John Agard has been broadening the canvas of British poetry for the past 35 years with his mischievous, satirical fables which overturn all our expectations. In this new collection, he puts on the mask of Moses Maimonides (aka the Rambam), the medieval Jewish rabbi and physician who wrote his Guide of the Perplexed in Arabic at a time when Judaism, Islam and Christianity cross-fertilised each other in Moorish Spain.
Now the ghost of Maimonides returns to the contemporary world, no less perplexed, and trailed by the figure of the Jester, whose wise fool musings shadow Maimonides’ discourses on a range of subjects from sectarian fanaticism to God’s incorporeal lack of taste buds. In Playing the Ghost of Maimonides, the rabbinical, the parabolical, the nonsensical, are symphonically interwoven in a thought-provoking romp of metaphysical shapeshifting that resonates with the current climate of extremism.
‘John Agard’s first book since he finally won the Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry is typically cosmopolitan, with one eye on the past and the other on the present… readers – especially schoolteachers and their pupils – tend to love his work… This thought-provoking, puckish, tender book will not disappoint them.’ – Rory Waterman, Times Literary Supplement, on Travel Light Travel Dark
‘John Agard’s poetry is a wonderful affirmation of life, in a language that is as vital and joyous as we are able to craft it in the Caribbean, in spite of our history of distress.’ – David Dabydeen