From his first Canadian publications, Goatsong, Distances, This Planet Earth, Heart’s Frame and Elephants Make Good Stepladders from the 1970s and early 80s, to his Canadian publications of the 1990s, Stoning the Wind and Born in Amazonia, not forgetting his two Peepal Tree publications, Islands Lovelier than a Vision and Discussing Columbus, Cyril Dabydeen has selected those poems that best represent the journey he has made across multiple boundaries.
From his roots as an Asian whose grandparents migrated as indentured labourers from 19th century India, from his shaping as a Guyanese growing up during a period of intense national ferment, and his life as an adult in Canada, Cyril Dabydeen has shaped a vision that makes an enlightening virtue of heterogeneity. Not merely a Guyanese exile, but a writer who has immersed himself in the landscapes, history and lived experience of Canada (and without losing the insistent promptings of Guyanese memory and concern), Dabydeen’s poetry shows the rich possibilities inherent in combining immigrant and diasporic selves. His work ranges across the confessional, the narrative and the mythic but always with an unwavering integrity in seeking the interior truth of the poem. He writes with a conversational directness, a clarity born of careful craft, but with an obliqueness of angle and density of image that constantly shifts the reader into new and rewarding frames of reference.
Cyril Dabydeen was born in Guyana in 1945. He migrated to Canada in 1970. He is the author of almost a dozen collections of poetry, two novels and six collections of short stories.