Kaie Kellough

Magnetic Equator by Kaie Kellough

Griffin Poetry Prize 2020
Canadian Winner

Book: Magnetic Equator

Poet: Kaie Kellough

Publisher: McClelland & Stewart

Click here to read an excerpt.

Kaie Kellough


Kaie Kellough is a novelist, poet, and sound performer. He was born in Vancouver, British Columbia, raised in Calgary, Alberta, and in 1998 moved to Montreal, Quebec where he now lives. He is the author of the novels Dominoes at the Crossroads, and Accordéon, which was a finalist for the Amazon.ca First Novel Award, two books of poetry, Lettricity and Maple Leaf Rag, and two albums, Vox:Versus and Creole Continuum. He has performed and published internationally.

Judges’ Citation

“Speaking to Caribbean and hemispheric migrations, the poems in Magnetic Equator recall trouble, hybridity, steep falls, continuance, and elaboration. Taking on influence, place, and racialized diasporic experience as it draws language into geographic drifts and historic collisions, these are voicings that cascade and collect ‘an accent adrift in its second language / over a b-side version of empire’. Singing of exile and scattering, the text negotiates survival and revolt as it moves with the surety and complexity of improvisation and collaboration. Sonic, visual, and intertextual, Kaie Kellough traces source and accumulation: ‘our crossings of past, we depart / opposite, along the sentence that encircles the world’.”

turning back

turning back, is this a beginning?     is it preferable to be erased, to have a
voice that does not know the chorus because it sounds outside the tradition,
because it is stolen by the chinook, or to have a dream of sweating in the
malarial mud swarmed by morpho peleides, sapphire butterflies, each one the
spirit of an ancestor     is it better to own a new bungalow in a
new development, or to live where your name was born, where your memory
has tongue     is this the reckoning: being between, turning between a
newness of mr. clean and president’s choice, and choke-and-rob in the bloody
dusk, between a full tank of gas and love in a time of bauxite strikes     i have
to reckon with this far reach, this far flung, this beyond beyond the
perimeter, wandering latitudes of longing and ache, where there exists no
critical authentic, no mas, nothing but blown fragments, and a polaroid
    frozen at the departure gate, timehri in 1973.     i look up from my
aunt’s afro.     out the sedan’s window: mile markers, flashing fenceposts and
barb wire slung between clouds, unconscious in their blind dreaming

From Magnetic Equator by Kaie Kellough
Copyright © 2019 by Kaie Kellough

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Photo credits:
Kaie Kellough, by Melissa-Anne Cobbler