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LISTEN TO
Cane Man in
cane field
slashing stalk
& smashing
bones.
Bleeding cane
sugar.

HAIKU POEM
ROSALIENE BACCHUS

For Sinab Kloss

2—cane

our cane
man came
nameless, out of nowhere
a coolie cursed, it seemed,
to wander the worst
parts of this city

year in
year out
his shout (Cane
Man
here!) brazen herald
of the sweet
season of himself

we marvelled then at
how brown he was
(how browner than us)
almost black, like molasses

how so slow, yet strong
his bow-legged gait
carrying him around
our housing scheme
all that dreary afternoon
that spanned '85 to '89

in the hot, shimmering
sunshine of our summer
the blackened, grooved cutlass
drifting upward to the sky, and
hovering for the space of some
fleeting, uncaught memory

all theatrical, ritual motion
for a flick of wrist was enough to
slice a 50c stalk into 25c halves
we built epic fantasies around
the precarious silver, glinting
sun-sparked edge of that blade

we'd ask to hold it, and were
suddenly on some raid of some
lost ark or we'd become
the swashbuckling Technicolor
Prince of Baghdad, premiering four
decades late, every day at five
on the decade's singular channel

one day a bold friend of mine
grew bolder still and asked his name
to hear him say, matter-of-fact,
me dun fugget am, lang time back

we simply thereafter
called him "Sugar"


Poem from Coming Up Hot: Eight New Poets from
the Caribbean, Preface by Kwame Dawes, Peekash
Press, US Office, c/o Akashic Books, New York, 2015

Excerpt from
SUGAR
"the god assembled, cane by cane" —Walcott
Ruel Johnson
CANE SUGAR
RUEL JOHNSON is a
poet and short story
Georgetown, Guyana.

After discovering the
work of Derek Walcott
and Pablo Neruda,
around 17 to 18 years
of age, he starting
writing poetry.

His work is largely
concerned with the
issues facing
contemporary Guyana,
including its political
and ethnic divisions.

His literary awards
include:
~ 2002 Guyana Prize
for his short story
collection
Ariadne and
other Stories
and
~ 2012 Guyana Prize
for
Fictions.

His Collected Poems
2002-2012
was
published by Janus
Books in 2013.

Fictions, Volume 2 is in
the works.

With Johnson, the achievement is in his line. There is a
command of syntax and metaphor that is admirable in its
seeming effortlessness and clear efficiency. We see his craft
most clearly in the sophisticated architecture of his
multisectional long poems, where his use of unifying echoes
in sentiment and language, as well as his allusions to the
work of other writers, Caribbean and outside, are never
pretentious or gratuitous, but necessary features of poems
that offer a lyric wrestling with faith and memory, as well as
a communal wrestling with a society's sense of identity and
history.
~ EXCERPT FROM PREFACE BY KWAME DAWES, COMING UP HOT: EIGHT NEW
POETS FROM THE CARIBBEAN, PEEKASH PRESS, NEW YORK & LONDON, 2015.

[Johnson's] poems are scrupulously crafted, inventive,
intelligent. They owe a happy debt to the work of Derek
Walcott, whose poem "Hic Jacet" Johnson has adopted as a
sort of credo. Like the younger Walcott, Johnson's
self-appointed task is the transformation of the facts of his
everyday world -"as painfully prosaic as a laundry list" -into
fresh metaphors for the experience of his time and place, and
ultimately into a new sensibility unafraid of life's truly big
questions.
~ NICHOLAS LAUGHLIN, "RUEL JOHNSON: HIS WAY IN THE WORLD,"
eCAROH CARIBBEAN EMPORIUM, 2012.
KING PERAI
BY KING PERAI
2015 CALYPSO
MONARCH - GUYANA
Guyana Poet and Author Ruel Johnson
WATCH & LISTEN
RUEL JOHNSON
WRITER AND
TRUTH TELLER
INTERVIEW WITH
ELSIE HARRY
AFRICAN DRUMS
GUYANA'S CREATIVE
INDUSTRY
DECEMBER 2015
(DURATION: 46 MINUTES)
RUEL JOHNSON
INTERVIEW WITH
SELWYN COLLINS
AS IT IS
JOURNEYS &
PERSPECTIVES
FEBRUARY 2015
(DURATION: 27 MINUTES)

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