Maggie Harris and Sixty Years of Loving

It’s thrilling to discover new poetry that you truly love. I ‘met’ Maggie Harris on 52, the amazing poetry community spending a year in each other’s company on Facebook. I was instantly drawn to her gorgeous writing, to the sheer exuberant rhythm and flow of it..the sort of writing I would love to be able to do. I bet you just touch her and a poem flows out of her! Listen to this,
the seedlings
their passage
from packet to womb
the lift of their breathless pin-drop heads
breaking to look at the dawn
the threads of their roots
their fragile, troubled spirits
like eels on land

Here is the start of a review written by Bethany Pope of Maggie’s latest book, Sixty Years of Loving, which came out earlier this year:
‘Maggie Harris’s latest collection is an associative love-song to the vital living pulse that thrums beneath the seemingly-smooth surface of pop-culture. The poems are largely autobiographical, tracing the life of the poet (and her family) from Guyana to the foreign shores of England and Wales.’

I love the poems for the voices you can really hear and their humming vitality. I was interested to find a review of Maggie’s Kiskadee Girl which I’ve not read and so this says what I want to say better than I can.. ‘One of the great achievements of Kiskadee Girl – and there are many – is that it sustains a vital energy from first to last page. It is there in the speech of the people of Guyana as Maggie Harris re-creates it in this autobiographical memoir of her childhood and teenage years. It is there in her naturally figurative imagination which sees ‘shame’ as a ‘traveller’ and church-goers as a ‘scatter of butterflies’ and ‘Book’ as her living companion, to take only three examples. It is there in the shifting viewpoints she adopts as she tells her story, one moment narrating her life-story, the next addressing her Daddy or confiding in the reader or invoking ‘Book’. Unfamiliar terms and beliefs – jumbie, dounze tree, go on the lime, that sorceresses are born with the caul, the power of subtle racial gradations – mingle with the familiar concerns of any child growing up. Schoolyard rhymes, remembered conversations, fragments of song lyrics, poetry, school reports, diary entries, the voices of family and neighbours, preachers and teachers, all combine to realise a past world of Guyana in the 1950s and 60s. It is a magical world where there are dreamtime visitors and premonitions of death and the mysteriously lingering smell of funeral flowers in the home. At the same time, it is an authentically recalled world of harsh realities and tender joys, as Maggie Harris imaginatively re-occupies the mind and heart and sensations of the Guyanese Potagee girl that she was.’ Derek Sellen, Poet

Take a look at her poems on my Featured Writers page and I am sure you will agree with me. Or go to www.maggieharris.co.uk

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About Rebecca Gethin

Rebecca Gethin is a poet and a novelist. Cinnamon Press published her third collection, All the Time in the World in 2017. Another pamphlet is forthcoming with Three Drops Press. Her second novel, What the horses heard, was published by Cinnamon Press in May 2014. Her second poetry collection - A Handful of Water - was published by Cinnamon in 2013. Her first - River is the Plural of Rain - was published by Oversteps Books in 2009. Her novel Liar Dice won the Cinnamon Press Novel Writing Award in 2010 and was published in 2011. She lives on Dartmoor and writes occasional pieces about wildlife and nature. Her poems appear in a variety of poetry magazines and in several anthologies.
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3 Responses to Maggie Harris and Sixty Years of Loving

  1. Thanks for this posting – must get this book. I really enjoyed Kiskadee Girl and Sixty Years of Loving sounds just up my street. Beautiful writing.

  2. Wow, you were quick, Valerie…. must tell Maggie. Thanks s much.

  3. E.E. Nobbs says:

    Wow! Two fantastic poems! It’s great to learn more about Maggie & her work.

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