Exploring Temporal Worlds: A Review of Dionne Brand's

Dionne Brand's Nomenclature opens with the book-length, previously unpublished "Nomenclature for the Time Being," whose speaker declares "I'm not innocent," and relays that "[t]he apocalyptic reports have come. // ... / atrocities saturate our latent notebooks."
As Christina Sharpe notes in her critical introduction, Brand "makes scalar leaps from the 'eroding present' and the 'intimacy of history' to 'unknown galaxies' and 'as yet / unarmed moons,' as her work threads multiple temporal worlds—past, present, and futures." Though Nomenclature does not cover Brand's entire output, it reaches as far back as 1982, to Primitive Offensive , and its chronological progression through the poet's oeuvre reveals a complicated relationship with oceans and seas as sites of loss, with frequent mentions of the color blue: "the blue seas' limning screens / are saturated with experts on terror." In Brand's visual lexicon, blue signals the potential for brutality with "hair nets of violence, blue, / like machine guns, of course knives, extensions / of blueness." In Canto II from Primitive Offensive , the speaker says: you want to kill me press me into jade grind me into blue stone From "analgesics of indigo" and a "cobalt path," to "the deepest suicidal blue waters," we observe the poet struggle to square away the beauty she observes in the world with so many postcolonial horrors: [...] I have tried to imagine a sea not bleeding, a girl's glance full as a verse, a woman growing old and never crying to a radio hissing of a black boy's murder. [...] The splendor of the sea cannot be trusted, nor can the history that's been handed to us, because the "illuminated manuscripts are just the gaudy // sacredness of violence," because "the wars they recorded were the wars they won." Taken together, these poems reflect the work of someone aching to find a place where "to be awake is / more lovely than dreams."
Uploaded by andreawarren935812 on coursehero.com