Tue | Jan 26, 2021

Meeting Ground – Part IV - Poetry Collaboration between Jamaica and Puerto Rico

Published:Sunday | January 5, 2020 | 12:00 AM

In this the fourth and last instalment of the Jamaica/Puerto Rico Christmas Poetry collaboration, we experience the side of the holidays that would not make the Hallmark movie Christmas list; the side we try to forget at this time of year, but a side that is always with us ––the reality of murders, helplessness and guilt, for example, of which Jamaican poet Tricia Wint Allen writes – Ann-Margaret


Unlike traditional poems written in lines and stanzas, Xavier Valcárcel’s experimental, unpunctuated prose poem “43” flows on like the relentless barrage of words that we encounter each day in advertising, social media, television, and the news. To understand the technique of the poem, a reader could think of it as similar to Jamaican dub-music, in which several sound samples can be cut and spliced together to make a song.

Or one could compare the prose poem to the experience of flipping television channels or scrolling web pages on our cellphones while reading snippets of words from each link. His collage poem splices together bits and fragments of language that he has taken from advertising, local Puerto Rican news, and international news to show how Christmas is a season in which our colonised territory and its people are bombarded by the ceaseless rhetoric and pressures of capitalism and violence – Loretta



Christmas Past


Last night in hospital

Amid the smell of sanitised air


I saw you among angels,

a roaming shadow.


Not you George, once alive with that smile

brighter than Christmas lights.


Not you George with that smell

sweeter than Christmas rum cake.


I saw, among angels,

your roaming shadow


muted like that Christmas Eve night

they dragged you from that party


on Hip Strip – swallowed screams

in the cup of their hands


threw you in a car,

tied a scandal bag over your head.


I knew then who they were

should have screamed but didn’t.


Fear kept me huddled in a corner

brought me back to my babyfather’s hut of a house


where I washed your blood from his clothes

on Christmas morning.


On New Year’s afternoon

your family found your corpse


abandoned amid bush and bamboo –

your face half-eaten by John crows


Yet, here you are in my memories.

Here your shadow roams in my room


at the hospital, as the doctors

scramble to save me.


I smell your accusation

like a whiff of sea salt and sweat


and marijuana at the party

where I last saw you.


– Tricia Wint-Allen (Jamaica)



Check it out sunday december 4 salsa has been reborn the citizens’ complaint today a development behind the back of the community mandates fast and easy as if at spear point a sam’s club coming soon near you with police surveillance with the most powerful internet with no tricks with an automatic discount of $50 live your multiscreen christmas i’m not searching for anything i want to be calm what i searched for i searched for in baseball it’s important general electric versus cholesterol buy two invisible pairs of eyeglasses for $199 bifocals included versus drug trafficking note of clarification we regret the inconvenience this could have caused thanks for buying in the process of the definition of status male and female infertility is worrisome in this decade according to the honourable luis fortuño the best cemeteries of puerto rico now have a new owner looking to shake up the voter’s conscience three options a sonata this year yield energy savings durability trust and comfort for many many years for more information call the first mandarin chinese national interscholastic competition lancome paris choose between warm or cool shades we suggest visionnaire lr 2412 4% ralph lauren polo blue as written by manuel zeno gandia in la charca thanks puerto rico cut out this coupon of client appreciation and visit us yesterday a car-to-car shoot out in the middle of the expressway 3 hour traffic jam 6 impacts an individual a corpse we buy gold sterling silver the wave of violence in the country has claimed up to 1056 a million dollar cargo is seized it’s accepted that it’s not a priority to monitor coastlines four murders between friday night and yesterday morning a homeless person was killed it’s imminent explanatory note sudden warning the price of the 7 night 8 day excursion at the barceló palace deluxe hotel should read $879 instead of $789 please forgive any inconvenience against type two diabetes it doesn’t matter how much you deal with your blood sugar level numbers they can be a public auction ensure your retirement circumcision lowers the risk of becoming infected zero new infections please give love live to the fullest call now and carry it away as excess inventory jayuya students the most intelligent islamic students overtake the british embassy in tehran by force american airlines in bankruptcy vladimir putin is elected while the pakistani government retaliates after nato aircrafts killed 24 by mistake and come get a 50% discount until tomorrow the electricity bill will go down or at least the image of these seven days that thanks to a study where are the children? a man from ohio has become obsessed with visions of an impending natural cataclysm and must build a shelter so that he becomes a marginal figure the most wanted the luck within sustainability open your heart the burning bowl dance for a healthy life another woman murdered in naranjito the man was murdered in the middle of the waiting room of the municipal unemployment office 4 wounded this way the origin of things us in animated cartoons what is the world coming to drink wine use small wallets socialise with your pet make it adapt like clay explain creole to your family a columnist’s profile the poetry’s dialogue its saliva today its smooth formula for sensitive teeth helps to reduce gingivitis provides fresh breath reduces plaque significantly 52 tremors in an early morning buy a lexus without everyday fear what we have here is a city in the narcos’ bubble an accusatory and negligent raft save a manatee send your donation sponsor a coral and we’ll put a card with your name play the lottery call your mental health provider visit the yves saint laurent counter on the second floor of puerto rico’s crafts fair Bermuda Triangle how long will you wait to change? our heart will thank you call for a healthy coexistence get an incredible velocity starting at only $64.99 a month.

– Xavier Valcárcel (Puerto Rico) – (translated from Spanish by Maria Grau Perejoan and Loretta Collins Klobah; poem originally published in Restos de lumbre y despedida, 2012)


About the editors and translators:

Ann-Margaret Lim is a poet who has published two critically acclaimed poetry books – The Festival of Wild Orchid and Kingston Buttercup. Loretta Collins Klobah is a poet, translator, and professor of Caribbean Literature at the University of Puerto Rico in San Juan. Maria Grau Perejoan is a lecturer at The University of the Balearic Islands in Mallorca (Spain) and a literary translator, specialising in Caribbean literature.