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Against Linearity

Written by Valerie Laws for Iron Review on Thursday, October 22, 2015

If the books or performances of Walcott and Dabydeen have opened you up to the ‘high style’ of Caribbean poetry, Peepal Tree has a fat enough catalogue to feast on. There’s richness here; an accent, as it were, behind many of the writers’ individual voices. A sea-captain’s cabin of polished treasures of language from around the world, in every place and time. Latin and Greek, in the original or as material; an unashamed intellectualism, mingled with slang and dialect terms from Guyana, Jamaica, reminding me of the Silver Latin period, or Huysman’s ‘A Rebours’, but clean, spare, controlled beyond decadence. The writers come from a marvellous mixture of races and cultures, and it shows; some poems deal with black/white tensions, but most are personal rather than political, set in a sensual celebration of nature. The poets might resent being thus bracketed together, but this is my impression.

Earl McKenzie’s work is more simple and fluid, quirky and surreal. From ‘After the Hurricane, the Moon’;

After the hurricane, the moon
poured its gold over the rubble.

From our roofless house, now without TV
we watched it rising
on the sky’s screen.

A lovely, strange collection.

This is a review of Against Linearity

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