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This interview is taken from PN Review 177, Volume 34 Number 1, September - October 2007.

Lorna Goodison in Conversation Vicki Bertram

This conversation was recorded at Dove Cottage, Grasmere, in July 2006, to mark the publication of Lorna Goodison 's new collection,
Goldengrove: New and Selected Poems (Carcanet, 2006), with grateful thanks to The Wordsworth Trust.

VICKI BERTRAM: The title poem in your new collection paints a vivid picture of vibrant, cultured Kingston in the early nineteenth century. It strikes a different note to the poems about New World history in your earlier work. Cassamere is a giant of a man, a ski lful fireworks impresario, liquor-blender, confectioner, dancer. The ladies al love him, he's rich enough to buy his freedom. His stature, and the elegance of the world he moves in - they're very different from many depictions of Africans under slavery.


LORNA GOODISON: Yes. That's what I intended. I came across this account from a man named W.H. Hinson in the Institute in Jamaica. It was a narrative taken down by a Jamaican historian called W. Adolphe Roberts, about how as a young boy Hinson met this man Cassamere in a village named Goldengrove in Jamaica and was so taken by the excellence of his work that he followed him to Kingston as an apprentice. After reading this account I began to think about the power of beauty and the ability to do something really well - mastery of something - and how that can prevail even in the worst circumstances. I thought too how ability ...


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