Island Man by Grace Nichols

Notes on Island Man by Grace Nichols

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  • Created on: 19-04-11 16:15
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Island Man by Grace Nichols
Poet & Context
Grace Nichols was born near the coast of Guyana in 1950.
She worked in Guyana as a teacher and as a journalist
She moved to England in 1977, and now lives in Sussex with her partner, John Agard.
Her first book of poems won the Commonwealth Poetry prize in 1983. She has since published
several further volumes of poetry both for adults and children.
'I feel at home now both in Guyana and in England. When I'm in Guyana, or another part of the
Caribbean, I feel I belong there because I spring from that landscape, I'm still enriched by the myths
and the legends and the landscape. But I also feel at home in this culture. I embrace both.'
Ideas and emotions
Tells the story of a man from the Caribbean waking up, feeling as if he belongs in the Caribbean,
and feels homesick in the dull London environment.
Questions whether he will be able to see the beauty of, or be complete in a culture other than his
own
Structure & Rhythm
Appears to be in two main parts, separated by "groggily groggily". It is at this point he seems to
wake up properly, and realise where he is. The poet has placed this line out to the side, suggesting
that this is the moment when he properly wakes up, and the disjointed moment of realisation
No clear structure suggests the confusion he is experiencing
Last line removed from others, suggesting how in being trapped in another London day he feels
removed from himself and his identity
Language
No punctuation, which makes the poem flow, giving it a dream like quality
Enjambment from third to fourth line marks the first place where the reader realises the man is not
actually in the Caribbean, creates deliberate ambiguity
Use of present participle verbs (-ing) creates a sense that the reader is following the man through
his actions that morning.
Colours- blues and greens for island, creating image of natural beauty and with the metaphor of an
emerald gives idea of great worth.
Sibilance creates sound of sea, and then of London traffic, creating consistency throughout,
suggesting how he is gradually waking up, and realising what the sounds around him are, giving
reader sense of being in the situation with him.
Diction in word "wombing" which is a made up word, yet connotes to the comfort and safety of a
mother's womb, suggesting that this Island is a place where he is safe, without pain or fear, and
also the place which gave him life and nurtured him
In second section still see words which relate to an island, e.g. "sands", "soar", "surge" suggesting
that he is still not fully awake, and also reminds reader of the island in the first section and
encourages them to make comparisons. Could also suggest he is trying to learn to love this place,
by finding parts of his culture in it.
"his crumpled pillow waves" suggests the dreamlike idea of disorientation, and how now this image
has shrunk back into his pillow, where he will leave it for the day, until he returns to dream again.

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