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DEC. 29

George Elliott Clarke is mostly a poet. But the African-Canadian author’s Beatrice Chancy is mostly a play, though the lines are presented mostly in verse. But, Clarke’s work is an entirely gripping narrative of slavery’s last days in Nova Scotia that could suffice on story line alone. Before he starts rhyming, Clarke begins with a preface on Northern servitude, detailing the “mass ignorance [that] exists about the conduct of slavery in the British North American colonies.” He concludes his foreword on a personal note: “I will never know the furthest origins of my African heritage. [But] I do know that it was disrupted by a ship and ruptured by chains.” This serves as a devastatingly powerful introduction to his title character: Beatrice Chancy—the daughter of a slave woman and her master by way of rape—who is somehow raised as both slave and daughter. On return from a French convent school, Beatrice is propped up as a Dantean liberator, bearing the hopes of both master and slaves. Clarke’s own heritage—Nova Scotian—plays heavily and in the end is what makes this poem/play so real. With any luck, he’ll tell some of his own stories when he reads from and signs his work at 4 p.m. Friday, Dec. 29, at Sisterspace and Books, 1515 U St. NW. Free. (202) 332-3433. (Colin Bane)