Writers

Add to researchJames Berry

James Berry

Sal Idriss

Born
Jamaica
Genre
Poetry, Fiction, Children
 
 
Biography
James Berry was born in 1924 in Jamaica and after working in the US for a time, settled in Britain in 1948.

He is a poet and author of several books for adults and for children.

His adult poetry collections are: Fractured Circles (1979); Lucy's Letters and Loving (1982); Chain of Days (1985); Hot Earth Cold Earth (1995); and Windrush Songs (2007). A Story I Am In: Selected Poems was published in 2011.

He has also written collections for children, including When I Dance (1988), winner of the 1989 Signal Poetry Award; Playing a Dazzler (1996); Everywhere Faces Everywhere (1997); A Nest Full of Stars (2002) and Only One of Me: Selected Poems (2004). Collections of short stories include A Thief in the Village and other stories (1987), winner of the 1987 Smarties Grand Prix Award and a Coretta Scott King Book Award (US); and The Future-Telling Lady and other stories (1991). He has written about Anancy Spiderman (1988), the popular figure from West African folklore, and created two new tales about him - Don't Leave an Elephant to Go and Chase a Bird (1996) and First Palm Trees (1997). 

He is also the editor of four poetry anthologies: Bluefoot Traveller: Poetry by Westindians in Britain (1976) and News for Babylon: The Chatto Book of Westindian British Poetry (1984); and for children, Classic Poems to Read Aloud (1995) and Around the World in Eighty Poems (2001).

  

James Berry is a champion of Westindian British writing and and uses a mixture of Westindian dialect and standard English in his own work. He has given many performances and workshops and lives in London. In 1981 he won the National Poetry Competition with his poem 'Fantasy of an African Boy'. In 1990, he was awarded an OBE and in 1991, received a Cholmondeley Award. He was also awarded an honorary doctorate by the Open University and is an Honorary Fellow at Birkbeck College.  

Bibliography

2011
A Story I Am In: Selected Poems, Bloodaxe
2007
Windrush Songs, Bloodaxe
2004
Only One of Me: Selected Poems, Macmillan Children's Books
2002
A Nest Full of Stars, Macmillan Children's Books
2001
Around the World in Eighty Poems, editor; illustrated by Katherine Lucas, Macmillan Children's Books
1997
First Palm Trees, illustrated by Greg Couch, Simon & Schuster (US)
1997
Everywhere Faces Everywhere, Simon & Schuster
1996
Rough Sketch Beginning, illustrated by Robert Florczak, Harcourt (US)
1996
Playing a Dazzler, Hamish Hamilton
1996
Don't Leave an Elephant to Go and Chase a Bird, Simon & Schuster (US)
1995
Hot Earth, Cold Earth, Bloodaxe
1995
Classic Poems to Read Aloud, editor, Kingfisher
1994
Celebration Song, Hamish Hamilton
1992
Ajeemah and his Son, HarperColllins (US)
1991
The Future-Telling Lady and other stories, Hamish Hamilton
1991
Isn't My Name Magical?, illustrated by Colin Williams, BBC Books
1988
When I Dance, Hamish Hamilton
1988
Anancy Spiderman, Walker
1987
The Girls and Yanga Marshall, Hamish Hamilton
1987
A Thief in the Village and other stories, Hamish Hamilton
1985
Chain of Days, Oxford University Press
1984
News for Babylon: The Chatto Book of Westindian British Poetry, editor, Chatto & Windus
1982
Lucy's Letters and Loving, New Beacon Books
1979
Fractured Circles, New Beacon Books
1976
Bluefoot Traveller: Poetry by Westindians in Britain, editor, Limestone Publications

Awards

1993
Boston Globe-Horn Book Award (US), Ajeemah and his Son, fiction
1991
Cholmondeley Award
1990
OBE
1989
Signal Poetry Award, When I Dance
1989
Coretta Scott King Book Award (US), A Thief in the Village and other stories
1987
Smarties Grand Prix Award, A Thief in the Village and other stories
1981
National Poetry Competition, 'Fantasy of an African Boy'