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Making Images Material: Jess Cotton on recuperative works

Written by Jess Cotton for Poetry London, Autumn 2017, Issue 88 on Friday, September 1, 2017

Ramlochan's poetry is lawless, provocative and uncompromising. It is a 'reckoning', as she writes, of 'your sins in sargasso thread'. Her poems take us into the brutal daily rounds of the abortionist, the stillborn, the mixed-race child that is 'bastardising into birth', the rapist with whom she breaks bread, the clerk who is also a chantwell, and the policeman who 'smashes the lyre you were'. [...] It's a world of cold comforts, of thaumaturgy, and of women's linguistic and cultural resourcefulness in a world where there's 'You and me and the fires we used to keep each other alive' when 'you are the skinniest raft / not provided for by the government'. Presence comes in the book only in ghostly form, a ghostliness that unravels the brutality of the past and a violent masculinity... What survives in this landscape is the possibility of encounter, of intimacy that must be safeguarded against the wrestle of survival: 'anything', as Ramlochan writes, 'to keep the density of cartography from the sheets'.

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This is a review of Everyone Knows I Am a Haunting

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