Analysis of Kei Miller’s Collection of Poetry

October 21, 2021 by Essay Writer

To understand the world alone we must learn to understand personal experience. To capture a lifetime of everyday reality in only a few words, that is what poet aims to do in their short verses and what these three artists accomplish so well. They tell very separate narratives that are quite different from one another in terms of writing style and content but with one main common ground, and that being there homes in the Caribbean. Their words express such honest emotions and give the reader a sense of the beauty and tragedy of their backgrounds.

Derek Walcott, Tanya Shirley and Kei Miller are Caribbean Poets whose words give a new narrative as to what living in the Caribbean was really like for them. For these authors, symbolic imagery is a staple in their bodies of work and helps tell a deeper more visual story. Derek Walcotts uses birds to symbolize the natural world and immortality, Kei Miller’s use of Mapping is significant to his local perspective of home, and Tanya Shirley recollects on womanhood through images of nature. All these poets share similar themes of life lived in the Caribbean and the conflicts they come by that define them as citizens.

Kei Miller’s collection of Poetry reflects on a conversation between a rastaman and a cartographer that battles the thought of gaining control of it and by mapping it. Kei Miller was born in Kingston Jamaica in 1978, having studied English at the University of the West Indies. His early life in Jamaica and conception of the Caribbean is very much evident within this collection of work. The cartographer is sent to create a map of this specific area and believes he can do so without bias or disposition. The Native Jamaican clarifys to him in depth the complexity of Jamaica’s history, the people and community alone. He explains that this town is unable to be mapped because it never stays the same. Miller reiterates this in his passage What the Map Maker Ought to Know, “On this island things fidget / Landmarks shift”. The cartographers need to map is really symbolic of settlers needs to colonize and westernize other cultures. Miller speaks of a town in the carribean that is not defined by a map but by the people, the small shops hidden in the forest or the women on the corner of the street who sells pies to passing strangers, these ideals not only define Millers home but all communities and how the people who grew up in these places have a special connection to the ground that their homes sit on. We have roots so deep that we can map out our homes better than any cartographer. “How does one map out a place that is not quite a place? How does one draw towards the heart?”. The rastaman is illustrating that Zion is not a physical place but a state of mind. Experiencing all a place has to offer and then being able to fully know it for all it is.

“You find your feet at last

straying off the marl roads the bauxite roads, the slaving

roads the marooning roads, and you would be

turning now onto the signing roads and the sweeting

roads that lift you up to such a place

as cannot be held on maps of charts, a place that does not

keep still at the end of paths. Know this,

that lions who trod don’t worry bout reaching Zion. In time

is Zion that each to the lions.”

This quote restates how we don’t find what were looking for by reading it out on a map but through work and experience. Miller similar to Walcott, uses mapping as a symbol for Caribbean life and its extensive history that seems to be forgotten be societies need to quickly westernize.

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