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Travel Light Travel Dark [Paperback]

John Agard

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Book Description

30 May 2013
John Agard, winner of the Queen's Gold Medal for Poetry 2012, has been broadening the canvas of British poetry for the past 35 years with his mischievous, satirical fables which overturn all our expectations. In this new symphonic collection, Travel Light Travel Dark, Agard casts his unique spin on the intermingling strands of British history, and leads us into metaphysical and political waters. Cross-cultural connections are played out in a variety of voices and cadences. Prospero and Caliban have a cricket match encounter, recounted in calypso-inspired rhythms, and in the long poem, Water Music of a Different Kind, the incantatory orchestration of the Atlantic's middle passage becomes a moving counterpoint to Handel's Water Music.

Travel Light Travel Dark brings a mythic dimension to the contemporary and opens with a meditation on the enigma of colour. Water often appears as a metaphoric riff within the fabric of the collection, as sugar cane tells its own story in 'Sugar Cane's Saga' and water speaks for itself in a witty debate with wine, inspired by the satirical tradition of the goliards, wandering clerics of the Middle Ages.

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Travel Light Travel Dark + Half-Caste and Other Poems (Poetry) + Alternative Anthem: Selected Poems [with DVD]
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Review

John Agard's first book since he finally won the Queen's Gold Medal for Poetry is typically cosmopolitan, with one eye on the past and the other on the present...readers - especially schoolteachers and their pupils - tend to love his work...This thought-provoking, puckish, tender book will not disappoint them. --Rory Waterman, Times Literary Supplement

Travel Light Travel Dark is a worthy successor to the wonderful Clever Backbone, full of wisdom and beauty... --Andy Croft, Morning Star

'John Agard's poetry is a wonderful affirmation of life, in a language that is as vital and joyous as we are able to craft it in the Caribbean, in spite of our history of distress.' - David Dabydeen

'A unique and energetic force in contemporary British poetry, John Agard's poems combine acute social observation, puckish wit and a riotous imagination to thrilling effect.' - Ben Wilkinson

'His poems are direct and arresting, playful, full of startling imagery, and are hilarious, passionate and erotic as often as they are political - often managing to be all these things at once. - Maura Dooley

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'A specialist in word trickery - Agard is one of our most consistent, culture-crossing spokesmen.' - Graeme Wright, Poetry Review

'One of the most eloquent contemporary poets - rich in literary and cultural allusion, yet as direct as a voice in the bus queue.' --Helen Dunmore, Observer

About the Author

Poet, performer, anthologist, John Agard was born in Guyana and came to Britain in 1977. His many books include six collections from Bloodaxe, From the Devil's Pulpit (1997), Weblines (2000), We Brits (2006), Alternative Anthem: Selected Poems (2009), Clever Backbone (2009), and Travel Light Travel Dark (2013). He is the winner of the Queen's Gold Medal for Poetry for 2012, presented to him by The Queen on 12 March 2013.

He won the Casa de las Américas Prize in 1982, a Paul Hamlyn Award in 1997, and a Cholmondeley Award in 2004. We Brits was shortlisted for the 2007 Decibel Writer of the Year Award, and he has won the Guyana Prize twice, for his From the Devil's Pulpit and Weblines.

As a touring speaker with the Commonwealth Institute, he visited nearly 2000 schools promoting Caribbean culture and poetry, and has performed on television and around the world. In 1989 he became the first Writer in Residence at London's Southbank Centre, who published A Stone's Throw from Embankment, a collection written during that residency. In 1998 he was writer-in-residence for the BBC with the Windrush project, and Bard at the Beeb, a selection of poems written during that residency, was published by BBC Learning Support. He was writer in residence at the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich in 2007.

He is popular writer for children and younger readers, with titles including Get Back Pimple (Viking), Laughter is an Egg (Puffin), Grandfather's Old Bruk-a-down Car (Red Fox), I Din Do Nuttin (Red Fox), Points of View with Professor Peekaboo (Bodley Head) and We Animals Would Like a Word with You (Bodley Head), which won a Smarties Award. Einstein, The Girl Who Hated Maths, a collection inspired by mathematics, and Hello H2O, a collection inspired by science, were published by Hodder Children's Books and illustrated by Satoshi Kitamura. Frances Lincoln Children's Books published his recent titles The Young Inferno (2008), his retelling of Dante, also illustrated by Satoshi Kitamura, which won the CLPE Poetry Award 2009, and Goldilocks on CCTV (2011). His anthology Hello New (2000), published by Orchard Books, was chosen by the Poetry Society as its Children's Poetry Bookshelf Best Anthology.

He collaborated with Bob Cattell on Butter-Finger (Frances Lincoln, 2005) and Shine On, Butter-Finger (Frances Lincoln, 2007), two cricket novels for children to which he contributed calypso cricket poems. He has also written plays. He lives with the poet Grace Nichols and family in Lewes in East Sussex, and they received the CLPE Poetry Award 2003 for their children's anthology Under the Moon and Over the Sea (Walker Books).

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