Karaoke King

Dai George
Publication Date: 
Monday, June 21, 2021
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This confident second collection by Dai George addresses the contentious nature of the times. Always deeply thoughtful but also alternately ebullient, angry, curious, ashamed, the poet moves through urban and digital spaces feeling both uneasy and exhilarated. As with the Auden of the inter-war period, there is a feeling of history shifting, as a younger generation confronts its ethical obligations, its sense of complicity and disappointment. Ecological crisis hovers in the background, glimpsed in the ‘Fooled Evening’ of a world whose seasonal rhythms have fallen out of joint. Karaoke King also contains numerous reflections on popular culture, culminating in ‘A History of Jamaican Music’, a sequence at the heart of the volume speaking to urgent contemporary questions of ownership and privilege, pain and celebration. 
“Dai George's verse is marvelously restive: one poem, mentioning ‘a split and democratic sky’, returns to the important word to harry and query it: “I mean democratic / as an argument that neither side can win.” These poems, many about music, are both thoughtful and melodic: George's ear is precise, rueful, sanative. His images can amaze, yet through each poem journeys a voice we always want to know better, capable even in the tightest situations of the sort of thought you wish you’d had.” – Vidyan Ravinthiran
“Against a background of ominously skewed weather, these poems search out ‘the structure of the new sky’, asking insistent questions of the world in all its unpredictability. Always sharp-eared, with a soundtrack that ranges from reggae to the most ephemeral jingle, they bring a sparkling attention to dailiness while sounding out a politics entwined with love, hope and subtle humour.” – Zoë Skoulding
“Dai George writes with a syntactical and lexical precision that is staggering. On this second collection he turns his hand to uncovering the minutiae of being in the world; noticing the passage of time; chronicling the sweeps and turns of the political climate; attending to the intimacies of shared experience. In his 'History of Jamaican Music', George adds in poetry to what Carolyn Cooper and David Katz have advanced in prose: extending a conversation on the singular contribution of a small Caribbean island to global music culture.”
 – Kayo Chingonyi

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