Daily Observer (Jamaica)

Stitch­ing To­gether Mem­o­ries: An In­ter­view with Poet Grace Ni­chols

- Entertainment · Arts · Literature · Poetry · Pablo Picasso · Walker Books

forms can in­spire each other.

For ex­am­ple, one of the pop­u­lar shows we staged was Dora vs Pi­casso. Af­ter writ­ing Pi­casso, I Want My Face Back with that se­quence of po­ems in Dora’s voice, I felt I needed to let Pi­casso have his say. So I came up with his re­sponses to Dora. We got two pro­fes­sional ac­tors who en­gage in a pas­sion­ate ex­change and this is in­ter­wo­ven with live fla­menco dance and mu­sic to com­ple­ment their in­ten­sity. We also showed images of both Dora’s photograph­y and some of Pi­casso’s paint­ings. It was a multi-arts thing. Cross­path Theatre also staged, among other things, John’s one-man show Roll Over At­lantic, a satir­i­cal look at Colum­bus (both di­rected by Mark He­witt.)

As re­gards liv­ing and work­ing to­gether, we do bounce off and in­spire each other. We are each other’s first reader and critic be­fore send­ing off a man­u­script. Nat­u­rally, we have our own pas­sion­ate likes and dis­likes and ar­gu­ments about po­etry. We are very dif­fer­ent po­ets, in a way. My sense of won­der in the nat­u­ral world in­spired by my early child­hood in the coun­try is al­ways there, while John grew up in the city. I tend to be much more se­cre­tive about my work. Some­one once asked me if we ever wrote po­ems to­gether, which I found strange, as po­etry is such a soli­tary ac­tiv­ity, com­ing as it is from your own in­tu­itive aware­ness and imag­i­na­tion. But we have col­lab­o­rated on an­tholo­gies such as A Caribbean Dozen (Walker Books) which fea­tures the work of 12 Caribbean po­ets who also write for chil­dren, with an ex­tra poet thrown in as a bonus, hence the name. We also wrote a col­lec­tion of Caribbean nurs­ery rhymes; No Hick­ory, No Dick­ory, No Dock. We each wrote 20 po­ems, ex­plor­ing nurs­ery rhyme rhythms from both the Bri­tish and Caribbean tra­di­tion, some with a play­ful twist.

Fi­nally, you make a dis­tinc­tion be­tween po­ems that are for “young read­ers” and po­ems that are not. What would you say is the dif­fer­ence in writ­ing for these two groups?

When I’m writ­ing for chil­dren, I think I’m writ­ing for the child in me.

My chil­dren’s po­ems tend to be more play­ful, but some­times a poem can cut across and equally ap­peal to both chil­dren and adults. Maybe my po­etry for younger read­ers has a more pro­nounced rhythm. I’ve writ­ten sev­eral po­ems ex­plor­ing the rap rhythm, for ex­am­ple. My ad­ven­ture with lan­guage be­gan with my mother read­ing us nurs­ery rhymes and telling us fairy tales, also hear­ing school­yard rhymes. I like to think that I bring both a sense of thought­ful­ness and fun to my work for chil­dren.

 ??  ??
 ??  ??
 ??  ??
 ??  ??

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Jamaica