- LORNA GOODISON, author of Controlling the Silver.
Fauna is not just a collection of individually rewarding poems but a carefully structured whole. Using metaphors drawn from the fauna and flora of Jamaica and images drawn from painting as the over-arching devices, Bishop explores the tensions between plenitude and emptiness, presence and absence, the nourishing and the poisonous in her memories of the rural Jamaican childhood that has shaped her. There is the lushness of scene, but also the way that ‘the smell of mango’ will always be associated with childhood trauma, or the richness of avocado contrasted with the allamanda who admits, ‘Everything alive develops a defence…Mine is poison; all parts of me are toxic’. There are imagined scenes that are highly focused and there are the blurred images of the father who is always at the edge of the photograph.
And from the perspective of New York, Bishop sees herself as another kind of fauna, the Jamaican birds who can be found everywhere. ‘In North America three or four species/ have been identified from the peculiar way they sing.’ This is a moving and heart-felt collection, but Bishop never allows the siren voice of longing for return to become sentimental. Always there is the drive towards the artist’s desire to remake the world and to work meticulously at what can be left in, what must be taken out.
"Jacqueline Bishop's debut collection offers us passage into other worlds, both geographical and mythical. These poems define family, home, longing, and exile in profoundly moving and refreshingly new ways. They capture a myriad of voices, from those of the elders to those of the ""Fauna"" that populate the gorgeous second section of the book. The voices and images Bishop constructs in these poems are haunting in the best possible way: they are the melody we hear that reminds us of who we are, where we are from, and where we are going."
-- SHARA McCALLUM, author of Song of Thieves.
Jacqueline Bishop was born and raised in Kingston, Jamaica. She now lives and works in New York City ... the 15th parish of Jamaica. The River's Song is her first novel.