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A Collection of Caribbean Poems

edited by John Agard & Grace Nichols & illustrated by Cathie Felstead &

Age Range: 6 - 12

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 2003
ISBN: 0-7636-1861-6
Publisher: Candlewick

A blend of sea and land, leavened with some scary creatures from folklore, served up with the local foods and fruits, and then spread to other colder parts of the globe, this anthology is a lively mix of rhythms, stories, and descriptions that illuminate the geography and culture of the region, while providing a variety of linguistic and visual delights. The poets hail mostly from the English-speaking islands and the parts of the world where Caribbean immigrants have settled. They include the two editors from Guyana, James Berry from Jamaica, Lynn Joseph from Trinidad, and many others. Short biographical notes would have been a welcome addition. Each of the five artists, who are not necessarily associated with the Caribbean, has illustrated the poems in one of the sections of the book in very different styles. They range from Felstead’s Matisse-like collages of the sea and its inhabitants that open the collection to Jane Ray’s spooky renderings of the supernatural creatures of island folklore to Satoshi Kitamura’s stylized, humorous people and fruits and vegetables. Traditional proverbs and rhymes are scattered throughout. There is fun to be had with Valerie Bloom’s poem entitled “Guidance,” in which a very proper uncle dispenses such advice as “Don’ kiss yuh teeth when me talk to yuh / An’ mind how yuh looking at me too” and a very sad little girl thinks: “Life is very tough for me / When Uncle Henry comes to tea.” For those who enjoy the feeling of horror, the eerie “Jumbie Man,” by Faustin Charles, in which the lines “Jumbie man returning red / Fire bleeding the dead; With his see-through head / Walking where angels fear to tread” is accompanied by a fearsome painting by Ray. With poems and illustrations for many moods, this volume with its lively language and playful pictures is sure to please. (index of poets and first lines) (Poetry. 6-12)