Grace Nichols interviews, reviews and poem features

Grace Nichols interviews, reviews and poem features


'Over the past four decades, Grace has been an original, pioneering voice in the British poetry scene...Above all, Grace Nichols has been a beacon for black women poets in this country, staying true to her linguistic coordinates and poetic sensibilities, and offering a means of ex-pression that has offered inspiration and encouragement to many. She is a moving elegist, and a poet of conciliation and constructive dialogue between cultures, but also a voice of questioning dissent when the occasion demands.' - Simon Armitage, Poet Laureate, on behalf of The Queen's Gold Medal for Poetry Committee


In Passport to Here and There Grace Nichols traces a journey that moves from the coastal memories of a Guyana childhood to life in Britain and her adoptive Sussex landscape.  This is her ninth collection of adult poems and her fourth book with Bloodaxe, and makes a significant contribution both to Caribbean and to British poetry.  The collection was published by Bloodaxe in 2020 and is a Poetry Book Society Special Commendation.

Grace Nichols was awarded The Queen's Gold Medal for Poetry for 2021. She was presented with the award by The Queen in March 2022 at a ceremony at Windsor Castle. More on this story here.



The poem 'Bourda' from Passport to Here and There is featured in a special set of Poems on the Underground posters marking the 75th anniversary of the arrival of the HMT Empire Windrush.  The posters will be displayed in selected London Underground and Overground trains for four weeks from 19 June 2023. See Grace Nichols' poster here.

Fellow Bloodaxe poets John Agard, Benjamin Zephaniah and the late James Berry also have poems featured on these Windrush 75 posters.  View them all on the Poems on the Underground website here.



Letters to a Young Woman Poet, BBC Radio 4, Sunday 9 October 2022, 4.30pm (repeated Saturday 15 October, 11.30pm)

Penelope Shuttle and Grace Nichols joined Welsh poet Gillian Clarke for Letters to a Young Woman Poet, a beautiful Radio 4 feature about creativity broadcast on 9 October.  Their thoughts and poetry were woven together with music.

Grace read her poems ‘Confirmation’ (Passport to Here and There), ‘Invitation’ (I Have Crossed n Ocean: Selected Poems) and ‘Moon-Mothers’ (The Insomnia Poems).  Penelope Shuttle read her poems ‘Ashes, Blood’ and ‘Mother and Child’ (Unsent: New & Selected Poems).

‘In ‘Letters to a Young Woman Poet’ - three of our most celebrated poets: Gillian Clarke, Penelope Shuttle and Grace Nichols, explore the deep pleasure of writing, the poetry of menstruation, sensuality and motherhood, and offer advice to younger writers - in a programme which includes the creative insights of the Bohemian poet Rainer Maria Rilke – who began the iconic correspondence known as ‘Letters to a Young Poet’ 120 years ago.  With quotations from 'Letters to a Young Poet' trans. M.D.Herter Norton’

Grace reads ‘Confirmation’ at 9:38, ‘Invitation’ from 15:36 and ‘Moon-Mothers’ at 24:52. Penelope reads ‘Ashes, Eggs’ at 11:10 and ‘Mother and Child’ from 20:56.

The programme will remain available to listen to via BBC Sounds. Listen here.


Pick of the Week, BBC Radio 4, Sunday 16 October 2022, 6.15pm

Clips from Benjamin Zephaniah’s ‘terrific interview’ with Ian McMillan on The Verb and Clare Shaw’s The Essay on Vaughan Williams, both from BBC Radio 3, were chosen by radio producer Geoff Bird for his Pick of the Week on 16 October.  He also chose the ‘spare, simple and immensely rewarding gem’, the Radio 4 feature Letters to a Young Woman Poet with poets Penelope Shuttle, Grace Nichols and Gillian Clarke, and played a clip from one of the segments with the latter.

Letters to a Young Woman Poet with Penelope Shuttle and Grace Nichols is introduced at 7:35, Clare Shaw at 11:03, and Benjamin Zephaniah features from 30:50, opening with a clip of him reading ‘Dis Poetry’.

Available until 6 pm on 17 November 2022. Listen here.



The Verb, BBC Radio 3, Friday 27 May 2022, 10pm

Grace Nichols was one of Ian McMillan's guests on a very special and moving edition of BBC Radio 3's The Verb recorded at The Queen's Library, Windsor Castle.  Ian was also joined by Royal Librarian, Stella Panayotova, and poets Simon Armitage and Theresa Lola.

Grace read two poems from her ninth collection Passport to Here and There and spoke of 'the life-journey' poetry has taken her on.  She read (and sang) her poem ‘Picture My Father’, and later read her poem ‘Tea with Demerara Sugar’. She was asked to sign a copy of her book for the Windsor Castle Library.  She spoke about how ‘honoured, delighted and humbled’ she was to be awarded the Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry, and joining the illustrious group of poets who had previously been awarded the medal, including John Agard and Imtiaz Dharker.  Poet Laureate Simon Armitage, who chairs the Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry Committee, spoke about why Grace had been chosen as the 2021 recipient of the Medal.

‘Ian McMillan visits the Queen's Library at Windsor Castle. We explore rare gems in the collection, and Poet Laureate Simon Armitage performs a new work written for the occasion. We are also joined by Grace Nichols, recipient of the Queen's Gold Medal for Poetry in 2021 and the Young People's Laureate for London, Theresa Lola, linking verse past and present in an intimate setting with an astonishing history.’

Listen here:
(Grace features from 21:06.)

This wonderful programme was featured in The Telegraph's 'Week in Radio' column, illustrated with a photo of Grace being presented with The Queen's Gold Medal for Poetry 2021 in March of this year.

‘Of course, this being radio, the spoken word also crackled and fizzed.  Guyana-born Grace Nichols, winner of the 2021 Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry, spoke of the life-journey poetry has taken her on, and read from her brilliantly incisive ‘Tea with Demerara Sugar' (‘I’ve given up trying to give you up…’).’ – Gerard O’Donovan, The Daily Telegraph (The Week in Radio)

In print on 1 June 2022, and online in full by subscription via the link below.



'If I Were to Meet' from Passport to Here and There was Carol Rumens's Poem of the Week on The Guardian website on 27 July 2020. Read her column here.

Bookanista marked publication day, 25 June 2020, by featuring the preface and final poem from Passport to Here and There on their website.  Read here.



Grace Nichols was one of six 'leading Black British' poets interviewed for The Observer of 28 June 2020.

Read via The Guardian website here. Cover story for The New Review section.



Grace Nichols’ new collection Passport to Here and There was reviewed in the best recent poetry round-up in The Guardian of 6 June 2020. 

‘Another collection that sifts lived experience for personal truths is Grace Nichols’s Passport to Here and There. Nichols is known for her social commentary, a key voice in the literary interchange between the Caribbean and the UK. This new book contains poems that capture a conflicted view of an adopted England… These warmly nostalgic but undeceived works are, by her own reckoning, attempts to “preserve experiences, people and places in an effort to save them from time’s erasure”.’ – Ben Wilkinson, The Guardian

Read the full review on The Guardian's website here.

'Grace Nichols' beautiful new collection Passport to Here and There is a kind of autobiography in verse.' - Andy Croft, Morning Star.   The full review can be seen here.



Books to make you fall in love with poetry

i-D, Books to read in 2020, online 14 January 2020

Grace Nichols’ forthcoming collection Passport to Here and There was included in the 'Books to make you fall in love with poetry' section of i-D’s ‘Every new book you need to read in 2020’ feature.  The section was illustrated with an Instagram post of Grace’s poem ‘Wherever I Hang’ from her 2010 retrospective I Have Crossed n Ocean: Selected Poems.  Grace Nichols’ most recent title at that time was her 2017 collection The Insomnia Poems.

‘Unquestionably one of our most important living poets, Grace Nichols returns with her ninth collection of poems about a childhood in Guyana and move to Britain. With wit and warmth, Nichols delves into the what is lost and gained by being between places.’ - Katie Goh, i-D (Books to read in 2020), on Passport to Here and There

Read via i-D's website here.

[06 June 2020]

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