Una Marson is widely recognised as the earliest female poet of significance to emerge in West Indian literature , but whilst her role as an early feminist and a first woman publisher, broadcaster, pan-Africanist and anti-racist features on many web pages, her poetry has received less considered critical attention.
This may be because her work is very diverse, even seemingly contradictory. She is a Jamaican poet who pioneered the articulation of gender and racial oppression, brought Jamaican vernacular voices alongside a Wordsworthian passion for nature, and ventured to give subjectivity to the powerless and marginalised. Author of Afro-blues that draw on both African-American and Jamaican speech, and of folk monologues, she also wrote devotional sonnets and love lyrics within a distinctly un-modernist tradition. Marson’s work as presented here is a complex subject, striving to answer the questions of how to write as a woman; as a black, modern, diasporic subject; for the poor and powerless.
As Donnell’s extensive selection shows, and her introduction argues, Marson’s is a significant poetic achievement.