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6 BOOKS TO READ ON WINDRUSH DAY

Posted on June 22 2021

Today marks 73 years since the arrival of The Empire Windrush carrying around 500 migrants from the Caribbean to help re-build post war Britain. We've gathered six poetry books which take a candid look at the hardships the Windrush generation have faced, as well as celebrating their invaluable legacy.

Vignettes of idealistic young Jamaicans disembarking from the Empire Windrush in 1948, sit alongside a lament for Grenfell Tower, but Roger Robinson moves beyond indignation to uncover a shared humanity. A Portable Paradise is a feast to be carried by lovers of poetry wherever they go.

Jay Bernard's extraordinary debut Surge is a fearless exploration of the New Cross Fire of 1981, a house fire in which thirteen young black people were killed. Tracing a line from New Cross to the Grenfell fire and the recent Windrush scandal, this collection urgently demands justice: "Will anybody speak of this".

Winner of the Queen's Gold Medal, the Caribbean-British poet John Agard brings his trademark trickster wit to a world in which The Coming of the Little Green Man stands for all pesky outsiders. Which box should the little green man tick on the question of identity? Will the little green man survive as a minority of one in a multiracial London?

Hannah Lowe’s explores the journey of her Chinese-Jamaican father, nicknamed Chan, as well as Joe Harriott, the Jamaican alto saxophonist shaking up 1960s London, and a ship full of dreamers sailing from Kingston to Liverpool in 1947 on the SS Ormonde (a precursor to the more famous Empire Windrush).

Unwritten: Caribbean Poems After the First World War asks what does it mean to fight for a "mother country" that refuses to accept you as one of its own? Contemporary Caribbean and diaspora poets write into that vexed space, and explore the nature of war and humanity.

Caribbean poet Lorna Goodison's Mother Muse moves boldly and ranges widely; here are praise songs alongside laments; notable women such as Mahalia Jackson share pages with the unnamed, Windrush victims and two of the last enslaved women to be set free.

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