THE BEST OF HER: Goodison's latest is dedicated in love and gratitude to her parents.
CRITICS and book lovers the world over long discovered that, among contemporary Caribbean poets, Lorna Goodison is in a league all her own. There’s genius in her, and it manifests time and time again in the spellbinding verse that’s become synonymous with her often warm, sometimes curious voice.
After releasing close to 10 anthologies, the celebrated wordsmith has blessed us with her Collected Poems, a superthick volume amassing some 600-plus pages of beloved classics, some of her own favourites and choice selections from all the collections she’s published over the years.
It means that within these pages, Goodison’s longtime devotees and new fans can enjoy highlights from Tamarind Season, Turn Thanks, Travelling Mercies, Oracabessa, Controlling the Silver, Goldengrove and I Am Becoming My Mother. As a brawta, the massive book closes with 11 previously unpublished poems, including “Ferryman,” “Cuthbert’s Last Journey” and “For Claude McKay.”
Collected Poems was published by the Manchester, UK-based Carcanet Press, which also delivered Chinua Achebe’s Collected Poems, Kei Miller’s The Cartographer Tries to Map a Way to Zion and Prof. Mervyn Morris’ Peelin’ Orange: Collected Poems earlier this year.
Unsurprisingly, she’s dedicated the book “in love and gratitude” to her first teachers – mother Doris Louise née Harvey Goodison and father Vivian Marcus Goodison.
As expected, Goodison’s work here explores a wide range of subjects and themes, not least among them identity and family, history and memory. “The publication of Lorna Goodison’s Collected Poems, with their extraordinary music, sensuous texture and powerful historical imagination, is a major event,” proclaims book critic Jahan Ramazani. “These poems are stunningly alive to the nuances of love, beautifully pitched and tuned, rich with feeling and insight.”
Goodison, a past recipient of the Gold Musgrave Medal from the Institute of Jamaica and winner of the Commonwealth Writer’s Prize, is the reigning Poet Laureate of Jamaica.