About Grace Nichols

Grace’s poems are full of imagination and surprise, taking in the biggest ideas – like the universe and the stars – as well as the most homely, like pets, family or school friends. A generous, witty and warm poet, Grace has written about what it was like for her growing up, as well as how it feels to be far away from home, having been born and grown up in Guyana in the Caribbean before coming to live in England.

Grace’s work can be funny, like her brilliant rap about the coldest season, ‘Lady Winter’s Rap’ but it can also be moving, like her poem about a school friend, ‘Brian’, who died when they were still very young. Grace has said that one of the jobs of a poet is to preserve the people and memories that are important to them, and she certainly does that here.

Grace’s delivery of her poems brings them to life, with her lilting accent helping to bring out her use of end rhyme as well as showing off the musical nature of some of the poems, not least the raps and other rhythms she brings to her work to make it sing.

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Grace was born in Guyana, the fifth of seven children, and grew up in a little village on the coast before moving to the city when she was eight. She worked as a journalist and began to write poetry and stories before moving to England in 1977.

She has written for adults and children, winning lots of prizes and awards and working hard to spread the reading of poetry.

Grace often uses end rhyme but she writes in free verse too, as well as writing raps and other chant-like poems. There is lots of music in her poems, thanks in part to her occasional use of Creole and non-standard English to help bring the natural sounds of speech to her writing.

Grace has been recorded twice for The Poetry Archive. The first session was recorded on 12 October 2009 at Pier Productions, Brighton, UK. Produced by Anne Rosenfeld. The second recording was made on 13th March 2019 at the Sound Designer Studio in Lewes, East Sussex.

Featured in the Archive

Selected Bibliography

Cosmic Disco, Frances Lincoln Children’s Books, 2013

Pumpkin Grumpkin (with John Agard), Walker Books, 2011

Picasso, I Want My Face Back, Bloodaxe, 2009

Under the Moon and Over the Sea, (with John Agard), Walker Books, 2007

Everybody Got a Gift, A&C Black, 2006

The Poet Cat, Bloomsbury, 2001

Startling the Flying Fish, Virago, 2005

Sunris, Virago, 1996

The Fat Black Woman’s Poems, Virago, 1994

I is a Long Memoried Woman, Karnak House, 1990

Lazy Thoughts of a Lazy Woman, Virago, 1989


1983 Commonwealth Poetry Prize

1994 Poetry Book Society Best Single Author Children's Collection

1996 The Guyana Poetry Prize

2001 Cholmondeley Award

2003 Centre for Literacy in Primary Education Poetry Award

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