Monday 24 October 2022

๐Ÿ“– Review ~ Ten Poems about Black History from Candlestick Press


Poems to honour a unique generation

On 22nd June 1948, Her Majesty’s Transport Empire Windrush docked at the Port of Tilbury in Essex. Between 1947 and 1970, nearly half a million people left their homes in the Caribbean for a new life in Britain, becoming known as the ‘Windrush’ generation.

These poems respond to that experience, and the challenges and prejudices faced by those who arrived. They document a world of night shifts and broken promises, the impact on families and lives, and the hopes and aspirations for the future:

“It is Time for Black seeds to send new

roots and bloom fresh flowers

where there was decay and hopelessness

It is Time for Black seeds to bring

light into the barren wastes.”

from ‘Black Seeds Bring Light’ by Len Garrison

Panya Banjoko selects crucial and moving poems, ensuring that these experiences are honoured, these stories passed on, and these lives never forgotten.

Poems by Stanley O. Ayodeji, Panya Banjoko, James Berry, Kamau Brathwaite, Jean ‘Binta’ Breeze, Len Garrison, Sarah ‘Rain’ Kolawole, Marsha Prescod, Jacob Sam-La Rose and Kadija Sesay.

Cover illustration by Morag Williams.

๐Ÿ“– My Review..

With its stunning cover depicting HMT Empire Windrush, Ten Poems about Black History is published to coincide with Black History Month in October. This latest collection looks at the legacy of the Windrush generation when, in 1948, over half a million people left the Caribbean to make a new life in Britain. That their arrival was met with hostility and prejudice is well documented and this powerful anthology ensures that this time in our collective history is never forgotten.

The opening poem Mi Duck by Jean ‘Binta’ Breeze gets the collection off to a fine start and encapsulates the vernacular alongside a longing for home in a place that is so very different:

‘I know how England breaks your heart
how summer ends before it starts
I know mi duck, I know ‘

Not knowing what to expect I read through the poems, carefully taking in the thoughts and feelings which resonate so strongly. Each of the poems made me stop to consider the harshness of life and the difficulties experienced:

‘Forty years in the factory,
Thirty years on the bus,
Twenty years with machinery,
They don’t make them any more like us.

From, Exiles by Martha Prescod 

It’s really difficult to single out any of the poems for particular praise as they all bring something quite different to the collection however, what comes across right from the the offset is the need to ensure that the Windrush generation, with their unfailing generosity of spirit, their bravery, and their unique contribution to generations going forward must never be forgotten.

Candlestick Press is an independent publisher based in Nottingham, UK. We’ve been publishing poetry pamphlets since 2008 not only for people who already love poetry, but also for those who will love it but perhaps don’t know that yet. Our ‘instead of a card’ pamphlets make an ideal alternative to a mainstream greetings card and are a small gift in their own right. They have matching envelopes and bookmarks left blank for your message, and are excellent companions on journeys or for a bedtime read. By supporting us, you help an independent press and our supported charities at the same time as treating yourselves, your friends and family to some wonderful poems.

Twitter @poetrycandle

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