Response to reading the manuscript
Michael McMillan, writer, playwright, curator/artist of The West Indian Front Room, London
‘The trauma of the Trans-Atlantic slave trade still echoes across Diaspora today and the poet Dorothea Smartt in her new collection 'Ship Shape' shares with us what she listened to of those whispers, wails and cries for freedom. She excavates the unmarked grave of an African boy buried at Sunderland Point, Lancaster. He was supposedly called 'Sambo', as Dorothea tells us in 'Because I'm nothing you can name, I become nothing.' Like an archeologist Dorothea invokes the spirit of this young boy by creating an identity, family, history, culture, religion, a home for him. He becomes Bilal, a Fulani muslim boy and she inhabits his body, his soul, his mind as he becomes a survivor in triangular salty 'Maafa from West Africa to Barbados to Lancaster, where he comes an exhibit, a novelty for the bemusement of the 'Pillars of the Community' in Lancaster town. Ship Shape is an ambitious collection that resonates from the page long after and has a visceral poignancy.'
Michael McMillan, writer, playwright, curator/artist of The West Indian Front Room
This review relates to the book
by Dorothea Smartt