THE WALRUS READS
Canadian authors pick the year’s best books
The Blue Clerk by Dionne Brand
An “ars poetica” and instant modern classic,
The Blue Clerk offers an original philosophy of writing by staging the creative act as “a negotiation between what is said and what is unsaid, between what is written and what is withheld,” between the recto (the right-hand page) and the verso
(the left-hand page), and between the identities of “the author” and “the clerk.” Through drama and prose poetry, Dionne Brand tackles censorship, the archive, the agency of language, and the ideologies of authorship. Pointedly, the book is about creativity in the aftermath of slavery and colonialism, about life within the necrotic scripts of history. The Blue Clerk is beautiful—physically beautiful— in the nakedness of its stitched blue spine. But the book is beautiful, most substantially, in its sumptuous and incendiary language, in its fierce challenge to the illusions of literature, and in its manifest belief in the act of writing.