We begin the year at Doveglion.com with some video and a review of African Canadian multi-lingual author and “word-sound systemizer” Kaie Kellough's MAPLE LEAF RAG, reviewed by Raphael Cohen.
Maple Leaf Rag by Kaie Kellough
(Arbeiter Ring Press, 2010)
Review by Raphael Cohen
Kaie Kellough’s second full-length poetry collection, Maple Leaf Rag (Arbeiter Ring Publishing, 2010), notions of hybridity, cross-pollination, and genre-bending are front and center.
The collection, sized more like a song-book of sheet music than a typical poetry publication, is encased in what can best be described as a literary record-sleeve, from which the actual paperback need be slid out. It bears the sub-title of “poetry composed” by its author, suggesting the primacy of music and musicality to the project. And following brief opening quotes by Melvin B. Tolson, African American modernist poet largely influenced by the Harlem Renaissance, and James Brown, globally celebrated godfather of soul music, a “readeradar” is introduced, in which Kellough contextualizes the collection’s title as a play on the original, widely popular, late 19th century ragtime composition for piano by Scott Joplin. The author shares his sense that the title phrase “fuses jazz music with [Canadian] national symbology… [celebrating] the unity of black culture and canadian culture… [yet] also [suggesting] a malaise, a critique.”
Indeed, an analytical engagement with multiple facets of African Canadian history, focused especially on themes of “belonging, dislocation, and relocation,” undergirds the entirety of the collection. Explorations into the fluidity of national and linguistic boundaries, and a creative tension between the visual and auditory, as represented on the page through multiple experiments in form, readability, and mixed media artistry, only serve to heighten the book’s emphases on cultural amalgamation and the mutable nature of a people’s and a place’s identities.
Read more here: http://www.doveglion.com/2011/