Taking Words for a Walk
The selected poems in this collection, some significantly revised, both retain their original lustre and enter into a rewarding dialogue with a collection’s worth of new poems.
Ralph Thompson
ISBN number
Country setting
Publication date
15 Sep 2012

These display a remarkable octogenarian energy which sparks Thompson’s range from narrative to lyric: ambition, rebellion, loss of innocence, memory, love, death and spiritual yearning are just some of the themes the poems explore.

There is a tough honesty to Thompson’s work, not confessional in a Lowell sense, but with insights rooted in experience and undiluted by any sense of “political correctness”. As in previous collections there is an underlying seriousness leavened by wit and a self-deprecating humour. His world is an intensely Jamaican one, but his poems very consciously engage in a dialogue that is universal.
Hailed as a “superb craftsman” by the Routledge Encyclopaedia of Post Colonial Literature in English, Thompson is at home in many forms: free verse, rhymed quatrains, haiku and villanelles – in patois or standard English. The centrepiece of the new work of Taking Words for a Walk is a long poem, “The Colour of Conscience”, which explores the dynamics, personal and social, of being a white poet in a black country. The collection overflows with love of the beauty of Jamaica and its people, the dynamic that brings life to all his poems.


Ralph Thompson

Ralph Thompson was born in America in 1928. His family on his mother’s side goes back three generations in Jamaica, a mixture of crypto Jewish (Isaacs) and Irish stock (Fielding). It was staunchly Catholic and claimed to be white. His mother’s marriage lasted only three years and she returned to Jamaica and brought up her two children aided and abetted by a household of intellectually brilliant but poor and highly eccentric aunts and uncles.
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