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Providential by Colin Channer
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Providential

by Colin Channer

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This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Providential, Colin Channer’s collection of poems, was a struggle at first.
The poems in this collection are well-crafted and show Channer’s deep commitment to his heritage and to the people who occupy it both past and present. The first time I read through this collection, I could not find my bearings in the world of Jamaican constables in a colonial era. The problem was not the dialect, nor was it the subject. Channer does such an excellent job of “speaking” his characters and allowing them to tell their story that all cultural and linguistic issues are erased. What eluded me was where he was going with it. How did these vignettes of people, events, and situations propel me—the reader— toward a larger meaning?
I read through the collection twice, and the second time, I took pause: I thumbed through the book and noticed that the chapters were divided by drawings of military chevron insignias and that these went up in rank as the book progressed. I thought, “What if the insignias had gone down in rank?” I re-read the last poem. Like the collection, it is also entitled Providential and is set in modern day Rhode Island. At summer’s end, Channer is reflecting on his world and casting nets backward into his personal and ancestral past. I decided to read the book again, taking a cue from this last poem: I read the poems in reverse order. I discovered an author who, through his own talent and thoughtful reflection, unraveled and distilled his self, his family, and his heritage down to the essential, raw components through poems that are as beautiful as they are powerful.
Bravo, Mr. Channer. ( )
  hamlet61 | Feb 16, 2016 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Colin Channer's new volume of poetry "Providential" is a searing examination of police violence, culture, and family in Jamaica. Channer's poems echo the lyrics and themes of Bob Marley and Bruce Springsteen by leading us into the injustices of institutional power and the hopes of family allegiance. Channer's words are elegant and visceral. An important voice in global poetry. ( )
  greggchadwick | Dec 19, 2015 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
This book is difficult for me. I've read several books set in the Caribbean area,but none that contain so much in the Jamaican vernacular. Because it is poetry, it is a little hard to pick up meanings from context as one is able to do with a prose narrative. But the writing has a definite rhythm and several of the poems read almost like short stories. I keep returning to it and enjoy it more with each visit. ( )
  seeword | Dec 13, 2015 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Access to this book was slow in coming - the linguistic and cultural references I've no experience with at first felt like a complicated maze. But once I quit trying to solve the maze and instead just enjoyed wandering its corridors, I found myself suddenly in the book. It was worth the wait. These poems are fine journeys by one who's traveled deep. They have a touch of that which remains far beyond our small lives. ( )
  CrowVoice | Oct 23, 2015 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
As with many collections of literature by the same author, this is up and down. The highs, though, are very high. I can't, however, say that I was moved very often, but I did feel compelled to keep reading. Channer writes about the history of Jamaica through poems about the history of his family, and ends with a bit from his time living in the US. As far as the subject matter goes, post-colonial literature is my cup of tea. I thought this book was very good even though I wouldn't quite call it great. ( )
  fuzzy_patters | Sep 30, 2015 |
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