Marcia Douglas is the author of the novels Madam Fate (Women's Press, 2000; Soho Press, 1999), Notes from a Writer's Book of Cures and Spells (Peepal Tree, 2005) and most recently, The Marvellous Equations of the Dread (Peepal Tree Press, 2016) , as well as the poetry collection, Electricity Comes to Cocoa Bottom (Peepal Tree, 1999), which won a Poetry Book Society recommendation. The collection explores the recuperation of Jamaican place and voice from the perspective of a young woman in urban America in resistance to culturally annihilating forces in that society. She writes of the memories which went into these poems:
"To write these poems was to traverse my naval string back to my grandmother who I remember working at a foot-pedalled sewing machine by the light of a kerosene lamp, the words, Home Sweet Home, on the glass shade; it was to return to the feel of her new cloth, and in that (re)membering, to realize that somewhere in the relationship between line and linen, text and textile, my grandmother, humming and stitching, had bequeathed to me her voice and creative spirit.
And to write these poems was to remember my mother, who, going to town as a young country girl and seeing an electric light for the first time, sat and wondered: How to turn it on?
These poems, then, traverse the space between kerosene lamp and light bulp, journeying back and forth across the Atlantic and across continents, pushing their way through word censors and voice mufflers, and ending in tongues of fire. At my father's baptism in Yallahs River, it is said that he received 'the gift of tongues'. After fifteen long years of working in England, he had recently returned to Jamaica on a ship, The Montserrat. I was seven years old, and remember standing by the water, my father's voice booming in an unknown language, Oh shali wah, shail mahi wah. I sensed the power in the moment and began to cry. For many years afterward, I wondered, Did Daddy speak in the language of God and angels? Or did he just make one up to suit himself? Whatever the answer, what I remember is the bloodfire in his voice -- it is this, which ultimately informs these poems.
In my imagi(nation) I watch my gransmother thread her needle, and I traverse my naval string back to her. She knows stories of women who catch words between their teeth--
My grandmother died some years ago, but I have one of her dresses which she made on that foot-peddled sewing machine. Mostly I keep it folded in a special place, but increasingly, in need of a muse - I put it on."
Marcia Douglas's more recent awards include an NEA Fellowship. She performs a one-woman show, Natural Herstory, based on her fiction and poetry, and currently lives in Boulder, Colorado, with her husband and daughter. She is an Associate Professor at the University of Colorado, Boulder.
Titles featuring Marcia Douglas
Book reviews for Marcia Douglas
- Notes from a Writer’s Book of Cures and SpellsPrice: £9.99
Review written by Pauline Diamond for The Leeds Guide Review written by Preemie Maboroshi for Twitter
- Electricity Comes To Cocoa BottomPrice: £7.99
Review written by June Owens for The Caribbean Writer, Vol. 14 Review written by Simon Lee for Caribbean Beat
- The Marvellous Equations of the Dread: a novel in bass riddimPrice: £9.99
Review written by Judging panel for The Republic of Consciousness Prize for Small Presses Review written by Shivanee Ramlochan for Caribbean Beat Review written by Solange Anduze James for SX Salon Review written by Louisa Ermelino for Publishers Weekly Review written by John Robert Lee for the Peepal Tree website Review written by sammiisammii_ for Instagram