Stanley Greaves brings a painter’s perceptions and a musician’s ear to the writing of this substantial selection of his poetry written over the past forty years. He describes his painting as ‘a kind of allegorical story-telling’ and the same kind of connections between the concrete and the metaphysical, and the presence of the extraordinary in the ordinary are found in his poems.
Greaves guesses at a background that includes African, Amerindian and European ancestry, but declines to relate to any of these in an exclusive way. Rather he writes out of a creole sensibility that celebrates Guyanese diversity: Afro-Guyanese folkways, Amerindian legend and Hindu philosophy. Nor does he reject Europe, and in his poetry and his painting explores connections between European Surrealism and the intuitive elements within Guyana’s heterogeneous culture.
To enter the collection is to discover a whole, self-created world of Blakean richness, one which is never static, but growing to encompass new elements. Greaves’s is a dialectical vision, alert both to the movements of history and the minutiae of daily change.
His themes include family, daily life, metaphysical speculation, the hard years of social collapse and political repression in Guyana, the strange visitations of inner imaginative life and his comradeship with the great Guyanese poet Martin Carter. His is a sensibility ‘welcoming as the earth is/ for every floating seed/ on stairs of air and rain’.
This collection won the 2002 Guyana Prize for the best first collection of poetry.
Read a poem from this collection
Stanley Greaves was born in Guyana. He is one of the Caribbean’s most distinguished artists and an accomplished classical guitarist. He currently lives in Barbados.