Leave a Comment · Posted on June 23, 2020
When the Home Office announced they’d ‘lost’ the landing cards of Caribbean people arriving to Britain, I started to think about the importance of other documentary evidence of arrival and more importantly, decades of settlement – from the passenger lists held at the National Archives, to personal archives – letters, photographs, diaries. My essay ‘Paperwork’ reproduced here is from ‘Mother Country’, edited by Charlie Brinkhurst-Cuff.
Leave a Comment · Posted on June 22, 2020
I’ll be on BBC London News tonight, talking a bit about my dad, as a member of the Windrush Generation. I always think his story pluraslises the dominant story of the Windrush, because he sailed on the SS Ormonde, in 1947 – a year before the actual Windrush – and he was mixed heritage: Chinese / Black Jamaican, reminding us that the Caribbean diaspora included many different Caribbean ethnicities – Chinese, Indian, Syrian, Lebanese and more.
Here he is on the right of this photo, walking down a London street, sometime in the late 40s I’m guessing. This photo reminds me of John Agard’s poem ‘Uncle Mo Steps Out’, about the style this generation brought to post-war London:
‘Remember a time
in dem old England days
when I certain black gent
followed a satirical bent
to step out rootwise cute
in a Windrush zoot…’
(John Agard, 1998)
Leave a Comment · Posted on June 19, 2020
I’m so happy to have won a 2020 Cholmondeley Award from the Society of Authors, along with Linda France, Alec Finlay, Rod Mengham and Bhanu Kapil. A shame we couldn’t celebrate in person, but my six year old, Rory, and I had fun attending an ‘awards ceremony’ in our kitchen one morning. Many many thanks to the Society of Authors and the judges.
Leave a Comment · Posted on June 11, 2020
I’m delighted to be a part of this online exhibition, responding to the 1986 Caribbean Nights documentary featuring Linton Kwesi Johnson, Fred D’Aguiar and Derek Walcott. They debate all manner of things regarding Caribbean/Black British poetry, and four female writers, including myself, respond. They honestly don’t make TV like this anymore – you can watch the whole film plus our responses and read new commissioned poems from Jay Bernard and Anthony Joseph.
Leave a Comment · Posted on June 9, 2020
Just a quick update to mention some tutoring I’m leading with Andrew McMillan for Arvon as part of their – Arvon at Home series. The course is full but you can be added to the waiting list just in case a place becomes free.
In this exciting online poetry writing week we will focus on the enjoyment of making new poems, both by mining personal histories and pushing our subject matter in new directions.
Welcoming and encouraging for both new and experienced poets, there will be opportunities for a whole group dynamic to emerge, alongside small group work and one to one feedback. Quiet personal time will also be encouraged.
We will share in advance a stimulating variety of accessible contemporary poems, and focusing on the vital elements of imagery and music, we will discover exciting ways to rethink our past and find new language to capture our contemporary moment.
More details here