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Samboo's Grave / Bilal's Grave

Dorothea Smartt’s limited edition pamphlet collection connects past and present, presence and absence. At its heart is a sequence of poems set in Lancaster that excavate the missing history of Samboo, an African slave brought from the Caribbean by a Lancaster sea-captain as a present for his wife. Samboo died within days of his arrival and is presumed buried at Sunderland Point.

£4.99

Author(s)
Dorothea Smartt
ISBN
9781845230639
Pages
32
Price
£4.99
Classification
Poetry
Setting
Pan African, United Kingdom
Date published
8 Oct 2007

Dorothea Smartt’s limited edition pamphlet collection connects past and present, presence and absence. At its heart is a sequence of poems set in Lancaster that excavate the missing history of Samboo, an African slave brought from the Caribbean by a Lancaster sea-captain as a present for his wife. Samboo died within days of his arrival and is presumed buried at Sunderland Point. 

The sequence both imagines Samboo’s mostly unrecorded experience and draws connections between present day Lancaster and the foundations of its 18th century prosperity in slave trading. Begun as a commission by Lancaster Litfest, the sequence is a deeply personal response to the bicentenary of the abolition of British slave trading. 

Surrounding this sequence are contemporary poems that, on one level, in the vitality of lives revealed, provide a counterpoint to the emptiness of Samboo’s too soon curtailed life, but on another level echo a continuity of loss wrought by the fragmentation of African Caribbean families through continuing migrations and death.

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Dorothea Smartt

Dorothea Smartt has an international reputation as a respected literary activist, live artist, and established poet. Born and raised in London, with Barbadian heritage, she is described as a 'Brit-born Bajan international’. Over the past twenty years, her credits include engagements with the British Council in Bahrain, South Africa, USA, Egypt, and Hungary. She was keynote speaker at Barbados’ Frank Collymore Literary Endowment Award, 2013. She has two full collections, Connecting Medium and Ship Shape [Peepal Tree Press]. Her recent chapbook, Reader, I Married Him & Other Queer Goings-On, “…is subversive, radical, and surprisingly panoramic...” She is currently researching a live art work, including a third full poetry collection. In it she continues to rework standard narratives, this time imagining same-sex relationships and cross-gender experiences among ‘West Indian’ workers on the Panama Canal in the early 1900’s.

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