Published by Peepal Tree Press
This collected poems, prepared in honour of Ian McDonald’s 85th year, shows just why he has been one of the Caribbean’s best loved poets. Hailed as the ultimate Caribbean man, his life’s work, has included many critically acclaimed individual collections, the popular and televised novel, The Hummingbird Tree, several decades of a weekly Guyanese newspaper column that gave heart to the nation through bad times and better ones, revival of the country’s premier literary journal, Kyk over Al, support for myriad writers, dedicated administrative service to the region’s sugar industry, and manifold acts of unrecorded kindness in ministering to the suffering in Georgetown’s hospital wards.
Sustained by family and friends, warmly recorded in poems celebrating the rewards of domesticity, McDonald acknowledges a life that has been blessed in many respects, but his poems avoid any sense of comfortable self-satisfaction, written as they are with an acutely sensitive and self-reflexive awareness of inherited privilege as a white man in the Caribbean.
With jewelled gifts for both description and narration, few Caribbean poets have portrayed more splendidly the natural beauties of the region or written more empathetically of the hidden gifts of character and achievement amongst the unremarked lives of the nation’s poorest and least acknowledged. His work ranges in focus on the smallest and nearest things – an ants’ nest, a flower – to humble speculations about human purpose in the context of the infinite. His poetry has taught generations of readers to see the world around them with fresh eyes.
From the earliest work published in BIM in 1960, to a recent outpouring of poems that began in his eightieth year, this volume brings together these new poems with poems first published in Selected Poems (1975), Mercy Ward (1988), Essequibo (1992), Jaffo the Calypsonian (1994) Between Silence and Silence (2003), The Comfort of All Things (2012) and River Dancer (2016).