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FEATURED POET
MOTHER, THE GREAT STONES GOT TO MOVE
Lorna Goodison

Mother, one stone is wedged across the hole in our history
and sealed with blood wax.
In this hole is our side of the story, exact figures,
headcounts, burial artifacts, documents, lists, maps
showing our way up through the stars; lockets of brass
containing all textures of hair clippings.
It is the half that has never been told,
and some of us must tell it.

Mother, there is the stone on the hearts of some women and men
something like an onyx, cabochon-cut,
which hung on the wearer seeds bad dreams. Speaking for the
small dreamers of this earth, plagued with nightmares, yearning
for healing dreams
we want the stone to move.

Upon an evening like this, mother, when one year is making way
for another, in a ceremony attended by a show of silver stars,
mothers see moon, milk-fed, herself a nursing mother
and we think of our children and the stones upon their future
and we want these stones to move.

For the year going out came in fat at first
but toward the harvest it grew lean,
and many mouth corners gathered white
and another kind of poison, powdered white
was brought in to replace what was green,
And death sells it with one hand
and with the other death palms a gun
then death gets death’s picture
in the paper’s asking

“where does all this death come from?”
Mother, stones are pillows
for the homeless sleep on concrete sheets.
Stone flavors soup, stone is now meat,
the hard-hearted giving our children
stones to eat.

Mother, the great stones over mankind got to move,
It’s been ten thousand years we’ve been watching them now
from various points in the universe.
From the time of our birth as points of light
in the eternal coiled workings of the cosmos.
Roll away stone of poisoned powders come
to blot out the hope of our young.
Move stones of the sacrificial lives we breed
to feed to suicide god of tribalism.
From across the pathway to mount morning
site of the rose quartz fountain
brimming anise and star water
bright fragrant for our children’s future
Mother these great stones got to move.


From:
To Us, All Flowers Are Roses, Poetry Collection by Lorna
Goodison, University of Illinois Press, USA, 1995.

SOURCE:
Geoffrey Philp Blog

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Poetry Corner

ARCHIVES
FEATURED POETS

BRAZIL

CARIBBEAN
GUYANA

UNITED STATES
JAMAICA'S FIRST
FEMALE POET LAUREATE
2017-2020
LORNA GOODISON, a
poet, artist, and educator,
was born in Kingston,
Jamaica in 1947, the
eighth of nine children in a
lower middle class family.
After completing high
school, she worked for a
year in the Jamaican
Library Services
bookmobile, travelling
extensively across the
countryside.

In 1967, she attended the
Jamaica School of Art to
pursue writing and
painting. She then studied
overseas at the Art
Students' League in New
York City. A year later, she
returned to Jamaica where
she worked in advertising,
and later began teaching
creative writing to high
school and college
students.

Goodison married a
Jamaican radio personality
in 1972, but their
marriage ended in divorce
six years later. In 1980,
the year her son was born,
she published her first
book of poetry,
Tamarind
Seed
. Three more books
followed over the next
nine years. [See the right
bar for the complete list of
her poetry collections.]

In the early 1990s, she
began teaching part of the
year at universities and
colleges in the United
States and Canada,
including the University of
Michigan, the University of
Miami, and the University
of Toronto. She later
became Professor Emerita
at the University of
Michigan, teaching English
and African and
Afro-American Studies.

Over the years, she has
won many awards for her
poetry and prose. [See
the right bar for a list of
some of her prestigious
awards.]

On becoming the second
poet laureate, the first
woman, of Jamaica,
Goodison is working to
develop and promote the
country's young poets.

It took me a long time to refer to myself as a poet. I felt that I
had to earn that right… Poetry has saved my life on more than
one occasion; it has led me to the best parts of myself. There
have been times when I found it hard to pray, but I am always
able to pray through reading and writing poetry. Poetry gave
me a structured inner life at times when I was experiencing
chaos in my outer life.

Poetry is one of the gifts we human beings have been given to
help make our lives easier, and people used to know this…  
Poetry is, as one poet said, “one person’s inside talking to
another person’s inside”. This describes that feeling you get
when you read or hear something and your reaction is, That is
exactly what I was feeling, or That is exactly what I was
thinking. When that happens, you do not feel so alone in the
world. So, for as long as we are thinking, feeling human beings
we will need poets to express people’s innermost thoughts, to
help speak for people who have no voice. Writing on behalf of
people who have no voice is something that poets must do,
especially in times and places in crisis. Real poets have to
have a sympathetic imagination, they have to have the
negative capability that John Keats spoke of, they have to be
able to imagine themselves into other people’s lives and into
situations that they themselves have not actually
experienced…

— LORNA GOODISON IN CONVERSATION WITH AUTHOR JACQUELINE
BISHOP, PUBLISHED IN THE
JAMAICA OBSERVER, MARCH 4, 2018. [PDF
File]


LORNA
GOODISON

AWARDS

Institute of Jamaica
Musgrave
Gold Medal
(1999)

Jamaica's
Order of Distinction
Outstanding
Achievements in
Literature & Poetry
(2013)

OCM Bocas Prize
for Poetry
Oracabessa
(2014)

Poet Laureate
of Jamaica
(2017-2020)

Windham-Campbell
Literature Prize
(2018)

Queen's Gold Medal
for Poetry
(2019)

Honorary Doctorate
University of Toronto
(2019)

Elected to the
American Academy
of Arts & Sciences
(2020)


PUBLICATIONS
OF POETRY

Tamarind Season
(1980)

I Am Becoming
My Mother
(1986)

Heartease
(1988)

Poems
(1989)

Selected Poems
(1992)

To Us, All Flowers
Are Roses
(1995)

Turn Thanks
(1999)

Guinea Woman
(2000)

Travelling Mercies
(2001)

Controlling the Silver
(2005)

Goldengrove
(2006)

Oracabessa
(2013)

Supplying
Salt and Light
(2013)

Collected Poems
(2017)
Jamaican Poet Laureate Lorna Goodison 2017-2020