John Agard Poems

John Agard is a Guyanese poet who now resides in Britain. He was chosen for the Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry in 2012. Much of his work pertains to the diasporic experience, racism and the legacy of colonialism. His collections include Shoot Me With Flowers, Mangoes and Bullets: Selected and New Poems 1972–84, No Hickory, No Dickory, No Dock, and A Stone’s Throw from Embankment: The South Bank Collection.


by John Agard

John Agard’s poem ‘Half-caste’ is a poem that is, in a majority, filled with the speaker responding to being called half-caste.

Perhaps Agard's most famous poem, 'Half-Caste' is a satirical depiction of life as a mixed race person living in the United Kingdom. Agard brilliantly exposes the absurdity of racism and emphasises the fact that it is never the fault of the person experiencing it, but rather a failing in those who hold racist views. The poem is taught in many schools around the UK and become the poet's most defining work.

Checking Out Me History

by John Agard
One of Agard's most famous poems, 'Checking Out Me History' is regularly taught in schools throughout the UK. Its exploration of the manner in which history is taught and excluded exposes the British education system for its lack of diversity and its failure to treat the past fairly. Agard's narration uses both humour and absurd comparisons to demonstrates the lengths the system goes to in order to avoid teaching black history.

Listen Mr. Oxford Don

by John Agard

John Agard’s ‘Listen Mr. Oxford Don’ subverts traditional ideas about correct usage of the English language, immigration and cultural heritage.

'Listen Mr. Oxford Don' is undeniably one of Agard's best poems and demonstrates many of the preoccupations that define his poetic output. The poem challenges the rigidity of the English language, which is guarded by a small minority of almost exclusively white voices. Agard's use of phonetics helps break down the language and showcases how it can be used in many different ways.

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