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The Garden of Forgetting

Published by Peepal Tree Press

ISBN: 9781845230074

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At the core of this collection are poems that chart the attempt to come to terms with the life shattering loss of two relationships: father and husband. They explore with a great exactness the connections between inner feelings and the physical context for those feelings: the Jamaican landscape, and the promptings of external phenomena to memory. They ‘sip the brine of loss: proof that I have lived’.

Though in one sense Gwyneth Barber Wood writes against the grain of much recent Jamaican poetry by writing almost exclusively in standard English (the one occasion when she uses nation language is all the more powerful by contrast) and using traditional forms of verse, her poems are intensely Jamaican. Those poems that are set in England are almost wholly defined by Jamaican absences. A London silence becomes all the more empty as the memory of ‘someone’s bashment in the valley welled/ up in my head.’ Elsewhere there is a careful attention to the quality of Jamaican light that subtly maps shifts of mood, as when the shadow of the dying day ‘creases the backs of hills’, where what has once been solid becomes fragile and subject to change.

Gwyneth Barber Wood was born in Kingston, Jamaica. Her work has been regularly appearing in the literary section of the Jamaican Observer and in 2001 she was awarded a Fellowship by the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts.
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