"Perhaps the most significant thing to be said about Red is that the poets in this volume burst through any constraining label with writing that throbs and pulses and seeps and flows."
Red collects poems that engage 'red', poems by Black British poets writing with the word 'red' in mind—as a kind of leap-off point, a context, a germ—the way something small, minor, or grand might spur a poem. It offers the reader the freedom to come to whatever conclusions they want to about what writing as a poet who is also Black and British might mean.
The result is a book of poets ranging from well-established and published writers to first time poets. Red does find its usual associations with blood, violence, passion, and anger. Sometimes it is linked with sensuality and sexuality. But there are surprises, when red defines a memory or mood, the quality of light in a sky, the colour of skin, the sound of a song, and much, much more. The anthology, therefore, succeeds in producing poems that seem to be first about image, and only then about whatever else fascinates the poet.
In this sense, Red is a different kind of anthology of Black British writing, and the richness of the entries, the moods, the humour, the passion, the reflection, the confessional all confirm that Black British poetry is a lively and defining force in Britain today.
Editor Kwame Dawes is a poet, novelist, playwright and critic. His work as an organiser and deliverer of poetry workshops has been hailed in many parts of the world, not least in the UK, USA and Jamaica, where he has been the Literary programmer of the Calabash International Literature Festival for the past ten years. His work as an editor received wide praise for Wheel and Come Again: An Anthology of Reggae Poetry.
Red is published by Inscribe, an imprint of Peepal Tree. The Inscribe Series Editor is Kadija Sesay.
Kwame Dawes is widely acknowledged as the foremost Caribbean poet of the post-Walcott generation. He currently holds the position of Distinguished Poet In Residence and Louise Fry Scudder Professor of Liberal Arts at the University of South Carolina.