1 April 2021 

The Fruit of the Spirit is Love (Galatians 5:22), Read Marvin Thompson’s Award Winning Poem

Marvin Thompson, Tottenham raised, Jamaican heritage, Wales based. A story of Black Britain.

The Poet and Teacher Marvin Thompson, of Jamaican heritage and based in Wales, has won The Poetry Society’s (UK) National Poetry Competition with his poem The Fruit of the Spirit is Love (Galatians 5:22). The last poet of colour to win this prize was James Berry in 1981. The poem explores the conditions of British born Black children claiming identity under the oppressive cultural forces of white colonial supremacy.

Marvin, who is now a parent, said he wrote it for his own children. Thompson told the Guardian that he had dedicated the poem to his children and parents,  “As with all my poems, it was written for my children, a gift to their future selves. A poem to be read on nights when the weight of being a dual-heritage person in Britain feels too heavy to bear.” And, of his parents he said, “When they were born in Jamaica, they were British by way of empire. When they made their home in London, they encountered racism and friendship and love. My poem is for anyone who has felt discrimination.”

The Fruit of the Spirit is Love (Galatians 5:22)
Dusk reddened a Dual Heritage neck, hands
and a moustache – its ends curled with wax. Jason Lee?
I stood below his dreadlocks in woodland

and reached up to touch his feet. A whirring fan
greeted my waking eyes, the house sleepy.
I’d dreamt both Dali’s Christ and someone hanged.

“… a pineapple on his head…” sang football fans
and a comedian blacked up as Jason Lee,
mocking Rastas. Did Jason beg Jah:

“Please keep this from my kids.” Should I tell mine
I filled my lungs with ’90s minstrelsy
and sang, a teen lost in lads’ mag England?

Who taught me pro-Black talk was contraband?
The me who cwtched Dad whilst watching Spike Lees
was shoved down basement stairs, feet tied to hands.

Embarrassed, should I play my kids Wu-Tang
and other rap that set my rebel free?
One day, when they walk their kids through woodland
will they sing calypsos or ‘Blood of the Lamb’?


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