Published by Bloodaxe Books 2000. paperback £7.95
978 185224538 2 A collection of 31 poems
I found catching the native Caribbean accent from this collection daunting at the start but with concentration and the numerous smooth transitions to standard English as separate and within poems, the unfamiliar soon became much easier and that voice inside my head settled into an agreeable attempt at the diferent words and patterns. However it still remained a challenging but interesting read into, for me, a different world.
Poems of Caribbean scenes: Childhood, school, surroundings, emigration, life transplanted and death. Not forgetting the likes of housework and love; the latter cropping up in its many guises. ‘The Arrival of Brighteye’ is the keynote poem as well as the cover title. It is a story-poem, part prose, that offers hope and excitement of a new world and family reunion but ends on a sad line of familial love.
Poems that seemed extravagant as I read turned into colourful pictures of places and people. The writing is spirited throughout, affirming sisterhood no matter what.
The first, Bush Babies, sets the scene and the poems move along picking out moments like apples from a tree. Understanding and sexuality flit through many, especially early poems. More use of Caribbean accent is in the second half of the collection, allowing readers to tune in to the language. I have not seen her perform her work but expect Jean Breeze to be as colourful and exuberant as these poems
I always have to pick out some I like, so:
The garden path, Sky love, The arrival of bright eyes, leading on to playing the messiah and the last poem in the collection…Duppy Dance
Shame I can’t include ‘Ole Warrior’ or ‘on cricket, sex and housework’, or several others too…….. Yes, I would recommend all of them! A thoroughly good read!
Short extract from Upstream (for Stevie):
“If you could hear the drumbeats on my mind
Give me one more flight of time
One more chime of music
One more glimpse of dawn
One more walk
through open spaces”