01 Oct 2014
John Agard at Uppingham
John Agard is undoubtedly a national treasure: a holder of the Queen's Gold Medal for Poetry, he arrived on these shores not in the Windrush generation, but as a later settler whose deep affinity to our shared language impelled him towards the London of the 1970s.
We were at once drawn into a rich narrative of extraordinary virtuosity and breadth; at times performance poetry became sublimated into music itself as the rhythms of reggae were counterpointed by the resonances of words that rolled around the hall.
The evening was witty, thought-provoking and inspirational. Education was a strong theme and John Agard spoke with great conviction about the unique role of language to create understanding and to build bridges. Amongst the well-known poems with their funny and irreverent swipes at establishment pomposity and prejudice there were beautifully crafted children's verses and poignant homages to civil rights campaigners.
John Agard showed us that whatever our differences, language has the power to put those conflicts under a microscope and show them for the great lies they are.
Many thanks to Mr and Mrs Hallam for all their work in arranging our visit and to Mrs Marie, Mrs Anthony and Mr Davies all their help.