The Cartographer of Water
In The Cartographer of Water, Clifton Gachagua presents himself with an almost absurdist challenge of seeking to map the constantly shifting surface of oceans. This, then, becomes a fit metaphor for the quixotic effort to chart the complex and shifting human condition that he discovers where he lives in Kenya. This challenge allows him to test his poetic range—his facility with meter, assonance, and rhetoric—and the result is what can only be described as a stunning tour de force of poetic skill that rewards us with a delightful and emotionally complex series of poems. One reads these poems with the pleasant anticipation of someone staring in awe at an iceberg and imagining that gigantic talent that lurks just beneath the surface of the water.