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Magnetic Equator by Kaie Kellough

Finalist for The A.M. Klein Prize for Poetry in 2019


The poems in Kaie Kellough’s third collection drift between South and North America. They seek their ancestry in Georgetown, Guyana, in the Amazon Rainforest, and in the Atlantic Ocean. They haunt the Canadian Prairie. They recall the 1980s in the suburbs of Calgary, and they reflect on the snowed-in, bricked-in boroughs of post-referendum Montréal. They puzzle their language together from the natural world and from the works of Caribbean and Canadian writers. They reassemble passages about seed catalogues, about origins, about finding a way in the world, about black ships sailing across to land. They struggle to explain a state of being hemisphered, of being present here while carrying a heartbeat from elsewhere, and they map the distances travelled.


From “Exploding Radio”

descended, in part, from a continent shaped like a question mark
descended, in part, from those who were sold

descended, in part, from those indentured
descended, in part, from those who rebelled,

descended, in part, from charles tanner-lam
of hong kong, migrant to guyana circa 18-o-long

descended, in part, from those who bought and owned others
descended, in part, from a quesiton mark -

perhaps arawak, perhaps indian, perhaps
portuguese, perhaps english, i don’t know

how not to be multiple. i don’t know
what to desire from this avowal.

i listen for a word, a welcome, but the ocean
kisses its foaming teeth and tossess its head

its pressed curls twirl in style, show its snub,
show its art. did i expect

to be addressed? no sudden solar flare
ignites a blood understanding.

back into the septic atlantic
that flattens as it extends to the horizon

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