Poem: “People Equal by Jamaican Poet James Berry

1 Posted by - November 7, 2020 - BLACK ART & LITERATURE, LATEST POSTS, Poems

Poet James Berry is notable for using a mixture of standard English and Jamaican Patois. Berry’s writing often “explores the relationship between black and white communities and in particular, the excitement and tensions in the evolving relationship of the Caribbean immigrants with Britain and British society from the 1940s onwards.”

Born in coastal Jamaica in 1925, Berry was one of six children. His parents were subsistence farmers, and he enjoyed an early life of rural rhythms and experiences. By age ten, however, the young writer began to feel frustrated by what his village could offer.

Berry has written many books for young readers, including A Thief in the Village and Other Stories (1987), The Girls and Yanga Marshall (1987), The Future-Telling Lady and Other Stories (1991), Anancy-Spiderman (1988), Don’t Leave an Elephant to Go and Chase a Bird (1996), First Palm Trees (1997) and numerous others. In 1995, his “Song of a Blue Foot Man” was adapted and staged at the Watford Palace Theatre Theatre.

Berry was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) for services to poetry. In September 2004 he was one of fifty Black and Asian writers who have made major contributions to contemporary British literature who featured in the historic “A Great Day in London” photograph at the British Library.

People Equal

by James Berry

Some people shoot up tall.
Some hardly leave the ground at all.
Yet-people equal. Equal.

One voice is a sweet mango.
Another is a nonsugar tomato.
Yet-people equal. Equal.

Some people rush to the front.
Others hang back, feeling they can’t.
Yet-people equal. Equal.

Hammer some people, you meet a wall.
Blow hard on others, they fall.
Yet-people equal. Equal.

One person will aim at a star.
For another, a hilltop is too far.
Yet-people equal. Equal.

Some people get on with their show.
Others never get on the go.
Yet-People equal. Equal.




The Poet James Berry


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