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.