Once you have a disease like cancer, you look at life a bit differently. Some things that were important no longer seem as important as they were.
I am often asked why I started to write poetry. The answer is that my motivation sprang from a visceral need to creatively articulate the experiences of the black youth of my generation, coming of age in a racist society.
I have never, ever sought validation from the arbiters of British poetic taste.
Back in those early days when I began my apprenticeship as a poet, I also tried to voice our anger, spirit of defiance and resistance in a Jamaican poetic idiom.
I wrote two poems about the ’81 uprisings: ‘Di Great Insohreckshan’ and ‘Mekin Histri.’ I wrote those two poems from the perspective of those who had taken part in the Brixton riots. The tone of the poem is celebratory because I wanted to capture the mood of exhilaration felt by black people at the time.
I don’t go to see bands any more because I’ve got tinnitus, so I have to avoid loud music. You get used to it, but when it’s quiet you hear a constant ringing.
At the end of the day, life’s about realising one’s human potential. I don’t know if I’ve realised mine, but I’ve certainly gone a long way towards realising some goals and some dreams.
Younger people are discovering my work, even though my reggae is not like theirs.
The more I read my poems, the more I find out about them. I still read them with the same passion I felt when I wrote them as a young man.
The modern stuff, I can take it or leave it. I like its danceability, but the DJs talk a lot of nonsense.