The Fat Black Woman's Poems: From the winner of the Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry 2021 (Virago Poets)

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The Fat Black Woman's Poems: From the winner of the Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry 2021 (Virago Poets)

The Fat Black Woman's Poems: From the winner of the Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry 2021 (Virago Poets)

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If you can, don’t go in August, that’s prime holiday season in Europe, especially the neighbouring country Italy, plus even in Southern Europe, places often don’t have ACs. Of critical importance here is the critical language which we continue to use in reviewing discourse, words we offer up in our assessment of whether a poem or a collection is good or bad, words that pretend to be neutral but are burdened with so much history – words that I have hinted at before like subtle, quiet, restrained, elegant. It was one of those incredibly large stages you would imagine for a rock concert rather than a poetry reading. It is a system that continues to exclude several of my peers whose poems might be deemed too loud or too aggressive. And I knew all the reasons why I shouldn’t let that stop me but it did and it made me feel lame and defeated.

But by identifying my intersections are what make me an amazing person that deserves to travel the world. Maybe I should just let that be their problem, but I can’t seem to let go of my anxiety around the odor (and sometimes the noise). At best, such roles allow her a kind of folksy wisdom, but never intellect or theoretical complexity. Finance is provided by PayPal Credit (a trading name of PayPal UK Ltd, Whittaker House, Whittaker Avenue, Richmond-Upon-Thames, Surrey, United Kingdom, TW9 1EH). On short flights I can usually just wait until we land but international travel is really difficult.The image of Aunt Jemima is a caricature that is based in the mammy archetype used in minstrel shows during and after American slavery.

I want to challenge that old and unrelenting aesthetic that has tried (whether knowingly or not) to set limits on the volume at which good poetry can be pitched. We feature only items we genuinely love and want to share, and this is an arrangement between the retailer and Cup of Jo (readers never pay more for products).

The poems tell of a fat black woman's trials and tribulations, as well as her moments of triumph in a foreign land. But this much is fair, that Brathwaite has been the poet-critic much more invested in challenging the very culture of taste and aesthetics that favoured poets such as Walcott. In the very next line of the poem ‘If Only Out Of Vanity’, Chin says, ‘I want to be the girl your parents will use as a bad example of a lady’. There was this small productive moment in my emergence as a poet that the old and oftentimes false barriers between performance poetry and written poetry did not exist for me.

Still it surprised me how, given voice, the poem was such a different animal from how it sat tamely on the page. Sometimes the critic in me feels that this whole business of aesthetics has been so deeply hurtful that we should do away with it completely, if only to stop those ripples that have never stopped spreading since the stone of chattel slavery was dropped into the waters of our collective humanity. You’re gonna get this skin, this body, this hair, and this gay lady all up in your face without apology. There was a palpable and raw energy that textured the air the moment she walked up to the microphone.But you see, even Walcott wrote poetry that roared with a beauty and a floridness that did not sit easily within English sensibilities. For example, Grace Nichols won the Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry 2021 (which, I assume, prompted this reprint) and it would have been interesting to have an analysis of her work leading up to this point. Originally conceived by Eliot himself, Old Toffer's Book of Consequential Dog poems are a witty, varied and exquisitely compiled as Eliot's cats.

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