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Jason Allen-Paisant

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  • Jason Allen-Paisant is a Jamaican writer and academic who works as a senior lecturer in Critical Theory and Creative Writing at the University of Manchester. He’s the author of two poetry collections, Thinking with Trees (Carcanet Press, 2021), winner of the 2022 OCM Bocas Prize for poetry, and Self-Portrait as Othello (Carcanet Press, 2023). His non-fiction book, Scanning the Bush, will be published by Hutchinson Heinemann in 2024.

    Author photo by Jonathan Turner.


    Self-Portrait as Othello is a book with large ambitions that are met with great imaginative capacity, freshness and technical flair. As the title would suggest, the poetry is delivered with theatricality and in a range of voices and registers, across geographies and eras. It takes real nerve to pull off a work like this with such style and integrity. We are confident that Self-Portrait as Othello is a book to which readers will return for many years.
    T.S. Eliot Prize Judges Paul Muldoon (Chair), Sasha Dugdale and Denise Saul
    'Absolutely astonishing!... Self-portrait as Othello is a masterful second collection: part memoir, part self-invention, part lyrical interrogation of the self as "other". These poems force us to reconsider "the black male body", its presence and absence from the renaissance of Othello to present day migrants and the poet's own experiences of crossing the cities of Europe... Full of geographical crossings and liminal spaces, these poems confront difficult truths, upend stereotypes and the limits of language itself...'
    Poetry Book Society
    'This indispensable collection explores Shakespeare's pernicious archetype, observing how "the Moor remains invisible, despite the obsession with his body". Yet Allen-Paisant makes the historical impasse an occasion for deep, generous interrogation of masculinity, and a linked elevation of the maternal that is at the heart of so many Caribbean and other families... Enriched by historical research, Self-Portrait As Othello celebrates representation, understanding and speech as acts of glorious resistance.'
    Fiona Sampson, The Guardian
    'A rich and twisty linguistic collection that finely balances the inner and outer space of black embodiment... a fine, fine accomplishment.'
    Raymond Antrobus
    'In Jason Allen-Paisant's Self-Portrait as Othello we take a deep dive not only into the formation of a literary self but also into a compelling narrative of the body and its visual history. Brilliantly insightful and strikingly lyrical, it accrues significant emotional heft in its movements from Othello to self and back. But underlying it all is a rich seam of commentary on Othello's subtexts that makes you constantly reconsider who might be the exploiter and who might be the exploited. Exhilarating - I recommend it highly.'
    Roger Robinson
    'Allen-Paisant is uncompromising when digging down through the undergrowth of our imperialist past - and yet he succeeds in replanting new narratives in the same soil where these toxic ideologies used to, and still, reside.' 

    Maryam Hessavi, Poetry London  

     'Jason Allen-Paisant deftly inscribes his own signature on worlds inner and outer in these gorgeous poems. The future of Caribbean lyric poetry is in great hands'

    Lorna Goodison

    Awards won by Jason Allen-Paisant Short-listed, 2024 The Writers'€™ Prize
    (Self-Portrait as Othello)
    Short-listed, 2024 The Jhalak Prize (Self-Portrait as Othello) Long-listed, 2024 The OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature
    (Self-Portrait as Othello)
    Winner, 2023 The T.S. Eliot Prize (Self-Portrait as Othello) Winner, 2023 The Forward Prize for Best Collection
    (Self-Portrait as Othello)
    Winner, 2023 The Poetry Book Society Spring Choice (Self-Portrait as Othello) Short-listed, 2023  The Michael Murphy Memorial Prize
    (Thinking with Trees)
    Winner, 2022 The Poetry Category OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature
    (Thinking with Trees)
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