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category: Poetry
published: Apr 1999
publisher: Arsenal Pulp Press

49th Parallel Psalm

by Wayde Compton

tagged: canadian

Wayde Compton's first poetry book: a stunning set of poems documenting the migration of Blacks to Canada, specifically when the first Black settlers-facing an increasingly hostile racist government-left San Francisco and travelled north to British Columbia beginning in 1858.
With recurring themes of the unknowable, the crossroads, the trickster, and entropy, 49th Parallel Psalm jumbles history, time, and the Canadian black literary canon.
Shortlisted for the Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize

About the Author
Wayde Compton

Wayde Compton is the author of two books of poetry, 49th Parallel Psalm (Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize finalist) and Performance Bond. He also edited the anthology Bluesprint: Black British Columbian Literature and Orature. His non-fiction book After Canaan: Essays on Race, Writing, and Region was shortlisted for the City of Vancouver Book Award, and his first work of fiction, The Outer Harbour, won the City of Vancouver Book Award. His latest book is the YA graphic novel The Blue Road, illustrated by April dela Noche Milne. Wayde is the former director of the Writer's Studio and the Southbank Writer's Program at Simon Fraser University Continuing Studies. He currently teaches in the faculty of Creative Writing at Douglas College. He lives in Vancouver.

  • Short-listed, Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize
Editorial Review

Only a few pages in, I knew I was in the presence of a writer of rare and edgy brilliance. His words don't just sound right; they have a certain feel in the mouth, begging to be read aloud: "this mess of embers I am left with," "the tindery contagion of humanity and electricity," "sloe on the rocks with a tonic Charybdis/and a quicklime twist." The poems, not set in any particular chronological order, have a sort of cumulative effect, creating an impression of a history written entirely with the right side of the brain... 49th Parallel Psalm is a passionate, funny, dangerous, maddeningly obscure, unbearably lucid book that crackles with anger and subversive energy.
-January Magazine

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