by Hannah Lowe
Next Generation poet Hannah Lowe blends a cycle of poems with personal and historical archives to chart the 1947 journey of SS Ormonde, the first post-WW2 ship (followed within a year by the Almanzora and the more famous Empire Windrush) to carry significant numbers of immigrants from Jamaica to the UK. On board was the poet’s father; his daughter writes poignantly of his and his fellow passengers’ hopes and aspirations, and the issues they faced.
Alongside poems written in voices ranging from a stowaway to a dressmaker to a schoolboy, are fragments of historical material giving real-life clues to this elusive episode. Designed to echo the look the ship’s post-war literature, the front cover features a sticker of an Ormonde postcard. An essay by the author discusses her quest to find out more about this forgotten liner, while an introduction by historian Mike Phillips puts Lowe’s story into the wider context of black British immigration.
Praise for Ormonde
“A daughter’s seemingly small quest spools imaginatively into the much larger story of migration to Britain before the SS Windrush. In this feat of reconstruction, Hannah Lowe repositions the long-forgotten journey of the Ormonde into the historic moment. A brave poetic feat and a tender, enlightening visual feast that opens up both the mind and the imagination.” Olive Senior, poet and author of Dying to Better Themselves: West Indians in the Building of the Panama Canal
“Hannah Lowe has pulled off a remarkable feat in Ormonde. She has conjured a forgotten and disappearing world. Lowe has used her pen as an archaeologist’s tool to unearth and reimagine the stories behind the fantastic 1947 transatlantic voyage of the Ormonde, and given flesh and blood to a ghostly Caribbean cast of dreamers and romancers.” Colin Grant, author and Associate Fellow in the Centre for Caribbean Studies
“The poetry of Hannah Lowe’s Ormonde remembers what history forgets. Beside journals and passenger lists, the poise and passion of Lowe’s poems recall a story fresh as a ship’s new paint: the story in which we still live.” Alison Brackenbury, poet and broadcaster
Published in a limited first edition of 300, signed by the author. 36pp, W125 x H140mm, full colour throughout. First edition signed by the author. ISBN 9780957273825. Published 2014