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Digital Subscriptions > Writing Magazine > August 2016 > Star interview: Kei Miller

Star interview: Kei Miller

A differernt view

A differernt view

From the hills above Jamaica’s August Town to London academia, award-winning poet and novelist Kei Miller’s voice resonates across boundaries. Interview by Tina Jackson

If you only read one new novel this summer, WM recommends the spell-binding Augustown, by Jamaican poet and author Kei Miller, winner of the 2014 Forward Prize for Poetry. Its 223 pages are crammed with narratives, ideas, politics, love, tragedy and marvels, all conveyed with deep humanity, searing insight and lyrical clarity.

Kei’s Augustown is a shanty town in Jamaica where old, blind Ma Taffy, sitting on her porch, senses that a terrible danger is coming. When her grandson Kaia comes home from school, his Rastafarian dreadlocks shorn by his teacher, Ma Taffy knows that the ‘Autoclaps’ is on its way.

Augustown is a slim novel it but the involved stories it tells, including that of the real-life Jamaican preacher, Alexander Bedward, who believed that he would fly to heaven and who paved the way for Rastafarianism, have had a slow genesis. ‘This novel took forever because I was so interested in story. I didn’t want the beauty of language to detract from the story. Augustown is purposely stripped down, to focus on the story and what’s happening,’ Kei says. ‘The beginnings of Augustown was a two-stage process. One thing, then a second thing, came together. Kamau Brathwaite is a poet in the Caribbean that I very much look up to, and years ago I was a student at the University of the West Indies and he said: “It is time to write about Bedward.” And I thought, yeah. And, when can you write that story in a different kind of way?’

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About Writing Magazine

Earn from your writing and get published: Cash prize competitions, calls for submissions and writing opportunities in 20 pages of Writers' News Discover your inner writer Cut to the heart of your novel – without losing the plot Social skills: Learn to use your online time to the max 10 top tips to get your book published and keep it selling Reader successes: Readers share their success stories Meet our publishing deal competition winner Star interview: Prize-winning poet and author Kei Miller on writing without boundaries

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