Voodoo Hypothesis is a subversion of the imperial construct of "blackness" and a rejection of the contemporary and historical systems that paint black people as inferior, through constant parallel representations of "evil" and "savagery." Pulling from pop culture, science, pseudo-science and contemporary news stories about race, Lubrin asks: What happens if the systems of belief that give science, religion and culture their importance were actually applied to the contemporary "black experience"? With its irreverence toward colonialism, and the related obsession with post-colonialism and anti-colonialism, and her wide-ranging lines, deftly touched with an intermingling of Caribbean Creole, English patois and baroque language, Lubrin has created a book that holds up a torch to the narratives of the ruling class, and shows us the restorative possibilities that exist in language itself.
A Review of Canisia Lubrin's Voodoo Hypothesis (Carl Watts, Hamilton Review of Books, 01/11/2017) Lubrin’s approach is refreshing. I’ve long been frustrated by poets whose work is purported to be immediate and innovative yet whose actual poems are built entirely of the mythological references that have propped up English verse for hundreds of years. Lubrin seems interested more in draining these references of their remaining meaning and then discarding them.
Debut Poets Mark the Latest Collections for Poetry Lovers
(Barbara Carey, The Toronto Star, 01/11/2017)
Lubrin's poems are dense with ideas and striking turns of phrase, as she attempts to chart the 'maps of speechless centuries' and 'the Morse events of smallest things.' This density makes her work challenging at times, but also immensely rewarding.
How I Wrote It: Canisia Lubrin evokes the folkloric magic of St. Lucia in a poetic takedown of contemporary racism (CBC Books, 01/11/2017)
Alight with magic, Canisia Lubrin's poetry collection Voodoo Hypothesis traverses time and space, exploring topics of race, oppression and colonialism through a folkloric lens. This, she explains, is the result of her Caribbean upbringing, listening to fantastic tales and learning the power of language on her grandmother's lap.
“In Canisia Lubrin’s debut collection of poetry, she pointedly observes that ‘the alien we think we know is the alien we only dream up.’ Voodoo Hypothesis is an imperative invocation of black dreams, an invitation for the living and the dead to define themselves. With poems at once epic and intimate, Voodoo Hypothesis requires a reverence for the individual word, to bear witness to Lubrin’s ‘brilliance indistinguishable from magic.’” – Vivek Shraya, author of even this page is white and She of the Mountains
“Canisia Lubrin’s lush, winding poetic lines are the incantations of a furious imagining. Lubrin’s speakers seem to have lived in generations of bodies of the African diaspora, and through centuries of migrations, slavery and neo-capitalism. Yet hers is still one single, contemporary vision – grieving, mongrel-cultured, exiled from the Caribbean archipelago’s sun. Here is a brilliant new Canadian voice, in the lyric lineage of Dionne Brand and M. NourbeSe Philip, raising up language like a shield against European histories and sciences, raising up poetry like a sacrifice of sweat and blood.” – Sonnet L'Abbé, author of Killarnoe and Sonnet’s Shakespeare
“Voodoo Hypothesis is an interior in motion: a gorgeous, searching intelligence. It is a womb/tomb of luminous inquiry. A semi-permeable ship where your mind is in concert with Lubrin’s forward propagating lineation, a participatory dreamscape that leads you back to your own culpability. This is a work that reads you, too.” – Liz Howard, author of Infinite Citizen of the Shaking Tent and winner of the Griffin Poetry Prize