John has recently commenced a three month residency as poet-in-residence at the National Maritime Museum.
During this time John will explore the collection, predominantly manuscripts and archives in relation to the transatlantic slave trade within the context of his own body of work and practice. John is interested in investigating language through poetry that arrives out of cultural marginalisation and displacement as forms of expression and empowerment:
‘It was in language that the slave was perhaps most successfully imprisoned by his master, and it was in the [mis] use of it, the he perhaps most effectively rebelled.’ (Kamau Braithwaite)
A key aim of the residency is to consider different modes of interpreting personal responses and interpretations either as representations of individual identity or collective history through the poet’s engagement with the museum and different participant groups in a variety of ways. In this way, the poet’s own oral traditions engage with and respond to the museum’s collections, illustrating how different cultures collect, archive and construct history.
John Agard (born June 21, 1949) is a playwright, poet, and children's writer from Guyana, who moved to England in 1977. He worked for the Commonwealth Institute from 1978 to 1985, travelling throughout the United Kingdom as a touring reader promoting Caribbean culture to over 2000 schools.
He became the first Writer in Residence at the South Bank Centre in London and Poet in Residence at the BBC in London. He has won a total of five awards for his works, including the Paul Hamlyn Award for Poetry in 1997 and the Cholmondeley Award in 2004. Since 2005 his poetry has been featured as part of the AQA GCSE English syllabus.
John Agard lives in south-east England. His latest poetry collection, We Brits (2006), was short listed for the 2007 British Book Awards Decibel Writer of the Year award.
'His poems are direct and arresting, playful, full of startling imagery, and are hilarious, passionate and erotic as often as they are political - often managing to be all these things at once' - Maura Dooley.