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FEATURED POET
CLAN
(for Kwame Dawes)
Colin Channer

Every clan has its colors, its history, its foes,
its limits, its ways of notching who's out and in.

Every clan has its parlance, its secrets, its publics,
its fables, its side deals cut with death.

These old street gangs of Kingston,
city ghillies, croton orange, chocho green,

are not manics, but shrewd evaluators
of their worth: shooters part-making an epic,

a story kept in breath, refreshed
at corner fetes of chicken, smoky bread,

at fish spots on the dark foreshore,
waves translating patwa to a lost Aegean tongue.

Hail, Spanglers, Shower,
Byah, Copper, Starkey, Bucky.

Hail, Claudie, Zacky, Rhygin,
Feather Mop.

Every clan has its children, its widows,
its fathers, its prayers, its vengeance pledge,

its poems, its dances, its pictures,
its questions never set.

Who gave the order? When will it end?
Every clan has peaks it never gets to,

humps to get over, mounds of buried hurt.
We belongers sieve the fragments

from the midden, make molds.
Shells. Shit. Skin. Seeds. Bone.


SOURCE: Providential: Poems by Colin Channer, published
by Akashic Books, New York, USA, 2015.

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Poetry Corner

ARCHIVES
FEATURED POETS

BRAZIL

CARIBBEAN
GUYANA

UNITED STATES
JAMAICA-BORN
NOVELIST & POET
BORN 1963
COLIN CHANNER, a
novelist and poet, was
born in Kingston,
Jamaica, the youngest
of four children. His
father was a policeman;
his mother was a
pharmacist. Father of
two children, he
currently lives in New
England, USA.

His love for language
began in high school
where he first penned
love poems. At
eighteen, upon
completion of high
school, he migrated to
New York to pursue a
career in journalism.  
He earned a B.A. in
Media Communications
from Hunter College of
the City University of
New York.

In 1988, he moved to
Atlanta where he
worked for three years
as a magazine
journalist. Returning to
New York, he began
working on his first
novel.

In 2000, together with
poet Kwame Daves and
events producer Justine
Henzell, he launched the
non-profit Calabash Trust
with the aim "to
transform the literary arts
in the Caribbean by
being the region's
best-managed producer
of workshops, seminars
and performances."

He has served as a
Newhouse Professor in
Ceative Writing at
Wellesley College and
Fannie Hurst Writer in
Residence at Brandeis
University, both located
in Massachusetts.

In July 2016, he joined
the Department of
Literary Arts of Brown
University in Rhode
Island as an Assistant
Professor of Literary
Arts.

I didn’t always know I wanted to be a writer. I liked
reading a lot. I didn’t have a role model as a writer when
I was growing up. I was turned on by reggae. I studied
journalism because it was a kind of writing I could relate
to. I decided to become a journalist when I came across
a novel by Caryl Phillips. It struck me that he was
young, black and from the West Indies (St. Kitts). That
was in 1988.
— COLIN CHANNER IN INTERVIEW WITH JAMAICANS MAGAZINE IN
FEBRUARY 2003.

I have always had a thing for the music of language –
even before I understood how poetry really worked. But
I think that Caribbean people tend to have a love affair
with language and some of the poets that have
influenced me most were not poets at all... So the
appreciation for poetry came by osmosis, then that
appreciation was enhanced by engagement with
professional exponents of the poetic arts. I read poetry a
lot. But the poets that I return to form a very short list –
Pablo Neruda, Derek Walcott, Kwame Dawes and Nicolas
Guillen.
— COLIN CHANNER IN INTERVIEW WITH OLIVIER STEPHENSON OF
JAMAICANSRUS MAGAZINE IN OCTOBER 2007.

PRAISE FOR PROVIDENTIAL, FIRST POETRY COLLECTION
BY COLIN CHANNER

The Caribbean policeman is a character both foreign and
familiar at the center of this intimate debut poetry
collection. Combining Jamaican patois and American
English, it tells the story of violence, loss, and recovery
in the wake of colonialism.
O, THE OPRAH MAGAZINE

Lush lists and light-footedness and keen word choices all
restore a limb to our comprehension of colonial trauma
and make this one of the most lucid and telling poetry
books of this exact time.”
EILEEN MYLES, AUTHOR OF SNOWFLAKE


COLIN
CHANNER


HONORS

Fellowships in
poetry and fiction
Rhode Island
State Council
on the Arts
(2014 & 2015)

Silver Musgrave
Medal in Literature
from the
Jamaican
government
(2010)


LIST OF
PUBLICATIONS

Waiting in Vain
Novel
(1998)

Satisfy My Soul
Novel
(2002)

Passing Through
Novel
(2004)

I'm Still Waiting
Novella
(2005)

Iron Balloons
Editor, Fiction
Anthology
(2006)

The Girl with the
Golden Shoes
Novel
(2007)

So Much Things
to Say
Coeditor, Poetry
Anthology
(2010)

Kingston Noir
Editor, Fiction
Anthology
(2012)

Providential
Poems
(2015)
Caribbean-American novelist and poet