Tamarind and Mango Women


120 pages
ISBN 0-920813-71-2
DDC 811




Reviewed by Kenrick E.A. Moses

Kenrick E.A. Mose is an associate professor of Spanish studies at the
University of Guelph.


The thematic concerns of this young Jamaican poet fall within the
mainstream of West Indian poetic production: descriptions of local
color; expressions of African heritage and blackness; observations on
male–female relationships; political and frequently anti-imperialistic
denunciation; ruminations on the poet’s office; and more personal
themes like love and loneliness.

The poet’s stance is that of a black Jamaican woman whose concerns
extend to Africa, the West Indies, Latin America, and the Third World.
Jamaicanness is clearly present in “Sunday Songs,” a picture of
Jamaican country life, replete with cricketers, animals, food, and
insects. The picture changes to one of painful decadence in “Will the
Real Island Please Stand Up,” as the poet affirms: “still I can’t
leave / connected through birth pains / this island of tamarind and
mango.” Many of these sketches are brought to life by a combination of
significant detail, dialect, and humor. “De Country Grumbles” is one
such poem, with its telling finale: “Country life nuh joy / me
bwoy.” African drums and gods are strong presences, and Adisa reclaims
black heroism, imposing the presence of black Califia on California.
Icons of modern black history like Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela
find resonance in this volume.

Not all poems are equally successful, and sometimes there is a needless
dissonance between dialect and standard English. It is when Adisa finds
a particular voice (usually dialectal) equal to her picture, or her
emotion, that her poetry springs to life.


Adisa, Opal Palmer., “Tamarind and Mango Women,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed April 17, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/14155.