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The Watertank Revisited

Delores Gauntlett’s poems give a real sense of what it means to be a contemporary Jamaican in ‘this hard country’, a land ‘spinning on the edge of nerves’, where ‘shocking news is the norm’.


Delores Gauntlett
Date published
5 Sep 2005

Mostly alluded to, this Jamaica of dread is directly approached in a number of poems: a brother held at gunpoint, where it is the mental wounds that sap , or in the careful euphemisms of describing the mother unable ‘to rise from the day/of her son’s affliction at the boot of authority’. 

Her collection also bears witness to what enables Jamaicans to endure, the ties of love, friendship and family, though here too she writes without sentimentality of the prisons that people make for themselves and the fragility of such ties. But Gauntlett is much more than a reporter of tribulations. Hers is a concern with ‘the code-breaking edge of thought’, with the capacity of the poem to get inside the ‘thisness’ of being, to demand reflectiveness as ‘each phrase’s after-image/ trails in the mind to be later held to the light’, or to return down old lanes with new understandings.

‘These are poems of fierce compassion and elegiac sorrow; but their greater distinction lies in the way that, in them, the particular and the transient are always widening out, like ripples from a thrown stone, into aspects of the universal and eternal. 

If Gauntlett’s poetry is profoundly consoling, that is not because it averts its gaze from human suffering, but because it dignifies and anneals it.’ Wayne Brown

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Delores Gauntlett

Delores Gauntlett was born in St. Ann, Jamaica in 1949. Her first full collection Freeing Her Hands To Clap while a manuscript-in-progress, was awarded a National Book Development Council Special Commendation prize and was also a finalist in the Brittingham Poetry series competition.

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