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FEATURED POET

My Mother's Blues
by British-Caribbean Poet Malika Booker

My mother knows pain
a sorrowful gospel type of pain –

a slowly losing her eyesight,
eye-drops every night pain,

a headache worrying for her children overseas,
praying for their safety pain,

a stare through each night, eyes blackening,
hope they are alright pain.

Yes, my mother knows pain.

My children don't call,
do they still love me pain,

a worrysome dying grey hair black,
children too far away pain,

a will my daughter ever have children,
she is thirty-eight now pain,

a
your womb is becoming stone sermon
for her only girl on her birthday pain.

Yes, my mother knows pain.

A what did I do wrong
bringing them up pain,

a my son has gone astray, someone put obeah
* on him
so I have to pray real hard pain,

a look how so-and-so children do so well,
I wish mine were like that pain.

Yes, my mother knows pain.

It's the house now empty
no one to cook for pain,

and I can't let go, have to let go pain,
it's a let me tell you how to bury me pain,

I want a plain box, no fancy coffin,
or I will come back and haunt you pain,

a don't have no big set of people
coming around calling it a wake pain,

it's a let me tell you who will get what
after I am gone, so you don't fight pain,

it's a don't worry I go soon be dead and gone
and then you go miss me pain.

Yes, my mother feels pain.

SOURCE: Pepper Seed by Malika Booker, published by
Peepal Tree Press, England, United Kingdom, 2013.

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MALIKA BOOKER is British-
Caribbean multi-disciplinary
artist, best known as a poet
and spoken word artist. Born in
1970 in London, UK, to
Guyanese and Grenadian
parents, she grew up in
Guyana. At eleven years, she
returned to the UK with her
parents.

She began writing and
performing poetry while
studying anthropology at
Goldsmiths, University of
London, where she also
earned her Master of Arts
degree. Rooted in storytelling,
her poetry is steeped in
anthropological research
methodology.

In 2001, Booker founded
Malika's Poetry Kitchen to
create a nourishing and
encouraging community of
writers dedicated to
developing their writing craft.

Breadfruit, her first chapbook
of poetry, came out in 2007.

Her poetry collection,
Pepper
Seed
(Peepal Tree Press,
2013), was shortlisted for the
2014 Seamus Heaney Centre
Prize and the OCM Bocas
2014 poetry prize.

Her poem "Nine Nights," first
published in
The Poetry
Review
in autumn 2016, was
shortlisted for Best Single
Poem in the 2017 Forward
Prize.

The first challenge that I had as a writer was the fact
that I believed the myth that one has to wait for
inspiration to write. I have since learnt that one needs to
have a continuous writing and reading practice and
discipline in order to be prepared and ready for the gems
when they arrive and that their arrival is down to
knowledge of your craft and adherence to a persistent
writing discipline that you have to cling to or life's
demands will erode that precious writing time.  
~ MALIKA BOOKER IN CONVERSATION WITH FARHANA SHAIKH,
AFRIDIZIAK NEWS, SEPTEMBER 28, 2011.

It is important for artists to learn their craft. This
involves writing, reading and attending classes. Always
remember that a poet is always learning. That we are
always in the act of building a community of writers, as
you learn so you teach and pass on that knowledge. It is
better to build a supportive community that nourishes
you as a writer than to be isolated in a room.
~ MALIKA BOOKER IN THE 2017 INTERVIEW WITH FORWARD ARTS
FOUNDATION.
PEPPER SEED
POETRY
COLLECTION

MALIKA BOOKER

PEEPAL TREE PRESS
UNITED KINGDOM
2013
British-Caribbean Poet Malika Booker
*o.be.ah: African in origin, it is a set or system of secret beliefs in
the use of supernatural forces to attain or defend against evil
ends... It is carried on or worked by hidden practitioners in order to
gain for their clients success, protection, or cures for mysterious
illnesses, as well as cause trouble for, or the death of an enemy.
DICTIONARY OF CARIBBEAN ENGLISH USAGE EDITED BY RICHARD ALLSOPP, THE UNIVERSITY
OF THE WEST INDIES PRESS, 2003.