Sun | May 28, 2017

Millicent Graham launches 'The Way Home'

Published:Sunday | July 5, 2015 | 7:00 AMMel Cooke
Millicent Graham reads from her new poetry collection, ‘The Way Home’, during the official launch of the book at the National Gallery of Jamaica, downtown Kingston, last Sunday.
Dr Velma Pollard
Ana Strachan
Yashika Graham
Leonie Forbes
Jean Binta Breeze
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As she spoke at the launch of her second poetry collection, The Way Home, published by Peepal Tree, Millicent Graham noted the serendipity of the launch at the National Gallery last Sunday.

The gallery had up the exhibition Explorations 3: Seven Women Artists, Graham noting how moved she was by specific pieces. And, in addition to Graham's (which came close to the last, as is near standard for book launches), there were a number of female voices in the public presentation of The Way Home.

After host Patria-Kaye Aarons, the first of those voices was that of Dr Velma Pollard, who did an in-depth analysis of the book's content. Before that, though, Pollard congratulated Graham on her work with the Drawing Room Project, which organises writing workshops, noting her "dogged insistence" in carrying on what someone like the late Wayne Brown did in honing writers.

Pollard also reminisced on her initial encounter with Graham, asking if it was yesterday that she saw Graham reading at a Poetry Society of Jamaica last Tuesday fellowship and felt she had to speak with her to say that her talent was appreciated.

talent honed

That talent has grown and has been honed, so Pollard said "The Way Home is a personal journey." In that journey, though, Graham interacts with public issues such as history and culture, Pollard giving thanks for memory.

Pollard homed in on a number of poems from The Way Home, among them Walls and In Transit, analysing them for meaning, structure, and writing technique. "So much to say about style, but I only have 10 minutes, which is almost over," Pollard said.

When those minutes were up, Ana Strachan sang for about a tenth of that time, consoling with "baby don't cry."

One of the women who read Millicent Graham's work was also a Graham - Yashika - who delivered Reading Centre and Prayer For Morning, clasping her hands at points during the latter. Jean Binta Breeze read her Simple Things as well as a poem by Graham, noting that while the poems are about the simple things of life, they are connected to larger themes.

Graham gave thanks all around, including to those who had read her work and left her "speechless". Among the poems she read was Catadupa and, on a piece where she remembered Wayne Brown, the depth of Graham's emotions was evident in her voice. Breadfruit Tree went to her mother, who was in the audience, Graham reinforcing the connection to her home in Cassia Park, where all her memories are.

The final female voice reading Graham's work was a great one, Leonie Forbes. And in the end, male and female voices joined in Evening Time.