Ask the poet a question:


What started you writing poems?
Well I started in my Jamaican village. In my home we belonged to the Church of England and my mother was in the choir at church and we read the bible a lot and we went to Sunday School and I became very early interested in bible stories and because I was the kind of child that liked to probe and think a lot, just as I would think about the sun, the moon, the stars, the water and so on, how mysterious they are - the ways of people have always fascinated me. Jamaican culture has folk tales which we tell each other at night, so all these tales, I think helped to bring out of me that desire to write poems.

Why do you enjoy writing poems?
Poems come from your more secret mind. A poem will want to ask deeper questions, higher questions, more puzzling questions and often too more satisfying questions than the everyday obvious questions than the story of your life would tell.

How long do you take to write a poem?
Oh, it takes as long as it takes. You could have a poem hanging around you weeks, months and sometimes you even put it aside because you can't get it right the way you would like it and the way you feel it ought to be. Then you pick it up one day and suddenly you just see and it's absolutely wonderful.

Where do you write your poems?
I have a place at home here where I sit down, but already I would have thought about it, I've made notes on it. I look at the subject and look at the way I would like to approach the subject, what I'm asking the subject to tell me. I was brought up on a typewriter and I can think much more easily without having to worry about the use of the machine, so I get into the habit of sticking to that, after I've made notes by longhand in my notebook.

Can you read me one of your poems?

We're sorry but, for copyright reasons, you cannot print poem texts from this site.

Why do you use unusual sounding words in some poems?

We're sorry but, for copyright reasons, you cannot print poem texts from this site.

All Interviews
To listen to the Archive's recordings, software called Adobe Flash Player (version 10) needs to be installed on your computer and you need to enable JavaScript in your browser settings.

You can get it, free of charge, here.