About Valerie Bloom
Family and food, storytelling and singing – these are the memories of Jamaica that are woven into Valerie’s poetry. Older people are a particularly important part of Jamaican family life because of the wisdom they have to impart. As a child, Valerie spent a lot of time with her grandmother, and remembers her in several of her poems.
Valerie Bloom writes some of her poetry in Jamaican dialect, or patois. If you don’t find it easy understand these poems when you read them on the page, you will almost certainly find it much easier when you listen! Try ‘Two Seasons’. When Valerie first came to Britain she was very struck by the weather, and this poem is about the difference between British and Jamaica seasons. Listen to the way she gives character to the verbs – ‘tease’, ‘whisper’, ‘bubble’. Some of her poems use standard English. And some use a mixture of the two.
In the Caribbean, poetry, music and dance are not seen as separate things – so a poem can also involve singing and dancing. Valerie’s poems draw on this Caribbean tradition, and many sound very musical. In fact most are written to be performed.
Valerie’s poems draw on Caribbean folk tradition, using riddles, question and answer and rap. Many have very regular rhythms and rhyme – which makes them great to perform.
Valerie Bloom was born in Jamaica, the oldest of nine children, and grew up in a small town surrounded by mountains. She began writing poetry when she was in primary school, and had soon a poem published in a national newspaper.
She became a teacher, and in 1979 she came to Britain.
Valerie is a performer as much as a writer, and loves to share her poetry with all sorts of audiences. Perhaps you can feel the enjoyment in these recordings. Her performances and workshops almost always begin with a crash course in Jamaican patois and lots of audience participation.
She is also very enthusiastic about gardening and cooking!
Valerie's recording was made on 13 February 2003 at The Audio Workshop, London and was produced by Richard Carrington.
Jaws and Claws and Things With Wings, Harper Collins, 2013
Hot Like Fire and Other Poems, Bloomsbury Children's Books , 2002