“Archipelagos is a book that gets under the diseased skin of history’s oppressors, and the disconcerting quiet fallout of disaster. It doesn’t sound like fun but the effect on the reader is incredibly liberating, putting them in an omniscient point of view that brings within them an understanding of the world’s ebb and flow, history, damage and healing. This may well be the book that Geoffrey Philp is remembered by. Get it.” — Roger Robinson
This is poetry written in the time of onrushing global disaster, of a racist and still imperial USA and of Black lives matter. It is a call to arms that opens out the struggle for human survival in the epoch of the Anthropocene to remind us that this began not just in the factories of Europe but in the holds of the slave ships and plantations of the Caribbean. No natural world was more changed than the West Indian islands by sugar monoculture – and, as the title poem begins: “At the end of this sentence, a flood will rise/ and swallow low-lying islands of the Caribbean”. Historically, “the debris of empire that crowd our shores” connects to the “sands of our beaches / littered with masks and plastic bottles.” Philp’s powerful and elegant poems span past and present and make it very clear that there cannot be a moral response to the climate crisis that is not also embedded in the struggle for social justice, for overcoming the malignancies of empire and colonialism and the power of global capitalism – the missions of the West that always had and still have at their heart the ideology of white supremacy and a capitalism endlessly voracious for the world’s human and natural resources. These are poems of wit and anger, but also of personal intimacy – dealing with the vexed relationship with a violent father – and give us line after line of the shapeliest poetry – in sound, in rhythm and the exact choice of word.