John Agard has been broadening the canvas of British poetry for the past 35 years with his mischievous, satirical fables which overturn all our expectations. In this new symphonic collection, Travel Light Travel Dark, Agard casts his unique spin on the intermingling strands of British history, and leads us into metaphysical and political waters. Cross-cultural connections are played out in a variety of voices and cadences. Prospero and Caliban have a cricket match encounter, recounted in calypso-inspired rhythms, and in the long poem, Water Music of a Different Kind, the incantatory orchestration of the Atlantic's middle passage becomes a moving counterpoint to Handel's Water Music. Travel Light Travel Dark brings a mythic dimension to the contemporary and opens with a meditation on the enigma of colour. Water often appears as a metaphoric riff within the fabric of the collection, as sugar cane tells its own story in 'Sugar Cane's Saga' and water speaks for itself in a witty debate with wine, inspired by the satirical tradition of the goliards, wandering clerics of the Middle Ages.
Poet, performer, anthologist, John Agard was born in Guyana and came to Britain in 1977. He won the Casa de las Americas Prize in 1982, and a Paul Hamlyn Award in 1997. He was writer-in-residence with the BBC in 1998, working with the Windrush Project, and writer-in-residence at the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich in 2007. His books include six collections from Bloodaxe, From the Devil's Pulpit (1997), Weblines (2000), We Brits (2006), Alternative Anthem: Selected Poems (2009), Clever Backbone (2009), and Travel Light Travel Dark (2013). His anthology Hello New (2000), published by Orchard Books, was chosen by the Poetry Society as its Children's Poetry Bookshelf Best Anthology. We Brits was shortlisted for the 2007 Decibel Writer of the Year Award. He won the CLPE Poetry Award 2009 for The Young Inferno (Frances Lincoln Children's Books, 2008). He lives in Lewes, East Sussex.