The Cida Poet Writes of Guyana

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Questions and Answers

What inspired “The Cida Poet Writes of Guyana”?

I kept thinking about how we in Canada want to help Third World countries, and maybe, too, how fortunate we are to be living in Canada. My experiences are both Third World and First World (so-called), so I write from both perspectives. More direct inspiration came from a poet-colleague living in Ottawa who works for CIDA (the federal government agency) charged with dispensing aid to a country like Guyana. In a sense the poem is viewing the colleague as more than just that, an official; but he’s also a poet, with his own sense of where he comes from, his son—I wanted to personalize him—and to suggest that rich or poor we have a common humanity. The view that “geography is destiny” also came to me, as inspiration.

What poetic techniques did you use in “The Cida Poet Writes of Guyana”?

No special technique as such, I think, save for trying to find the right kind of rhythm and the right words, far beyond “chopped-up prose”—as some cynically describe free verse to be. I think much is going on here, in each line, with each word I have chosen, as I attempt to re-create the connection between temporal spaces as I pile image upon image. More than anything else, the imagist sense in me is uppermost, maybe, as I wrestled with the poem’s inner rhythms and its outward form.

This poem “The Cida Poet Writes of Guyana” originally appeared in South Asian Connections. Spec. issue of Canadian Literature 132 (Spring 1992): 124-125.

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