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Jeremy Poynting on recent prize successes for Caribbean poets

Jeremy Poynting, Managing Editor of Peepal Tree Press writes,

“I don’t think the winning of the Forward Poetry prize by Caribbean writers for the last three years is any accident.

This is a generation for whom the fact of nationhood is history, who have distinguished elders to build on and react against, who see their writing in both a local and global setting, who are exploring all the actual diversities of being Caribbean persons in terms of race, gender and sexual orientation.

There are no doubt also local UK issues in terms of the recognition of excellence in winning poets such as Vahni Capildeo, Kwame Dawes (back in 1995), Kei Miller, Claudia Rankine and Tiphanie Yanique. Very belatedly the UK literary establishment has just started to recognise its cultural insularity (there is still a very long way to go), and the selection of more diverse judging panels for prizes like the Forward has been important.

What I hope, now, is that Caribbean leaders and readers begin to recognise and support the wealth of literary talent the region has in the way that the Bocas Litfest and Calabash and other festivals have been doing over the past half-dozen years.”

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