Picture of Jamaican Poet, Tony McNeill

Jamaican Poet Tony McNeillFirst, give thanks to Mervyn Taylor for sending me this picture of Tony McNeill, one of the most talented poets to emerge from Jamaica and the Caribbean. (See also Fragano Ledgister's updated livication)

I have been scouring the web and other places trying to find images of Tony, and finally Olivier Stephenson suggested that I ask Mervyn. I did and here it is.

There may be better pictures of Tony out there and if they are, please send me the link. You know I will give you the credit. One of the aims of this blog is to preserve the work and images of poets like Jamaican/Caribbean poets like Tony McNeill. Especially, Tony McNeill.

I hope Mervyn will forgive me for quoting from the note he sent me:

"Where is my Tess? referring to his series of poems concerning Tess (Tess of the D'Ubervilles) as the elusive quintessential woman. He remained always "deep in poetry"... Tony obsessed with language and poetry to the point of provoking laughter, so removed he was at times was from the world. But no one ever could deny the intrinsic beauty and deadly accuracy of his poems (as in "The Lady Accepts the Needle Again").

One Love.


Dear Guardian,

We all kno that Tony was one of the most prolific (adventurous and in-flying) of us. Does anybody kno the whereabouts the state the security the plans for hopefully public safekeeping of his archives? And while i at it, let me go a likkle further and hope some of you pass this on & on:

for many years have i been saying that our libraries, universities,
archives, cultural institutes etc etc etc - singly or collectively try to acQuire our archives, and as part of this xercise or prelim or
interim to this, make out a public LIST OF HOLDINGS: PUBLIC and PRIVATE, so that we can all know what we have and where it is and so be able to keep an eye out to help preserve protect

I am one who has nvr recover from Gilbert. and i guess we cd repeat this story every hurricane or fire flood year
Stephen Bess said…
It sounds like he was a remarkable man and poet. I've searched Amazon for his work, but didn't find any. Are there any books of his poetry circulating or any compilations containing his work?

Hello Geoffrey! I hope that all has been well with you and your family. Enjoy your weekend.
Dear Stephen,


The sad fact is that there are only a few copies of his work, books left.

I bought Reel when I was 19 and living in Jamaica. One of the few books I took with me when I left.

Tony was a great poet and I share Kamau Brathwaite's concerns because the work can disappear.

As great as he is and was, it took Shakespeare's friends to put the work into folios to preserve it.

At any time, someone could have said, "Let's dump all of this paper that's cluttering up that room and rent out the room so we can get some money in here!"
I think Wayne Brown is Tony's literary executor and is working at putting his papers in order, and getting books published in due course. Fernanda Steele may also be able to throw some light.

Kamau's LIST OF HOLDINGS is an excellent idea. Who will run with it?

Pam Mordecai
Thanks,how is Fernada! if she sees or hears about this Q, hope she'll give the i a shout

ref the LIST OF HOLDINGS - despite whatever we might do privately
personally (and i'm sure many of us do - more or less) - is got to be
made PUBLIC - and be shared info. so is like the IJ, NCFs, CARICOM
Culture 'Desk' (that word & post to be upgraded, surely, by NOW!) that
have to take the init in it

the prob with these institutions of a-we culture is that dem not
user-friendly and something really have to be done about that.

Kamau Brathwaite

Don't even know where Fernanda is ­ I think back in Grenada.

As for the list of holdings, I don't hold out much hope vis-à-vis institutions... More than not being user-friendly, they've let me/us down in very serious, sobering ways. The Internet allows us, the community of any-old-interested-people, to do something, though, and there are people trying to take initiatives of this kind. Maybe we could do a WIKIPEDIA type thing, with people hanging up their names and collections, but of course, somebody/ies would have to do the admin stuff, pay for and maintain the site, and so on.

Maybe journals like SMALL AXE, CRB and CARIBBEAN BEAT that have a Caribbean cultural interest and are not institution related might take on the project?

Just some thoughts...

Hi Geoff and all:

Maybe we could start with a collection of annotated urls on the blog. The annotations could include user responses/ratings. There are lots of those, and that could be immediately useful.

BTW, Do you know Voices from the Gaps at U. of Minnesota?

Problem with grants is the strings that are attached... Maybe we could set up a fund to which we can each chip in a few dollars? I don't like the idea of user fees...

Someone like Kalamu could probably help with ideas. I very much admire e-drum as an initiative.


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