Contemporary British Poetry: Essays in Theory and Criticism

By James Acheson; Romana Huk | Go to book overview

CHAPTER TWELVE
Accent and Identity:
Women Poets of
Many Parts

C. L. Innes

The cardinal winds have brought us here,
Now battered, now buoyant, we survived.
What mattered most was getting it clear:
no longer strangers, we have arrived.

—Debjani Chatterjee, "Arrival"

For readers in England, "multicultural" poetry tends to come in anthologies; it is associated with group identities and group enterprises. Anthologies of black British poetry followed some paces behind the anthologies of African and Caribbean poetry that were produced in the 1960s and 1970s by British-based publishers such as Heinemann and Longman, chiefly with African and Caribbean educational markets in mind.But these early collections were also picked up by the few tertiary and secondary educational institutions in Britain that sought to introduce multicultural curricula, partly in response to the existence of a generation of schoolchildren of Caribbean and African descent.It was not long before some of that generation began to write poetry too, while at the same time a number of those first immigrants who had come to work or to study in Britain in the fifties accepted, even if too many white British people did not, that they had come to stay.Of these, the two best-known poets were James Berry and E. A. Markham. 1 Berry emigrated from Jamaica in 1948 and edited two influential anthologies, Bluefoot Traveller ( 1976) and News for Babylon ( 1984), before winning the prestigious National Poetry Award for his Collected Poems in 1988. Markham, who had left Montserrat in the 1950s, has written and

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