TS Eliot prize-winner Roger Robinson: ‘I want these poems to help people to practise empathy’
From a lament for the victims of Grenfell Tower to snapshots of Windrush arrivals … activist, musician and poet Roger Robinson discusses the inspiration behind his prize‑winning collection
“Since I was 19 I’ve been living in England and thinking I’d go home, but there was a point, around six years go, when I realised I’m here now: I’m black British.” So says Roger Robinson, who this week won the TS Eliot prize for A Portable Paradise, a poetry collection born of this realisation.
Furious laments for the victims of Grenfell Tower are followed by a crisp snapshot of idealistic young Jamaicans disembarking from the Empire Windrush in 1948, and a didactic sequence about the legacy of slavery today. A moody evocation of riot brewing on the south London streets sits alongside a love song to the National Health Service, which saved the life of his own prematurely born son. Continue reading...
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