BWS 10.01.18: Canisia Lubrin


Canisia Lubrin is a writer, critic, teacher, and a community arts administrator. She has written for Room MagazineThe PuritanThis MagazineArc Poetry MagazineThe Hamilton Review of BooksThe Unpublished City anthology, and The Globe & Mail, among others. With contributions to podcasts, anthologies, conferences and more, she has appeared on TVO’s The Agenda, CBC’s The Doc Project and was recently named to CBC’s list of 150 exemplary Young Black Women in Canada. Lubrin holds degrees from York University and the University of Guelph, serves on the advisory board at Open Book, the editorial board of Humber Literary Review, and Buckrider Books, and teaches at Humber College. She is the author of Voodoo Hypothesis (Wolsak & Wynn, 2017) and the chapbook augur (Gap Riot Press, 2017).

In her book Voodoo Hypothesis, Canisia holds up a torch to the narratives of the ruling class, and shows us the restorative possibilities that exist in language itself.

Voodoo Hypothesis

Before sight, we imagine
that while they go out in search
of God
we stay in and become god,
become: Curiosity,
whose soul is a nuclear battery
because she’ll pulverize Martian rock
and test for organic molecules
in her lab within a lab within
a lab. She doesn’t need to know our fears
so far too grand for ontology, reckoning.

Did you not land with your rocket behind
you, hope beyond hope on the tip of your rope
with the kindness of antigravity slowing you down,
you, before me, metal and earthen. But I am here to
confirm or deny, the millions of small
things that seven minutes of success were hinged upon
when I was little more than idea and research,
in the hypnotic gestures of flame and Bunsen burner,
and into parachute
no one foresaw, the bag of rags at the end
of the tunnel – all memory now,
this Paraclete.

Where else is a pocket
of air more deadly than the atomic bomb?
Would this only happen on Earth?
Has Mars run out of tolerance for the minutiae

of air pockets, fingerprints and worry?
Aggregates of metal, Curiosity
and her clues to calm our fears for what’s coming.
Mars and her epic storms, her gargantuan
volcanoes have long ceased their trembling,
her crazy flooded planes, frozen and in cinema.
Martian life now earth and revelation’s phases:
Earth problem, not Mars problem.

But why
should I unravel over all this remembering?
Great thing about landing
is that I’ve arrived

at your service, at your sand, at your valley
and unsentimental magma.
Before me screams planes like Mojave Desert, Waikiki, Nagasaki,
nothing too strange to keep Curiosity off course.
Even though the Viking missions found no conclusive pulse
and we declared you dead, O Mars,
never mind that we named your heights and depths
from orbit. And from your spheres of minerals
where oceans once roared – we’ve learned little
of your lenience for empire.
Forgive us what Spirit uncovered in the silica of your ancient hot springs.

Canisia Lubrin visits Brockton Writers Series on Wednesday, January 10, 2018 in our new home, Glad Day Bookshop, 499 Church Street, Toronto, at 6:30pm (PWYC) alongside Mariam Pirbhai, Rod Michalko, Mayank Bhatt, and special guest speaker Cassandra Rodgers. 


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