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Amryl Johnson Biography

(c.1948– ), Long Road to Nowhere, Tread Carefully in Paradise, Gorgons

British poet, born in Tunapuna, Trinidad; she has lived in Britain since the age of 11. She was educated at the University of Kent, became a teacher of arts education at the University of Warwick, and is a popular performance poet. Many of the poems in Long Road to Nowhere (1985) make extensive use of imagery inspired by the Trinidad Carnival. Whether politically charged, or more personal, her poems are invariably distinctive in the expression of thought and feeling. The encounter described in ‘Black Coral’ is very much about the ‘urgency of longing’, yet it also displays a strong sense of individual, and politically defined, identity. ‘The New Cargo Ship’ powerfully and ironically merges collective memories of past slavery with present-day emigration. Some of her poems also make skilled use of Creole dialect, such as the humorous ‘Peanut Vendor’. An earlier collection also entitled Long Road to Nowhere (1982) contains only one poem reprinted in the later work. Tread Carefully in Paradise (1991) collects poems from the two earlier works. Gorgons (1992) consists of poems that use the myth of the Gorgon as a unifying motif. Sequins for a Ragged Hem (1988), a prose work, describes her return to Trinidad for a visit in 1983, which she found to be a ‘haunting’ experience.

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Literature Reference: American Literature, English Literature, Classics & Modern FictionEncyclopedia of Literature: Tama Janowitz Biography to P(atrick) J(oseph Gregory) Kavanagh Biography