Ship Shape


“I was commissioned by Lancaster LitFest to write a contemporary elegy for “Samboo’s” Grave, on Sunderland Point. I felt a strong obligation to use my craft to speak for someone who could not. I experienced a rollercoaster of emotions, including anger, resentment and despair. I was determined to give him a name, I’ve called him Bilal. I explored aspects of Bilal’s voyage – from the Caribbean up, and through the North Atlantic. I hope this will offer the reader a further understanding of the life-changing impact of the Trans Atlantic slave trade.” – Dorothea Smartt

Ship Shape is published by Peepal Tree Press

Dorothea Smartt is one of only a handful of black women poets who are published in Britain today and her poetry is full of untold narratives. The poems in ship shape reveal her ventriloquist skills at capturing wildly different voices and characters. From Patois to Eighteenth Century English, all of the voices ring loud and clear. These poems are heartfelt, poignant and uncompromising with an emotional punch and rich seam of narrative power that makes you want to read on.”
Bernardine Evaristo, Writer

“Dorothea Smartt reveals a poetic intelligence and maturity of form and content which definitely locates her among the best of her generation of poets.”
Carole Boyce Davies, Cornell University

“From the “slave” who is robbed of his family names to the love that dare not speak its name, this book is a penetrating quest for identity.”
Patience Agbabi, Poet



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