#NaPoWriMo Entry #2: “No Small Place”

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Another entry?  Yup.  I’m taking this National Poetry Writing Month thing seriously.  This week’s poem was inspired by a book by Jamaica Kincaid called A Small Place.  I recommend it to everyone; it’s a biting critique of tourism in the Caribbean which draws upon, in my mind, the discourses of tourism (pamphlets, brochures, etc.).

Here’s the image and poem:

“No Small Place”

To visit the island —
whose white sands shimmer beneath
the treasure hunter’s sun —
is to forget the conquest.
The magazine-spread sands
pull the shadow of the damp-backed crab men
who rake the earth to keep up appearances.

Kincaid’s oceans, impossibly blue,
impossibly anything but normal,
can be nothing more than simulacra,
imaginary ideas made real
so only their artificiality can be discerned.

Pull back the green screen to see the gears
manned by buffalo men with juvenile growths
squirming like maggots on their backs,
to entrap the long-haired baboons
with plump fingers prying and plying
the cottonswab sheets you cover in dead skin cells.

And then remind yourself that they are not
buffalo men, maggot growths, or hairy baboons,
but people trapped beneath a glass jar,
like creatures kept for a child’s benefit…

And that it is only a black curtain that rests
between the prostitutes and the societies they serve.
To visit the island —
the curtain drawn back
to reveal the hunter’s game —
is to remember a history not your own.

About the Author:

Shaun Duke is an aspiring writer, a reviewer, and an academic. He is currently an Assistant Professor of Digital Rhetoric and Writing at Bemidji State University. He received his PhD in English from the University of Florida and studies science fiction, postcolonialism, digital fan cultures, and digital rhetoric.

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