These poems by Millicent Graham have a compactness and economy that belies the complex and expansive range of emotions and considerations that occupy her imagination. Grahamís poems offer us a way to see her distinctly contemporary and urban Jamaica through the slant eye of a surrealist, one willing to see the absurdities and contradictions inherent in the society that preoccupies her. These are poems about family, about love, about spirituality, about fear and mostly about desire, where the dampness of things is as much about the humid sensuality of this womanís island, as it is about her constant belief in fecundity, fertility and the unruliness of the imagination. For a poet publishing her first collection, Grahamís sense of irony, and instinct for surprise and freshness in image are remarkably mature and sophisticated. But it is the sharpness of image and the precision in her use of language that announce the arrival of an extremely talented poet: ď I am the curve set straight/ by a guava switch, the proof/ that love can make you flinch.Ē Graham knows the tradition of Caribbean poetry, and is deeply aware of the value of both homage and resistance. The result is a wonderfully executed balancing act that ultimately suggests a newness of sensibility and imagination.
In The Damp in Things, we are invited into the unique imagination of Millicent Graham, and we find ourselves in a world of psychological density and liveliness, and a space of sharply honed intelligence that remains strangely light and alert because of her slanting wit and off-kilter humour.
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Millicent A. A. Graham lives in Kingston, Jamaica. She is a fellow of the University of Iowa's International Writing Program, 2009 and was awarded the Michael and Marylee Fairbanks International Fellowship to Bread Loaf Writer's Conference, 2010.
Published: 04 May 2009