajectory. It is a notable accomplishment."
--New York Journal of Books

"Jamaica's Colin Channer has been mixing patois in his romantic tales since his 1998 debut novel, Waiting In Vain. In 2015, he blessed us with Providential (Akashic), a poetry collection that touches on the full range of Jamaican languages and dreams."

"Fear stalks everyone, police and pursued, and Channer’s poems arrest us to that truth in syncopated, shocking fevers."
--Caribbean Beat Magazine

"[Channer's] strongest offering yet....Providential perfectly clothes the written word with matching tone and atmosphere. Welcome to the hallowed halls of Fine Poetry!"
--Kaieteur News (Guyana)

"Channer has written a fine set of poems that, like classical myth, start with the search for the lost father and end with the found son, the poet in the process replacing the lost father with a found self."
--Russell Banks, author of The Sweet Hereafter

"The voices and irrepressible human dance of the clan pulsing at this book's center leave me breathless and I realize how close the voices are to my own, how much I crave this dance."
--Patricia Smith, author of Shoulda Been Jimi Savannah

Channer's debut poetry collection achieves an intimate and lyric meditation on family, policing, loss, and violence, but the work is enlivened by humor, tenderness, and the rich possibilities that come from honest reflection. Combined with a capacity to offer physical landscapes with painterly sensitivity and care, a graceful mining of the nuances of Jamaican patwa and American English, and a judicious use of metaphor and similie, Providential is a work of "heartical" insight and vulnerability.

Not since Claude McKay's Constab Ballads of 1912 has a writer attempted to tackle the unlikely literary figure of the Jamaican policeman. Now, over a century later, Channer draws on his own knowledge of Jamaican culture, on his complex relationship with his father (a Jamaican policeman), and frames these poems within the constantly humane principles of Rasta and reggae. The poems within Providential manage to turn the intricate relationships between a man and his father, a man and his mother, and man and his country, and a man and his children into something akin to grace.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781617754166
Publisher: Akashic Books
Publication date: 08/10/2015
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 96
File size: 4 MB

About the Author

Colin Channer was born in Jamaica to a pharmacist and cop. Junot Díaz calls him "one of the Caribbean Diaspora's finest writers." His poems have appeared in Prairie Schooner, Harvard Review, The Common, and Renaissance Noire, among other places. Channer has served as Newhouse Professor in Creative Writing at Wellesley College and Fannie Hurst Writer in Residence at Brandeis University. His many books of prose include the novella The Girl with the Golden Shoes, "a very moving and mesmerizing journey" in the words of Edwidge Danticat. He won the Silver Musgrave Medal in Literature in 2010 and currently lives in New England. Providential is his first poetry book.

Table of Contents

Part I

Revolutionary to Rass 13

First Recruits 16

Lea 18

Neville's Logic 23

Clan 25

Mimic 27

Civil Service 31

Occupation 34

Funeral 36

Porter's Prayer 39

Part II

Fleeings 43

Intermezzo 44

Clarkey and Elma 46

On a Dry Field in Nowhere 49

Balls 50

First Kill 52

Second Shot 53

Corporal Teego Brown Tells Us What Every Bartender in Jamaica Knows 55

Tentative Definitions 56

Fugue in Ten Movements 57

Kik-Kik, Pak-Pak 72

General Echo is Dead 74

Advantage 76

Sketch: a'Triptych 79

Part III

Knowing We'll Be Mostly Wrong 85

Providential 91

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