in nearby bushes- an all too familiar refrain in jamaica.
Updated: Sep 30
Growing up in Jamaica sounds like the ultimate vacation to a lot of outsiders, and on many levels it most certainly is. But my beautiful island also has dark and sinister undertones, areas, and persons. Nonetheless, my love and devotion for my island is paramount in my mind, behaviour and evocation.
In Kei Miller's 'in nearby bushes', he has taken a phrase that is embedded in every Jamaican's psyche, especially if you have watched any news coverage of a shootout or manhunt being carried out by our police force: ...and he ran off into nearby bushes..., ...the suspect escaped into nearby bushes... and so on.
Miller is one of the most prolific and talented writers I have ever come across. His experiences and spirit definitely leave an imprint on his work and it is crystal clear to all who read and know his works. With this collection of poems, one is hit immediately with the gravity of the subject that will be explored within each poem and we are not disappointed. Because as a native Jamaican to which this phrase 'in nearby bushes' has resonant and disturbing meanings, the mind and heart are instantly alert and engaged.
He speaks with a voice that commands you see the island, what she gives, takes, what she bears and bares. See the hidden things, the exposed things, the things taken for granted: her beauty, strength, lushness, fertility, barrenness, and ecological diversity. She is an island with secrets, keeps secrets, is secret. An island that entices, excites, and soothes.
I love the way Miller constructs his poems and poetry, they instruct, inform, evoke. They make the reader pay attention, read and reread, take a trip through time and space; they ask the reader to question the imagery, the name, the place, the experience. Each poem makes the reader see that no matter how much we think we know Place, understand Place, there will still be more Places to define, uncover, know.