- Kei Miller, Poet
Kei Miller was born in 1978 in Kingston, Jamaica. He read English at the University of the West Indies before dropping out short of graduation. He arrived in England in 2004, to study for an MA in Creative Writing (The Novel) at Manchester Metropolitan University. He completed his Ph.D. in English Literature at the University of Glasgow. Currently, Kei is recognised as a linguistically inventive and erudite Jamaican poet living and working in the UK, and one of an increasing handful of poets who are producing important UK poetry in dialect. He writes about Jamaican culture and the experience of the immigrant, while undercutting and strengthening Standard English by mixing it with patois and Rastafarianism. His latest collection, The Cartographer Tries to Map a Way to Zion, won the Forward Prize for Best First Collection in 2014. He writes fiction as well as poetry. Miller’s first poetry collection, Kingdom of Empty Bellies, was published in 2006 by Heaventree Press, followed in 2007 by his second, There Is an Anger That Moves (Carcanet Press). His first collection of short stories, A Fear of Stones and Other Stories (Macmillan Caribbean Writers) was also published in 2006 and dealt among other things with Jamaican homophobia. It was shortlisted in 2007 for the Commonwealth Writers First Book Prize. Since then, there have been other novels, a collection of essays (Writing Down the Vision: Essays & Prophecies, Peepal Tree, 2014) and two more poetry collections. A Light Song of Light was published by Carcanet in 2010, and in 2014 The Cartographer Tries to Map a Way to Zion, also published by Carcanet, was awarded the Forward Prize for Best Poetry Collection. Miller’s poetry has been marked from the first by an acute sensitivity to words: their histories and hidden meanings, and the joy and colour they bring. His work is rich with both British and Caribbean vernaculars, and his poems are explorations of the roots of these and the meanings they both convey and hide, through etymology and cultural association, as well as wordplay.