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The Fat Black Woman's Poems: From the winner of the Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry 2021 (Virago Poets)

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The poem is poignant precisely for the way it holds the two contrasting emotions in close proximity – the hope, and the despair. It made it much easier to get to Plitvice to see the waterfalls and do a very gentle “hike” around the park. Deliciously inert and self contented, the fat black woman mocks oppression by the scandal of being herself. What is even more important as we develop this business of emergent language in the Caribbean, is the actual rhythm and the syllables, the very software, in a way, of the language. What English has given us as a model for poetry, and to a lesser extent prose (but poetry is the basic tool here), is the pentameter… But the pentameter carries with it a certain kind of experience, which is not the experience of the hurricane.

It might interest you to know that Hugo Williams had similarly cutting remarks for the other Nobel laureate, Heaney, who did make it onto the short list. But by identifying my intersections are what make me an amazing person that deserves to travel the world. I should have gone straight to sleep, but instead they drove me from the airport to the reading venue. But how could I ever do away with aesthetics – the whole beautiful shebang of it, however distasteful its undersides?OVERALL: It is a short/thin, accessible book, which would be good for those starting to explore poetry as well as poetry-lovers. This was poetry coming at its highest gale force, Brathwaite’s prophesied hurricane of sound, and we were caught in its middle.

I have loved her for so many years, from the time I met her in Jamaica and she began to tell me many things – about poetry, about theory and about this other country that I would be moving to, and how I might fight for a space within it.

It must have been at around the same time that I had met Walcott and he had told us about poetry not being a democracy. The chief judge of the Forward Prizes that year was Ruth Padel, Walcott’s rival for the Oxford Professorship in Poetry.

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