©Bloodaxe Books Ltd       







TV & radio
Key reviews
Press  releases  
E-mail publicity  

Book information  
New Books  
Top Ten titles  

Poets in action  
Poetry videos  
Poetry events  

For poetry fans  
Editor's blog  
New to poetry?  

For poets  
Submitting work  

Trade information  
Trade Information  
Contact Bloodaxe  

About Bloodaxe  
Who's who  
Highgreen Arts

John Agard

Travel Light Travel Dark
By John Agard

Buy this book now from
 Or order from

Travel Light Travel Dark

Winner of the Queen's Gold Medal for Poetry, 2012

John Agard has been broadening the canvas of British poetry for the past 35 years with his mischievous, satirical fables which overturn all our expectations. And he has just received the Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry from Her Majesty the Queen. In this new symphonic collection, Travel Light Travel Dark, he casts his unique spin on the intermingling strands of British history, and leads us into metaphysical and political waters. Cross-cultural connections are played out in a variety of voices and cadences. Prospero and Caliban have a cricket match encounter, recounted in calypso-inspired rhythms, and in the long poem, Water Music of a Different Kind, the incantatory orchestration of the Atlantic's middle passage becomes a moving counterpoint to Handel's Water Music.

Travel Light Travel Dark brings a mythic dimension to the contemporary and opens with a meditation on the enigma of colour. Water often appears as a metaphoric riff within the fabric of the collection, as sugar cane tells its own story in 'Sugar Cane's Saga' and water speaks for itself in a witty debate with wine, inspired by the satirical tradition of the goliards, wandering clerics of the Middle Ages.

'John Agard's first book since he finally won the Queen's Gold Medal for Poetry is typically cosmopolitan, with one eye on the past and the other on the present...readers – especially schoolteachers and their pupils – tend to love his work... This thought-provoking, puckish, tender book will not disappoint them.' - Rory Waterman, Times Literary Supplement [on Travel Light Travel Dark]

‘John Agard’s poetry is a wonderful affirmation of life, in a language that is as vital and joyous as we are able to craft it in the Caribbean, in spite of our history of distress’ – David Dabydeen

'A unique and energetic force in contemporary British poetry, John Agard's poems combine acute social observation, puckish wit and a riotous imagination to thrilling effect' – Ben Wilkinson

‘His poems are direct and arresting, playful, full of startling imagery, and are hilarious, passionate and erotic as often as they are political – often managing to be all these things at once – Maura Dooley

‘The new poems create multiple entertaining voices, but they are also urgent fables for our time’ – Paula Burnett, Times Literary Supplement

‘A specialist in word trickery… Agard is one of our most consistent, culture-crossing spokesmen’ – Graeme Wright, Poetry Review

‘One of the most eloquent contemporary poets…rich in literary and cultural allusion, yet as direct as a voice in the bus queue’ – Helen Dunmore, Observer

JOHN AGARD: Alternative Anthem

John Agard performs his 'Alternative Anthem' with the audience at London's Soho Theatre. 'Alternative Anthem' is also the title poem of Alternative Anthem: Selected Poems (2009), a new DVD-book featuring Agard's performances at two different venues. This video is from the DVD John Agard Live! included in his Alternative Anthem: Selected Poems from Bloodaxe.

JOHN AGARD: Listen Mr Oxford don

John Agard reads his poem 'Listen Mr Oxford don', familiar to thousands of school students from the GCSE syllabus. This video is from the DVD John Agard Live! included in his Alternative Anthem: Selected Poems from Bloodaxe.

JOHN AGARD with Keith Waithe

A second excerpt from the Alternative Anthem DVD-book (2009). John Agard and fellow Guyanan Keith Waithe perform 'Flute Boy', a piece specially written by Agard for his flute maestro friend. Then Waithe accompanies Agard's performance of his poem 'Marriage of Opposites'. Finally, the third poem in this excerpt is Agard's much celebrated 'Half-caste', now on the syllabus in many English schools. This live performance by Agard and Waithe was filmed at Havant Arts Centre in 2008. This video is from the DVD John Agard Live! included in his Alternative Anthem: Selected Poems from Bloodaxe.

£9.95  paperback 
1 85224 991 9.  96pp. 2013. 

Buy this book from   Or order from

Other books by John Agard:
Alternative Anthem
Alternative Anthem (ebook)
Clever Backbone
Clever Backbone (ebook)
From the Devil's Pulpit
Travel Light Travel Dark (ebook)
We Brits