Please join us to celebrate the launch of Thinking with Trees, the debut collection by Jason Allen-Paisant. Hosting the reading will be poet Malika Booker, joining Jason to discuss the new edition. The event will feature readings and discussion, and audience members will have the opportunity to ask their own questions. We will also be showing extracts of the text during the reading so that you can read along.
Jason Allen-Paisant grew up in a village in central Jamaica. ‘Trees were all around. We often went to the yam ground, my grandmother’s cultivation plot. When I think of my childhood, I see myself entering a deep woodland with cedars and logwood all around. […] The muscular guango trees were like beings among whom we lived.’ Now he lives in Leeds, near a forest where he goes walking. ‘Here, trees represent an alternative space, a refuge from an ultra-consumerist culture…’
And they help him recover his connections with nature. ‘The poetry trains its graze on what links us with the elements. What interests me is process: the composition and decomposition of objects, the ecologies that work to keep us alive, even when we are unaware of them. Occasionally, I am privileged to have a deep sensation of process and I leap into those moments.’ These Wordsworthian ‘spots of time’ revive us. The poems are inevitably political, too: ‘racism pushes us into an attitude of always reacting: to hurt, anger, provocation, exclusion. This is a theft of time, a robbery of the connection that we are meant to have, as humans, with real life. In that sense, these poems are an expression of my taking time, in a societal context that creates the environmental conditions that disproportionately rob Black lives of the benefits of time: leisure, relaxation, mental and physical well-being, etc.’