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aboutME

I’m Jason Allen-Paisant, a scholar, award-winning poet, and writer. I explore the ways in which Afro-diasporic artists and communities shape their futures through embodied, living philosophies. My work is deeply concerned with poetry, and the overlaps between poetry and philosophy.

My first book of poemsThinking with Trees won the poetry category of the 2022 OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature; it was also shortlisted for the Michael Murphy Memorial Prize. My second, Self-Portrait as Othello, is a Poetry Book Society Choice and the winner of the 2023 Forward Prize for Best Collection as well as the 2023 T. S. Eliot Prize. Recent commissions for written work and embodied, multimedia performances have come from the Manchester Art Gallery, the Cincinnati Art Museum and LUX Moving Image (London).

I'm Senior Lecturer (Associate Professor) in Critical Theory and Creative Writing in the Department of English, American Studies, and Creative Writing at the University of Manchester, and an alumnus of the University of the West Indies (Mona), the École normale supérieure (Ulm), and the University of Oxford. At the University of Oxford, I earned a DPhil (Doctor of Philosophy) in Medieval & Modern Languages, with a dissertation on theatre from the French- and English-speaking Caribbean.

My scholarly work has been published in numerous journals and magazines in the English- and French-speaking world. I am the author of Théâtre dialectique postcolonial (Classiques Garnier) and of Engagements with Aimé Césaire: Thinking with Spirits (Oxford University Press). My memoir, The Possibility of Tenderness, will be published by Hutchinson Heinemann in 2025.

For all book- or writing-related enquiries, please contact my agent Harriet Moore at David Higham Associates. For other matters, get in touch at jasonallen-paisant@outlook.com.

Photo © Clara Molden.

Recent highlights

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Updates from my 'desk'

From the website of the Byre Theatre: 'As the war in Gaza continues, as the scale of the violence and suffering surpasses our understanding, Allen-Paisant considers how poetry, in its formalising of grief and its deployment in funerary rites, can bring us closer to the truth, to bringing the incomprehensible into a shape we can begin to understand. Don’t miss this powerful exploration of one of poetry’s most fundamental social and political functions.' My lecture was entitled 'All people must be able to write about the birds: Poetry and the sensorium of catastrophe'. The title alludes to Palestinian poet Marwan Markhoul's oft-quoted poem as well as Dionne Brand's forthcoming nonfiction book. You can watch the lecture here.

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Thanks to leading global literary magazine Words Without Borders for commissioning this essay meant to coincide with my latest book Engagements with Aimé Césaire, published just last month. In this essay, I discuss my experience of translating Aimé Césaire and how poetry helps us to reach beyond History.

On St Patrick's Day, Sunday 17th March 2024, I presented 'A Jamaican Poet in Dublin' on BBC Radio 4. This programme was produced by Claire Cunningham, with poet and scholar Karl O'Hanlan as consultant. It's my first time ever presenting a programme on radio--look at me!--and, who knows, this may well be the first of many. I really enjoyed the experience and learnt a lot about radio! If you missed it, you can still catch it on BBC Sounds.

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Really looking forward to this conversation with Professor David Scott, renowned anthropologist and founder & editor of Small Axe, on 9th April at the Institute for Ideas and Imagination (that's the coolest name ever for an institute) in Paris. David inviting me to do an event with him in Paris was so unexpected, but a huge big deal. His book Conscripts of Modernity was a turning point for me in grad school. We'll be talking mainly about Self-Portrait as Othello but also about my forthcoming non-fiction book, & maybe about my latest one, Engagements with Aimé Césaire (Oxford University Press).

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I'm genuinely so, so happy that this interview exists. As any writer will say, having this depth of attention paid to your work is a gift, and I take it with all the respect and gratitude it deserves. I hope you enjoy this conversation. Darlington Chibueze Anuonye is a writer and PhD student in the English Department at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

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'Kicking the Can Down the Road', my craft essay for The Poetry School. I talk about interruption, the centrality of the body in my work, about learning to be gentle with yourself, and about patience and play in the editing process. 

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