With photographs by Tehron Royes
Foreword by Kei Miller
The Verandah Poems was both a departure and a return for Jean ‘Binta’ Breeze, who left her village in Jamaica to become an internationally renowned Dub poet and storyteller. This is a book of coming home and coming to terms, of contemplation rather than contention – of mellow, musing, edgy poems drawn from the life and lives around her. It was Breeze's first new collection after Third World Girl: Selected Poems (2011), and was published on her 60th birthday.
‘Jean ‘Binta’ Breeze… emerged in the 1980s as the first female dub poet, fusing reggae rhythms and music with the spoken word… Through the use of a variety of women’s voices and contexts, Breeze’s work challenged the usual stances of the dub and performance poetry tradition. Whether on stage, record or page, she spoke for – and to – black female experience, encompassing a wide range of subjects, styles and tonalities.’ – Lyn Innes, The Guardian, paying tribute to Jean 'Binta' Breeze.
'Jean 'Binta' Breeze... was a poet who first came to prominence among Jamaica’s dub poets, but whose work quickly distinguished itself from its origins to gain a subtlety and versatility of its own. Dub poetry... was already capable of delivering powerful political messages. Breeze adopted this eagerly, but brought to it a more intimate voice that enabled her to advance feminism as well as openness about mental illness and sex...Her range included not only the polemical and the personal, but also more extended narratives and memoirs.' - The Telegraph, tribute to Jean 'Binta' Breeze
‘She stood out for the passion of her performances, the raw honesty of her personal stories and her use of Jamaica’s lyrical vernacular.’ – Katharine Q. Seelye, The New York Times, tribute to Jean 'Binta' Breeze
'The third world girl, at home for a while, sets these attractive poems in rural Jamaica. Her verandah looks out on the sea, and she goes for a swim most mornings. The collection takes us well beyond the village, the bar across the road, and the men who proposition her. The easy-going voice talks of personal development, celebrates friends and family, comments on mortality, freedom, gender and class. The poet is examining, subtly, a more or less contented return to where her life began.' – Mervyn Morris, Poet Laureate of Jamaica
‘I absolutely love Jean… the way she brings poems alive, the way she performs… She tackles the difficult, the forbidden, the taboo, the domestic ordinariness… and she is also able to really capture in a humorous and light way the heavy histories of our community, from slavery to post-colonial histories.’ – Malika Booker, introducing Jean ‘Binta’ Breeze on BBC Radio 4’s Poetry Please
‘Characteristically, Breeze’s poems are more than personal: they gather up and speak for a collective experience, often the experience of women.’ – Carol Rumens on Jean ‘Binta’ Breeze, Poem of the Week, The Guardian
‘The Verandah Poems is the latest collection from Jean “Binta” Breeze. Written following her decision to return to Jamaica, it’s a quiet and contemplative book. It describes her new life there with family and friends, her world happily circumscribed by house, verandah, beach, sky and sea …It’s a lovely collection, in which her verandah feels in places like a place of spiritual retreat, the site of memory and ghosts as well as sleepy daydreams…’ - Andy Croft, Morning Star
‘A beautiful collection of poems from Jean ‘Binta’ Breeze, The Verandah Poems is both a departure and a return for the celebrated wordsmith, who left her village in Jamaica to become an internationally renowned dub poet and storyteller.’ – The Voice
‘A major, perhaps even a great voice. For stature, Jean “Binta” Breeze invites a Caribbean comparison with Maya Angelou, except that her range is broader still. Her poetry shifts effortlessly through standard English to a native Jamaican which has no equal in its emotional depth.’ – Alexander Linklater, The Herald
‘Breeze sings of sisterhood and the private spirituality that keeps the head above water even when prejudice, and laundry, threaten to drag it down. Her work, and that of a great many other black women writers, affirms life in a way that the rest of the world might do well to emulate.’ – Tania Glyde, The Independent
Jean 'Binta' Breeze reads ‘Stranger’
Jean 'Binta' Breeze reads her poem ‘Stranger’ from her new collection The Verandah Poems, telling the story of a stranger she encounters one morning on the verandah of her mother's home in Sandy Bay, Jamaica.
Jean 'Binta' Breeze reads ‘No Ghost’
Jean 'Binta' Breeze reads her poem ‘No Ghost’ from her new collection The Verandah Poems.
Jean 'Binta' Breeze live at the Y
Third World Girl includes a free DVD featuring two live performances by Jean 'Binta' Breeze and an interview filmed by Pamela Robertson-Pearce at the Y Theatre, Leicester, in 2010. In this extract from the March event, Jean reads three poems: 'simple things', 'ordinary mawning' and 'Aid Travels with a Bomb'. With thanks to Lydia Towsey of the Lyric Lounge for organising the readings at the Y.
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