Olive Senior is irrepressible. Not having met her, perhaps what I mean is her song is irrepressible, but then her song is her spirit — ‘the soul’s shining’: ‘so excuse me for interjecting an ode here’ to Olive.1 She is the shell of which she writes in her most recent volume of poetry — the vessel through which the voices of her personal and communal history speak; and she is the sea that informs the shell and carries the voices to shores far distant from their place of origin. Olive’s poetry travels well because it carries her story lightly. Even though that story is often one of darkness, it is also a story that lets in the light — a little at a time so as not to blind us, a little at a time so as not to cause us to turn away. Let me give you an example from Gardening in the Tropics:
Ridden, Adel, ‘And none can silence this song’: A retrospective essay for Olive Senior, Kunapipi, 30(2), 2008.