Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences

Radio documentary by Brookes Lecturer explores poetry of James Berry OBE

Monday, 23 March 2015


A radio documentary, A Story I Am In, by Hannah Lowe, MA Creative Writing Teaching Fellow at Oxford Brookes, explores the poetry of James Berry OBE who came to the UK from Jamaica in 1948.

In the documentary Hannah Lowe, herself of part-Jamaican origin, examines how James Berry’s poems look to his childhood in rural Jamaica and reflect on the shock of an England that didn’t always know how to accept him.

Berry started to write about his experiences and came to play a key role in bringing Caribbean voices into British poetry, editing two seminal anthologies, Bluefoot Traveller and News for Babylon. Now just turned 90, he is slipping into the hidden depths of Alzheimer's Disease but, as A Story I Am In shows, he is aware of the people and nature around him.

Fellow poets John Agard, Grace Nichols and Linton Kwesi Johnson explain how Berry's work and the man himself came to have such a strong influence on them, while Hannah Lowe finds that the poems have helped her trace her own father's journey from Jamaica to London.'

Hannah was also recently filmed for BBC2's Poetry Between the Lines: The Romantics, speaking about Percy Shelley's "Ozymandias", and Mary Shelley's Frankenstein.