'Powerful works of fiction': Island of Abraham
Chris Searle, Morning Star
When Bernadine Evaristo writes in her moving and discovering sequence of poems, Island of Abraham:
I am a simple scribe
remembering the human trade
connecting the past
to our present trade
We are back to the people of Africa and their agony, but also back to her true continent too, for many of Evaristo’s words are an affirmation of the great African island Madagascar and its people.
The poet is a Londoner born to English and Nigerian parents. She is in Europe looking to Africa and dealing in her imagination and wordcraft with the fusion of the two.
She writes with an engaging directness which opens doors voluntarily in the reader. In her ‘Island Girl’, she evokes a world left behind by African women like Mara (the Ghanian main character in Ammo Darko’s novel Beyond the Horizon, who is trapped as a drug-dependent prostitute in a German brothel), but sees in their eyes 'a rampant sea' of longing. The 'recording mind wheel' of her poetry vividly expresses the intensity of family love and perplexity in ‘Bedtime Story’ when her inner focus sharpens on a child’s struggle to understand and integrate the wild impressions of the world around her in the crucible of rememberance.
Evaristo’s poems are both accessible and exploratory of new, broad landscapes of the world within and without and make routes of fresh understandings.
This review relates to the book
Island of Abraham
by Bernardine Evaristo