Agenda, Culture

‘Is English We Speaking’: A Reading by Jamaica’s Poet Laureate Mervyn Morris, London, 13.10.14

‘Is English We Speaking’: A Reading by Jamaica’s Poet Laureate

Plus Special Guests John Hegley and Mimi Khalvati

 On Monday 13 OCTOBER from 6.30pm

At the Conference Centre, British Library, Euston Road, London NW1

 One of the finest international contemporary poets, Mervyn Morris, recently appointed Poet Laureate of Jamaica, has also nurtured generations of outstanding Caribbean voices over decades. In London for a rare appearance, Mervyn will read the incisive poetry that characterises his work, which ranges from the personal to the political, from the local to the universal, and which has come to be seen as some of the best writing to emerge out of the Caribbean in modern times.

Mervyn Morris will be joined by John Hegley and Mimi Khalvati, two highly distinctive poets whose work challenges and engages diverse audiences in its choice of subject, language and form.



 Mervyn Morris was born in Kingston in 1937. He studied at the University College of the West Indies and, as a Rhodes Scholar, at St Edmund Hall, Oxford. From 1966 – 2002 he was on the staff of the University of the West Indies, from which he retired as Professor of Creative Writing and West Indian Literature. His books of poems include The PondShadowboxing and Examination CentreOn Holy Week and I been there, sort of: New and Selected Poems. There is a Poetry Archive CD of Mervyn Morris Reading from his Poems. He edited Selected Poems by Louise Bennett, It A Come by Michael Smith and After-image by Dennis Scott. He is the author of Is English We Speaking and Other EssaysMaking West Indian Literature and, in 2014, Miss Lou: Louise Bennett and Jamaican Culture.

John Hegley, well-known for the comedy element of his verse – a trait also evident in Morris’s witty writing – shares with both poets the power to elevate the most ordinary of subjects to another level, evoking emotions from joy to grief and everything in between. He is seen as ‘the people’s poet’ laureate for his use of everyday language which takes verse to people of all classes and ages.

Mimi Khalvati was born in Iran and brought up on the Isle of Wight; she represented Iran in the 2012 Poetry Parnassus as part of the Cultural Olympiad. She focuses on the smallest details in her work, playing on the tension between her British and Persian poetic influences; in doing so she challenges notions of form and of language itself as she moves between places and cultures.




Ticket prices: £10.00, £8.00 (over 60s), £7.00

To book, visit the British Library website at or telephone +44 (0)1937 546546 (note there will be a £1.50 booking fee for all phone bookings)

A British Library event in association with Speaking Volumes and the George Padmore Institute

Mervyn Morris will also be appearing at Bristol (10 Oct); Kingston University, Surrey (15 Oct); Norwich (16 Oct); Warwick University (21 Oct); Goldsmiths, New Cross, London (22 Oct); University of York (23 Oct); and the Tabernacle, west London (25 Oct). For more details on any of these, please


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