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Friday June 16, 2017 in Books
Combining text from government questionnaires, reports, and corporate websites, lyric poetry, and photography, Prison Industrial Complex Explodes examines the possibility of a privatized prison system in Canada leading up to Prime Minister Harper’s Conservative government passing the Anti-Terrorism Act, also known as Bill C-51. This legislation criminalizes Indigenous peoples’ attempts to protect their traditional and unceded territories from ecological destruction by classifying their actions as acts of terrorism, and it criminalizes refugees who, as victims of colonization and globalization, attempt to flee genocide and poverty yet are targeted as suspected terrorists. Simultaneously, the incarceration of Indigenous people, refugees, and people of colour is rapidly increasing as corporations eagerly court the government for private-public partnerships to fund the building of new prisons and detention centres.
The impetus for Prison Industrial Complex Explodes was the discovery of a cache of Eng’s father’s prison correspondence: letters from the federal government stating their intention to deport him because of his criminal record; letters from prison justice advocate Michael Jackson advising her father on deportation; letters from the RCMP regarding the theft of her father’s property, a gold necklace, while in transport to prison; letters from family members and friends; letters from Eng and her brother. The cold formality of the government letters in accidental juxtaposition with the emotion of the personal letters struck a creative spark that led to the writing of this long poem.
ISBN 13: 9781772011814 | ISBN 10:
5.5 W x 8.5 H inches | 112 pages
$17.95 CAN / $17.95 US
Poetry | Backlist
QUOTES OF NOTE
“Simple – but not simplistic – lines such as ‘i think about that yellow bead a lot’ reflect Eng’s exquisite attention and make me feel intimately connected to the poet-speaker. … [Other lines] reveal imagination and attention to lineation. … At once powerful and beautiful, gentle and urgent, I await more from this voice.”
—Doyali Islam in the Globe & Mail
"Eng, through diligent research and persistence, has unearthed and given life to this unbelievable (but too damned real) indictment of our alacrity at putting our citizens in prison. Eng’s case is clear and direct, she has ample, obvious, and odious proof that our joy of incarceration is aimed primarily at people of colour and it is rising rapidly."
—Today’s Book of Poetry
"An incredibly powerful and intimate exploration of the Canadian prison system and systematic racism through archival material and her own biography … Furthering the work of what has come before her, this is the long poem realized in an entirely new way, all while articulating some very difficult terrain."—rob mclennan
Winner of the 2018 BC Book Prize: Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize
About the ContributorsMercedes Eng
Mercedes Eng teaches and writes in Vancouver, on unceded Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh territories. She is the author of Mercenary English and Prison Industrial Complex Explodes.
We gratefully acknowledge the financial support of the Canada Council for the Arts; the Government of Canada through the Canada Book Fund (CBF); and the Province of British Columbia through the British Columbia Arts Council for our publishing activities.