To Sweeten Bitter by Raymond Antrobus
To Sweeten the Bitter is a collection by British Jamaican poet, Raymond Antrobus.
After the death of his father, Raymond returns to Jamaica but restless questions begin to unearth inside him (Who I am now is something I need to remember).
Upon returning to the UK Raymond travelled to Bristol, Liverpool, Hastings, Hull and around London to meditate in the places where the pain and grief of history is bigger than his own.
"Consider the name of Raymond Antrobus’ extraordinary collection of poems for a moment: To Sweeten Bitter. It’s a phrase of infinite possibility and tender worry, open and searching, wanting and volatile. And in this sense, it serves as a kind of secret refrain for us, a haunted current that charges after each line and image, each heart-fraught question (“you think you’re going / to go free?”) and tentative hope (“there is always enough time / in our lives to see / what we must see”). Here, a father laughs “you cannot love sugar and hate your sweetness” and a son reckons with all that might mean “in the scratched light” of history and the “turning / and the losing of myself.” Derek Walcott once reflected that “I have never separated the writing of poetry from prayer;” these poems— in all their urgent beauty—affirm that faith, embody it." - R.A. Villanueva