BRAND, Dionne

Trinidad-born Dionne Brand of Toronto came to British Columbia as a writer-in-residence at Malaspina University-College in Nanaimo in 2006. See Press Release.

Poet at Malaspina
Press Release (2006)

October 4, 2006

Governor General Award winning poet Dionne Brand has accepted the appointment as the 2006 Distinguished Poet for the Ralph Gustafson Poetry Chair at Malaspina University-College and will be visiting the Nanaimo campus to kick-off her one-year posting later this month. "Dionne Brand is one of Canada's best living writers and thinkers,” said Kate Braid, poet and creative writing professor at Malaspina. Her superb readings always leaves me feeling I've just experienced magic, have just learned (or perhaps remembered) something important, life-changing even. Her appearances in Nanaimo are not to be missed."

“In a wide country that sometimes feels thin, silence finds a voice in Brand,” said Keith Harrison, novelist and professor in Malaspina’s English and Creative Writing Departments.

Brand will appear at two free public events at Malaspina this month. The first is a student-centered event on Oct. 18 from 2:30 to 4 p.m. in Building 355, Room 211. The second is the Ralph Gustafson Distinguished Poet Lecture on Oct. 19 starting at 7:30 p.m. in the Gustafson Theatre, Building 355. The focus of Brand’s lecture is Inventory, her recently published collection of poetry from which she will read. The evening event will be followed by a cocktail reception.

Brand’s appointment to Malaspina’s Poetry Chair promises to be memorable for all who hear her. Deborah Torkko, Malaspina English professor, recalls the pleasure of hearing Brand read at a literary festival a few years ago. “Brand’s gift for reading aloud, for capturing the rhythms and cadences of language, captivate the listener’s heart and ear,” said Torkko.

Inventory (2006), is a long poem that “bears powerful witness to the seemingly unending wars, the ascendance of fundamentalisms, the nameless casualties that bloom out from near and distant streets.” It is an important work, an urgent and burning lamination for our times.

As distinguished Canadian poet Gary Geddes remarks, Brand’s “poetry escapes the stigma of mere rhetoric or propaganda by transmuting these feelings into image, voice and music.”

A writer of fiction and non-fiction as well as poetry, Brand’s latest novel What We All Long For (2005) was published with great acclaim in Canada and abroad and received the 2006 Toronto Book Award. Works of non-fiction include Bread Out Of Stone (1994), a book of essays, and A Map to the Door of No Return (2001), which is a meditation on Blackness in the diaspora.

Brand attended the University of Toronto where she received a Bachelor of Arts in English and Philosophy and a Master of Arts in the Philosophy of Education.

“What I write for is to restore and regenerate myself and the communities I belong to. To record things I think have happened, how they have survived,” said Brand of her own work.