“The Selected Poems of Una Marson has successfully placed Marson back in the centre of the critical discourse, after a long – far too long – period of neglect....prefaced by a helpful, thorough and judicious introduction by Donnell herself.” The Caribbean Writer
Una Marson is widely recognised as ‘the earliest female poet of significance to emerge in West Indian literature’, but whilst her role as an early feminist and a ‘first woman’ publisher, broadcaster, pan-Africanist and anti-racist features on many web pages, her poetry has received less considered critical attention.
This may be because her work is very diverse, even seemingly contradictory. She is a Jamaican poet who pioneered the articulation of gender and racial oppression, brought Jamaican vernacular voices alongside a Wordsworthian passion for nature, and ventured to give subjectivity to the powerless and marginalised. Author of Afro-blues that draw on both African-American and Jamaican speech, and of folk monologues, she also wrote devotional sonnets and love lyrics within a distinctly un-modernist tradition. Marson’s work as presented here is a complex subject, striving to answer the questions of how to write as a woman; as a black, modern, diasporic subject; for the poor and powerless.
As Donnell’s extensive selection shows, and her introduction argues, Marson’s is a significant poetic achievement.