Thinking with Trees
Longlisted for the Michael Murphy Memorial Prize 2023. Winner of the Poetry Category OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature 2022. An Irish Times Best Poetry Books of 2021. A White Review Book of the Year 2021.
Jason Allen-Paisant grew up in a village in central Jamaica. 'Trees were all around,' he writes, 'we often went to the yam ground, my grandmother's cultivation plot. When I think of my childhood, I see myself entering a deep woodland with cedars and logwood all around. [...] The muscular guango trees were like beings among whom we lived.'
Now he lives in Leeds, near a forest where he goes walking. 'Here, trees represent an alternative space, a refuge from an ultra-consumerist culture...' And even as they help him recover his connections with nature, these poems are inevitably political.As Malika Booker writes, 'Allen-Paisant's poetic ruminations deceptively radicalise Wordsworth's pastoral scenic daffodils. The collection racializes contemporary ecological poetics and its power lies in Allen-Paisant's subtle destabilization of the ordinary dog walker's right to space, territory, property and leisure by positioning the colonised Black male body's complicated and unsafe reality in these spaces.'
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