Caribbean Dozen


Caribbean Dozen offers a selection of poetry, edited by Grace Nichols and John Agard. Alongside these two poets’ works, we read words and memories of eleven others, including Valerie Bloom and James Berry.

We feel the sounds of the Caribbean and smell the memories. John Lyons invites us to share his Mammie’s Coo-Coo and Callaloo, where ‘Sometimes, there’s/ peas and rice and salt-beef stew.’ Meanwhile in ‘Lament of an Arawak Child’, Pamela Mordecai mourns, ‘Now there are no more hummingbirds/ the seas’ songs are all sad/ for strange men came and took this land/ and plundered all we had.’ 

Dionne Brand calls the Skipping Rope Song with ‘Salt, vinegar, mustard, pepper,/ If I dare, I can do better./ who says no?/ ’cause hens don’t crow!/ Salt, vinegar, mustard, pepper.’

Caribbean Dozen is a proud, beautiful collection. The poetry styles and subjects are varied and rich. They take us to their settings, so that we learn, imagine, hear and understand.

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Caribbean Dozen

Poems from Thirteen Caribbean Poets

edited by John Agard & Grace Nichols


Works from thirteen poets create Caribbean Dozen. These poems share glimpses of Caribbean markets, sounds, stories and flavours. Thereafter, we hear the language, for example in Valerie Bloom’s Chicken Dinner. Therefore:- ‘Don’ cook dat chicken feh dinner/ Don’ give Henrietta de chop…’ Like the other poets, Valerie Bloom introduces her selection with personal memories of the Caribbean and her introduction to poetry. It seems we can see what she imagines.  In The Runner:- ‘Swifter than an arrow/ Outrunning his own shadow./ Lighting the heavens of night.

Poets, other than the compilers, include Faustin Charles, Telcine Turner, John Lyons, James Berry, Frank Collymore, David Campbell and Pamela Mordecai. Marc Matthews, amongst his colleagues, takes us to the Caribbean, in Boats:- ‘my boat made from/ half a dry coconut/ skin.‘ Yet Opal Palmer- Adisa’s De More De Merrier suggests a situation with which we’re all familiar, however:- ‘nothing but rules/ not allowed/  to choose/ not allowed/ to decide for myself I guess/ the more the merrier/ only applies/ to relatives/ who come to visit/ on holidays’

Caribbean Dozen is a travelogue, like This is My World yet the poetry is rich, varied, informed and confident. Bookwagon is proud to present and recommend this super collection.


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