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Lorna Goodison entered the world of poetry in the 1970’s.


publication of her book of poems entitled ” Tamarind Season ” in 1980 ,

guaranteed her a place in history as one of the greatest female poet to have

emerged out of the Caribbean. In addition, Goodison has managed the feat of

staying current and relevant in her issues with regards to the Caribbean

society. Lorna Goodison is uniquely Caribbean, because she explores through the

experiences embedded in her poems the different avenues which have contributed

to the Caribbean’s experiences.

The critic Ayme Almendarez states that Goodison is a Caribbean poet who

“allows for the reader to enjoy the use of the Jamaican language and images…”

Goodison lives up to Almendarez’s statement by using a dialect found in Jamaica in

some of her works. In the poems ” Fool- Fool Rose is Leaving Labour -in –Vain

Savannah” and “We are the Women” she makes use of the Jamaican dialect in

order for the Carribbean people to have a personal connection with her work.

Caribbean people can identify closely with the creole words; fool- fool fodder,

Jackass , sankey and massa in the above works mentioned respectively. In

addition, Goodison makes use of the Caribbean saying, labor in vain, when

constructing the title of “Fool-Fool Rose Leaving Labor- in -Vain Savannah.” The

verse; “sinkhole in river with rock salt and rose quartz”in the

above poem, brings to mind the imagery of the Caribbean landscape. Thus

Goodison demonstrates she is uniquely Caribbean because she is using a type of

Caribbean dialect and gives vivid descriptions of Caribbean landscape in some of

her works.

Ayme Almendaraz goes on further to state, “ many of Goodison’s

poems express a deep connection to Jamaica with all its open wounds and beauty

scars . They relate the realities of colonization and the struggles of a people.”

Goodison has demonstrated constantly that concept over and over again. In her

work “ Name Change: Morant Bay Uprising” Goodison does what Caribbean poets

do when they speak back to their former colonizers, offer a re- representation of

a misrepresentation she does this with the Morant Bay Rebellion which resulted

in the death of Paul Bogle. She is showing why :

“ for it was going to be hard to survive

if identified with the hung figure

revolving in the wind…”

Several of Goodison’s work reflect issues of social and historical matters with

regards to the Caribbean society. Through her work, she sets out to explore an era

in slavery which has damaged the psyche of the Caribbean people, thus

demonstrating that the issues she addresses are Caribbean related.

Goodison writes of selected situations, which are a part of the Caribbean’s

experiences. Through her works, such as , ‘’I am Becoming My Mother” she

explores the relationships that exist between Caribbean mothers and daughters.
Goodison demonstrates she is uniquely Caribbean by showing that daughters in the

Caribbean may follow in their mothers’ footsteps:

“ I am becoming my mother

yellow\ brown woman

fingers always smelling of onions.”

The poet incorporates Caribbean people’s ideology into some of her works. In “ I

am Becoming My Mother” she demonstrates this: ” My mother raises rare blooms

and waters them with tea…”Goodison is bringing to the forefront, old time

Caribbean people’s idea, that tea was the cure for all ills. Additionally, in “We are

the Women” she makes mention:

‘’ with threadbags anchored deep in our bossoms

containing blood agreements

silver coins and cloves of garlic

and an apocrypha

of Nanny’s secrets.”

These were Caribbean women’s ideologies when it related to the issue of protection

for themselves and their husbands. In essence, she uses some of her poems to

relate to the Caribbean people’s cultural practices and therefore, she is showing

that she is Caribbean minded. This poet often writes of the Caribbean experience

in which she speaks of the Caribbean women’s resilience in the face of adversity.

Through her works such as “ The Lace Seller” she reflects on the life of a female

vendor who can be found regularly plying her ware on a typical Caribbean street
and the adversities she faces:

“ for she lies on one thin hot sheet, bed pushed

up against the door for fear of ”kick down”

and always she sleeps lightly.”

Goodison is demonstrating she is of the Caribbean because she is endowing this

woman and by extension Caribbean women on a whole with inner strength. Usually,

Caribbean women are perceived as being weak and domestic beings by their former

colonizers and some Caribbean men.

Caribbean poets at times write about the artistry of the Caribbean’s artists

and musicians. Goodison is no different. Her work “ Jah Music “ shows that

Caribbean music is unique and once allowed to play: “ has the healing” and its

sound is “red and yellow and dark green.” Goodison also has demonstrated that

she is uniquely Caribbean, because she focuses on an aspect of Caribbean culture

which has influenced the lives of its people. In essence, Goodison writes about

issues coming out of the Caribbean in an effort to give ‘’life’’ to the Caribbean

landscape, and to establish the basis for a mother- daughter relationship between

Caribbean women, and their daughters. Additionally, she empowers Caribbean

females with strength and character. Lorna Goodison is a poetic voice coming out

of the Caribbean which seeks to sensitize the world that the Caribbean

people and their culture have survived the struggles and hardships and they are

here to stay.

Olson, K. Hubbard, J; & Almendarez A. (2005). Biography\ Criticism .

Retrieved September 15,2008 , from: http: \\ voices.cla. umn. edu\ virtual\mt-
tb.cgi\ 1929.
Name: Saneka Setram

Date: December 5, 2008.

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