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Yvette Christiansë: Imprendehora

Thursday, July 16th 2009 at 12:00 AM


16 July 2009

Yvette Christiansë: Imprendehora

Yvette Christiansë’s debut poetry collection, Castaway, was published by Duke University Press in the US in 1999 to high critical acclaim. This collection presented an epic yet fragmented story on the island of St Helena – a port of call for the slave trade in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, and also Napoleon’s final place of exile.

This new collection echoes the landscape of Castaway.
At the heart of this exquisitely crafted collection we hear the voices of those carried by slavers in the Atlantic and Indian Oceans after Britain’s Abolition Act of 1807. Imprendehora is the recorded name of one such vessel, seized and delivered to St. Helena. Christiansë invokes those ‘liberated’ from prize vessels only to be sent to the West Indies, the Cape Colony, the Seychelles, Mauritius and Brazil as ‘Liberated Africans’.

These voices endure, resist, and curse, their present. On St. Helena, they listen to the island’s past and present: the mutilated sixteenth-century Fernão Lopez – the island’s sole inhabitant for thirty years – and the furiously devotional nineteenth-century convert, Sister Thomas. In the Seychelles, they are still newly stunned and caught between two worlds.