About Dominica

Gyles and Aphra Brandreth speak to Dominican poet Anella D Shillingford. Anella is a poet and educator, teaching English Literature and History to Dominican students. In this episode Anella describes how her love for poetry and the arts developed growing up in the small but vibrant country of Dominica. Anella has published collections of her poetry with Bonfire in 2019 and Of Rivers and Oceans in 2022. Her poetry explores themes of longing, familial love and healing. In this episode Anella reads: My Sister & I Are Picking Mangoes by Celia Sorhaindo, Self-Love, To the Woman I Never Met, She is Magic, and Records, all by Anella D. Shillingford.





French Creole is also spoken


72,000 (2022)


750 Sq Km

High Commissioner

Janet Charles, Acting High Commissioner Dominica High Commission



Joined Commonwealth

1978 following independence from Britain

Episode guests

Anella Shillingford

Anella Shillingford

Anella D. Shillingford is a poet from the nature island of Dominica, and is a member of the Waitukubuli Artist Association. She fell in love with the arts when she attended Isaiah Thomas Secondary School. She went on to attend Dominica State College where she studied both English Literature and History. Ms. Shillingford is an educator who has been teaching English Language, Literature, and History at the secondary school level in Dominica for the past 10 years.

When not writing, Ms. Shillingford dabbles in art, and can often be found with her pallet and canvas. One notable piece is a mixed-media work for which she earned a first place award in Sagicor’s Make A Splash art competition, a 2021 Caribbean climate change contest.

In 2019, she published Bonfire, her first collection of poetry. She was featured on Bocas Lit Fest in July 2021. That same year, her work was also published in Montage Dominik – an anthology by the Waitukubuli Writers Association. She was also awarded first prize by The Caribbean Climate Justice Project (2021) for her essay “When Home Is No Longer Home,” which has been published in an anthology titled Where Is The Justice?

Ms. Shillingford’s latest collection, Of Rivers and Oceans, was published in August 2022 under the guidance of her literary mentor, fellow Dominican author Dr. Steinberg Henry. Selected poems from the collection have been featured in the Caribbean online magazine Acalabash.com.

To the Woman I Never Met

by Anella Shillingford

To the woman I never met but wish I did.
Perhaps I came too late or you left too early.
Either way, we missed each other.
I cannot help but think of the missing piece of the puzzle
which I never got to handle. I never saw you,
not even a picture was I given.
But they all say that you were beautiful.
A black queen.
Some think I am better off not knowing
and knowing would only bring chaos.
But I beg to differ.
For what good is a person
who has no knowledge of their roots?
Only reaping the mistakes of yesteryear,
which they had no idea were committed.
I wish I knew you or knew about you.
My mother’s father I met but not you, her own mother.
I hoped to meet you one day.
But that day never came and I’m afraid it’s too late.

Self Love

by Anella Shillingford

There is nothing so soothing as self-love.
Like a homemade balm
meant to heal wounds.
Internal and external
and those we thought were eternal.

I want you to love you.
In the dark
and in the light.
You are worthy of love.

This is why you must love yourself.

She is Magic

by Anella Shillingford

My mother is a strong woman
Manman-mwen sé yon fanm ki fò.

Have you ever had to watch your mama
make a meal from scratch
have you ever watched your mama
make lunch with nothing but flour and water
have you ever had to watch your mama
turn the house upside down
just to find a penny to send you to the store
have you ever seen your mama
make supper from an empty cupboard
have you ever had to watch your mama
make you a meal with her bare hands
have you ever had to watch your mother
stitch you back together
while she was falling apart?

That. Is. What. Magic. Looks. Like.
She. Is. What. Magic. Looks. Like.

When I say I’ve seen magic.
And I believe in magic.
My mama is what I mean.
She. Is. Magic.

My mother is a strong woman
Manman-mwen sé yon fanm ki fò.


by Anella Shillingford

I imagine you –
with no blueprint.
I wonder about your charm
and the many hearts you broke.
I imagine your
eyes did most of the talking
or maybe in your days
there wasn’t much talking to be done.
I imagine you
on the dance floors
which you navigated.
How many dance moves did you create?
I imagine you pulling your
favorite records off the shelves
and placing them in the player
and letting them spin you out of this world.

I wonder how many of your records
were your father’s.
I wonder if you knew when to fold ‘em
if you knew when to walk away.
I wonder how many girls you sang
“Let’s stay together” to.
I wonder how many birds pitched by
your doorstep.
I wonder how many of your records
you played to me as a child.
How much of your music
resonated with me,
how much of your music
still echoes in my bones,
how many of your records
spun me to sleep,
how many of your records
still spin within you,
are you even happy
or are you just sitting on the dock of the bay
wasting time?

Did you imagine me before I made it earthside?
How many times did you see us at cricket games –
cheering in the stands or me cheering you on-
the leading batsman?
How much your whiskey sipped into my tea?
How much of your beer fell into my Ju-c?
I wonder if I broke hearts like you did.
I wonder if they broke mine because you did.

I wonder how much of your bass I stole.
I wonder if that’s why my voice sounds so much like yours.
I wonder how much of your swagger made its way to me.
I wonder how much of your chivalry I inherited.
How much of your wit still finds its way in my lines?
How much of your silence and temperament did I take?

I wonder how many of your stories are buried inside me.
I wonder how many of your stories I have stolen.
I wonder where your story ends and mine begins.

I wonder if I pull books from bookshelves like you pulled records.
I wonder if I pull books from shelves because you pulled records.
I wonder if I love music because you loved records.
I wonder if I can’t sing because you broke records.
I wonder if you no longer love music because

my mother threw away your records
I wonder how much of my history was in those records.
I wonder how much of my story was in those records.
I wonder if you know that by showing up you have broken records.

My Sister & I Are Picking Mangoes

by Celia Sorhaindo

again in Mum’s debris garden. Our tropical life has been
entropically re-coloured since the hurricane passed. She
came to help us & the hourglass days, turning over & over,
are often sublimely beautiful & surreal; brown pleasuring

to green/yellow/red; starred silver indigo, far too visible.
This beloved mango tree is recovery; she has us in awe
with her constant, almost embarrassing, fruit full giving.
I hold my husband’s green fishing net: I know what it’s

like to fall, bruise, split skin & expose flesh all the way
down to bone-white seed, so I pull down & catch; save
some mangoes from this fate. I imagine though the fruit
innately sense my nonsense; knowing there is no sin in

falling—grow, fall, feed ground/gut, grow again, repeat
infinitely. Brown hands pick up any spoilt grounded fruit,
throw them in the grown green gutter. Our aim? Deter flies
from hovering around; seeding worms into ripening fruit.