A stunning memorial work that excavates the forgotten experience of West Indian soldiers during World War I.
Deep-dyed in a language that is sensuous and biblical in proportion, School of Instructions centers on the experience of West Indian volunteer soldiers in British regiments during World War I. The poem gathers the psychic and physical terrors of these Black soldiers in the Middle East war theater and refracts their struggle against the colonial power they served. Simultaneity abounds: the narratives of the soldiers overlap with that of Godspeed, a young schoolboy living in rural Jamaica of the 1990s. This visionary collision, written in a form Ishion Hutchinson calls "contrapuntal versets," unsettles time and event. It reshapes grand gestures of heroism into a music of supple, vigilant intensity. Elegiac and odic, epochal and lyrical, the triumph of School of Instructions is how it confronts the legacy of imperial silencing and etches shards of remembrances into a form of survival.