INDIGO DREAMS PUBLISHING LTD

 

WILD NATURE POETRY AWARD competition now open.

Poetry

 

138 x 216mm

 

82 pages

 

£11.00 + P&P UK

 

ISBN 978-1-912876-46-4

 

PUB: 16/04/2021

 

 

ORDER HERE

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jenny Mitchell is winner of the Ware Prize, Folklore Prize, the Segora Prize, the Aryamati Prize,  the Fosseway Prize, a Bread and Roses Award and Joint Winner of the Geoff Stevens Memorial Prize.

 

She has been nominated for the Forward Prize: Best Single Poem, and her best-selling debut collection, Her Lost Language, is one of 44 Poetry Books for 2019 (Poetry Wales), and a Jhalak Prize #bookwelove recommendation.

 

Her poems have also been published in Magma, The Rialto, The Morning Star, The New European among others, as well as several anthologies. She has performed her work in Italy, France and regularly in London.

 

Map of a Plantation

 

Unfurled, the ink is bright

four corners white as lace.

Not relic of the past

directions for the future.

 

Most prominent – a boundary

serpentine. God laid down to rest.

Look closer. He has vulnerabilities –  

a gate dashed on the ground.

 

The trail leads not to fields

drawn golden as the sun.

Black bars criss-cross

to indicate a jail next to a graveyard.

 

Dots define the dead, leading to a dump

sketched to evoke a seething hill.

The chapel school is headed by a banner –

God protects the ones who kneel.

 

A treadmill like a thumbprint

challenges proportion

beside a colony of shacks.

The threat of heat in one

 

might lead to conflagration.

On towards a jagged crop

divided by pink streams. The blood

red roses in straight rows

 

point towards an ornamental garden.

Morning glories

frame a white house

guarded by an English oak.

 

This giant is the hanging tree

apt symbol of a master.

He dominates the map.

Roots creep along a path.

 

 

A Gentlewoman

 

She throws a shadow on the morning

Glories in her flower bed

 

Bends to yank the fullest life

Out of land she names as dirt

 

Places every stalk inside a swinging basket

Pall-beared on her arm

 

Smiling at this murderation as the crows stare down

Knowing she’s their kind in human form

 

As she stamps the blighted roses

Till their colours scream

 

Walks triumphant to the house

Puts the dead to stand in glass.

 

 

The Late Master

 

Some say he was a ravening bird

who feasted on the bodies of his slaves.

The truth is more prosaic – a stooped

and shuffling man, prematurely grey.

 

His clothes just never seemed to fit.

He suffered with his feet, both bunions and corns.

Sleep disturbed towards the end

he rose before the cock began to crow.

 

The nurse who cared for him laughed

there were bottles everywhere.

He wet himself at night

mattress rank with piss.

 

Some say he’s gone to hell – well, yes

if hell is six feet underground

in a small teak box. He chose that wood

because it withstands termites.

 

 

Death of a Slave

 

Church Mary tells weak legs to take her to the garden.

Her back with little strength, cricks, settles near the plants.

Flowers in her head-wrap droop – Queen Anne’s lace –  

white buds on the wedding gown she never owned, her life

strapped to the master’s bed.

 

Sunshine mimosa, over there – a dark pink patch

grows tall before her eyes, sways softly in the breeze.

She strokes the leaves so tenderly. They fold

too sensitive for any touch as she has been –

the master’s hands were hoary, rough.

 

A flight of butterflies, red flames above the lavender

fragrant and so wild. She prays for it to cover all the land –

a final gift for her six children sold.

Eyes dim, she sees this offspring up ahead.

It is not a dream. She hurries on towards them.

 

 

Imagining a Forest Made of Freedom  

 

They’re bubbling, black roots reforming

pushing at the soil. Bones misshapen

with slave labour, straighten and grow strong

ripping through the ground.

Fractures caused by beatings fuse, shape young trees

swelling to enormous trunks, fed with blood unjustly spilt.

Welts, deep-planted by a whip, design a hardy bark.

Starvation in reverse makes fertile leaves

wave, carefree at last.

 

 

Our Mother the Cartographer

 

lies down for the last time,

called a well-earned rest.

Body like a mountain range

spread across a hard-washed sheet

laid bare as the sun beams from her shape –

new delirium but not the worst.

 

She can see the father of her children –

man she knew as master –

pockmarked with his death,

float above the bed

arm raised to the ceiling –

called a dimming sky –

falling to etch scars upon her skin.

 

Here she draws us close – daughters

in the future

conjured by a fever.

Points towards the dip

between her breasts

calls it A lost place of peace.

Cups the sagging mounds.

 

These were never mine.

Forced to breed too many children.

 

Here, we have to kneel

anticipating mourning –

night has just begun.

Watch her belly rise.

Fall into a crater.

 

She heaves on her side –

flesh unsettled range.

Welts across her back are deep-kicked paths.

 

Yes, I tried to run.

Land beyond the gate belonged to him.

 

Now we start to keen

shrill as birds thrown in the air.

But she calls for quiet.

Voices settle on the floor.

As she lies back down

softly we can hear –

Trace a path until the end.

 

Map of a Plantation

 

Jenny Mitchell

WINNER of the Poetry Book Awards 2021 and chosen as a Literary Find in the Irish Independent.

 

Map of a Plantation is Jenny Mitchell’s follow up to her prize-winning debut collection Her Lost Language. The collection gives voice to contrasting characters on a Jamaican cane plantation in order to examine the widespread and ongoing impact of enslavement. These poems are both tender and uncompromising, always seeking to use the past to heal present-day legacies of a contested and emotive history. This collection contains the winner of the Segora Prize, the Aryamati Prize and the winner of a Bread and Roses Poetry Award.

 

'Map of a Plantation details the symbiotic relationship between enslaved people and enslavers - harrowing, disturbing and heart-rending. There's no hiding from the violence but there's also a 'tiny eden' flowered with love of a mother and memories of being loved.

A joy to read, this book is a spiritual parchment of pain that transforms into a wild dance of hope.'

Roy McFarlane

Poet, Playwright and Writer

 

‘The poems in this collection are a powerful evocation of the lives of people who were enslaved. With devastating clarity and precision, Jenny Mitchell lays bare the brutal, dehumanising nature of slavery and gives voice to those who have been silenced throughout history. It is only by confronting this history that we can begin to address its painful legacy of racism and inequality.’

Helen Hayes MP

 

***

 

Bread and Roses Award comments: Burden of Ownership

 

'We have become accustomed to speaking about the wealth of empire as born from the bodies of enslaved and exploited people. Burden of Ownership itemises human suffering cut by cut [and gives] us the horrible rationality of colonial power.

A chilling and acute poem.'

Fran Lock

 

 

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