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Archipelagos by Geoffrey Philp

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This collection is a call to arms that opens out the struggle for human survival in the epoch of the Anthropocene to remind us that this began not just in the factories of Europe but in the holds of the slave ships and plantations of the Caribbean. No natural world was more changed than the West Indian islands by sugar monoculture – and as the title poem begins: “At the end of this sentence, a flood will rise/ and swallow low-lying islands of the Caribbean”. Historically, “the debris of empire that crowd our shores” connects to the “sands of our beaches / littered with masks and plastic bottles.” Philp’s powerful and elegant poems that span past and present make it very clear that there cannot be a moral response to the climate crisis that is not also embedded in the struggle for social justice, for overcoming the malignancies of empire and colonialism and against the power of global capitalism –the missions of the West that had and have at their heart the ideology of white supremacy. These are poems of wit and anger, but also of personal intimacy – the vexed relationship with a violent father – and line after line of the shapeliest poetry – in sound, in rhythm and the exact choice of word.

Peepal Tree Press

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