Interior Image

308

Malika S Booker

Website
Years: 2011

Biography

Malika Booker is a British writer of Guyanese and Grenadian Parentage, who writes poetry, plays and solo monologues.  Her poems are widely anthologised in anthologies and journals including Bittersweet: Contemporary Black Women’s Poetry (The Women’s Press, 1998), Wasafiri; No 32 (Autumn 2000), The Penguin Anthology of New Black Writing (2000), The India International Journal (2005), and Altas: New Writing (Crossword Press, 2006).  She has been a Writer in Residence for Hampton Court Palace, Croydon Museum and The Center for Slovenian Literature as well as an Arts Council Fellow at The India International Centre in Delhi.

Malika is the founder of ‘Malika’s Kitchen,’ a writers’ collective based in London which offers weekly writers’ surgeries, and publishing opportunities in anthologies. The influential Malika’s Kitchen was established in August 2000 and is successfully supporting multicultural writers in their development of craft. She has run creative writing courses for organizations including Pembroke College, The Arvon Foundation, and is now a Creative Writing tutor at City Lit. Her collection Breadfruit was published by flippedeye in 2007, and recommended by the Poetry Book Society. She is currently working on her first full length collection and is the currently Poet in Residence at the Royal Shakespeare Company.

 

Poem

 

Overseer’s Lament

 

1

The overseer dead and he whip sprout

scarlet lilies. Whole cane fields bowed,

yea he who wield whip with skill dead,

he who hit them roped bodies wearing blindfold,

He who lash don’t miss dead.

 

He who sing, this job is too sweet, as he fleck,

bloody raindrops from blistering skin gone

causing women to raise up they red petticoats

and dance, trampling he gravesite

 

while mosquitoes refuse to suck blood

and fireflies lose their light.

 

2

He death suck earth dry: weeds run riot

in burial ground, cat whips sprout scarlet lilies,

machetes pound stone, lips drown rum,

and home made spirit.

 

He disappeared from their thoughts

in a finger click. That was one piece of no funeral

where Angie wrap that long skirt tight

so she could sway to leaves clapping

on the trees where she used to hang and swing

licks raining on her skin like scattered rice.

Oh the splek and splak of that rope!

 

Now she prays to Gods to pelt him

with hard rock, to peel he skin

from he bones, make he crawl like swine.

This day when the mosquitoes strike

and the fireflies cease to glow.

 

3

Wickedness crumple he body to dust in a finger click

Who beat drum and chant themselves into trance.

Who plant flower seed with light heart. Who talk

to Jumbie, begging them to whip he hard down there,

beat he with bamboo, make he body bear red hibiscus,

he face turn ripe tomato, make his seed dry and burn.

 

Oh now he dead life sweet like ripe cane

and children’s laughter fresh like spring water.