Interview with Kei Miller by Nicholas Laughlin [dead link]
Nicholas Laughlin says:
“Perhaps the most thrilling literary event I’ve ever witnessed was a poetry reading at the 2008 Calabash Literary Festival in Jamaica. The young American poet Aracelis Girmay, starting slow and quiet, ended with a delicate, rousing narrative poem, with the refrain “Love is for everybody.” Next the British poet Jackie Kay seduced the warmed-up audience–maybe five hundred people crammed into a huge tent–with her sly humour and cheeky timing. She finished to a roar of applause. Third on the bill was Kei Miller. I remember feeling awfully sorry for him, having to read after such a masterful performer as Kay. I watched Kei walk up to the stage, his head down, seeming anxious and determined. Then he looked up at the audience, began to speak, and gave what I can only imagine was the performance of a lifetime. His powerful voice was more like a preacher’s, or a prophet’s, and his words were electric, unsparing and soul-piercing music. I don’t actually remember what he read, but I remember that when he finished half the audience were on their feet screaming and the other half were in tears.
You get a sense of Kei’s charisma and the power of his voice in this podcast interview, which we recorded in July 2007, a few days after he gave a reading in Port of Spain. At that time he had two published books to his name, The Fear of Stones (short stories, shortlisted for a regional Commonwealth Writers’ Prize) and Kingdom of Empty Bellies (poems). Since then he has published a second collection of poems, There Is an Anger That Moves; his first novel, The Same Earth; and the anthology New Caribbean Poetry. All before he turned thirty!”
•••This interview is reproduced by permission from Caribbean Free Radio, a Trinidad-based podcast run by Georgia Popplewell. In this interview from July 2007, Nicholas Laughlin, editor of the Caribbean Review of Books, speaks with Jamaican writer Kei Miller about poetry, fiction, and life in the Caribbean and abroad.