Let Us Compare Anthologies: Juxtaposing the First Major Italian-Canadian and African-Canadian Verse Collections

When and Where

Thursday, March 07, 2024 4:00 pm to 5:00 pm
Room 404, 4th floor
Carr Hall
100 St. Joseph Street, Toronto


George Elliott Clarke


Italian-Canadian poets may have a different accent--audibly as well as metaphorically--in comparison with their Franco or Anglo Canadian counterparts, while African-"Black"-Canadian poets offer a visible difference to poets who are part of the nation's  Caucasian majority. One might expect these different minority groups--one ethnic and one racial--to share similar degrees of alienation or anxiety regarding their acceptance (or even assimilation) by the non-Italian and non-Black Canadian majority, given official  recognition of both minorities by state-sanctioned multiculturalism.  Yet, in comparing the first two major verse anthologies, Roman Candles (1978), edited by Pier Giorgio Di Cicco, and Canada In Us Now (1976), edited by Harold Head, one finds each editor (and some of their assembled poets) expressing opposite opinions about their Canadian positions, yet also meeting in a muddled middle.  My talk will explore the ironical conjunctions and the polar distinctions between these two minoritarian discourses, while  identifying their surprising similarities. 

The 4th Poet Laureate of Toronto (2012-15) and the 7th Parliamentary/Canadian Poet Laureate (2016-17), George Elliott Clarke hails from Windsor, Nova Scotia, as of 1960 Clarke is also a pioneering scholar of African-Canadian literature, with two major tomes to his credit:  Odysseys Home: Mapping African-Canadian Literature (2002) and Directions Home: Approaches to African-Canadian Literature (2012).  A professor of English at the University of Toronto, Clarke has taught at Duke, McGill, the University of British Columbia, and Harvard.  He holds eight honorary doctorates, plus appointments to the Order of Nova Scotia and the Order of Canada at the rank of Officer.  He is also a Fellow of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society.  His recognitions include the Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Centre Fellowship (US), the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Fellows Prize, the Governor-General’s Award for Poetry, the National Magazine Gold Award for Poetry, the Premiul Poesis (Romania), the Eric Hoffer Book Award for Poetry (US), and International Fellow Poet of the Year, Encyclopedic Poetry School [2019] (China).  His acclaimed titles include Whylah Falls (1990, translated into Chinese), Beatrice Chancy (1999, translated into Italian), Execution Poems (2001), Blues and Bliss (selected poems, 2009), I & I (2008), Illicit Sonnets (U.K., 2013), Traverse (2015), Canticles II (MMXX) (2020), Canticles III (MMXXII) (2022), and J’Accuse…! (Poem versus Silence) (2021).  Clarke penned the libretto for James Rolfe’s triumphant, tragic opera, Beatrice Chancy (1998), plus two lyrics for Four the Moment’s 2022 Polaris Heritage Prize-winning album, We’re Still Standing (1987).

To attend this lecture in person, please complete the online registration.

This lecture will be livestreamed on the Department's YouTube channel.

All times stated in Eastern time.

Contact Information


Emilio Goggio Chair in Italian Studies - University of Toronto