Road Trip by Marvin Thompson PBS Spring Recommendation 2020
Their skin evoked Britain’s colonial past and something in me blew…
Marvin Thompson’s debut collection provides a refreshing perspective in a climate where Brexit turned tongues profane. We hear a Black British poet speaking from the Welsh countryside, but his is no ordinary poetry of place. The Welsh woodlands provide the perfect canvas for Thompson’s interrogation of heritage and identity. He writes with a wry lyricism, demonstrated by his delicious titles like: “Whilst searching for Anansi, with my mixed-race children in the Blaen Bran Community woodland”. There is vulnerability here as a son mourns for his father, and a black father grapples with the challenges of educating his mixed-race children in white Wales.
Drizzle is a recurring motif, as Thompson confronts the after-effects of empire and how our colonial legacy shapes our present and future by drizzling the poems with past and present day casualties of empire, ranging from: Jamaican maroons, to Grenfell, and Mark Duggan and a Broadwater Farm, where “rage spread like an Arab Spring”. And closer to home he asks, Will Britain learn to love my children’s melanin…
Road Trip is a beautifully crafted collection that speaks through a range of striking personas and combines the formal grace of traditional poetic forms with some wildly inventive narratives. These poems are elegiac, haunting, sardonic, and completely necessary for this new decade.