We are delighted to announce that Give the Ball to the Poet, our new Caribbean Poetry Anthology, has been shortlisted for the CLPE Poetry Award 2015! Please see the press release for details.
The final performance of the project took place at the University of the West Indies, Mona campus on April 8th, 2015 to an audience of 150 people. Poets reading were Eddie Baugh, Mervyn Morris, Mark McWatt, Philip Nanton, Velma Pollard and Tanya Shirley. To read a report of the visit, click on the image.
The team are thrilled to announce that Teaching Caribbean Poetry (TCP) has been shortlisted for the UKLA Academic book award 2015. TCP was edited by Professor Beverley Bryan of the University of the West Indies, Mona, Jamaica and our own Professor Morag Styles, with contributions from all six members of the project team in the Caribbean and all four members of the team based in U.K. including a foreword by Jamaican Poet Laureate, Mervyn Morris. Further information on the award and the shortlist are available at: http://www.routledge.com/education/articles/routledge_authors_shortlisted_for_ukla_academic_book_award_2015/
Give the Ball to the Poet is in the Guardian's round up of Children's Poetry books 2014!
The Caribbean launch of 'Give the Ball to the Poet' was held at The University of the West Indies, Mona on 13th November and treated guests to a wonderful evening of poetry readings featuring the work of Velma Pollard, Mervyn Morris, Edward Baugh and Tania Shirley.
Congratulations to Kei Miller who was awarded the prestigious Forward prize for the best poetry collection of 2014 at a lively ceremony chaired by Jeremy Paxman and held at the Southbank Centre, the Queen Elizabeth Hall on 30th September. Founded in 1991 by William Sieghart to celebrate excellence in new writing, the award seeks to identify and promote emerging poets and broaden the audience of poetry, numbering among previous winners household names such as Seamus Heaney, Ted Hughes and Carol Ann Duffy. Kei was chosen over an extremely distinguished group of other shortlisted poets, including Louise Gluck (ex poet laureate of United States) and Hugo Williams. Kei's collection, The Cartographer Tries to Map a Way to Zion (Carcanet), lauded by the judging panel as a 'stand out' book' works through a debate between a speaker who sees the world as goal oriented (focusing on the form of the map as a mode of understanding and making progress through objective knowledge) and a Rastafarian, who is more visionary, intuitive and metaphorical. It is a stunning collection and was praised for meeting the Forward Prize's criteria of reaching out to readers in accessible and impassioned ways, which Jeremy Paxman described as 'missionary'
Link to full report by Carcanet.
Recordings of Kei Miller reading can be accessed through the online Poetry Archive.
We have enjoyed two lovely launches of GIVE THE BALL TO THE POET this summer. The first was in Glasgow in July just before the start of the Commonwealth Games. The city was already buzzing and the enthusiasm in the air was palpable. We generated our own excitement with the dance troupe, Visual Statement, in wonderful costumes greeting those coming to our launch at Waterstones, including two professors of English and Scottish literature and several academics from the University of Glasgow Faculty of Education. The highlight of the evening was Kei Miller’s brilliant reading, including several poems from the anthology (see montage below).
The second launch, once again at Waterstones, was in Edinburgh in August during the Festival (see montage above). Our illustrator, Jane Ray, fresh from the Book Festival, signed copies of the anthology. Two well known Scottish writers, Denise Mina and Allan Guthrie, whom we had met at the Bocas festival in Trinidad, attended, as did some colleagues visiting Edinburgh for the Festival, plus Scottish friends, book people and Roz Hudson part of CPP project. It was especially nice to meet Ann Donald who runs the Franschhoek Literary Festival in South Africa where the ZAPP project will be represented in May 2015. We were delighted that most of the team who produced the book were able to attend – Matthew Wilson and Neil Titman from Third Millennium and Judy Curry and Diane Louis from the Commonwealth Education Trust. Sabine Edwards who organised the launches was much missed, as were Aisha Spencer in Jamaica, and Georgie Horrell and Bonnie Murray who were unwell and much in our thoughts.
We would like to thank the staff at Waterstones, Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow, and George Street, Edinburgh for their kindness and hospitality.
Forthcoming anthology reviewed in SWAN, Southern World Arts News:
"POETS FROM THE CARIBBEAN SEIZE THE BALL AND SCORE
Young readers in the Caribbean and around the world are in for a treat with a vibrant new anthology of poetry titled Give the Ball to the poet.
Timed to coincide with the 2014 World Cup and the Commonwealth Games (23 July to 3 August in Glasgow, Scotland), the book has its own exciting tempo, with memorable word-play by writers from across the Caribbean region."
Read full review: http://www.southernworldartsnews.blogspot.fr/
Give the ball to the poet - publication
Edited by Georgie Horrell, Aisha Spencer and Morag Styles
Illustrated by Jane Ray with a foreword by Grace Nichols
Published July 2014, Paperback, £9.99
Give the BALL to the poet is an exciting new anthology of Caribbean poetry aimed primarily at 11 to 16 age group but with great appeal for all.
In its pages you will find many well-known and loved Caribbean poets, while also discovering lively new voices. With an emphasis on the music of Caribbean poetry as it is spoken, this collection ranges from the light-hearted and lyrical to the serious and thought- provoking. Jane Ray’s ravishing illustrations complement the poetry and bring the Caribbean to life.
Published in time for the Commonwealth Games (Glasgow, 2014), the anthology features some outstanding poetry on sporting themes; one of several works specially commissioned for the book is a tribute to Usain Bolt by Mervyn Morris. Give the Ball to the Poet distils the essence of a vibrant range of traditions in a celebration of human struggle, endeavour and achievement.
Publication will be celebrated with launches in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Cambridge and London.
APRIL 2014 - bocas lITERARY FESTIVAL AND TCP Workshops
Morag Styles and David Whitley visited Trinidad in late April 2014 to attend the BOCAS Literary Festival at the National Library and Old Fire Station, Port of Spain, and the Teaching Caribbean Poetry workshop at St Augustine campus, The University of the West Indies. We also held a meeting for most members of the CPP team and a dinner at the University Inn to thank those working for the project in the Caribbean, including Marina Salandy-Brown and Mala Morton-Gittens from the Ministry of Education.
We were generously looked after by BOCAS organisers, Marina Salandy-Brown and Nicholas Laughlin who provided transport from the airport and throughout our stay in central Port of Spain. We stayed at the same hotel as most of the performers, which made our time there very enjoyable and social. The festival was a triumph featuring some of the most distinguished Caribbean poets. It is free to all who wish to attend which is an amazing achievement. One of the highlights was a poetry reading, The Living Word – a tribute to Mikey Smith, which featured well known poets Lorna Goodison, Mervyn Morris, Linton Kwesi Johnson, Kwame Dawes, Anthony Joseph, Malika Booker and Kei Miller. New to us, but exciting voices of a younger generation to look out for, included Lauren Alleyne and Vladimir Lucien. John Agard and Grace Nichols, close friends of our project whom we partly sponsored with BOCAS, performed to great acclaim to both audiences of adults and children as indeed there is a separate children’s festival. As well as a wonderful choice of workshops, debates, films and readings, there were gala events, a party at the British High Commission, the inaugural Burt Award for young adult Literature [attended by the President of Trinidad] and the OCM BOCAS Prize for Caribbean Literature.
Nicholas Laughlin gave Teaching Caribbean Poetry a good plug during the Festival and David and Morag had the opportunity to talk it up, also mentioning the publication of Give The Ball to the Poet in July for which we gave out bookmarks to all and sundry! Two poets associated with our project were shortlisted for poetry awards at the Festival – Kei Miller and Philip Nanton.
Morag and David enjoyed taking part in the two day TCP WORKSHOP with about 45 Trinidadian Secondary English teachers. We were impressed by their willingness to travel long distances for this event and delighted that their evaluations were so positive as teacher after teacher asked for more workshops like these. All credit to Mark McWatt, Philip Nanton and Sam Soyer who have now run TCP workshops across most of the Anglophone Caribbean, and to Sharon Phillip and Fredah Antoine for organizing the event and providing all the materials. We also had a most productive team meeting where we mapped out our priorities for the forthcoming year.
Team members are now good friends and there is always a lot of laughter as well as hard work when we meet. It was also a bonus to get to know poets better in an informal setting. At the beginning and end of our trip, we had a free morning and afternoon where we took the opportunity to visit the Asa Wright Nature Centre and the Botanical Gardens. We came home with our heads reeling with humming birds, poetry and the lush vegetation of the region.
Sandra Robinson, UWI, Cave Hill is editing a special issue of The Caribbean Journal of Education based on the CPP conference with Georgie Horrell and Sharon Phillip as co-editors. It will be published next year.
Teaching Caribbean Poetry was launched on 29 October at Homerton College. The book was edited by Professors Beverley Bryan and Morag Styles who were both present along with several contributors from Cambridge and the Caribbean, including Georgie Horrell, Lorna Down and David Whitley. The book is the latest outcome of the Caribbean Poetry Project, a collaboration between The University of the West Indies and the Centre for Commonwealth Education based at the Faculty of Education. Guests at the launch included several Caribbean poets, Carol Ann Duffy, the Poet Laureate and patron of the project and Sir Andrew Motion, Director of the online Poetry Archive and advisor to the project.
Copies of the book are available from routledge via the following link: http://www.routledge.com/books/details/9780415640480/
The book is also featured in the University's Research Horizons: 'but we have a time when de soft rain come'
Poetry By Heart 2014: the search begins for a second national champion
Poetry By Heart 2013 was the first year of an exciting new poetry initiative for pupils in years 10-13 in schools and colleges in England. Launched by Andrew Motion and the Poetry Archive, it set out to lift poetry off the page and into the hearts and minds of young people, their teachers, families and communities. The first year was a huge success and in October 2013 the second nationwide search began to find a worthy successor to last year's champion, Kaiti Soultana of Bilborough College, Nottingham. Over 200 schools and colleges will battle for a place in the London finals at the National Portrait Gallery in London in March 2014. For more information about the competition, a FREE anthology timeline of poems from over 600 years and a FREE showcase of First World War poetry, go to www.poetrybyheart.org.uk.
Crispin Bonham-Carter made this short film (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R9H_fPyYIzI) about his visit to Jamaica which included teaching in local schools and presenting at a conference. This visit was hosted by Professor Beverley Bryan. Crispin enjoyed the hospitality of members of the CPP team based in Jamaica and was delighted to meet poets, Edward Baugh and Mervyn Morris.
Guyana Workshop. Sandra Robinson with Gina Burnham organised a highly successful TCP workshop in Guyana (May) 2013. Dr Georgie Horrell and Professor Morag Styles took part. They were enormously impressed by the excellent organisation of the event, the delightful venue, the commitment of the teachers and the quality of the course provided by the facilitators, Professor Mark McWatt, poet, Philip Nanton and UWI lecturer, Sam Soyer. A special bonus was participation by poets John Agard and Grace Nichols whose visit to their native Guyana was a particularly joyful homecoming after John recieved the Queen's Medal for Poetry in 2012. The Project and, of course, John and Grace as guests of honour, received a warm welcome in Guyana with special artistic events put on for our benefit, a launch of John Agard's new collection, Travel Light, Travel Dark at the University of Guyana and even a visit to the President.
Appreciating Caribbean Poetry (Friday 28th - Sunday 30th June 2013). 'Appreciating Caribbean Poetry' weekend took place at Madingley Hall, Cambridge in June 2013.
Tuesday 12th March - John Agard was presented with the Queen's Gold Medal for Poetry by Her Majesty the Queen. The prize was inistituted in 1933 by King George V with the recipient chosen by a committee chaired by the Poet Laureate. Further information...
Monday 11th March - CPP Team attend an observance for Commonwealth Day at Westminster Abbey
Members of the Caribbean Poetry Project met at Westminster Abbey on Monday 11th March to take part in a special service for Commonwealth Day. They were also joined by Susan Tan, a doctoral student, who led a lively writing workshop as stimulus for the Commonwealth essay competition. The team were seated fittingly at Poets' Corner with Burns, Coleridge, Wordsworth [and Jane Austen] looking down. John Agard wrote a delightful poem for the event and performed it beautifully. The queen wasn't well enough to attend but Prince Philip chatted to John, apparently asking why modern poets didn't write like Kipling! The team then joined John at the Commonwealth Centre for tea, meeting with several people interested in the project and the work of the Centre. The team were delighted to be able to take part in such a special event.
See http://caribbeanpoetry.educ.cam.ac.uk/ for further information.
BRITISH LIBRARY KEYNOTE & POETRY RECORDINGS A collection of recordings made by the British Library at the Conference on The Power of Caribbean Poetry - Word and Sound is now online and available to listen to. The recordings include readings from poets John Agard, Christian Campbell, Kei Miller, Mark McWatt, Mervyn Morris, Philip Nanton, Grace Nichols, Velma Pollard, Olive Senior, Dorothea Smartt and special guest Linton Kwesi Johnson, who gave a lecture on Jamaican poet Michael Smith; keynotes from Mervyn Morris, Olive Senior and Professor Beverley Bryan; and panel discussions on the Caribbean Poetry Project 2010-2012 and the teaching of Caribbean poetry.
THE POETRY ARCHIVE LAUNCHED THE PIONEERING POETRY RECITATION COMPETITION 'POETRY BY HEART'. 'The poems we learn when we're young stay with us for the rest of our lives. They become embedded in our thinking, and when we bring them to mind, or to our lips, they remind us who we are as people, and the things we believe in. We call it learning by heart, and I think such learning can only make our heart bigger and stronger'- Simon Armitage, Poet
Poetry By Heart is an exciting new poetry recitation competition, FREE to schools/colleges and students in years 10-13 in schools and colleges in England. It aims to encourage students to have fun while extending their reading and appreciation of poetry, and building confidence through presentation. Click on the image for further information, and visit www.poetrybyheart.org.uk to access the poetry anthology and instructions for entry.
CONGRATULATIONS TO JOHN AGARD... We are delighted by the news that John Agard has been awarded the Queen's Gold Medal for Poetry for 2012. The medal has been awarded annually since 1933 and has been held by such distinguished names as WH Auden, Ted Hughes and Philip Larkin. The Poetry Medal Committee nominated John on the basis of his work over several years, with particular mention of his most recent published volume, Alternative Anthem: Selected Poems (2009) and his book of children's poems Goldilocks on CCTV (2011). When told of the news by poet laureate, Carol Ann Duffy, John said 'I couldn’t believe my ears and it took a little time to sink in. I am delighted as well as touched to be in the company of such names as Charles Causley, Norman MacCaig, Gillian Clarke, Stevie Smith, Derek Walcott. I am deeply thankful to the Poetry Medal Committee who supported my nomination for this honour and to all who supported my work over the years.' The medal will be presented to John by the Queen in 2013. Further information is available via the following links: Palace Press Release, New Writing North, and the Telegraph.
Details of the new week-end course Appreciating Caribbean Poetry being offered by the Institute of Continuing Education at Madingley Hall, Cambridge are now available via the ICE website. The course will run from 28-30 June 2013, with booking available online or by contacting the Registration Team on 01223 746262. There are bursaries available for the course, and potential applicants are encouraged to check whether they qualify for funding. Further information.
Conference on the Power of Caribbean Poetry - Word and Sound
Photo: Caribbean Poetry Project team members together at the Caribbean Poetry Conference, held at Homerton College, Cambridge, 20-22 September 2012
For full conference report and news, click on image.
Caribbean Poetry Project Workshop at Poetry Parnassus, South Bank, London
We had a successful workshop with teachers on June 28 on WORD & SOUND IN CARIBBEAN POETRY in Sunley Pavilion as part of Poetry Parnassus on the South Bank. Georgie Horrell and Morag Styles led a workshop on Teaching Caribbean Poetry, joined by Professor Beverley Bryan who happened to be in London that day. We were incredibly lucky to have not one, or two, or three, but FOUR distinguished Caribbean poets taking part, which was the highlight of the event! They were Esther Phillips (organiser of 2012 Bim Festival), Christian Campbell (University of Toronto), Anthony Joseph (poet, novelist, lecturer and musician) and Kei Miller (Glasgow University).
Award-winning poet, Esther Phillips, was born in Barbados where she continues to live and teach, heading the English Department at Barbados Community College. We are delighted that she is working with the project both in UK and Barbados. She set the tone for the reading with a beautiful and varied performance from When Ground Doves Fly and The Stone Gatherer (Peepal Tree Press, 2008).
Esther was followed by Christian Campbell, an Oxford Rhodes scholar of Trinidadian and Bahamian heritage, who was winner of the best first collection prize at the Aldeburgh poetry festival in 2010 with Running the Dusk (Peepal Tree Press). Jo Shapcott called it a ‘bravura performance’ and that is exactly what he supplied at the workshop. Christian is an academic as well as a gifted poet and delivered the prestigious Derek Walcott lecture in St Lucia this year.
Anthony Joseph came next with an electrifying performance. He is more than qualified to talk about music and Caribbean poetry as his main influences are calypso, jazz, the spiritual Baptist church that his grandparents attended, and the rhythms of Caribbean speech. Anthony has lived in the UK since 1989 and in 2004 was chosen as one of fifty Black and Asian writers who have made major contributions to contemporary British literature. He also performs and records with The Spasm Band. Rubber Orchestras was released last year published by Salt.
Kei Miller writes what Olive Senior called ‘some of the most exciting poetry I’ve read in years’. Kei comes from Jamaica and is currently teaching creative writing at the University of Glasgow. Very much in demand as a performer, Kei is author of several powerful collections, including There is an Anger that Moves and A Light Song of Light. He also edited New Caribbean Poetry (all with Carcanet Press). He closed the event with a moving reading of ‘Parting Song’.
Anthony, Kei and Christian are all taking part in our conference 20-22 September. There are still places available.
VISIT TO BARBADOS (BIM) 17 -23 March 2012
Morag Styles and David Whitley from CPP Cambridge spent an enjoyable and productive week in BIM, Spring, 2012. It was a delight to renew our acquaintance with Sandra Robinson and to meet her research assistant, Karen Thomas. What a powerful team they make! We were grateful to Sandra and Karen for giving up their Sunday to spend the whole day with us - talking, planning, trying out ideas and catching up. The rest of the week went by so quickly and was mostly taken up with meetings. We met members of Sandra’s Faculty, including Dr Jennifer Obidah, Head of Education, Sam Soyer and Professor Jane Bryce from Literatures in English. We Skyped a discussion with Dr Didacus Jules and had a face to face meeting with Susan Boodoo, both of CXC. We were pleased to meet Linda Deane with whom we had been communicating for some time. We enjoyed meeting Esther Phillips for a second time and were thrilled that she was putting on a day of TCP workshops as part of the BIM Festival in May 2012. A morning was spent planning for this event.
The most important item on our agenda was the setting up, staffing, planning and funding of visits to eastern Caribbean territories – St Vincent, St Lucia, Antigua – to institute two day Caribbean poetry workshops with secondary English teachers, in partnership with CXC, UWI and the Ministry of Education in each territory. We had two productive meetings with Philip Nanton and Professor Mark McWatt, both of whom we’d met on previous visits. We were delighted to learn that they were prepared to join the team working in the territories. As we had enjoyed Philip’s poetry videos and were admirers of Mark’s own poetry and his scholarship in the field of Caribbean poetry, we couldn’t imagine two better people to work with Sandra and Karen on delivering the workshops. Lines were red-hot between Cambridge and Barbados but by the time we left plans were in place for TCP workshops in the above territories this summer (see below) funded jointly by CCE/CPP (with special help from CET), UWI, CXC and the Ministry of Education in each territory.
Things got even better after we left as Grenada was added to the list of visits and an evening performance of poetry before each workshop was instituted. Furthermore, we have been in positive discussions with CXC about the long term future of this initiative. The first set of workshops and performances went off successfully in St Vincent in late April and everyone is most excited about this development. We owe a great debt of thanks to all concerned, especially Sandra and Karen.
Sandra, Karen, David and I managed to squeeze in an afternoon of sight-seeing around Barbados where we discovered many lovely parts of the island. We ended up firm friends as well as colleagues, sharing a love of Caribbean poetry, a respect for teachers and the same hopes, dreams, ideals, and work ethic. We can’t wait to welcome them to Cambridge for the conference in September (and Mark and Philip, too). We’ll be meeting Esther at a joint workshop on Caribbean poetry in June at the Poetry Parnassus in London.
Routledge to publish 'Teaching Caribbean Poetry' in 2013
THE POWER OF CARIBBEAN POETRY – WORD AND SOUND
FIRST CAMBRIDGE TCP COURSE
The first Cambridge Teaching Caribbean Poetry course began in June and finished in December 2011. We were delighted to meet enthusiastic teachers who were highly responsive to the poetry. The focus of the course was on the historical context of Caribbean poetry, the environment in Caribbean poetry and the language and music of Caribbean poetry. Additionally we drew on the online poetry archive and considered the work of some Caribbean and Caribbean / British poets, including Linton Kwesi Johnson and Derek Walcott. John Agard and Dorothea Smartt brought the course alive with electrifying performances. We were delighted with the quality of the work some of the teachers produced as part of the assignment. Several teachers from the course will be taking part in the conference in September 2012, including Tessa Ware and Crispin Bonham-Carter from Alexandra Park School.
SYMPOSIUM IN BARBADOS
In March 2011, key members of the Project from Cambridge, Jamaica and Trinidad came together at a symposium in Barbados, where they met poets, teachers and members of the University of West Indies, based at Cave Hill. As well as discussing the new Teaching Caribbean Poetry Course, they planned future joint research, scholarly and school-based publications, and the conference on Caribbean poetry to be held in Cambridge in 2012.
As Morag Styles, David Whitley, Georgie Horrell (Faculty of Education / Homerton College) and Roz Hudson (London) arrived in Barbados, the first thing they saw was some white egrets in a field, which seemed to confirm this choice of metaphor for the relationship between the Caribbean and UK – as featured on our home page.
Three days were spent in discussions with the core team from the University of West Indies at Mona (Beverley Bryan, Lorna Down, Aisha Spencer & Velma Pollard), St Augustine (Sharon Phillip) and Cave Hill (Sandra Robinson). As well as finalizing the TCP course, we planned our joint research, the book on Teaching Caribbean Poetry that will proceed from the project, and an international conference.
Later in the week, the team from UK, together with Velma Pollard and Sandra Robinson, discussed the project with members of the Faculty of Language, Literature and Linguistics (Professor Mark McWatt, Nicola Hunte), the Education Officer of the Ministry of Education (Pauline Miller), Susan Boodoo of CXC Examinations, and lecturers in English at Erdiston Teacher Training College (Patricia Saul, Margaret Cisse, Cecilia Rock), all of whom enthusiastically agreed to be involved in the teaching or promotion of the course.
There were also meetings with local secondary English teachers and the poet, Philip Nanton, who was keen to be involved in the project and shared with us some of his recent work, which includes a BBC radio production, Island Voices, featuring Caribbean poetry. Esther Phillips and Dana Gilke, poets and teachers at the Barbados Community College, were also keen to participate. The symposium was a great success and the UK project members look forward to working with their new colleagues at Cave Hill and beyond.
DeREK WALCOTT WINS THE TS ELIOT PRIZE
We are thrilled that Derek Walcott has won the TS Eliot prize for White Egrets. The prize is awarded for the best new collection of poems published in the UK or Ireland, and the winner chosen from a field of ten highly-regarded poets. Read the full announcement on the Poetry Book Society website.
OLIVE SENIOR VISITS CAMBRIDGE
On 2 November 2010, we were delighted to welcome the distinguished poet, Olive Senior, to Cambridge. Olive, who is one of the poet advisors to the project, comes originally from Jamaica, which she still visits regularly, but now lives in Toronto, Canada. She arrived in Cambridge fresh from lecturing at the Sorbonne in Paris and teaching on an Arvon Foundation Writing Course. As well as meeting the Head of Faculty and Principal of Homerton College, Olive was able to get acquainted with some of the project team. She has been invited to give a reading at the conference in Cambridge in September 2012.