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49th Parallel Psalm

49th Parallel Psalm

By Wayde Compton
Categories: BIPOC, Black Literature, British Columbia, Poetry
Paperback : 9781551520650, 176 pages, 1999


Wayde Compton's first poetry book: a stunning set of poems documenting the migration of Blacks to Canada, specifically when the first Black settlers-facing an increasingly hostile racist government-left San Francisco and travelled north to British Columbia beginning in 1858.
With recurring themes of the unknowable, the crossroads, the trickster, and entropy, 49th Parallel Psalm jumbles history, time, and the Canadian black literary canon.
Shortlisted for the Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize


  • Short-listed, Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize 2000


Only a few pages in, I knew I was in the presence of a writer of rare and edgy brilliance. His words don't just sound right; they have a certain feel in the mouth, begging to be read aloud: "this mess of embers I am left with," "the tindery contagion of humanity and electricity," "sloe on the rocks with a tonic Charybdis/and a quicklime twist. " The poems, not set in any particular chronological order, have a sort of cumulative effect, creating an impression of a history written entirely with the right side of the brain. .. 49th Parallel Psalm is a passionate, funny, dangerous, maddeningly obscure, unbearably lucid book that crackles with anger and subversive energy.

-January Magazine