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Beginning with the promptings of the transgressively erotic title story, Jacqueline Bishop came to see the hybrid format of this book, with its mix of short stories, essays and interviews could begin to encompass her desire to see where she had arrived at in a creative career that encompassed being published as a novelist, poet, critic and exhibited as an artist. How did these sundry positions connect together? What aspects of both conscious intention and unconscious, interior motivations did they reveal?
Sensual, honest, often humorous, and as intimate as a confession, the poems in this volume illuminate the struggle for self-definition and the journey of an exile. Weaving multiple narratives together, this work focuses on the delicate relationship between place and identity. While likening herself to the Roman poet Ovid and the traveling painter Gauguin and recounting a doomed romantic relationship, Bishop deals with her own hopes of home and her perceptions of otherness. Ultimately, these poems confront the need to rearrange both the words on page and the self.
Exceptionally expressive paintings from three contemporary Caribbean artists—each a prominent literary figure in Jamaica—are featured in this unusual collection. Abstract, evanescent webs by Jacqueline Bishop, sober still-life studies by Earl McKenzie, and landscape and figure paintings by Ralph Thompson provide vivid insight into the minds of these multitalented artists while continuing the long-standing tradition of transforming literary allusions into visual art.
This engaging coming-of-age novel looks back over the idyllic Jamaican girlhood and the both alienating and transforming experience of winning a scholarship to the most prestigious girls’ boarding school on the island. Atypical of Caribbean literature because of its description of a young girl’s sexual awakening, the novel offers poetic descriptions of rural and urban Jamaica and delightful characterizations of warm and lively women, including the narrator’s mother, grandmother, and neighbors.
“Jacqueline Bishop has presented us with a rare gift in this fine collection of life stories. This never-before-assembled chorus of voices with its wide-ranging repertoire is truly remarkable. From powerful personal tales of courage and survival to more complicated testaments of lives lived in rare privilege, or on the margins of society, these narratives speak eloquently to the wisdom, ingenuity, and resourcefulness of Jamaican women.” – Lorna Goodison, Author of Controlling the Silver.
A satisfying and original work, this collection of poems offers moving personal insights as it reconstructs a Jamaican childhood from memory. Using striking metaphors drawn from the fauna and flora of Jamaica as well as images of painting as overarching devices, this volume explores the dichotomies of plentitude and emptiness, presence and absence, and nourishment and poison. Never allowing her longing for the island to become sentimental, the poet meticulously recreates her world in these heartfelt poems.