Thinking with Trees

kin'd & kin'd discuss the work of Jason Allen-Paisant

We call ourselves kin’d & kin’d, a composite eco-poet who leads poetry courses and writes collaboratively. We are hosting a short series of free online events for ONCA – field fairing – in which we investigate and celebrate diverse views and thinking about ways of making eco-poetry.

After the beautiful and brilliant reading and discussion with our first poet, Merrie Joy Williams, we are now pleased to announce that our second occasion, on 17 June, will feature poet and academic, Jason Allen-Paisant.

In our first blog post here we attempted to define the term eco-poetry in the light of the increasing awareness of the roots of extractivism, and the need to explore ways of realigning the relationship between human and non-human that are based in social justice. As Jason Allen-Paisant argues in his essay, ‘Reclaiming Time: On Blackness and Landscape’ in PN Review 257, one of the profound losses in the process of colonisation, enslavement and displacement is that of deep local knowledge practices, and with that the necessary sense of belonging that comes with knowing, being-with, the land.

Not only that, but as Marlene NourbeSe Philip has also highlighted, the ‘black outdoors’ is dangerous, threatened, in ways that are barely imagined in white thinking about occupying the non-urban environment. In Allen-Paisant’s understanding, that loss of connection with the land has damaged colonised peoples’ relationship to time itself – and it is poetry that can return ‘a sense of deep time. Poetry is a reclamation of time. Of connection, rather than reaction.’

What formal challenges does this situation create for the writing? What patterns and rhythms and structures emerge from, first, the fracture of the poet leaving his Jamaican grandparents’ farm for the town when he was five years old, combined with a political decision to write ‘against spatial enclosure’, and the poetic decision to go into the forest and simply stand and listen, to allow time with trees?

In his debut collection, Thinking with Trees, due to be published in June, Allen-Paisant has followed what he describes as ‘a Caribbean tradition of weaponising language through irony, and does so as a means of challenging social, racial and spatial boundaries.’ Please join us to discover more about these concerns and hear Dr. Allen-Paisant read from his eagerly-awaited collection – on Thursday 17 June, 6.30-7.45pm.