Finalist, Pat Lowther Memorial Award
In Shell, Olive Senior continues her ongoing investigation of the natural world, the
nature of poetry and the power of her Caribbean heritage. She is our guide through
realms of miniature elegance, those of shells in their abundant manifestations. ...
Senior gives us hen's eggs as hymns, molluscs as metaphors, shells of all kinds -
sometimes fragile, sometimes unyielding - as home, as womb, as token and as totem.
Ultimately, she places these shells, small and delicate, at the heart of the Jamaican cane
fields, revealing a history rich with culture and haunted by slavery. These are Senior's
most powerful and affirming poems to date.
[Olive Senior] is the shell of which she writes... the vessel through which the
voices of her personal and communal history speak; and she is the sea that
informs the shell and carries the voices to shores far distant from their place of
polished and gracefully shaped, but also engaging and passionate.
She writes strongly, sings clearly, revealing pain, giving context and insight.
These are poems to be read and reread, to be mulled over, and relished.
replete with lyricism and wit ...
Wit, humour, word play and the effortless fluency which have come to
characterise Senior's writing. ...are present on every page.