The Greatest Films

Finalist for the Ottawa Book Awards, English Fiction, 2017

This long poem addresses the imaginations of cultural hybridity as they are formed through passages between real and imagined homelands and host lands, be they Guyana, Canada, or India. The speaker narrates his own past through a splicing of moving pictures taken from a wide selection of twentieth-century cinema. The poem thus employs disjunctive poetic techniques that exteriorize the personal and public histories of the Indo-Guyanese Canadian diaspora. The Greatest Films refashions and revivifies these improvisational sources into a collage of repeating lines of verse that pulls readers back-and-forth; regardless of which direction the poem pushes or pulls the reader, what awaits is always an encounter with the residual nostalgia for “origins.”

“When Faizal wrings out poetry from the islands, war criminals, museums, film and dance halls, we are pleasantly confronted with a myriad of wonderful images and unique rhythms. “The Greatest Films” opens up a new way of looking at the pain, pleasure and potential of simultaneously belonging to more than land and landscapes. This is a welcome collection to new Canadian poetry.”

Deen adopts an experimental methodology to heighten the experience of cultural hybridity through writing a long poem that cycles and crashes like waves drawn to shore from the horizon. . . . The poet draws from outside source material, various films and songs, to weave in personal history through a stylized collage that lays bare the psyche of the diasporic speaker. The effect is of tension, drama, and turbulence, where the speaker sheds his clothes and parades his naked, queer scars up and down the streets of “Foreign.”
–Rajiv Mohabir, Waxwing



Publication Date: November 2016

Paperback ISBN: 978-1-927494-83-7
Page size: 5.5″ x 8.25″
80 pages

eBook ISBN: 978-1-927494-98-1


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Photo of Faizal Deen

Faizal Deen was born in Georgetown, Guyana and immigrated to Canada as an adoptee in 1977. He holds degrees from several Canadian universities, including Queen’s University and the University of Windsor. He has lived in many countries, including Jamaica and South Korea, and has travelled extensively throughout Asia, the Caribbean, and Europe. He currently resides in Ottawa.