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Toronto writer Pamela Mordecai is a well-known voice in poetry of the Caribbean diaspora. She has long been a popular anthologist, a mentor to other writers, a frequent contributor to literary journals, and a vital link between the literary worlds of Canada and Jamaica; Certifiable presents a maturing vision of women's lives in both of her homes. Certifiable celebrates experience shot through with affection, family attachment, and madness.

The poems in the first section, "Just a Likl Loving," explore the truths hidden beneath the ideal of love: love as comfort, love as currency, love as deathtrap. "Sister Sequence" embraces the fullness of sisterhood, from the conceptual "sister muse" as a power in the world to the ambivalent love among flesh-and-blood sisters. "Certifiable," the final section, springs from intimacy with little and big madnesses.

The rhythms and rhymes of the creole soundscape crackle through Certifiable. Mordecai's deft hand wordplay flows through and beyond standard English and the Creole continuum to reveal the characters in Certifiable and record their experiences.

Toronto writer Pamela Mordecai is also an editor, publisher, teacher, actor, and former TV presenter. A veteran anthologist, she co-edited the ground-breaking collections Jamaica Woman and Her True-True Name, the first collection of fiction by women from English-, French-, and Spanish-speaking Caribbean countries. In 1993 her book Ezra's Goldfish and Other Storypoems was the first winner of the Vic Reid Award, Jamaica's top literary prize for children's literature. She has published two earlier poetry collections, Journey Poem and de Man. Her poems have been selected for numerous anthologies, including The Penguin Book of Caribbean Verse, The Heinemann Anthology of Caribbean Poetry, Eyeing the North Star, Sisters of Caliban, and Wheel and Come Again. Poems from Certifiable have appeared in Descant, Callaloo, The Literary Review, Obsidian, Macomere, and other literary journals in Canada, Jamaica, the US, Germany, and England.

"Sharp-witted... [Mordecai] uses rhyme and metre comfortably, applying these old devices to archly contemporary language... verifiably fine." — Chronicle Herald

"In Certifiable, language is both weapon and redeemer. Pamela Mordecai's facility with language, her striking rhythms and word play, and, above all, her wicked humour lift Certifiable from the pull of madness to the divine." — Olive Senior

"Very rich linguistically, imaginatively, and thematically." — D.M. Thomas

"Rhythmic verve combined with linguistic vivacity both recreates experience — heady, sensuous, intoxicating, dangerous, painful — and contains it, wittily and wisely." — Edward Baugh

"Certifiable invokes subversive, irreverent, but infinitely lyrical Jamaican women's voices and affirms their singing, not to deny suffering, but to give account of it, in a complex emotional landscape and without sumission or despair." — Elaine Savory

100 pages
Pub date: May 1, 2001