About Grace Nichols

Grace’s poems are full of the sounds and stories of Guyana, the Caribbean country where she was born and grew up, often drawing on its folk tales and legends, but also the images, politics and experiences of Britain, where she’s lived since the 1970s. A wide-ranging poet, Grace has written about family and of growing up, as well as writing powerfully about what it’s like as an immigrant far away from home, having to deal with different weather and landscape as well as with racism, loneliness and the struggle to fit into a new culture.

Grace’s work is generous, warm-hearted and – as in ‘Hurricane Hits England’ – reminds us that “the earth is the earth is the earth”. She can also be playful, as in the sing-song ‘Cat-Rap’ which is all about “The meanest cat rapper you’ll ever see”.

Grace uses Creole and standard English and her poems come to life when she reads them, her lilting accent and musical reading helping to bring out her use of end rhyme and rhythm.

Grace sometimes uses rhyme but she often writes in free verse. There is lots of music in her free verse poems too, thanks in part to her use of Creole and non-standard English to help bring the natural sounds of speech to her work.

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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

Recorded on 12 October 2009 at Pier Productions, Brighton, UK. Produced by Anne Rosenfeld.

Featured in the Archive

Selected Bibliography

Lazy Thoughts of a Lazy Woman, Virago, 1989

The Fat Black Woman’s Poems, Virago, 1994

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

Sunris, Virago, 1996

Startling the Flying Fish, Virago, 2005

Everybody Got a Gift, A&C Black, 2006

I is a Long Memoried Woman, Karnak House, 1990

Picasso, I Want My Face Back, Bloodaxe, 2009

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

Awards

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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