Jason Allen-Paisant book launch at Blackwell’s

Sarah-Clare Conlon, Literature Editor
Poet Jason Allen-Paisant.

Self-Portrait as Othello: Jason Allen-Paisant in Conversation at Blackwell’s Manchester, Manchester 3 May 2023 Tickets from £3.00 — Book now

As part of the University of Manchester’s Centre for New Writing Literature Live series, poet and academic Jason Allen-Paisant will be reading from and discussing his new collection of poetry, Self-Portrait As Othello, out with Manchester publisher Carcanet Press. Taking place in Blackwell’s Bookshop on University Green, the book will be available to purchase on the night and Jason will be signing copies after the talk.

A Poetry Book Society Spring Recommendation, Jason Allen-Paisant’s second collection spans multiple geographies and languages to weave a narrative that offers a unique perspective of borders, movement and communication. Described as a ‘speculative project’, the interlocking poems of Self-Portrait As Othello reimagine Othello in the urban landscapes of modern-day European cities including London, Paris and Venice, and invent the kinds of narrative he might tell about his intersecting identities. Poetic memoir and ekphrastic experiment, Self-Portrait as Othello focuses on a character at once fictional and real.

A Poetry Book Society Spring Recommendation, Jason Allen-Paisant’s second collection spans multiple geographies and languages to weave a narrative that offers a unique perspective of borders, movement and communication.

By portraiting himself as Othello, a figure at once fictional and mythical, the poet offers: ‘a defamiliarising lens through which to consider the issue of the Black male body, its presence, its transgressiveness and its vulnerabilities. The poems speculate about the kind of speech Othello might have displayed, and the sort of story he might have told, had he been written or imagined by a writer living in his type of skin.’

Roger Robinson says: ‘In Jason Allen-Paisant’s Self-Portrait as Othello we take a deep dive not only into the formation of a literary self but also into a compelling narrative of the body and its visual history. Brilliantly insightful and strikingly lyrical, it accrues significant emotional heft in its movements from Othello to self and back. But underlying it all is a rich seam of commentary on Othello’s subtexts that makes you constantly reconsider who might be the exploiter and who might be the exploited. Exhilarating – I recommend it highly.’

In Poetry London, Maryam Hessavi wrote: ‘Jason Allen-Paisant is uncompromising when digging down through the undergrowth of our imperialist past – and yet he succeeds in replanting new narratives in the same soil where these toxic ideologies used to, and still, reside.’

Originally from Jamaica, Jason Allen-Paisant lives in Leeds with his wife and two children and is senior lecturer in Critical Theory and Creative Writing at the University of Manchester. His debut collection, Thinking With Trees, was published by Carcanet in 2021 and won the 2022 OCM Bocas Prize for poetry, and it was an Irish Times and White Review Book of the Year. His non-fiction book, Scanning The Bush, will be published by Hutchinson Heinemann in 2024.

Self-Portrait as Othello by Jason Allen-Paisant
Self-Portrait as Othello by Jason Allen-Paisant

Self-Portrait as Othello: Jason Allen-Paisant in Conversation at Blackwell’s Manchester, Manchester 3 May 2023 Tickets from £3.00 Book now

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