Friday, February 18, 2011
Hands on: George Elliott Clarke
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When I went to pick up GEC for his reading of new works, he had this football of literature under his arm.
"That!" I exclaimed. "That is what I want to photograph for your 'hands on'..."
He then revealed that it contained his hand-written first drafts of poems from his newest manuscript. And that while he composes directly on the computer when he is writing fiction, he almost always hand-writes first drafts of poetry.
Later, when it was splayed out on the table, post-reading, he admitted to some sheepishness about this most unusual notebook.
"I got it at Stratford, of all places...but I'm sort of ashamed because it's sort of pretentious."
The surrounding crowd murmured that they liked it. Colin Smith, poetry scalawag, took one look and said, "No, it's dreadful. You should be fucking ashamed." At which GEC boomed with laughter....
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George Elliott Clarke was born in Windsor, Nova Scotia, a seventh-generation Africadian. He is a poet, playwright, novelist, and critic, with a Governor General’s Award for Poetry and a Martin Luther King Achievement Award among his many honours. His works include several acclaimed collections of poetry, including Whylah Falls and Execution Poems, the libretto for the jazz opera Beatrice Chancy, the novel George and Rue, and several plays. Clarke lives in Toronto where he is the EJ Pratt Professor of Canadian Literature at University of Toronto.