Jean was obviously a practiced performer and it was completely spellbinding. She started off telling us things about her life, when suddenly you would realise that it was a poem. She moved between stories and poems and songs seamlessly, creating a very intimate atmosphere, like you were chatting round her kitchen table. She was equally convincing in the voice of a young Jamaican child as being a world-weary mother, and she gave such a vivid portrayal of her cultural heritage and history. I was left with the feeling that some poetry needs to be spoken aloud and some works well on the page of a book, and this poetry needed to be performed. Her work seemed so integral to her personality I imagined it feeling a little flat as mere written words, so here she is performing one she did for us:
And just for the fun of it here is Bob Marley, singing the song that she ended with, all the audience joining in:
Her books are available here from Bloodaxe Books.