In the Castle of My Skin

George Lamming, Author University of Michigan Press $17.95 (314p) ISBN 978-0-472-06468-7
Though this acclaimed Jamaican poet spent a good part of her life in the U.S., this is the first time her work has been available here. She makes it abundantly clear that her ``roots are african,'' and she might best be described as a cultural feminist: ``We are the women / with thread bags / anchored deep in our bosoms / containing blood agreements / silver coins and cloves of garlic . . . '' The poems' speakers continually seek out nature's power: birds are ``the soul's symbol''; ``Asi itra is not sure / I deserve to have / close contact with her / because she is star / and I'm only me.'' From its opening pages, we see the poet's obsession with naming--whether in the names of cities where slaves have taken root or in three poems that attempt to find names for God. Peace, both inner- and outer-directed, is a constant theme as well. There are poems for Rosa Parks and Winnie Mandela, but as the volume progresses, the concerns grow increasingly spiritual and less directly political. Goodison's use of dialect (especially in the early poems) might be a bit difficult for readers unfamiliar with the culture, but her strong sense of rhythm helps carry her message. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 03/04/1991
Release date: 03/01/1991
Paperback - 303 pages - 978-0-8052-0750-7
Hardcover - 344 pages - 978-0-472-09468-4
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