Transcript: George Elliott Clarke On His Book "George and Rue" | Feb 02, 2005

Allan is in his mid fifties and has light brown hair, and a greying goatee.
He wears a black blazer and a white button up shirt.

Allan and George sit in a living room with a round table between them.

Allan says WHAT DREW YOU
TO THE STORY?
WHAT CAUSED YOU
TO FIRST WRITE
THE EXECUTIONER'S POEMS, AWARD WINNING SERIES
OF POEMS ON THIS
PARTICULAR EVENT,
AND NOW A NOVEL?

A caption appears on screen. It reads “George Elliott Clarke. Author: ’George and Rue’.”
George is in his forties and has black hair and a greying moustache. He wears
glasses, a brown jacket with a light brown button up shirt.

George says WELL, BECAUSE I FELT
THAT WE HAD TO -
I MEAN, AS AN
ARTIST, AS A WRITER,
I WAS REALLY CAPTIVATED
BY THESE TWO GUYS.
NOT IN ANY SENSE OF
THEM AS BEING HEROES,
BUT BECAUSE I WANTED TO
UNDERSTAND THEIR MILIEU.
I WANTED TO KNOW WHERE THEY
LITERALLY CAME FROM AND,
YEAH, I WAS BORN IN THE
SAME AREA WHERE THEY WERE,
AND AGAIN, THEY WERE MY
MOTHER'S FIRST COUSINS,
AND SO THEY WERE
PART OF MY FAMILY,
PART OF MY LINEAGE
FOR CRYING OUT LOUD.
AND HERE I AM,
PROFESSOR, WRITER,
UNIVERSITY OF
TORONTO AND SO ON,
AND HERE ARE THESE TWO
GUYS END UP BEING HANGED.
I NEEDED TO UNDERSTAND
THIS, YOU KNOW,
UNDERSTAND HOW THIS
COULD HAVE HAPPENED,
WHAT THE MILIEU WAS
THAT PRODUCED THEM.
AND SO, THAT'S WHAT REALLY
COMPELLED ME TO RESEARCH
THE STORY AND TO WRITE THE
POEMS AND THEN WRITE THE NOVEL.
AND, ALSO, I WAS TRYING
TO THINK ABOUT IT
IN TERMS OF BLACK CANADIAN
HISTORY IN GENERAL,
AND SPECIFICALLY BLACK
NOVA SCOTIAN HISTORY,
AND THE CONTEXT OF THE
MARITIMES IN THE 1930s AND
1940s, WHEN MY PARENTS
WERE BORN AND GREW UP.

Allan says THIS IS A STORY,
I UNDERSTAND,
THAT YOU DIDN'T EVEN KNOW
UNTIL ABOUT 10 YEARS AGO
WHEN YOUR MOTHER TOLD YOU
ABOUT THESE RELATIVES.
WHAT'S THEIR
BASIC STORY?

An old black and white photo appears of a black man with a western hat and jacket. Another black and white photo of another black man with short hair and wearing a plaid scarf.

George says THE BASIC STORY IS, THESE
TWO YOUNG MEN NEEDED MONEY
DESPERATELY, FOR DIFFERENT
REASONS, BUT THEY DID,
AND THEY DECIDED THEY WOULD
GO OUT AND ROB SOMEONE.
AND THEN - IN FREDERICTON,
DOWNTOWN FREDERICTON,
ON A COLD JANUARY NIGHT,
SNOW ON THE STREETS
AND SO FORTH, AND THEY DECIDED
THAT THE BEST PLAN WOULD BE
TO CALL A TAXI DRIVER AND
HIT HIM WITH A HAMMER
THAT THEY HAD AND
TAKE HIS MONEY,
AND THAT WOULD SOLVE
THEIR PROBLEMS.
IMMEDIATELY, THEY
CARRIED OUT THE PLAN.
THEIR VICTIM
UNFORTUNATELY DIED.
THEY DESTROYED EVIDENCE.
THEY THREW HIS BODY IN THE
TRUNK OF HIS OWN TAXI,
WHICH THEY THEN DROVE
AROUND DIFFERENT PARTS
OF NEW BRUNSWICK,
AND SPENT FREELY
THE MONEY THAT
THEY HAD.
BUT THEY WERE VERY EFFECTIVE
IN DESTROYING EVIDENCE,
AND SO ULTIMATELY, THE
MAIN REASON WHY THEY
WERE ACTUALLY CONVICTED
AND EXECUTED IS BECAUSE
GEORGE HAMILTON
WENT TO THE POLICE
AND CONFESSED THAT
HIS BROTHER DID IT.

Allan says NOW, YOU'VE RESISTED AN
OBVIOUS TEMPTATION
IN WRITING ABOUT THE BLACK
EXPERIENCE NOT TO EULOGIZE
THESE GUYS AS FOLK HEROES.
THEY COME UP AS VERY
FLAWED CHARACTERS.
I MEAN, DO YOU WORRY
AT ALL, IN FACT,
ABOUT RE-ENFORCING THE
STEREOTYPE THAT BLACK PEOPLE,
ESPECIALLY AT THIS
PARTICULAR POINT IN TIME,
WERE ALL THUGS
AND OUTCASTS?
HOW WERE THEY KIND OF
VICTIMS OF THEIR CIRCUMSTANCE
AS OPPOSED TO JUST
KIND OF BAD APPLES?

George says WELL, I THINK THAT I HOPE
I HAVE SPENT ENOUGH TIME
ON THE MILIEU AND SO ON
AND I WAS REALLY TRYING
TO UNDERSTAND THAT.
I TRIED TO SET UP THE
CONTEXT SO THAT ALL OF US
UNDERSTAND THAT THEY
CAME FROM A COMMUNITY,
A BLACK COMMUNITY IN
CANADA, AND SPECIFICALLY
IN THE MARITIMES, THAT WAS
VERY RIGIDLY OPPRESSED.
IN FACT, MOST OF THE
HISTORICAL BLACK COMMUNITIES
IN NOVA SCOTIA WERE
DELIBERATELY FOUNDED
OR SET UP RIGHT OUTSIDE
OF MAJOR WHITE TOWNS,

A series of black and white photos appear: a wooden shingled house in the forest
and a car from the 1930’s driving in flooded streets.

George continues AND SOME OF THOSE WHITE
TOWNS, LIKE DIGBY,
FOR INSTANCE, HAD LAWS THAT
SAID, IF YOU WERE BLACK,
YOU HAD TO BE OUT
OF TOWN BY SUNDOWN.
AND THOSE LAWS DIDN'T
CHANGE UNTIL 1960s.
SO THERE WAS A KIND
OF - BASICALLY,
I'M GOING TO USE A WORD
THAT MAY SEEM HARSH,
BUT A KIND OF APARTHEID THAT
WAS DEFINITELY ECONOMIC
AND PARTLY SOCIAL, THAT
BLACK NOVA SCOTIANS,
BLACK MARITIMERS IN
GENERAL, WERE SUBJECTED TO.
AND THIS HAD CONSEQUENCES
IN TERMS OF WHAT OPTIONS,
WHAT OPPORTUNITIES PEOPLE
FELT THEY COULD REALLY
LEGITIMATELY PURSUE.
SOMETIMES IT MEANT
YOU HAD TO LEAVE,
EITHER GO TO THE BOSTON
STATES OR GO TO MONTREAL
OR MAYBE COME TO TORONTO,
BUT TO GET OUT,
BECAUSE THERE WAS
VERY LITTLE ROOM
FOR YOU TO BE ABLE
TO BUILD A DECENT LIFE,
ECONOMICALLY SPEAKING,
WITHIN THIS CONTEXT
OF SEVERE ECONOMIC
IMPOVERISHMENT.
OF COURSE, AND AT THE SAME
TIME, SOCIAL OPPRESSION,
THAT WAS BACKED UP,
RE-ENFORCED BY LOTS
OF OPPROBRIUM, LOTS
OF STEREOTYPES.
SO, I HOPE THAT BY EXAMINING
THE SOCIAL CIRCUMSTANCES,
AND NOT MAKING
ANY EXCUSES FOR -

Allan says NO, THERE ARE NONE.

George says WHAT THESE GUYS DID,
BUT AT THE SAME TIME,
ALSO HOPING TO SHED
LIGHT ON EXACTLY WHAT
KIND OF SOCIETY HELPED
TO PRODUCE THEM.

Allan says BUT I WANTED TO ASK YOU
ABOUT THAT, BECAUSE WHILE
THEIR ULTIMATE END OF
MURDER WAS NOT REFLECTIVE
OF THE BLACK
EXPERIENCE AT THE TIME,
HOW MUCH OF THE REST OF
THEIR LIVES DO YOU THINK WAS
TYPICAL OF WHAT, YOU KNOW,
BLACK CANADIANS EXPERIENCED
AT THAT PARTICULAR TIME
AND IN THAT PARTICULAR
PART OF OUR COUNTRY?

George says IT WAS AN ERA OF STRUGGLE.
HUGE STRUGGLE, AND IN
TERMS OF PEOPLE TRYING
TO INCH THEIR WAY FORWARD
TO FIND A BETTER LIFE
OR BETTER WAY OF LIFE
FOR THEMSELVES.

Allan says ALMOST IMPOSSIBLE TO GET
AN EDUCATION FOR THESE TWO.

George says WELL, YEAH, I MEAN, LOOK,
THESE GUYS HAD GRADE 3.

Allan says RIGHT.

George says I MEAN, THAT WAS IT.
AND THEY WERE PROBABLY
LUCKY TO HAVE THAT,
BUT AS LATE AS 1965, ASIDE
FROM ALL THESE SOCIAL
STATISTICS, BUT I HAPPEN TO
KNOW THERE WAS A STUDY DONE
ON THE BLACK COMMUNITY,
SPECIFICALLY ON FIVE MILE
PLAINS, THREE MILE PLAINS,
WHERE THESE GUYS WERE FROM,
AND AS LATE AS 1965,
83 PERCENT OF THE BLACK ADULTS
HAD A GRADE 3
EDUCATION OR LESS,
AND THAT WAS AS
LATE AS 1965.
BUT, WE GOT TO REMEMBER,
SCHOOLS WERE NOT
DESEGREGATED IN NOVA SCOTIA
OR SEGREGATION DID NOT
END IN NOVA SCOTIA UNTIL
1956, AND FOR THE RECORD,
IT WAS ROBERT
LORNE STANFIELD,
ONE OF THE FIRST THINGS HE
DID WHEN HE BECAME PREMIER
OF NOVA SCOTIA WAS TO
ABOLISH SCHOOL SEGREGATION.
BUT IT WAS LEGAL UNTIL
1956, AND SO THAT ALSO
HAD AN IMPACT ON HOW PEOPLE
WERE GOING TO BE EDUCATED.
NOW, AS I SAY, IT WAS
AN ERA OF STRUGGLE,
SO THERE WERE SOME, MY
PARENTS AMONG THEM,
WHO WERE ABLE TO GET OUT AND
I SHOULDN'T SAY GET OUT,
BUT WERE ABLE TO ACQUIRE
SOME EDUCATION AND ENJOY
SOME DEGREE OF
UPWARD MOBILITY.
BUT IT WAS A REAL STRUGGLE
TO MOVE FROM THIS
ESSENTIALLY REPRESSION OF
THE 1930s AND 40s TO A POINT
WHERE PEOPLE BEGAN TO HAVE A
SENSE THAT THEY COULD EXPAND
THEIR OPPORTUNITIES
WITHIN NOVA SCOTIA.
THE FIRST BLACK PERSON TO
BUY A PROPERTY IN DIGBY TOWN
DID SO IN 1968, AND THAT WAS
ONE YEAR AFTER THEY TOOK
THE LAW OFF THE BOOKS
THAT SAID YOU HAD TO BE
OUT OF TOWN BY SUNDOWN.

Allan says THE YEAR AFTER EXPO.
[Laughs]

George says THE YEAR AFTER EXPO.
SO, YOU KNOW, THIS HAS BEEN
THE MILIEU IN WHICH
THESE GUYS GREW UP WAS ONE
OF SYSTEMIC OPPRESSION
AND DISCRIMINATION.

Allan says AND RACISM, IN
YOUR VIEW?

George says OH, DEFINITELY
RACISM.
DEFINITELY.
AGAIN, THIS WAS ALL
ECONOMICALLY STRUCTURED.
ABSOLUTELY.

Allan says NOW, YOU ARE SEVENTH
GENERATION CANADIAN.
I MEAN, AGAIN, KIND OF
UNDERSCORING THE FACT
OF HOW LONG THE AFRICAN
AND CANADIAN EXPERIENCE
HAS BEEN PART OF
OUR HISTORY.
HOW MUCH DOES THAT KIND
OF BACKGROUND INFORM
THE SUBJECT MATTER IN
YOUR WRITING TODAY
THAT YOU SEEK OUT?

The caption changes to “George Elliott Clarke. University of Toronto.”

George says WELL, I THINK ONE OF
THE GREAT FRUSTRATIONS
FOR BLACK CANADIANS IN
GENERAL, BUT SPECIFICALLY
THOSE OF US WHO HAVE LONG
ROOTS IN THE COUNTRY,
IS OUR HISTORY IS ALMOST
TOTALLY OBLITERATED,
TOTALLY IGNORED, ALMOST
TOTALLY IGNORED.
AND ALL OF US ARE
ASKED THE QUESTION,
AND USUALLY IT'S MEANT VERY
POLITELY, BUT NEVERTHELESS,
WE ARE ALWAYS ASKED TO
EXPLAIN WHY WE ARE HERE.
WHERE ARE YOU FROM?
AND FOR MANY PEOPLE,
SEEMS TO BE A COMPLETELY
INNOCENT QUESTION.
BUT FOR THOSE OF US,
PARTICULARLY THOSE OF US
WHO HAVE ROOTS GOING BACK
GENERATIONS IN THIS COUNTRY,
THE IMPLICATION OF
THAT QUESTION IS,
YOU DON'T BELONG HERE, OR
YOU JUST ARRIVED HERE,
AND THERE'S NOTHING WRONG
WITH HAVING JUST ARRIVED HERE.
BUT IT CALLS INTO QUESTION
OUR CITIZENSHIP.
IT CALLS INTO QUESTION
OUR BELONGING.
FOR MANY PEOPLE
IN THE COUNTRY,
THEY HAVE NO IDEA THAT THERE
ARE BLACK COMMUNITIES,
NOT JUST IN NOVA SCOTIA,
BUT HERE IN ONTARIO, IN B.C.,
ON THE PRAIRIES, THAT HAVE
BEEN HERE FOR A LONG TIME.
AND SO, MANY PEOPLE TEND TO
BELIEVE THAT BLACK CANADIANS
ARE A RECENT PHENOMENON IN
THE COUNTRY, EVEN THOUGH,
AGAIN, OUR HISTORY GOES
RIGHT BACK TO THE 17TH CENTURY.
AND I MAY AS WELL
MENTION THE FACT,
WE HAD SLAVERY
IN THIS COUNTRY,
FOR CRYING OUT LOUD,
IN THE COLONIAL ERA.
FIVE THOUSAND SLAVES IN
NEW FRANCE, NOW QUEBEC.
FIVE THOUSAND.
WHERE DID THEY ALL
DISAPPEAR TO, YOU KNOW?
OUT OF OUR HISTORY BOOKS,
JUST TOTALLY ERASED.

Allan says WELL, I WANT TO ASK YOU
ABOUT THAT, BECAUSE, I MEAN,
I STUDIED HISTORY AND WHEN
YOU TELL ME THAT, YOU KNOW,
THERE WAS SEGREGATION
IN NOVA SCOTIA IN 1956,
THAT BLOWS MY MIND.
I DID NOT KNOW THAT.
AND YOU HAVE WRITTEN
BEFORE SAYING THAT WE
HAVE HAD A TENDENCY THROUGHOUT
OUR CANADIAN HISTORY
TO KIND OF EXPUNGE
THE UNPLEASANT PARTS
THAT KIND OF
CONTRADICT THE SELF-IMAGE
WE HAVE OF OURSELF AS
TOLERANT, PEACEABLE,
CHARITABLE, AND
CLEARLY NOT AMERICANS.

George says ABSOLUTELY, AND
THAT BASICALLY,
YOUR LAST STATEMENT,
I THINK, IS THE KEY
TO UNDERSTANDING HOW WE
READ OUR OWN HISTORY,
OR HOW WE CHOOSE NOT TO
READ OUT OWN HISTORY.
AND IT HAS A LOT TO DO
WITH POSITIONING OURSELVES
VIS-A-VIS THE UNITED STATES,
AND SO OUR GENERAL PUBLIC
DISCOURSE IN THIS COUNTRY
IS ABOUT HOW RACIST
THE UNITED STATES IS.
HOW IT'S THE COUNTRY OF
SLAVERY AND WE WERE
THE COUNTRY OF THE
UNDERGROUND RAILROAD.

Allan says WE PRETEND THIS IS
AN AMERICAN PROBLEM.

George says THAT'S RIGHT.
IT'S AN AMERICAN PROBLEM,
AND I UNDERSTAND
THE PSYCHOLOGICAL
REASONS WHY WE DO THAT,
TO HELP TO EXPLAIN WHY
WE ARE A BETTER PEOPLE.
WE MAY NOT BE AS
ADVENTUROUS OR AS EXCITING,
QUOTATION MARKS, AS THE
UNITED STATES, BUT, HEY,
WE ARE MORALLY SUPERIOR
BECAUSE WE DIDN'T HAVE SLAVERY.
WE DIDN'T HAVE
SEGREGATION.
WE DON'T
PRACTICE RACISM.
WE DON'T TOLERATE
RACISM IN CANADA,
SO WE ARE MUCH
BETTER PEOPLE.

Allan says NOW, ONE OF THE
CONTROVERSIES THAT YOU WADED
INTO VERY RECENTLY DEALT
WITH OBJECTIONS WITHIN
THE BLACK NOVA SCOTIAN COMMUNITY
TO WHITE-AUTHORED BOOKS
THAT DEALT WITH THE RACE
ISSUE, INCLUDING, YOU KNOW,
SUCH CLASSICS AS “TO KILL A
MOCKINGBIRD” IN THE BELIEF
THAT MAYBE THIS SHOULDN'T
BE TAUGHT ANYMORE
IN THE SCHOOLS.
REPRISE YOUR
POSITION FOR ME,
BECAUSE I THINK
IT'S INTERESTING.

George says WELL, LOOK, IT
WAS SO FUNNY.
IT WAS SO ODD BUT THIS
INVOLVES MY FAMILY, AGAIN.
MY SISTER-IN-LAW,
BRENDA CLARKE,
WHO WAS INVOLVED WITH A
PARENTS' GROUP IN DIGBY,
NOVA SCOTIA, WAS UPSET,
PROPERLY SO, THAT HER SON,
MY NEPHEW, WAS
BEING ASKED TO READ,
ALONG WITH THE REST OF HIS
CLASS - I BELIEVE IT WAS A
GRADE 8 CLASS - WAS
BEING ASKED TO READ
“TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD” BY
HARPER LEE, AND I HAD READ IT
WHEN I WENT TO HIGH SCHOOL,
AND I ENJOYED THE BOOK.
THAT'S THE ONLY
TIME I EVER READ IT.
I HAVE SEEN THE FILM
A COUPLE OF TIMES
ON TELEVISION, THE
FILM VERSION,
AND I LIKED IT
VERY MUCH.
IT SEEMED TO BE
VERY GOOD AND FINE,
BUT MY NEPHEW'S PROBLEM WITH
THE TEACHING OF THE BOOK
WAS THAT HIS FELLOW CLASSMATES
FELLOW AND SISTER CLASSMATES,
WHO HAPPENED MAINLY TO BE
WHITE, USED THE CONTEXT
OF LEARNING ABOUT THIS
HISTORY OF THE SOUTH
AND SEGREGATION IN THE
UNITED STATES TO USE THE “N.”
WORD TO REFER TO HIM AND
OTHER BLACK STUDENTS
IN THE CLASS, IN A
JOCULAR FASHION.
THEY DIDN'T MEAN
ANYTHING BY IT, PERHAPS,
BUT IT WAS JUST
HAVING FUN.

Allan says MM-HMM.

George says TEASING AND SO ON.
BUT, OF COURSE, HE'S 14 AND
THIS IS VERY IRRITATING.

Allan says NOT VERY FUNNY FROM
HIS PERSPECTIVE.

George says ABSOLUTELY, AND SO HE
SAID, MOM, I DON'T
WANT TO HAVE TO GO
THROUGH THIS ANYMORE,
AND HIS MOTHER,
QUITE RIGHTLY,
GOT TOGETHER WITH OTHER
BLACK PARENTS AND WENT
TO THE SCHOOL BOARD AND SAID,
PLEASE DON'T FORCE THIS
BOOK UPON OUR
YOUTH ANYMORE.
AND THE SCHOOL BOARD
INITIALLY SAID, YOU'RE RIGHT,
WE SHOULDN'T DO THAT;
BUT THEN, OF COURSE,
IT BECAME A FREEDOM
OF SPEECH ISSUE.

Allan says SURE, OF COURSE.

George says WITH PEOPLE SAYING,
WELL, YOU KNOW,
YOU REALLY SHOULD HAVE TO
STUDY THAT BOOK AND
WE STUDIED IT AND IT WASN'T ANY
PROBLEM FOR US, AND SO ON,
AND IN FACT THERE WERE
EDITORIALS THAT BASICALLY
TOOK THE POSITION
THAT, YOU BLACK PEOPLE
OF NOVA SCOTIA
ARE SO STUPID.
YOU DON'T UNDERSTAND,
THIS BOOK IS REALLY
FOR YOUR BEST INTEREST,
AND I THEN I WADE IN,
BECAUSE THIS WAS MY NEPHEW
AND MY SISTER-IN-LAW,
AND I JUST POINTED OUT A
COUPLE OF VERY SIMPLE THINGS.
YES, IT WAS WRONG TO ASK
THAT HARPER LEE'S BOOK
BE BANNED, AND FOR THE
RECORD, I NEVER SAID
IT SHOULD BE BANNED.

Allan says MM-HMM.

George says I NEVER SAID THAT.
WHAT I SAID WAS, WHY DON'T
YOU TEACH BOOKS BY BLACK
AUTHORS THAT DEAL WITH
ANTI-RACISM FROM A BLACK
POINT OF VIEW?

Allan says SO THAT THERE WOULD BE
A PARALLEL PERSPECTIVE,
NOT JUST DEALING
WITH WHITE GUILT,
YOU WOULD BE DEALING WITH
THE BLACK EXPERIENCE.

George says EXACTLY.
THE PROBLEM WITH HARPER
LEE'S BOOK IN TERMS
OF USING IT AS AN
ANTI-RACISM TOOL -
IT'S A GREAT NOVEL.
IT DOESN'T HAVE TO BE
USED FOR ANTI-RACISM.
PEOPLE SHOULD READ IT JUST
BECAUSE IT'S A GREAT NOVEL.
BUT IF YOU ARE GOING TO
USE IT FOR ANTI-RACISM,
THERE ARE A COUPLE OF
LIMITATIONS ABOUT THAT NOVEL.
THE FIRST PROBLEM IS,
THE MAJOR PROBLEM IS,
BLACK PEOPLE ARE
ALMOST INCIDENTAL.
THEY ARE VICTIMS.
THEY ARE PASSIVE
VICTIMS.
THEY ARE PASSIVE RECIPIENTS
OF WHITE AID, WHITE LARGESS,
OF A LIBERAL WHITE MAN AND
HIS DAUGHTER WHO LEARNS
TO BE LIBERAL THROUGH
HIS EXAMPLE,
COMING TO THE AID
OF A BLACK MAN.
NOW, THEY SHOULD HAVE AND
IT'S GOOD THAT - IT'S GOOD
THAT THESE PEOPLE CHOOSE TO
HELP THIS BLACK VICTIM
AND DO A VERY GOOD
JOB OF HELPING.
THEY SAVE HIM FROM
BEING LYNCHED,
FOR CRYING OUT LOUD, SO
THIS IS A GOOD THING.
BUT WHAT DOES IT DO FOR A
BLACK KID TO READ THAT
HE SHOULDN'T NECESSARILY
OR SHE SHOULDN'T EXERCISE
ANY AGENCY OF THEIR OWN
TO TRY TO COMBAT RACISM,
BUT RATHER RELY ON
PHILANTHROPY AND CHARITY
AND THE GOOD-NATURED LIBERAL
HUMANITARIAN WHITES
TO DO FOR THEM TO
HELP THEM OUT.
WHICH ISN'T TO SAY THOSE
PEOPLE SHOULDN'T BE INVOLVED
AND SHOULDN'T BE
DOING ANTI-RACISM,
OF COURSE THEY SHOULD.
BUT, AGAIN, THE FOCUS HERE
HAS TO BE ON THE PEOPLE WHO
ARE VICTIMS OF RACISM AND
THE WAYS IN WHICH THEY HAVE,
IN FACT, STRUGGLED
SUCCESSFULLY AGAINST
THEIR OPPRESSION.

Allan says I THINK YOU ALSO PROVIDED A
LONG LIST OF BLACK WRITERS
THAT COULD PROVIDE THAT
ALTERNATIVE PERSPECTIVE, ALSO.

George says YOU KNOW, IT
SAYS A LOT.
TO ME, IT SAYS A LOT THAT
IN CANADA WE SAY TO PEOPLE,
WE HAVE GOT TO
BE ANTI-RACISM,
IT HAS TO BE FROM A
WHITE POINT OF VIEW.
IT HAS TO BE ABOUT HOW WHITE
PEOPLE SHOULDN'T BE RACIST.
I AGREE, THEY
SHOULDN'T BE.
THEY SHOULD
NOT BE RACIST.
BUT CAN WE HEAR FROM
SOME BLACK PEOPLE
ABOUT HOW THEY'VE
DEALT WITH RACISM
IN LITERATURE, IN
POLITICS, AND SO FORTH?
BECAUSE THAT MIGHT BE
ACTUALLY EDUCATIONAL
FOR EVERYONE, TOO.

Allan says BUT YOU MUST ADMIT THAT
THERE HAS BEEN SOME HEADWAY
IN THAT REGARD IN
THE LAST FEW YEARS.
I MEAN, THE AUSTIN CLARKE
HAS BECOME, YOU KNOW,
ONE OF OUR MOST CELEBRATED
WRITERS RIGHT NOW.

George says ABSOLUTELY.
THERE HAVE BEEN.
THERE HAVE BEEN,
YOU KNOW - LOOK,
SOCIETY IS NEVER
IN A STEADY STATE.
THERE'S ALWAYS CHANGE.
THERE'S BEEN A LOT OF
PROGRESSIVE CHANGES HAPPEN
AND, OF COURSE, I'M VERY,
VERY HAPPY ABOUT THAT.
BUT AT THE SAME TIME,
I DON'T THINK WE CAN
AFFORD TO BE COMPLACENT.

Allan says NOW, YOU HAVE
WRITTEN OPERAS,
YOU'VE WORKED ON
SCREENPLAYS FOR FILM,
POETRY, NOW YOU ARE
INTO FICTION.
WHAT'S NEXT?

George says WELL, I HAVE GOT A WHOLE
BUNCH MORE ACADEMIC ESSAYS
TO FINISH UP.

Allan says ALSO A TENURE-TRACK
PROFESSOR AT U OF T.

George says I HAVE TENURE, ALLAN.

Allan says GOOD FOR YOU.

George says THANK YOU.

Allan says THERE YOU GO.

George says BUT I DO WANT TO PUT OUT
ANOTHER BOOK OF ESSAYS -

Allan says ESSAYS?

George says ACADEMIC ESSAYS, YES, AND
ALSO I'VE GOT A COUPLE
OF BOOKS OF POETRY
IN THE WORKS.
I JUST WROTE A POEM -
IT'S NOT FINISHED
BUT IT'S A LONG POEM WHICH
I WROTE IN THREE DAYS
IN BONN, GERMANY, TWO WEEKS AGO,
AND I CALL IT A ROAD POEM.
I WANT TO GET SOMEBODY
TO ILLUSTRATE IT
AS A KIND OF COMIC
BOOK BECAUSE IT'S JUST
A WEIRD, FUN POEM.
IT'S A NARRATIVE PIECE.
I JUST HAD A
LOT OF FUN.
I HAD NO IDEA I WAS
GOING TO WRITE IT.
I JUST SAT DOWN AND
ALL OF A SUDDEN
JUST CAME POURING OUT.
SO, I SAID, OH, WOW, THIS
IS - IT'S JUST FOR FUN.
SO I HAVE GOT TO FIND
SOMEBODY WHO CAN ILLUSTRATE IT
ONCE I FINISH IT, AND I
WOULD LIKE TO PUT IT OUT
AS A KIND OF
COMIC BOOK POEM.
A COMIC BOOK POEM.
[Laughing]

Allan says GEORGE ELLIOTT CLARKE,
I WANT TO THANK YOU
VERY MUCH FOR
JOINING ME.
IT'S BEEN A REAL
PLEASURE.

George says THANK YOU, ALLAN.

Watch: George Elliott Clarke On His Book "George and Rue"