An extract from Anthony Joseph’s Sonnets for Albert
In his poem ‘Jogie Road’, Anthony Joseph captures one of his earliest memories of his father, with his mother in Trinidad.
British-Trinidadian poet Anthony Joseph won the 2023 TS Eliot Prize for Poetry for Sonnets for Albert, an intimate collection of poems written about his father.
As Joseph told Forward Arts Magazine the collection is an attempt to ‘unravel his mystery, to map his charisma, but mainly to collect the finite memories I had of him, to hold him in a place where I could begin to understand who he was, and who I am because of him and his absence’.
The below poem is taken from Sonnets for Albert and captures one of Joseph’s earliest memories of his father, with his mother in Trinidad.
From life, from love, in shame. The red
sawmill on Jogie Road with cedar grain
in its fibrous air. Red. The old train
track and the bridge where my mother’s rage
was bruising the dark. Her fingernails ripped
at my father’s shirt, his face.
This is blood: the way he looks away,
then down with open palms in resignation.
But memory has a curious sting. The red sawmill
was not on Jogie Road but on Silvermill.
And in the savannah there were five saman trees
which cried when cut, not six.
My father held me over his shoulder that night.
No, I was looking up from the road
Anthony Joseph will lead a poetry writing workshop, presented in partnership with Writers Victoria, on Wednesday 24 May 2023 as part of World of Words, the Wheeler Centre’s new international writers series.
Photo by Brett Walker
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