Anguilla Lit Fest Blog


Alexis Pauline Gumbs Remembers Her Grandparents Through Poetry

Alexis Pauline Gumbs is the granddaughter of Lydia Gumbs and Jeremiah Gumbs. Jeremiah memorized all of his favorite poems and was known to recite them perfectly up to his final moments at the age of 91.  Alexis has memorialized her grandfather in numerous poems including “Walking Arawak Road” a poem she wrote while visiting Audre Lorde’s community in St. Croix.  (Audre Lorde, a former New York State Poet Laureate of Grenadian heritage, decided to move back to the Caribbean while on vacation in Anguilla. She has the same birthday as Jeremiah Gumbs.)

Alexis realized the power of poetry as a tool for ancestral communication when she was faced with the death of her grandmother Lydia (designer of the Anguillian Revolutionary Flag)   This is a poem Alexis wrote for her grandmother which was honored during Backbone Press’s first Lucille Clifton Awards:


a sleep swept clean of dreams
for Lydia May Gumbs

when you became dust

i changed my pillow

tore out my hair

filled the mattress

with tears


floated on salt

when you became salt

i sifted the desert

filled my pockets

with forget


when you became sand

I opened my hands

dropped your letters

kissed the land


gave you up

for lent   when you became lint

I ate all the cake

I could find from the king


when you became sugar

I wore all your rings

wrung your beads round my wrist

strung my days into prayer


when you became air

I sold all my clothes

painted the mirrors

I screamed til I sang


when you became rain

I washed out the stains

on my skin    let you in

and remembered my name.


HOT OFF THE PRESS: Copies of Alexis book, Revolutionary Mothering: Love on the Front Lines will be for sale at the Anguilla Lit Fest and  you can also order online:


To support the Revolutionary Mothering Book Tour to come to your city donate here:


Leave a Reply