REVIEW: VOODOO HYPOTHESIS | BY CANISIA LUBRIN

Reviewed by Geoffrey Morrison on Debutantes:

Lubrin’s book is about the dislocated psychogeography wrought by that history, working through the displacements of the African-Caribbean diaspora from her birthplace of St. Lucia in the Windward Antilles to the United States and “that cold Victorian country” of Canada to the outermost fringes of our galaxy.

She does so with a kaleidoscopic poetic diction that seems to effortlessly weave myriad times, places, and ideologies together. In a microcosm of this hallmark style, the rover’s message to Earth is described as

“her conches blown
in the hard-won postcards travelling
on space dust faster than a bullet. ”

We move from Caribbean seashells to the paraphernalia of tourists to fast-moving space dust; while the dust is literally “faster than a bullet,” the specific metaphor also introduces the possibility of violence. This extraordinary lexical compression is everywhere you turn in Voodoo Hypothesis – its poetic bread and butter. Lubrin’s poems brilliantly thread together cosmology and cosmological objects (oort clouds, big bangs, quarks), mathematics and cartography, St. Lucian Creole words, biology and anthropology, allusions to history and contemporary culture, conversational speech, and theological and religious terms. This wide-ranging yet precisely honed language allows her poems to evoke the feeling of centuries or millennia or light years glimpsed together in the blink of an eye.

With its expansive cosmic gaze, the book can feel like an answer to Voyager’s golden disc – a second compendium of Earth, sent in pursuit of the first as a reply to the idea that you could or should sum up human life on earth so surely. It is a record carrying what’s been obscured by triumphalist stories from the centres of power, their ethnographies that reduce difference to curio or pathology or amorphous threat. Rather than a series of frozen and curated still images and sounds, Voodoo Hypothesis offers a vivid, ever-changing process – a method.

Read the full review on the Debutantes website!