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Grace Nichols

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Grace Nichols 'Explore the ways Grace Nichols uses 'On Receiving a Jamaican Postcard' from her book; 'Lazy Thoughts of a Lazy Woman,' to show the reader about the Caribbean, roots and imagery.' 'On Receiving a Jamaican Postcard' opens with 'Colourful native entertainers,' immediately presenting the reader with an image of local people drawing the attention of tourists. Vivid colours are presented in the majority of the stanzas that follow; it is when looking closely that they take differing meanings. The description of the sea and sky as 'blue' and 'de sand gold fuh true,' could be a beautiful description of a tropical island, or an underlying message of how the island and its natural elements are saddened as they are being exploited 'fuh de sake of de tourist industry,' as one of Jamaicas biggest exports in bauxite, a mineral found in abundance. This is far from the idyllic tropical paradise we perceive to be on a postcard, but something that is not real as the advertising couple are 'entertainers...staging a dance-prance.' ...read more.


When we hear 'limbo', we presume it is in reference to the famous dance performed in the Caribbean, but on further research, this dance originates from the ships that were used to transport slaves. The people on these ships had so little space that they were forced to 'limbo' into small spaces to create room for more slaves. When looking closely at the fifth stanza, words used, such as 'beating' and 'muscle' could also be an indication of the sub current relating to the history of slavery in the Caribbean and the power and force which was used to repress black people. Nichols has used the words 'drown' and 'back-backing', which creates an image of people, possibly slaves, back to back on a slave ship. Nichols also uses 'drown' and 'arcing' giving even more of a feeling of the sea and ships, which would coordinate with her use of onomatopoeia in the third and fourth stanzas as the rhythm and wording sounds like waves washing upon a shore. ...read more.


The description of the woman 'exposing she brown leg' could be related to the thin loin cloths that slaves were given to cover their genitals, hence the 'frilly red', and the woman; 'she a vision', the use of 'vision' is ambiguous as it can mean she looked beautiful, or she had foresight into her islands potential, which would support why she will do 'Anything fuh de sake of de tourist industry.' The poem is written in colloquial language giving it a feel of an honest account of events, rather than someone reading a post card making it easier to relate to the events it is describing, but when looking at Nichols' sub currents it is with sadness that the people of these beautiful islands are economically dependant on the tourist industry An industry that does not want to remember the true history of the islands and the suffering of many generations due to prejudice and ignorance. This poem poses the question if, apart from the law, has peoples perception changed or are we all 'staging a dance-prance?' . ...read more.

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