Books/ GLORY BUSH AND GREEN BANANA
"Glory Bush and Green Banana is truly a book of wonders, a wonder of a book.” —Ronald Wallace
This new memoir-in-poems recounts Pamela Harrison’s family’s exotic adventure volunteering for Project HOPE on the tiny Caribbean island of Carriacou during the years of 1985-86. The elegant evocation of place, and tender recollections of memory, make Glory Bush and Green Banana as crystalline and flawless as an unspoiled sea.
"Glory Bush and Green Banana is, simply, one of the most beautiful and memorable books of poetry I have read in recent (and not so recent) years. Structured as a memoir or journal narrative of a year spent living and working on the Edenic (and not so Edenic) Caribbean island of Carriacou, the book evokes the often exhilarating and romantic, sometimes oppressive and even terrifying, always engaging and compelling vagaries of island life. In lush and richly textured language, palpably lyrical and symphonic, the poems catalogue the island's rhythms and residents, from its birds and flowers and insects-hibiscus and papaya, bananaquit and tarantula-to its unforgettable people-an 'island saint,' a six-foot-three schizophrenic 'Boy,' a cinnamon bark salesman, a suicide, a stillbirth, a woman who talks with the dead. Immersing the reader in a world of fishermen 'coiled about a rod of muscled concentration,' women 'scrounging food and the wood to cook it,' 'caustic blossoms posing as bugs,/venomous bandits passing as sticks,' Harrison celebrates, with immense affection and utmost respect, an ever-deepening knowledge of 'how much a little is' in 'life's crude, unruly scrawl.' Glory Bush and Green Banana is truly a book of wonders, a wonder of a book."
"I was most taken with the tender and heartening sequence, dealing with your year as a teacher in Carriacou. This group of poems [with its] beautiful coherence...sparkles with vibrant humanity...[that] left me feeling as if I had visited that wonderful island with you."
"The compelling subject here is how we are irrevocably changed when we open ourselves to experience. Harrison's clear-eyed view on a pivotal time in her younger life is not confessional, but rather truth-telling: the culture and inhabitants made vivid and determined in their own right. I admire the steady look and emotional discipline of these poems, how the enterprise of administering to the other' is rendered without sentimentality. As readers, we can wholly imagine Carriacou and admire the strength of its culture. Pamela Harrison's rendering is without hubris: no first-person 'I' dominates these poems. Instead, the accomplishment is one of celebration: to have been changed in how one not only views but lives in the world. These gracefully-accomplished lyric poems show us the way out of self into a greater universe, as the truth of art always strives to do."