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Alternative Anthem

Authors: John Agard

Published by Bloodaxe Books

ISBN: 9781852248239

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John Agard has been broadening the canvas of British poetry for the past 30 years with his mischievous, satirical fables which overturn all our expectations. Alternative Anthem is a live album of poems from books published over three decades, with a DVD of filmed highlights from recent performances. It includes poetry from:

We Brits: the Guyanese-born word magician gives an outsider-insider view of British life in poems which both challenge and cherish our peculiar culture and hallowed institutions.

Weblines: three powerful Caribbean myths of transformation - the steeldrum, the limbo dancer, and Anansi, the spider trickster god.

From the Devil’s Pulpit: a Devil’s eye view of the world, sweeping from Genesis across time.

And other books including Mangoes and Bullets and Lovelines for a Goat-Born Lady featuring some of Agard’s best-known poems, including ‘Listen Mr Oxford Don’, ‘Palm Tree King’, ‘Half-Caste’, ‘An English Girl Eats Her First Mango’.

The DVD that accompanies Alternative Anthem features films by Pamela Robertson-Pearce, the filmmaker of Bloodaxe's DVD-book In Person: 30 Poets, of two recent live performances by John Agard. These include many of his best-known poems.

"One of the most eloquent contemporary poets…rich in literary and cultural allusion, yet as direct as a voice in the bus queue."
Helen Dunmore, The Observer

"John Agard’s poetry is a wonderful affirmation of life, in a language that is as vital and joyous as we are able to craft it in the Caribbean, in spite of our history of distress."
David Dabydeen

"His poems are direct and arresting, playful, full of startling imagery, and are hilarious, passionate and erotic as often as they are political – often managing to be all these things at once."
Maura Dooley

"The new poems create multiple entertaining voices, but they are also urgent fables for our time."
Paula Burnett, Times Literary Supplement

"A specialist in word trickery… Agard is one of our most consistent, culture-crossing spokesmen."
Graeme Wright, Poetry Review

John Agard was born in Guyana and came to Britain in 1977. He won the Casa de las Américas Prize in 1982, and a Paul Hamlyn Award in 1997. He was writer-in-residence with the BBC in 1998, working with the Windrush Project, and writer-in-residence at the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich in 2007. His books include five collections from Bloodaxe, From the Devil’s Pulpit (1997), Weblines (2000), and We Brits (2006), which was shortlisted for the 2007 Decibel Writer of the Year Award; and now Alternative Anthem: Selected Poems and Clever Backbone, published simultaneously in 2009. His anthology Hello New (2000), published by Orchard Books, was chosen by the Poetry Society as its Children’s Poetry Bookshelf Best Anthology. He won the CLPE Poetry Award 2009 for The Young Inferno (Frances Lincoln Children's Books, 2008). He lives in Lewes, East Sussex.
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