There are comforts – the landscape, the flora and fauna, the food, festivals, country Sundays and moments of tenderness – and there are the disquiets – the bullying, the violence, the fearfulness of childhood, the failure of memory, the losses.
In these very intimate poems, Millicent Graham marks out a distinct poetic territory for herself with an immediately recognizable voice, an assured handling of language and a daring richness of image. We might be forgiven for calling these poems love poems, or coming of age poems, or poems of memory, but it would do these quirky, haunting, profoundly intelligent poems, with their allusions to popular culture, classic literature, myth and folk lore, a disservice by such easy categorization.
Millicent Graham, has, in her second book, made good on her indebtedness to her fascination with the elliptical and image-heavy verse of Tony McNeill, and the lyrical, lushness of story and memory in the poetry of Lorna Goodison. It is possible to see an army of poetic influences in these two Jamaican poets, and Graham carries all these influences inside of her, while sounding only like herself. Her work is guided first by her desire to write her home – both the actual and physical world of Jamaica, and her other home, her equally rich imaginative and poetic home. This is a collection that adds to the corpus of Caribbean poetry in important ways.