#AtoZChallenge ‘C’ #NationalPoetryMonth ‘Half Caste’ #NPM17 #CarrotRanch

This year to celebrate National Poetry Month and to take part in the April A-Z Blogging Challenge, I’ll be posting two poems a day, one written by me and another poem written by one of my favourite poets. The title or first word of both poems will begin with the corresponding letter in the Blogging Challenge.

Today I’ve also added a third challenge, Charli Mills at Carrot Ranch, weekly Flash Fiction Challenge based on a 99 word prompt. This weeks’ prompt is write a ‘hello or a goodbye’

Today I offer you Half Caste by Luccia Gray, and Half Caste by Guyanese poet John Agard.


My poem is about a group of school children who meet a new girl. Here’s their ‘hello’ and her ‘goodbye’.

Half Caste by Luccia Gray

She was doing her homework.

They were playing around.

‘She’s not like us,’ they whispered.

‘She’s different,’ he complained.

‘Odd clothes, funny accent,’ she smirked.

‘Let’s say hi to the new girl.’

‘You’re not English,’ they said.

‘I was born here,’ she protested.

‘You’re only half English,’ they replied.

‘Right or left?’ she challenged.

‘You’re colouring’s wrong,’ they complained.

‘My tanned colouring’s fine,’ she replied.

‘You’re half caste,’ they said.

‘Look at me, I’m quite whole,’ she insisted.

‘You’re half caste,’ they chanted.

‘At least I’m not half stupid,’ she sighed,

Said goodbye and turned back to her books.



Half Caste by John Agard

Excuse me

Standing on one leg

I’m half-caste

Explain yuself

Wha yu mean

When yu say half-caste

Yu mean when picasso

Mix red an green

Is a half-caste canvas/

Explain yuself

Wha u mean

When yu say half-caste

Yu mean when light an shadow

Mix in de sky

Is a half-caste weather/

Well in dat case

England weather

Nearly always half-caste

In fact some o dem cloud

Half-caste till dem overcast

So spiteful dem dont want de sun pass

Ah rass/

Explain yuself

Wha yu mean

When yu say half-caste

Yu mean Tchaikovsky

Sit down at dah piano

An mix a black key

Wid a white key

Is a half-caste symphony/

Read the whole poem here http://www.intermix.org.uk/poetry/poetry_01_agard.asp

John Agard was born in Guyana in 1949. His mother was Portuguese, and his father was Caribbean. In 1977, he moved to Britain.

This poem was written in response to those who referred to him as ‘half-caste’. In spite of the humour, bitterness and anger also comes across in his words.

He uses the overused and often meaningless expression ‘Excuse me’ as he sarcastically apologizes for being half caste.

I love the rhythm of the poem and the way he compares his mixed racial and cultural origins to a Picasso painting or a symphony by Tchaikovsky.

Agard finally challenges the reader to explain himself and realise how inaccurate and offensive the expression is.

The girl in my poem on the other hand isn’t angry or embittered because she is assertive and clever enough to get on with her own life and ignore some narrow minded people one is always bound to bump into in life.

By the way, it’s a unique experience to hear Agard read the poem himself. Watch it here!

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Published by LucciaGray

Writer, blogger, teacher, reader and lover of words wherever they are. Author of The Eyre Hall Trilogy, the breathtaking sequel to Jane Eyre. Luccia lives in sunny Spain, but her heart's in Victorian London.

10 thoughts on “#AtoZChallenge ‘C’ #NationalPoetryMonth ‘Half Caste’ #NPM17 #CarrotRanch

  1. Loved that you added the prompt into your A-Z poetry month challenge. The tones of each piece comes through, and I like your school girl’s attitude despite the stupidity of the taunts toward her. And John Agard’s poem has such voice I can hear him in the words. I love his analogies of half caste to Picasso and Tchaikovsky.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Two lovely poems by two great poets. I enjoyed yours, Luccia, and thought “Good on her”. Then I read Agard’s poem too. I hadn’t heard of him so enjoyed the reading, but even more the listening. The poem becomes even more powerful in his telling. Thank you for linking to the video. It added so much to my experience.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Norah 💗 John Agard arrived in the UK 50 years ago. I like to think things have improved since then, and minorities and girls / women are more empowered, that’s my impression, but sometimes I wonder…

      Liked by 1 person

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