Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

Recommended Reading: After Canaan: Essays on Race, Writing and Region

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Recommended Reading: After Canaan: Essays on Race, Writing and Region

After Canaan, the debut collection of essays on Canada’s interracial histories by poet and scholar Wayde Compton, is a refreshing remix of scholarly and poetic investigations into the various national myths that have dubbed Canada a “post-racial” nation. With a focus on interracial relations in British Columbia, Compton’s book uncovers the uncomfortable place race continues to have in our national discourses and history books. Taken together, and in some ways taking off from Compton’s 2003 Bluesprint, an investigation into B.C.’s “phantom lineage” of Blacks, After Canaan offers an alternate epistemology for thinking about race in Canada, and a more fluid way of reading Canadian mixed-race identities.

Fascinating connections are made between the arrival of American blacks in nineteenth-century B.C. and the processes of integration that ensued from the Maritimes to the West Coast. He also makes important connections between the destruction of Hogan’s Alley and legacy of misunderstood Black Canadian writers, the politics and poetics of hip-hop and turntabling, and, of course, Obama.

Instead of acting as an exegesis on diversity or employing post-racial tactics, however, After Canaan marks Canada’s place in the future as dependent on an honest dialogue with its history, rather than a radical disjunction with the past. From these shadowy relations, poet/academic Compton expertly fleshes out (riffs?) on the concept of Canada as a promised land ("Canaan") by arguing for a strategic engagement (rather than evasion) with race, one that can function along poetic – open-ended, potentially radical – rather post-racial lines. After Canaan arrives at a timely moment in history, offering new writings that re-imagine Canada’s interracial milieu.

After Canaan: Essays on Race, Writing and Region (Arsenal Pulp Press, 2010).
ISBN: 978-155152-374-3
Price: $19.95

Read more about After Canaan at the Arsenal Pulp website.