New Books: Lorna Goodison’s “Mother Muse”

Lorna Goodison’s Mother Muse (Carcanet Press, 2021) will be out at the end of this month and is available for pre-ordering.

Description: “Lorna Goodison has come to be recognised as a hugely significant and influential contemporary author both at home and internationally,” Simon Armitage declared, when she was awarded the Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry in 2019. “Through poems rooted in her Caribbean heritage and upbringing she has created a body of enchanting, intelligent and socially aware poetry in the authentic registers of her own tongue.”

Her poems have always found voices for the voiceless and shown another side of history. Her new book zones in on two great under-regarded figures to whom Jamaican music owes a substantial debt: Sister Mary Ignatius and Anita ‘Margarita’ Mahfood. Sister Iggy, as the boys called her, ran the Alpha Boys School for wayward boys. There she mentored many of Jamaica’s most gifted musicians, including the brilliant trombonist Don Drummond. Anita ‘Margarita’ Mahfood (Mahfouz) was a strikingly beautiful dancer of Lebanese descent, who became Don Drummond’s lover. The poems in Mother Muse move boldy and range widely; here are praise songs alongside laments; notable women such as Mahalia Jackson share pages with the less well noted – women like Sandra Bland, Windrush victims and two of the last enslaved women to be set free.

Lorna Goodison was born in Jamaica, and has won numerous awards for her writing in both poetry and prose, including the Commonwealth Poetry Prize, the Musgrave Gold Medal from Jamaica, the Henry Russel Award for Exceptional Creative Work from the University of Michigan, and one of Canada’s largest literary prizes, the British Columbia National Award for Canadian Non-Fiction for From Harvey River: A Memoir of My Mother and Her People (2007). Her work has been included in the major anthologies and collections of contemporary poetry over the past twenty-five years, such as the Norton Anthology of Modern and Contemporary Poetry, the HarperCollins World Reader, the Vintage Book of Contemporary World Poetry, the Norton Anthology of World Masterpieces, and Longman Masters of British Literature.

Along with her award-winning memoir, she has published three collections of short stories (including By Love Possessed, 2011) and nine collections of poetry. Her work has been translated into many languages, and she has been a central figure at literary festivals throughout the world.

Lorna Goodison teaches at the University of Michigan, where she is the Lemuel A. Johnson Professor of English and African and Afroamerican Studies.

Lorna Goodison was appointed PoetLaureate of Jamaica on 17 May 2017 [serving] until 2020. For more information, see https://www.carcanet.co.uk/cgi-bin/indexer?product=2374 and https://www.amazon.co.uk/Mother-Muse-Lorna-Goodison/dp/1800171064

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