New Book: Cynthia James’ “Watermarked – A Poetry Collection”


Watermarked – A Poetry Collection is a new collection by Canadian-Caribbean author Cynthia James, a book that captures the complexities of diasporic existence.

Description: Watermarked takes a penetrating look at the very emotional and traumatic experience of migration from a Canadian perspective. For refugees, it is understandable, but what prompts people to leave places of relative security to search for new lands and experiences? Toronto, the migration destination of choice for many, allows the poet Cynthia James, the opportunity to meet a variety of migrants and thus explore a range of enigmatic reactions.

The poems look at factors such as age, ESL barriers, new adjustments to climate, the strength of people who undertake this mission, and how they cope or flounder in their everyday lives as they ride the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) service. Watermarked even takes a ride on a sightseeing trip, among a multicultural band, on a coach across provinces, to New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island, facing the Atlantic. For the Caribbean migrant, in particular, poems reflect on the activities of subjects from far-flung empires and explore in continued amazement, what can cause once termed post-colonial subjects to return to swear allegiance to the queen.

The poems in Watermarked are replete with analogies of ebb and flow, becalming waters and raging tempests. The four sections, Signs and Signatures, Parchment, Reversing Falls, and Google Knows Your Name, read like a continuous migration poem. The poems echo the bones of many Diasporas, and they are the meeting place for a myriad of unexpected cousins. Watermarked is Canadian, Caribbean and yet universal, suggesting alternative definitions of home and loyalty – beyond the limitations of places of origin and nativity.

Cynthia James is a professor of English at George Brown College (Ryerson & St. James Campuses). Her work has appeared in such publications as Jouvert, The Caribbean Writer, and The Massachusetts Review. Her books include Maroon Narrative: Caribbean Literature in English Across Boundaries, Ethnicities, and Centuries (2002), Bluejean: A Novel (2000), La Vega and Other Poems (1995), Vigil: A Long Poem (1990), and Iere, My Love (1990).

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