OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature 2012 Poetry winner
NEW Short listed for the Felix Dennis Prize for Best First Collection in the Forward poetry prizes 2012
The winner will be announced in London on 3 October, the eve of National Poetry Day.
Loretta Collins Klobah gives us a twelve-foot woman with red neon surging through her veins, who boldly and gracefully takes on the challenges of urban life. Against a soundtrack of world music, from salsa to reggae to jazz, and in a vibrant blend of English, Spanish and patois, she delivers both tender and incendiary hymns of homage to the Caribbean, America and London.
Scrutinizer, witness, and warner woman, she turns her electric gaze on the everyday world and its extraordinary people. In poems that are lyrical, narrative, sensual and often experimental, she whispers curses against bad-mindedness, sings chants of prophecy, recites praisesongs to the radiance of rebellion and wails lamentations for those men, women and children who have been annihilated, lost or forgotten. There are quiet mediations, too, upon the lives of girl children, women in precarious situations, older women and enduring friendships between women.
The world of her poems is urban and aggressively contemporary, but she sees the enduring presence of splendid, though endangered, nature and of the spirit-world, which together offer green-hearted hope for the future and the possibility of cultural metamorphosis.
“Collins Klobah hears language... beautifully. In her ear English and Spanish, Bob Marley and Miles Davis, Derek Walcott and the midnight utterances of a graffitied woman all meet and make sense together. With such masterful coordination of sound, it is little wonder that these poems work on the page but also rise up from it (much like the twelve-foot neon woman in the centre of the collection), and pronounce their way into the world.”
“Rooted in Puerto Rico, these well-crafted poems – in Spanish-speckled English –also explore experience in other parts of the Caribbean, and Latin America, the USA and England. Loretta Collins Klobah manages an impressive range of forms in these meditations on history, art, love, suffering and spirituality. The mood, occasionally indignant, is most often compassionate and celebratory. The Twelve-Foot Neon Woman is a remarkable contribution to Caribbean literature.”
“In this book, the Caribbean with its colors and multi-languages comes alive. These are fertile poems born in our humidity here in Puerto Rico and in our sister islands, amidst tropical fruits and vegetation, poems that are sensitive to the geography and history and the wounds of Caribbean people. These poems are full of future, rhythms and sea waves. Bright electric language.”
Victor Hernández Cruz
“The poems in this collection exhibit a lyrical and provincial authority at work. They clearly demonstrate the presence of deep roots and an even deeper history. Collins Klobah breaks open meta-archipelagic poetics and the songs of diasporic myth. Like our best poets, her language helps us preserve and reconfigure memory; to understand the value of spirit, art, politics, and most enduringly, love.”
Read a poem from this collection
Loretta Collins Klobah lives in San Juan, Puerto Rico, where she is a professor of Caribbean Literature and creative writing at the University of Puerto Rico.