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Poetry African American

Song & Dread

by (author) Otoniya J. Okot Bitek

Initial publish date
May 2023
African American, Women Authors, Canadian, Death
Recommended Age
16 to 18
Recommended Grade
11 to 12
Recommended Reading age
16 to 18
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    May 2023
    List Price

Classroom Resources

Where to buy it


COVID meditations from literary phenom Otoniya J. Okot Bitek

Rife with the paradoxical forces of boredom and intensity, the early days of COVID-19 passed under an inescapable pall. The poems of Song & Dread seek quietude, order, refuge, and space within that shroud. They remind us of community, connectedness, and what is inherently shared. Here, Otoniya J. Okot Bitek becomes a record keeper, observing the contradictory, symbiotic relationship between the quotidian and the extraordinary. These works are of their time, while remembering an existence outside it. With a keen eye, Bitek documents the ways the strange can become normalized when there is no other option.

About the author

Otoniya J. Okot Bitek is a poet and scholar. Her collection of poetry, 100 Days (University of Alberta 2016) was nominated for several writing prizes including the 2017 BC Book Prize, the Pat Lowther Award, the 2017 Alberta Book Awards and the 2017 Canadian Authors Award for Poetry. It won the 2017 IndieFab Book of the Year Award for poetry and the 2017 Glenna Lushei Prize for African Poetry. Otoniya lives in Kingston, Ontario, on the traditional territory of the Haudenosaunee and Anishinaabe people. Otoniya is an assistant professor of Black Studies at Queen's University where she teaches and writes in the English and Gender Studies departments.

Otoniya J. Okot Bitek's profile page

Editorial Reviews

“I’m fascinated in how Okot Bitek’s book-length structures favour the extended sequence, and the cycle; composing individual poems that come together to form something far larger than the sum of their parts. The poems and poem of Song & Dread loops and swirls through language, song and thread, returning regularly to earlier points, allowing the structure of the extended sequence to propel that much further, forward.” – rob mclennan