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The Cachoeira Tales and Other Poems.

The Cachoeira Tales and Other Poems by Marilyn Nelson Louisiana State University Press, June 2005 $26.95, ISBN 0-807-13063-X

In The Cachoeira Tales, Marilyn Nelson creates a lyrical travel narrative through the African Diaspora and documents boundaries and spaces to be crossed, visited and revised by the black traveler.

The first poem, "Faster Than Light," centers on a conversation between the poet and a cab driver. Their musings on time travel and wormholes lead Nelson to lightheartedly reflect on the poetic impulse. The next section, "Triolets for Triolet," brings the poet to a more solemn tone. Nelson's visit to the black village of Triolet in Mauritius provokes thoughts of African legacy and the lives of the dispossessed. She writes, "Without history, people stumble / around the grindstone in a deepening track," and "The hope of chattels in the barracoons / was that their seed would multiply and spread / around the earth: that even octoroons, / remembering chattels in the barracoons, / would feel sad wonder."

The final section, "The Cachoeria Tales" is a diasporic spin on Chaucer's Canterbury Tales and fuses the traditions of the spiritual pilgrimage with that of the black trickster tales. As Nelson writes of "a reverse diaspora, / [She'd] planned a pilgrimage to Africa. / Zimbabwe, maybe, maybe Senegal: / some place sanctified by the Negro soul." Nelson's gift as a poet is her simple, fluid mastery of poetic forms, and her new world revision of those forms makes The Cachoeria Tales a refreshing look at an old world.
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Publication:Black Issues Book Review
Article Type:Book review
Date:Mar 1, 2006
Words:246
Previous Article:The Oxford Anthology of African-American Poetry.
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