Barbados Poet Laureate Esther Phillips, Drax Hall Plantation/Barbados, Ex-slave Adam Straw Waterman (1803-1887), George Floyd (1973-2020), Poem “He Called for Momma” by Esther Phillips, Poetry Collection Witness in Stone (2021) by Esther Phillips, Slavery/Barbados/Caribbean
My Poetry Corner August 2022 features the poem “He Called for Momma” from the poetry collection Witness in Stone by Esther Phillips published by Peepal Tree Press (UK, 2021). Born in 1950 in the Caribbean island-nation of Barbados, she won a James Michener fellowship of the University of Miami where, in 1999, she earned an MFA degree in Creative Writing. Her poetry collection/thesis won the Alfred Boas Poetry Prize of the Academy of American Poets and went on to win the Frank Collymore Literary Endowment Award in 2001. In 2018, she was appointed as the country’s first Poet Laureate.
The poems in Witness in Stone [Footnote 1], Phillips’ fourth full-length poetry collection, are quiet and personal, often nostalgic in tone when honoring people who had played important roles during her childhood years growing up in the countryside. Her generosity of spirit shines through even in the poems that speak of the harsh reality of the legacy of slavery, colonialism, and postcolonialism that still looms large in the lives of Caribbean peoples.Continue reading