cover image Console


Colin Channer. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $27 (144p) ISBN 978-0-374-60722-7

In this exuberant volume, Channer (Providential) blends haunting lyricism, photography, and Jamaican patois into a potent combination that captures the geography of memory from the Caribbean to Senegal to New England. Dub—the electronic music that remixes existing tracks by layering effects to create new sounds—is a fitting inspiration for poems that find echoes in the ruins of the past as they reverberate in the present. Sensory details startle with their physicality and immediacy: “smells douse: old damp,/ goat fur, guano, bats. The roof holes// mate the algae puddles; loss amalgamated/ has clung.” Contrasting life in Jamaica with New England, Channer writes: “To be black where/ I live now is to bivouac. White is wilderness in all seasons.” A section titled “Hurricane Suite” alternates between poems and archival photographs of flooding in Providence, R.I., posing provocative questions about how and what is remembered: “the willed-to-be-forgotten pitch of English/ waffled by our great-grands, tongues flecked with/ known shame-bearing words, argots of bias,/ blessings, caste worship—chant, spell, hex.” These intricate poems render the depths of memory in refreshingly original language. (July)