Read The Cartographer Tries to Map a Way to Zion by Kei Miller Online


In this collection, acclaimed Jamaican poet Kei Miller dramatizes what happens when one system of knowledge, one method of understanding place and territory, comes up against another. We watch as the cartographer, used to the scientific methods of assuming control over a place by mapping it, is gradually compelled to recognize—even to envy—a wholly different understandingIn this collection, acclaimed Jamaican poet Kei Miller dramatizes what happens when one system of knowledge, one method of understanding place and territory, comes up against another. We watch as the cartographer, used to the scientific methods of assuming control over a place by mapping it, is gradually compelled to recognize—even to envy—a wholly different understanding of place, as he tries to map his way to the rastaman’s eternal city of Zion. As the book unfolds the cartographer learns that, on this island of roads that “constrict like throats,” every place-name comes freighted with history, and not every place that can be named can be found....

Title : The Cartographer Tries to Map a Way to Zion
Author :
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ISBN : 9781847772671
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 72 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

The Cartographer Tries to Map a Way to Zion Reviews

  • Missy J
    2019-02-27 20:55

    I don't usually read poetry but one of my book clubs is reading Jamaican literature only in 2017. On Youtube, I've watched Kei Miller recite some of the poems of this little book and it was amazing. This little book would do so well as an audiobook since part of it is written in Jamaican patois. Even though it is considered "poetry", it felt like a dialogue between the cartographer and the rastaman. Like in his novel "The Last Warner Woman", Miller contemplates the clash of different cultures and different ways of thinking. The cartographer believes in science, cartography and wants to map a way to Zion. The rastaman disagrees and introduces the cartographer to a new way of thinking and looking at places. Entire stories of places can never be mapped on a one dimensional piece of paper. For a weekend read, this was very enjoyable....And then againthe mapmaker's work is to make visibleall them things that shoulda never exist in the first placelike the conquest of pirates, like borders,like the viral spread of governments

  • Rebecca Foster
    2019-02-22 20:57

    This was the perfect poetry collection to be reading in tandem with A Brief History of Seven Killings. Like Marlon James, Kei Miller is a Jamaican writer who uses island patois and slang, and Rastafarian images and language, alongside standard English. Here he sets up (especially with the long, multi-part title poem) a playful contrast between the cartographer, emblem of civilization and unbiased science, and the rastaman, who takes an altogether more laidback approach to mapping his homeland:“My job is / to untangle the tangled, / to unworry the concerned, / to guide you out from cul-de-sacs / into which you may have wrongly turned,” the cartographer boasts.Rastaman counters: “the mapmaker’s work is to make visible / all them things that shoulda never exist in the first place / like the conquest of pirates, like borders, / like the viral spread of governments.”As Miller put it when I saw him the annual lecture and a reading at Reading Poetry Festival (October 2015), this is all about maps as colonial discourse.I especially loved this take on the creation story: “In the long ago beginning / the world was unmapped. // It was nothing really – just a shrug of Jah / something he hadn’t thought all the way through.”Most of the poetry is about Jamaica – its place names, its roads, its creatures – but one of my favorite individual poems is actually an unconnected one: “When Considering the Long, Long Journey of 28,000 Rubber Ducks” (on the same subject as Moby-Duck).Here are two images I’ll take away to keep with me as I finish Seven Killings:This is no paradise – / not yet – not this unfriendly, untamed island – // this unsanitised, unstructured island – this unmannered, unmeasured island; // this island: unwritten, unsettled, unmapped.Welcome to de dread / circle of carnage – blade to blade, bullet / to bullet, body to body, this is our country.

  • Azma
    2019-03-16 20:34

    This little collection of poems might seem odd when one first picks it up for reading. There seems a story within its pages; at the same time, other poems are worked through that story's form. The main story is about a cartographer who comes to map Jamaica in a scientific fashion. What he is unaware of is the cultural significance in the roads and places he's precisely measuring. At this point, he encounters a rastaman whose idea of Jamaica is historical and spiritual. The places and place names signify prior events and human situations, not immediately relevant to the cartographer's task. The rastaman's language is spoken in patois of the region. Eventually, the two characters see a little of each other's view: the mapped shape of countries can be imagined as something besides lines by the rastaman, and the idea of mapping Zion becomes the cartographer's aspiration.

  • James F
    2019-03-17 22:34

    A century after McKay's Songs of Jamaica first used Jamaican dialect in serious poetry, Kei Miller's short book of poetry alternates dialect and "standard" English in a dialogue between a "cartographer" and a "rastaman". The poems in the book form a single argument, contrasting two ways of knowing, one by abstract concepts and words, the other by the small details that escape conceptual expression; two ways of reaching "Zion", here not a place but an ideal of liberation and retributive justice. A very interesting book.

  • Jee Koh
    2019-03-13 22:31

    An expertly crafted book of poetry, full of heartfelt knowledge of a place that the author has left to reside elsewhere. The cartographer and the rastaman represent two different ways of knowledge, one rational and calculating, representing an imperialistic perspective, the other mystical and musical, representing a local resistance. If--even in the evidently sincere clash of views, perhaps expressing the conflict in the author--some of the poems feel overly explanatory (the Place Names poems, for instance, even though the explanations may be more invented than real), conceding too much to the ignorant curiosity of Western minds, the collection is still suffused with a strong sense of self-discovery and self-making, which asserts the autonomy of the post-colonial subject. My favorite poem, which does not explain too much, is the extremely moving "My Mother's Atlas of Dolls." Here, the author is not trying to justify himself, but attempting to do justice to one who has never left.

  • Shira
    2019-03-17 23:40

    So far, this poetry collection is what I hope poetry can do and can make me feel. To be fair, I have read little poetry, so saying this, is based off on just a few works. This format however, was amazing. Poems that work together to partly tell a story - a story of a Cartographer and a Rastaman having a conversation, which goes deep, that goes through many places. Here I have to insert another kind of 'warning'. I feel that many poems often had more meaning to them then I could grasp. This might be just my impression, or me being too harsh on myself. However, it may have been just because of that that reading this was an experience that left me brimming with energy.I hope the following lines help to illustrate a bit of the beautiful language Kei Miller uses, even though out of context:"...And what to call the bloodof hummingbirds but mapsthat pulse the tiny bodies acrossoceans and then back?..."Part of poem vii p. 22

  • Sunny
    2019-03-04 03:47

    Jamaican poetry by Kei Miller. Pretty impressive and you find yourself reciting it in your head in a Jamaican patois in no time whatsoever! Kei pivots his poems across a theme of a cartographer trying to map out an area of land. The poem has got lots of references to race and racism and Rastafarianism. Here were some of my favourite bits:-------------------------------------------------The cartographer sucks his teethand says – every language, even yours,is a partial map of this world – it isthe man who never learnt the word‘scrupe’ – sound of silk or chiffon movingagainst a floor – such a man would not knowhow to listen for the scrupe of his bride’s dress.And how much life is land to whichwe have no access? How muchhave we not seen or felt or heardbecause there was no wordfor it – at least no word we knew?We speak to navigate ourselvesaway from dark corners and we become,each one of us, cartographers.----------------------------------------------------“the unkindness of ravens, the descents of woodpeckers, the murders of crows, a hymn then not to birds but to words which themselves feel like feather and wing and light as if it were of the delicacy of such sweet syllablesthat flocks take flight.”------------------------------------------------------Distance is always reduced at nightThe drive from Kingston to Montego Bay is not so farNor the distance between ourselves and the starsAnd at night there is almost nothing betweenThe things we say, and the things we mean. -------------------------------------------------------

  • Graham
    2019-03-23 23:46

    Heard Kei on the radio a couple of weeks ago, and was struck by the lyricism and musicality of his poetry. I love the interplay between cultured academic and the cartographer (yes, you find out half way that the Rastaman is the academic, with PhD ( from Glasgow, like Kei himself ). Setting a limit on what empirical truth can discover, and like the Poem xi, seeing how our prejudices can cause our route to swerve from places we feel threatened, the cartographer embraces spiritual truth alongside his own 2 D representation of 3d space. This a lovely, challenging, and a pleasure to read. So pleased I bought it on impulse :)So"...Know then that every heartblessgiven is collected by Jah like mickle and muckle,or like a basketful of cocoa, and comes back to youlike a dividend."

  • Malika
    2019-03-12 22:31

    This is easily one of the best poetry collections that I have read for the year. I simply could not put it down. An ambitious, yet fresh approach to most certainly uses a novel way of interlacing Jamaican language with the 'standard' English. Miller establishes a Rasta poetics, employing the musicality and 'I' ness of the language with the mythology of Zion. This is a great development of the work Miss Lou started in her poetry and she would have been proud to see the way Miller is pushing/ playing / experimenting with the Jamaican language.

  • Jamie
    2019-03-03 23:45

    I really enjoyed this collection of poetry. I've not read a collection that told a story in the way this one does.In poetic form it tracks the journey and discussion of the narrator and the cartographer, looking at issues of language, maps, colonialism and imperialism. The structure of some of the poems was not in a typical fashion and that seemed in fitting with the message about maps wiping out the actual features of the island, compared to spoken poetry and the written forms it is supposed to adopt. I can see why this won the Forward Prize.

  • Rick
    2019-03-22 20:27

    “On this island things fidget.Even history.The landscape does not sitwillinglyas if behind an easel… Landscapes shift,become unfixedby earthquakeby landslideby utter spite.Whole places will slipout from your grip.” The island is Jamaica. The poem is titled “What the Mapmaker Ought to Know.” Kei Miller’s third collection of poems is extraordinary. His superb novel, Augustown found its way into publication in the US in 2017 and I hope, given its success, and this volume’s excellence, that now the rest of this gifted writer gets to these shores. But in the meantime when it comes to the poetry I am going to continue to order it from the UK until it does. “In the long ago beginningthe world was unmapped. It was nothing really –just a shrug of Jah.” This starts and ends the second poem in this collection that rarely strays far from rich notions of mapping, knowing and perspective. It particularly looks at different ways of seeing, sometimes as embodied by the perspectives of a cartographer and a rastaman in a sequence of 27 poems that appear seeded throughout the collection. But there are also ten dictionary-style prose poems that explore the meaning of Jamaican place names with history and legend, a poem about rubber ducks that spilled into the ocean and whose current driven navigations represent another kind of mapping, and individual poems that include words like roads, atlas, maps, view, and distance in their titles. It is a collection that enlightens and entertains, the verses fairly sing in a variety of moods and tones--light and dark, mystical and grounded, political and spiritual, earthy and Zion bound. Some samples, first a whole poem then some excerpts of poems: "UnsettledSo consider an unsettled island.Inside—the unflattened and unsugaredfields; inside—a tegaregsprawl of roots and canopies,inside—the tall sentries of blood-wood and yoke-wood and sweet-wood,of dog-wood, of bullet trees so hardthey will one day splinter cutlasses,will one day swing low the carcassesof slaves; inside—a crawlingbrawl of vines, unseemlyflowers that blossom from their spines;inside—the leh-guh orchids and labrishinghibiscuses that throw raucoussyllables at crows whose heads are redas annattos; inside—malarial mosquitoesthat rise from stagnant ponds;inside—a green humidity thick as mud;inside—the stinging spurge, the night-shades, the Madame Fates;inside—spiders, gnats and bees,wasps and lice and fleas; inside—the dengue, the hookworm, the heatand botheration; unchecked mackasharp as crucifixion. This is no paradise—not yet—not this unfriendly, untamed island—this unsanitised, unstructured island--this unmannered, unmeasured island; this island: unwritten, unsettled, unmapped.” The start of another poem: “This is my people’s measure of long time—‘Dat a from when Wappy kill Filop!’long ago crime, recounted now in folkchronometry. Filop, we might imagine, was once ‘Philip,’ name since rounded outlike a river stone by the flow of our creole,or maybe just the accent of earththe way a piece of grung might openits mouth to say the name of onewhose blood is has absorbed.”From the rastaman-cartographer sequence: “But there are mapsand then again; there are maps;for what to call the haphazarddance of bees returningto their hives… And what to call the bloodof hummingbirds but mapsthat pulse the tiny bodies acrossoceans and then back?” All things, then, are maps, maps to Zion if we wish, maps of where we've been, where we are, where we might yet go. But to end with the rastaman, the key to any map requires that we must, as he “bids you / Trod Holy.”

  • Kathy
    2019-02-26 02:44

    I’ve listen to this Jamaican dialogue between the Cartographer and Rastaman twice now. It’s brilliant and there are so many parts that I am still repeating to myself and wishing to know by heart. Good poetry is like that. Sad and funny, accurate and mysterious, joyful and tormented. It’s a great little book. I recommend listening to Kei Miller read it himself.

  • Natasha Borton
    2019-03-19 21:37

    The title struck me first, The Cartographer Tries to Map a Way to Zion, initially we are stuck with this battle between the physical and the mythical and so we go into no mans land to watch each sides interaction. In my work at the moment I'm trying to map both a people and a place that no longer exist in the same forms; whilst tying their Welsh language and it's clash with the development of the English language around them. So this collection is speaking to me on many levels at the moment.The poems jump of the page with their use of language, the layout of the poems coupled with the rhythm of the language opens the voice within your mind; allowing you to hear the battle between them. Interestingly, Miller has a wealth of experience in Slam Poetry, I wonder if the combat between the two speakers is a natural rhythm for him to write in.Full review found here -

  • Julia
    2019-03-14 00:54

    I was a bit disappointed in this collection, as I loved A Light Song of Light so much that I had very high expectations of this book. Unfortunately I found it hard to engage with all of this collection in the same way. The title sequence is stunning though and I almost wish that it had been published as a pamphlet because some of the other poems in the collection felt a bit like they were there to pad it out - they were definitely not as strong

  • Flora
    2019-03-07 23:43

    Poems about the places you can see and the places you can't and what happens when one bumps up against the other.Here's a fantastic video of Kei Miller reading some of the poems while actually in Jamaica: (Hearing poets reading their own poems is always great but hearing a poet reading poems in the country that they are written about, to the people who would most understand them - that's something else).

  • Helen
    2019-03-12 04:45

    Caribbean PoetryHaving just been to the Caribbean, these poems spoke to me of people and places that were still fresh in my mind. Some of the dialect might be difficult for some readers at first, I recommend reading them aloud, allow the beauty of the language to roll off your tongue.

  • Paul
    2019-03-11 01:51

    Really enjoyed this book. I bought it after hearing Kei Miller do a reading from it at the St Andrews poetry festival. This helped me to hear his voice and rhythm in my head when reading these poems. The cartographer, an outsider, comes to Jamaica to produce his maps. This draws him into debate with the local ideas of maps and land and history. A different perspective.

  • Tawseef Khan
    2019-03-22 03:33

    A brilliant, profound poetry collection, that, through a conversation between a Cartographer and Rastaman, talks about themes relating to the way the 'other' can attempt to constrain, define, one's heritage, place, culture, and not understand half of its intricacies, but certain things are undefinable, unconstrainable. LOVED it.

  • Jaevion
    2019-02-28 23:28

    Excellent book. I really liked it. I don't usually understand or find poetry intriguing but Kei Miller has managed to keep my eyes fastened to the page in hope of finding Zion. I like the way in which the pieces are presented and how he infuses history, politics and even his personal in writing some brilliant pieces.

  • Nick
    2019-03-24 02:53

    I read very little poetry, but bought this impulsively because I liked the title and synopsis, and wasn't disappointed - the language has a beautiful sound to it, it needs to read out loud to be fully appreciated.

  • !Tæmbuŝu
    2019-03-14 23:29

    KOBOBOOKSReviewed by The Guardian (10 Oct 2014)

  • Amy
    2019-03-15 22:53

    Accessible, enjoyable collection. Learnt a great deal about Rastafari culture through reading this.

  • Dami Ajayi
    2019-03-18 23:36

    Kei Miller’s Forward Prize winning book is a well-paced journey through the mind of one of the most original writers of our time.

  • Sarah Guinee
    2019-03-03 03:37

    You guys. I found another poet I like. This is not a drill.

  • RSterling
    2019-03-12 01:47

    3.5 rating. I wish Goodreads allowed for half stars. I'm not one for poems, but I actually enjoyed reading this. I wish there was an audio book of the author reading it.