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This article is taken from PN Review 254, Volume 46 Number 6, July - August 2020.

The Poetry of Kei Miller John Robert Lee
     ‘We speak to navigate ourselves
     away from dark corners and we become,
     each one of us, cartographers.’
          The Cartographer tries to map a way to Zion

Between 2005 and 2019, Kei Miller published five books of poetry beginning with Kingdom of empty bellies (Heaventree Press, 2005), one collection of short stories, three novels, one book of essays and edited one anthology, New Caribbean Poetry: an anthology (Carcanet, 2007). His Carcanet and Peepal Tree Press books and his novels, from various publishers, have won important awards including the Forward Prize, in 2014, for The Cartographer tries to map a way to Zion. No mean achievement for a writer just turning 40. While Miller is Professor of Creative Writing and Literature at universities in the United Kingdom and the United States, he is no ‘ivory-tower’ scholar. He maintains an online presence through his feisty and pointed blog Under the saltire flag: small essays about race, gender, literature and Jamaica.

The epigraph sums up the accomplishments of this Jamaican/Caribbean/World author. His prose – fiction and non-fiction – and his poetry, most recently in nearby bushes (Carcanet, 2019), do not avoid the murky ‘corners’ of life in Jamaica, racism in the UK and wider world, personal encounters with religion and gender issues. In navigating away from’ and through our contemporary world, he is redrawing our literary maps. Key contemporaries include Marlon James, Claudia Rankine, Vahni Capildeo, Dionne Brand, Ilya Kaminsky, Danez Smith. While their post-colonial, post-independence, world-literature themes are familiar ...


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