I will never know why I keep repeating (to anyone who will listen) “I am not a poetry person.” To steal Burning Spear’s words about Christopher Columbus (recently quoted marvelously by Carolyn Cooper in a different context), I am a “damn blasted liar.” I realize that I have always read poetry, I have always enjoyed it—and I have even (thanks to Miss Burroughs, my fourth-grade teacher) memorized a few poems. I guess I love it. . . As I sipped my morning coffee this morning, I could not help it; I found myself, once again, enjoying poetry. I read and re-read (and will continue to read) Joan Anim-Addo’s Janie: Cricketing Lady with Carnival and Hurricane Poems (first published in 2006). Perhaps because memories of more recent hurricanes (like Irma and Maria) are once again fresh on my mind as I prepare to visit my beloved island and mother, the poems I am savoring the most (remember: with my morning coffee) are the ones in the section entitled “My Mother’s House: After the Hurricane Passed.” Of course, I LOVE the “Janie: Cricketing Lady” pieces (some of which I teach in my Caribbean literature courses) and every single “Carnival” poem!—but today, the poems occupying my thoughts the most are “Her Roof is the Heavens,” “Wet Batteries,” “His House,” and “Hammer.” I leave our friends with a brief description of the book below and the promise that I will never again say “I am not a poetry person.”
Description (Goldsmiths—University of London): Inventive in its deployment of language, form and vision, JANIE CRICKETING LADY traces the journey of an anomalous sportswoman and accompanies her migration from the Caribbean to Britain and her return to her island home, Grenada. The poems explore questions of womanhood in spatial, temporal and sporting contexts. In a powerful tribute to a small island feminist, the poems sing of struggles within and against her assigned role. Anim-Addo’s poetry inscribes an all-too-needed herstory. In the process, a fresh and challenging icon is presented, that of the Caribbean woman cricketer: “And how she lashed that red leather, / punching the ball off the offside, / gravitating to her knees to make a sweep / and place the ball sweet between fielders.”
Joan Anim-Addo was born in Grenada. She is currently Head of the Caribbean Centre and lecturers within the English Department, Goldsmiths, University of London and Chair of the Caribbean Women Writers Alliance (CWWA) and founder-editor of Mango Season, the journal on Caribbean Women’s writing.