Opal Palmer Adisa employs autobiographical prose, dramatic monologue, lyric poem, praise song, blues and prophetic rant to enact the construction of an identity. At its centre is a Rastafarian sense of ‘i-ness’, but its outer dimensions fully encompass an African Jamaican/American woman’s radical consciousness of gender, race, geography, the spiritual and the sensual, the social, political and the historical as the co-ordinates of a dynamic space for dialogue and connection.
In several poems, Palmer speaks through the voices of historic icons such as Phillis Wheatley and Nat Turner, and there are contemporary icons, too, such as Audrey Lorde, Barbara Christian and June Jordan, strong Black women who are held up as models of writers committed to the responsibility of speaking out and pursuing beauty in their writing and relationships. More personal poems and prose movingly document the vulnerabilities and strengths of the ‘I’ as shaped by a richly observed Jamaican childhood.
Above all, I Name Me Name shares with us the making of a writing persona, the interface between personal and social space, the imagination, and the characters who come unbidden to demand that their stories be told.
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Opal Palmer Adisa is a Jamaica-born, award-winning poet, educator and storyteller. Anthologised in over 100 publications, she is a regular performer of her work throughout the USA and presently lives in Oakland, California, when she is not traveling.