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WHITE, Landeg

For Captain Stedman

Paperback

090529145X

Original Cover Price:

7.95

Drysdale,-Between-Dryden-&-04

FOR CAPTAIN STEDMAN
Poems by Landeg White

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Landeg White was born in 1940 in South Wales and grew up in Glasgow and on Merseyside. Since 1964 he has lived and worked in Trinidad, Malawi, Sierra Leone and Zambia. He has published books on V. S. Naipaul and on the modern history of Mozambique and his poems have appeared in Outposts, English, Poetry Wales and Thames Poetry. In 1969 he won an Eric Gregory Award. He has also been a research fellow at the university of York where he wrote the history of a village in Malawi and a study of southern African praise-poetry. This is his first book of poems.

Captain John Stedman of the title poem served in the Scots Brigade under the Dutch in Surinam during the slave revolts of 1773-8. Joanna (cover picture) whom he married was a slave on the Fauconberg sugar estate. He could not afford to buy her freedom and suffered the agony of her public auction and of seeing their son born into slavery. His Narrative of a Five Years’ Expedition against the Revolted Negroes of Surinam, with sketches by the author engraved by William Blake, is a neglected classic – neglected partly because Surinam is small and poor and unimportant but also because Stedman had been unfortunate in his editors who have viewed the affair with Joanna as an indiscretion rather than as the centre to which all his metaphors constantly return.

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Mozambique, Flying

Trees rise alone from the pools
of their own shadows and clouds
float above their shadows, the jet’s
toy shadow drifting through them
like a ghost.

They exist rock and thornscrub,
the sepia dustscape, trees
parched and nervous, and a huge sky
drained pale, the jet
a silver hornet;

but at cloudheight with the one
road a winding scribble
I could wipe off with my sleeve,
it is hard to remember
what one knows,

or to guess at bombed villages,
bodies unburied, festering
unburied. Untenanted, like clouds,
our scything shadow merges
with shadows.

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FOR CAPTAIN STEDMAN
Price 7.95 per copy post free (5.30 post free to Associate Members)
Cover illustration: ‘Joanna’
Publication: 1983 (64 pages laminated paperback)