April 23, 2008

"Evolution Song" by Cyril Dabydeen

Cyril DabydeenCyril Dabydeen was born in the Canje, Guyana. He began writing in the early 1960s, winning the Sandbach Parker Gold Medal for poetry in 1964. His first collection of poems, Poems in Recession, was published in 1972.

In the early 1970s, he left Guyana for Canada where he obtained a BA (First class Hons) at Lakehead University, an MA (his thesis was on Sylvia Plath) and an MPA (Master of Public Administration) at Queen's University. He was literary juror in 2000 for the Canada's Governor's General Award for Literature, the Neustadt International Prize for Literature, and the James Lignon Price Competition (the American Poets University & College Poetry Prize Program).

Dabydeen has been a finalist four times for Canada's Archibald Lampman Poetry Prize, as well as for the Guyana Prize. He received the City of Ottawa’s first award for Writing and Publishing, and a Certificate of Merit, Government of Canada (1988) for his contribution to the arts. He is a regular book critic for World Literature Today (University of Oklahoma).

Cyril Dabydeen has worked for many years in human rights and race relations in Canada, and currently teaches in the Department of English, University of Ottawa.

Evolution Song

I have evolved
from sugar cane
(so goes the hoary
Indian myth)

I sprout leaves
in the sun
blades in the wind

arrows pointing upward
as I am tropical
to the bone,

tramping on
squelchy ground
after the heavy rain

at the seasons
with machete

my sucrose memory
reeks through



*Courtesy of Peepal Tree Press

Throughout the month of April, National Poetry Month, poets from the Caribbean and South Florida will be featured on this blog.

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