Make Us All Islands is a powerful poetry anthology that tackles a range of issues; it’s not only about the sea, although the sea is what carries Georges through his poems. It’s about race, it’s about slavery, and it’s about loss.
Perhaps my rating of this book is a little unfair, as I generally struggle to appreciate poetry – particularly contemporary poetry. Indeed, this is probably the best collection of modern-day poems that I have had the pleasure of reading. I can’t fault the poems, themselves; it’s impossible not to appreciate the sheer beauty of Georges’ writing.
My issues with this book regard its complexity. Georges draws on a lot of social and historical contexts that are not all that easy to follow. There are a few notes explaining some things at the end of the collection, but this didn’t feel like enough to me. There is a real substance to these poems, and I believe that this is something that deserves to be discussed, whether this is through the means of an author’s introduction, or through footnotes. Poems are meant to be abstract, but, as you read these poems, it becomes increasingly obvious that Georges is referring to specific events and people. For someone like me, who doesn’t know that much about Caribbean history, I found that this distinct lack of explanations alienated me from the content of Make Us All Islands.
Having said this, I did enjoy reading this collection. If nothing else, it really is beautiful. Georges presents the sea as “a writhing mural / Of hope and history / Always carrying on”, and this is what his poetry does – it carries on, even if its history is forgotten, and even if we sometimes forget just how powerful our oceans are.
Thanks for reading! For those of you who are following my December 2018 reading challenge, this was one of the books I wanted to read before the end of the year, which means that I only have nine more books to go before I complete this challenge!
You can click here for an A-Z list of all my reviews (so far)!