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Ossuaries [Paperback]

Dionne Brand

RRP: 11.47
Price: 11.35 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

30 Mar 2010
Dionne Brand’s hypnotic, urgent long poem – her first book of poetry in four years, is about the bones of fading cultures and ideas, about the living museums of spectacle where these bones are found. At the centre of Ossuaries is the narrative of Yasmine, a woman living an underground life, fleeing from past actions and regrets, in a perpetual state of movement. She leads a solitary clandestine life, crossing borders actual (Algiers, Cuba, Canada), and timeless. Cold-eyed and cynical, she contemplates the periodic crises of the contemporary world. This is a work of deep engagement, sensuality, and ultimate craft from an essential observer of our time and one of the most accomplished poets writing today.

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Customer Reviews

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Amazon.com: 3.5 out of 5 stars  4 reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Intricate. 22 Mar 2011
By Sherry Yuan - Published on Amazon.com
Ossuaries is described as a 'hypnotic, urgent long poem'. 'Hypnotic' - it most certainly can be, with a consistent format of 3-lined stanzas from the very beginning to the very end. 'Long' - it most certainly is as well, following the path of the character, the narrator, or both simultaneously. 'Urgent' - now this would depend on what the reader makes of it. Ossuaries is a book centered on the reader as much as it is centered on the text itself. Depending on who the reader is, the book could lie anywhere within the spectrum from 'boring' to 'fascinating', from 'incomprehensible' to 'knowledgeable', or from any imaginable extreme to its corresponding counterpart. One could very easily expect either a love or hate relationship with a poem like this. For one to love the poem, it would require careful attention and patient dissection of the minute details within the poem. In time, it cannot be guaranteed that readers would completely understand the content, but they may begin to realize why it is a 'hypnotic, urgent long poem'. They may not eventually love the poem, but they will come to appreciate the intricacies of a work like Ossuaries.

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Thoughts on Ossuaries 21 Mar 2011
By Alex Wu - Published on Amazon.com
By Alex:

If you're looking for some fun light reading, this is not the book for you. Reading Dioone Brand's Ossuaries will send you tumbling around "vicious telephones", Jacob Lawrence's War Collection, "gutters of kisses", and bones. It will force you to spend hours attempting to decipher this story on the misery, pain, and confinement in the lives of the oppressed. You will be mesmerized by the beautiful imagery and skillful writing, but you will be left mostly clueless.

You will follow the protagonist Yasmine as she travels across space and time, from New York to Tunisia and from her present to her past as she dives into her own thoughts. Brand will take you back and forth between introspection and narration, as she uses her poem to communicate with you about the lives of the oppressed through alienation, fragmentation, and artificiality. Brand's poem is her solution to the problems beleaguering the oppressed: showing the world the plight of the underprivileged.

I have rather mixed feelings on the poem. While I respect Dionne Brand and the skillful, beautiful, and magical quality in her poetry and I have enjoyed various parts of Ossuaries, it is not something I really enjoyed as a whole. Definitely not something I would read again for fun.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Don't expect to be reading this for fun 20 Mar 2011
By carolzhu - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Ossuaries is not the type of book that you pick up and read for fun (in the fun category this book's rating would be more like a one star). It's the type of book that you read over and over again, looking at the fine print, hoping that you pick up something that you didn't get the last time around, because otherwise it makes no sense. But once the pieces all fall into place, Ossuaries creates a new world of understanding for this "urgent long poem".

The poem exists beyond the words on the paper. There is an entire Ossuary XI dedicated to Jacob Lawrence's War series. This adds so much to the work because it is a visual representation of the ideas that Brand is presenting. This poem is a contemplation on the horrible living conditions that the underprivileged face, not just because of their physical poverty, but also because of society's judgment upon them, the "violence of glances". Lawrence's paintings are a contemplation on a portion of the underprivileged, the black men in WWII.

There is also a selection of jazz music floating through the poem. They remind me of how poetry can be rhythmic, if not also lyrical, especially in stanzas where Brand repeats a certain word, or a certain category of words. The repetition adds a beat to the words.

The four-star rating on this review is assigned a "I like it" meaning by Amazon, but I don't think that is a good reflection of how I feel about the book. It's not that I like the book, so much as that I respect it. I think it is good poetry, not in the classical sense of its rhetorical devices, but in the amount of research put into it and the voice that it gives to the alienated.

3.0 out of 5 stars About Ossuaries 20 Mar 2011
By Christina - Published on Amazon.com
Ossuaries is an introspective poem that reflects, through the protagonist Yasmine, the lives of the oppressed. The images in this poem are a combination of modernity and nature, of real world experiences and mental depictions. Brand connects all these juxtaposing images by using symbolism and a universal theme of misery and discontent of the oppressed. This poem has given them a voice that they lack, granting them with attention they had never received. Readers of this poem could hear the inner shouts of the oppressed and experience what they feel.
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