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Grace Nichols Biography

(1950– ), I Is a Long-Memoried Woman, The Fat Black Woman's Poems

Literature Reference: American Literature, English Literature, Classics & Modern FictionEncyclopedia of Literature: New from Tartary to Frank O'connor

Guyanese poet, born in Georgetown, where she was educated at the University of Guyana. After working as a schoolteacher and journalist, she emigrated to Britain in 1977. I Is a Long-Memoried Woman (1983), her first collection of poetry, for which she received the Commonwealth Poetry Prize, formed a cycle of poems surveying the oppressed history of Caribbean women and celebrating their capacity for survival. The purposeful humour which emerges as a characteristic of her work in The Fat Black Woman's Poems (1984) is integral to the wide-ranging poetic commentaries on the contemporary culture of the Caribbean in Lazy Thoughts of a Lazy Woman (1989). Her verse, which uses both Jamaican patois and Standard English, is rich in subtly musical qualities of rhythm and rhyme. Among her other works is the novel Whole of a Morning Sky (1989), which draws on her childhood memories of growing political turmoil in Guyana from the late 1950s onwards. She has also published numerous stories for children, including Give Yourself a Hug (1994), and edited several anthologies of verse.

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