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Dandelions for Bhabha

Ranging from satire to meditation to philosophy to the comic, Clara Joseph’s second book of poetry, Dandelions for Bhabha, is an intense engagement with philosophers and literary/cultural theorists and their controversial positions. Her poems reflect on the postmodern condition when “The screaming begins at the wall / when one chick is taken” and “Universal Justice is dragged / to Auschwitz.”

The collection, divided into three sections, “Descartes’ Lover,” “Jus’ Thinkin’,” and “To Talisman,” engages with ethics and with thinkers such as Roland Barthes, Jeremy Bentham, Homi K. Bhabha, Paul de Man, Jacques Derrida, Michel Foucault, Mahatma Gandhi, Stephen Greenblatt, David Hume, Friedrich Nietzsche, Jean-Paul Sartre, and Gayatri Spivak. The poems in Dandelions for Bhabha are, as the title hints, enchanting and unexpected opportunities to philosophize art and aestheticize thought. Narratives of miracles, reflections on visuals, and dialogues of the dead enter the hopes, joys, and wonders of daily living. Joseph’s skill is to narrow the gap between the creative and the critical, and to provoke.

ISBN 97819215231717 (PB, 114pp);
140mm x 216mm
AUD $25 USD $18 NZD $27 GBP £12 EUR €14
ISBN 97819215231724 (eBook) AUD $13 USD $10 NZD $15 GBP £6 EUR €7


It is impossible to read Clara Joseph’s The Face of the Other without being touched profoundly by its beauty and pain, love and hurt, by the awful predicament of a sensitive vulnerability at once broken and yet still hopeful. What comes through these enchanting words is a deep compassion, eyes open, bloodied, yet reaching out.
– Richard A. Cohen, Professor of Philosophy, author of Out of Control: Confrontations between Spinoza and Levinas (2016).

Clara Joseph has written a tough, emotive book in which the self’s “brokenness/ dances to the edge” of another consciousness. Fittingly, these linked poetic meditations about facing the other do not flinch in the face of hard subjects, but instead look them long in the eye. The poems meditate upon darkness—racism, sexual violence, abject poverty. Yet the book calls us not only to ethical action, but also to a celebration of everyday life in all its lyricism and connection. “Feel my cheek for the alphabet,” the speaker beckons. Reader, these pages hold intense beauty and solace. Accept their invitation.
– David Goldstein, York University

Intelligent, thoughtful, and provocative, this sensual work ranges from the sacred to the profane in language that mixes the philosophical and the vernacular. With The Face of the Other, the well published Clara Joseph makes a stunning debut as a poet.
– Ken McGoogan, author of Lady Franklin’s Revenge

Clara A. B. Joseph

Clara Joseph’s poetry has appeared in the Toronto Review, Mother Earth International, Prosopisia: An International Journal of Poetry & Creative Writing, Canadian Women’s Studies, the Journal of Postcolonial Writing, Transnational Literature, the Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion, and Literature and Aesthetics. Her debut book of poetry, The Face of the Other (A Long Poem) (2016), was published by Interactive Publications, Brisbane. Joseph is the author of several academic articles and book chapters. Her book, The Agent in the Margin: Nayantara Sahgal’s Gandhian Fiction (Wilfred Laurier UP, 2008), was nominated by the Writers’ Guild of Alberta for the Wilfred Eggleston Award for Non-Fiction Prize. It also won a national Aid to Scholarly Publications Program, Canada. Her edited books include, Global Fissures: Postcolonial Fusions (Rodopi, 2006), Theology and Literature: Rethinking Reader Responsibility (Palgrave Macmillan 2006), and special issues of the journal World Literature Written in English – The Postcolonial and Globalisation (2002) and Rethinking the Postcolonial and Globalisation (2002). She has a PhD in English from York University and is an associate professor of English and an adjunct associate professor of Religious Studies at the University of Calgary.


Clara on Research Gate
Check out Clara's The Face of the Other


Nothing Outside
Il n’y a rien hors du texte.
– Jacques Derrida

There is nothing outside,
Absolutely nothing

Noticeable outside;
Nothing standing, there,

Looking back from the outside;
No one coming, none disappearing;

No sun hidden within
A shadow;

No one bending, not
One sitting,

None moving as if to

No rancid corpse

To be eaten;

No whiff of wolves prowling, no cursing serpent

None there to quickly strike
A heel,

Or steal;
None camouflaged out there,

No one to lay
A hand,

Nor one who can redeem;

Nothing whatsoever

Descartes’ Lover
Cogito ergo sum.
– Rene Descartes

The lover caresses her own rising
womb, and displays the twitching nerve’s
rhythmic pulse to her determining will;
and dreams lap in the dark.
She too is caught
in a hushed presence.

She puts one foot forward, releases
the other of the burden
in an unerring balancing act
of a sailor treading on sea. Exhausted
she becomes salt, forever
beckoning her beloved.

The one who looks is never transformed
into stone; the hero’s mirror will be smashed
into smithereens by her love. She is a goddess
sweating a river. She is you
and me, turning transparent
into water. The wave that dashes, sprinkles
a thousand drops, scatters,
dazzles; captures the rainbow shuddering
in each tiny tear that she gathers
into a single tsunami. She is black
Saraswati, pretty with a book and a guitar

rolling toward him
with the gentle
swish of thoughts draped
over one shoulder, revealing
the cleavage of her soul;
she is the one who rushes seismic
to him with nerves, with
eyes and hands.

Metaphysics for Derrida
The center is not a fixed locus but a function, a sort of non-locus in which an infinite number of sign-substitutions came into play.
– Jacques Derrida

                         This space bustling
With men, women, and children
Gathered to hear, they said, a ghazal.
A what? I asked, then came with them,
Came along to see such performance

(to know what I did not know
knowing not what they knew).

Derrida began with a salaam,
Met with deafening applause
From men, women, children,
Continued on a deep note

           Sustained to its dire end,
While I twisted and turned,
My poor legs threatening to go
To sleep, and I myself followed.

I startled awake to Wah! Wah!
And heavy thumping on my back.
I challenged him then and there,
To which my neighbor quoted,
                                 in a trance:

“The center is not the center!”

Followed with yet another Wah!
Where did the center go? I asked,
Struggling to wake my legs.
The crow stole it, offered his son,

The one who had been watching
Me dream-up their performance.
Sshh! his mother said,

           You know there is no crow.
Wow! I said, Wow! Wow! Wow!