Publication Date
Publication Status
Out of print
Salt Modern Poets
Poetry by individual poets
Trim Size
216 x 140mm

Bird Head Son


Anthony Joseph’s last book was the critically acclaimed ‘The African Origins of UFOs’, this is the first new collection of poetry by Joseph since 1997’s ‘black surrealist manifesto’ Teragaton. Written over a 5 year period, the highly original poems and experiments with form in ‘Bird Head Son’ cover the poet’s ‘1st life’ in Trinidad, beginning with his departure from Trinidad to the UK in 1989, the poems are divided into 6 sections, each considering an aspect of the poets experience of Trinidad life in the 1970s and 80s.

The poems are autobiographical but they cover universal themes such as exile, family and ancestry, Carnival, ‘home’, the dream or mythic Caribbean in a haunting section entitled ‘Backroads of the Mythic’ and in the final ‘Epilogue’ section, a return to ‘the floating island’ that ‘home’ has become. The personal becomes the universal in these poems. The collection effectively forms a poetic closure to the poet’s roots and beginnings. In this process of distillation the poems illuminate the seminal experiences that have shaped the poets aesthetic. In this way, it is also an autobiography of the mind. These innovative poems, shot through with Joseph’s trademark surrealism and his juxtaposition of Caribbean attitude, rhythm and post modern poetic technique show why Joseph is considered ‘the leader of the black avant garde’ in Britain and one of the UKs most original voices.

Reviews of this Book

‘Afro-blue to astro-black and what glimmers in between.’ —The Times

‘Joseph employs a syncretic, diasporic and highly innovative blend of genres and styles, providing an example of how diaspora becomes subject, inspiration and rationale for the innovative use of form, while experimental traditions enable him to show the diaspora in a fresh light.’ —Dr. Lauri Ramey, Professor of English, California State University, Los Angeles.

‘The African Origins of UFOs tracks the pull of place and the pull away from place, Afro-blue to astro-black and what glimmers in between. “Genetic contraband” and “bootleg melanin” afford a measure of the job it takes on. Possessing or possessed by requisite bearings, language and lore, Anthony Joseph is fully and beautifully up to the task.’ —Nathaniel Mackey

‘The leader of the Black avant-garde.’ —Ilkley Literature Festival

The African Origins of UFOs conflates a culturally aware attitude towards a collective literary identity with an adamantly individualistic pursuit of – artistic and stylistic – freedom. Its author is both a faithful heir and an agnostic rebel; a Black poet haunted by Africa’s past as well as a bilingual post-modernist amused by the possibilities of the future. Contemporary literature doesn’t come a lot more sophisticated and intriguing than this.

What makes The African Origins of UFOs groundbreaking, however, is the poet’s palpable desire to transcend the limits of such an adherence by subverting the rules and idioms of contemporary narrative and/or poetry at any given opportunity and coming close to redefining the very genres of free verse poetry and narrative verse. It is the text’s energetic inventiveness and relentless individuality that are most likely to impress, and at times confront, those readers unfamiliar with the sources of Joseph’s historical and literary allusions.’ —Ali Alizadeh

‘Anthony Joseph’s genre-hopping novel, The African Origin of UFOs is a novel so rich in imagery that it should perhaps be taken only in moderation: a small dose every day. Published by the excellent Salt Publishing, surely one of the most interesting small presses working in Britain at the moment, Joseph’s novel is lyrical and complex. As well as a novelist, Joseph is a poet and musician, and his writing is striking both for its musicality and also for its intelligence and sharpness of vision.’ —Birmingham Words