Dionne Brand

Dionne Brand Headshot

Dionne Brand is the award-winning author of twenty-three books of poetry, fiction, and nonfiction. Her twelve books of poetry include Inventory (2006); Ossuaries (2010); The Blue Clerk: Ars Poetica in 59 Versos (2018); and Nomenclature for the Time Being (2022), and have won the Pat Lowther Memorial Award for Poetry, the Governor General’s Award for English-Language Poetry, the Trillium Book Award, and the Griffin Poetry Prize. In addition to poetry, Brand has published six works of fiction and five works of nonfiction. Brand is the recipient of the Toronto Book Award (2006 and 2019), the Blue Metropolis Violet Prize, the OCM Bocas Prize for Fiction, and the 2021 Windham-Campbell Prize for Fiction.


-Dionne Brand


This city is beauty

unbreakable and amorous as eyelids,

in the streets, pressed with fierce departures,

submerged landings,

I am innocent as thresholds

and smashed night birds, lovesick,

as empty elevators

let me declare doorways,

corners, pursuit, let me say

standing here in eyelashes, in

invisible breasts, in the shrinking lake

in the tiny shops of untrue recollections,

the brittle, gnawed life we live,

I am held, and held

the touch of everything blushes me,

pigeons and wrecked boys,

half-dead hours, blind musicians,

inconclusive women in bruised dresses

even the habitual grey-suited men with terrible

briefcases, how come, how come

I anticipate nothing as intimate as history

would I have had a different life

failing this embrace with broken things,

iridescent veins, ecstatic bullets, small cracks

in the brain, would I know these particular facts,

how a phrase scars a cheek, how water

dries love out, this, a thought as casual

as any second eviscerates a breath

and this, we meet in careless intervals,

in coffee bars, gas stations, in prosthetic

conversations, lotteries, untranslatable

mouths, in versions of what we may be,

a tremor of the hand in the realization

of endings, a glancing blow of tears

on skin, the keen dismissal in speed

– Copyright © 2020, Dionne Brand, thirsty, McClelland & Stewart. From Griffin Poetry Prize’s Poem of the Week.