Ian McDonald’s Collected Poems (2018) was marked by a late flush of exceptional new poems that addressed both the infirmities of ageing as well as its continuing joys. That flow of memory has continued, addressing a long, rich life from a childhood in Antigua, youth in Trinidad and an adult life lived in Guyana. It was not to be halted by anything as malleable as the word “collected”, and this collection of poems from the past four years is more than just a “brawta” to bring back from the market to enjoy. There is the mystery of why certain memories, dormant for decades, suddenly emerge, like a childhood nightmare still as real 80 years later, or how in one’s own elder years, recollections of one’s parents take on a pertinence and vividness of presence. But it is not merely the past that revisits but an immersion in the present that has never been more real and precious in every respect. If the world has become, increasingly, one’s house and garden, its inhabitants one’s wife, children and grandchildren, it is experienced as not a jot less rich than anything in the past –indeed ever more precious for its evanescence. Ian McDonald writes that he is simply the recipient, the receiving station of what arrives in his head. He denigrates his gift for exactness, for the telling detail, for the right word, gifts that have been cultivated by a long life of writing.
Not Quite Without a Moon
If the world has become, increasingly, one’s house and garden, its inhabitants one’s wife, children and grandchildren, it is experienced as not a jot less rich than anything in the past –indeed ever more precious for its evanescence.
Trinidad and Tobago
26 Jan 2023