Author: Lorna Goodison
The Collected Poems of Jamaica’s Poet Laureate (2017-2020). Lorna Goodison is a poet alive to places, from the loved and lived-in world of Jamaica where she began and started a family, to the United States and Canada where she has made her teaching career, but always re-connecting with her Caribbean roots. She travels with an ear alert to histories and voices. How differently English sounds in the tropics and in colder lands, at seaside in sunlight and on prairies, mountains and in cities. The same words say quite different things, depending on who speaks them and who’s listening, obeying or resisting. She covers a wide range of subjects and themes, too. Her instinct is to celebrate being alive in a world that is rich but in peril. ‘And what is the rare quality that has gone out of poetry that these marvellous poems restore?’ asks Derek Walcott. ‘Joy.’ The ‘mango of poetry’, eaten straight from the tree, Goodison somehow finds growing in Wordsworth country and in Sligo, in Russia and Norway, in Spain and Portugal which spilled their empires into the Caribbean, in Cape Town and Far Rockaway.
This enlightening, entertaining, profoundly political and poetic gathering of essays by the Poet Laureate of Jamaica covers a wealth of subjects, from the odd dissociation of a colonial education to the reality of life in the wider world, the singing of hymns in school and the way their words stay with us, to the many influences―music, art, storytelling, theatre, cinema, travel, religion, family life and politics―that nurture our imaginations and her own writing voice.