Monday, December 4, 2023

Pamela Mordecai

Pamela Mordecai is a Jamaican-born poet, who migrated to Canada in 1993. She has authored eight collections of poetry, five children’s books, a novel, and a collection of short fiction. A video collection of her poetry was produced in 2015 at Memorial University, St. John’s, Newfoundland. A Fierce Green Place: New and Selected Poems appeared from New Directions in 2022.

She often writes in Jamaican Creole, particularly for her New Testament trilogy , which has been written and published in reverse order. Dionne Brand said of the first section de book of Joseph (2022), "Pamela Mordecai is a wonder, a teller and a burnisher, working the syntax, rhetorical devices and pragmatics of Jamaican language to its perfection."

The second book is de book of Mary: a performance poem (2015), and the final book de man: a performance poem, written as an eyewitness account of Christ’s crucifixion, appeared in 1995.

I met Pamela Mordecai at a literary event presented by Imago at the University of Toronto in September. She was accompanied by her friend the St. Lucian poet Jane King.

Martin Mordecai, Pamela’s husband of 54 years ― a writer, TV producer, civil servant, and diplomat ― passed away in 2021. Pamela Mordecai now lives in Toronto.

The following poem was recently reprinted in the Humber Literary Review and comes from de book of Mary.

Archangel Explains

Archangel, him smile wide, take a next
sip, give out, “Do not fret, holy one.
For de Spirit shall seize you. De power
of De-One-Who-Run-Things take you in.
Too besides, dem will call de pikni
you going bear ‘Son of God’.
El Shaddai going give him David throne
for David is him forefather long time aback.
And him going reign over de tribe
of Jacob for all time to come,
and him kingdom going last forever.
It never going end.
Not just dat. Hear dis news!
Your cousin Eliza who bad mind
people take to make sport and call mule
she making baby too – gone six month

already never mind she well old,
for Jehovah, him do what him please.”
As for whether is El Shaddai send
me to you, if you think to yourself,
you will know if is so.

Posted with permission of the poet.

This post was first suggested by my friend Burl Horniachek.

Entry written by D.S. Martin. He is the author of five poetry collections including Angelicus (2021, Cascade) ― a book of poems written from the point-of-view of angels. His books are available through Wipf & Stock.