Gerald Lampert Award Short-list
A poetic travelogue through Britain, India and East Africa, towards the quiet is a personal journey through cultural identity, influence and history. It is an exploration of both longing and belonging as it retraces the migrations of three generations. These poems create a space for themselves by drawing on many traditions, both eastern and western. Stylistically concise, yet accessible, towards the quiet uses the precision of language to intimately redescribe and redefine a diasporatic postcolonial world. Whether set in Canada or Britain, India or East Africa, each poem explores the perspective of the intimate outsider. towards the quiet offers a personal look at the effects of empire, and a new poetics for a multicultural society.
towards the quiet is damian lopes’s first full-length collection of poetry, and was nominated for the League of Canadian Poets’ Gerald Lampert Award for best first poetry book.
120 pages, paper, ISBN 1-55022-345-3
ECW Press, Toronto, 1997
Cover photo by damian lopes
towards the quiet is a curious, brilliant volume. Much of its power comes from its creation of ramps from which our imaginations must take leaps. The poet denies catharsis. He belongs to a generation for whom multimedia is like a pen. His poem ‘curryculum,’ set in Goa, explores the way he was (mis)taught colonial history of Goa: ‘but vasco searching for spice / brought us to canada’s lakes rivers & seas.’ But that is not enough: he lists the website of his poetry-multimedia work-in-progress, Project X 1497-1999, which reexplores Vasco da Gama’s first voyage around Africa to India, denying closure by all means to not deny parts of oneself and one’s role in (re-)creating history.
– Peter Nazareth, World Literature Today, 1998.
This book serves as a personal travelogue, in which the author searches for his own ‘diastole of homeland,’ be it Britain, India, East Africa, or Canada. Lopes adopts a cryptic, paratactic style, beading together telegrammatic phrases (the haiku poems are extreme examples) and threby creating a sense of immediacy. His comments, often in the form of concluding afterthough, are variously humorous, subtly ironic, plangent. He is a master of metaphor: ‘contorted spirits in shades of ebony,’ for instance, or ‘green hills rolling from his lips.’ The occasional name may puzzle Western readers, but none can fail to appreciate his uncanny sense of place, which he recaptures in the sights and sounds around him.
– Edward L. Edmonds, Canadian Book Review Annual, 1997.
Born in Scotland, raised in Toronto and having a ‘paki face / spic name,’ Lopes writes about a classic roots-seeking journey he took through some of the lands of his diverse ethnic background (Britain, India, East Africa, Portugal). His short line and fragmented narrative relect his feelings of internal fragmentation and homelessness (‘diasporatic haze’). Lopes observes and interacts with the various locales as his fragments try to find one another.
Along the way, he plays interestingly with language, including making clever and sometimes funny puns, in both English and French … I enjoyed Lopes’ language play and sensibility.
– Libby Scheier, The Toronto Star, 17 January 1997