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George Elliott Clarke (CA)

Execution Poems

Execution Poems

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After nine years and nine trade printings, Gaspereau Press is issuing a revised and redesigned second edition of its most popular title. Originally released in 2000 in a limited edition of 66 books handset and printed letterpress in a folio format, Execution Poems has gone on to sell over 6000 copies. It was the winner of the 2001 Governor General’s award for poetry and took first place in the poetry category of the 2001 Alcuin Awards for Excellence in Canadian Book Design.

Execution Poems is a suite of poems about Clarke’s cousins, George and Rufus Hamilton, who were hanged in July 1949 for the murder of a Fredericton, New Brunswick, taxi driver. In this startling work, Clarke reminds us of racism and poverty and of their brutal, tragic results, blurring the line between the perpetrator and the victim–a line we’d prefer to be simple and clear. As all true poetry should, Clarke’s embodies both damnation and redemption, offering convoluted triumphs alongside tragedy.

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Gaspereau Press


George Elliott Clarke is a revered artist in song, drama, fiction, screenplay, essays and poetry. His publications include titles in Braille, Chinese, Italian, and Romanian. The inaugural E.J. Pratt Professor of Canadian Literature at the University of Toronto, Clarke has taught at Duke, McGill, the University of British Columbia, and Harvard. His recognitions include the Bellagio Center Fellowship (US), the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Fellows Prize, the Governor-General’s Award for Poetry, the National Magazine Gold Award for Poetry, the Premiul Poesis (Romania), the Dartmouth Book Award for Fiction, the Eric Hoffer Book Award for Poetry (US), Encyclopedic Poetry School: International Fellow (China), and the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Achievement Award.

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