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CanLit150

Celebrate more than 150 years of Canada with 150 books.

Canisia Lubrin Recommends

Inventory by Dionne Brand

“Inventory is a staggering work of poetic notation on the damning cross-national effects of war. I remember reaching the end of this book in one of those rare, breathless states reserved for works of literature that truly have the power to change a reader. In this book is not merely a contemporary account of a pair of world powers’ too-exact capacity for brutality but also how seamlessly Brand has woven the smallest, self-contained inflictions–things one might only glimpse during a moment of self-doubt or fault-bearing – into the broader narrative of historical atrocities, tempered with her own mourning, her own limitations and struggles in the writing of this book.

What’s more is what one might see of the future in its pages. This is a book that doesn’t let us rest easily with the idea of innocuous questions: the thought that, well, this isn’t happening in my back yard, so why should I bother, why should I raise an ounce of resistance if there is nothing I can do? Many such insecurities, while permeating Inventory, are parsed in a way that doesn’t let any of us claim innocence. This is an essential, beautiful and rewarding book of poetry that one can read for years and still find an inexhaustible bounty.” – Canisia Lubrin

Inventory (2006)

(From Penguin Random House)

In Dionne Brand’s incantatory, deeply engaged, beautifully crafted long poem, the question is asked, What would an inventory of the tumultuous early years of this new century have to account for? Alert to the upheavals that mark those years, Brand bears powerful witness to the seemingly unending wars, the ascendance of fundamentalisms, the nameless casualties that bloom out from near and distant streets. An inventory in form and substance, Brand’s poem reckons with the revolutionary songs left to fragment, the postmodern cities drowned and blistering, the devastation flickering across TV screens grown rhythmic and predictable. Inventory is an urgent and burning lamentation.

Dionne Brand

(From Amazon.ca)

Dionne Brand literary credentials are legion. Her most recent book of poetry is Ossuaries, winner of the Griffin Poetry Prize; her 9 others include winners of the Governor General's Literary Award, the Trillium Book Award and the Pat Lowther Memorial Award. Her novel In Another Place, Not Here was Selected as a New York Times Book Review Notable Book of the Year and a Best Book by the Globe and MailAt the Full and Change of the Moon was also selected a Best Book by the LA Times. The Globe and Mail called it "in many respects nothing short of brilliant--her storytelling, coupled with her vision and spectacular gifts as a poet, make it one of the essential works of our times."

Her novel What We All Long For was published to great acclaim in Canada, Italy and Germany and won the Toronto Book Award. In 2006, Brand was awarded the Harbourfront Festival Prize for her contribution to the world of books and writing, and was Toronto's Poet Laureate from 2009 to 2012. Brand is Professor in the School of English and Theatre Studies at the University of Guelph. She lives in Toronto.