I have respected and admired Dr Merle Collins for some time and felt honoured to have the opportunity to interview her on her recent visit to the U.K. She is an academic, an author, a poet, a theatre director and a biographer. She was here to launch her latest publication “The Governor’s Story.”
The book chronicles the life of Dame Hilda Bynoe, the first Black female Governor in the Commonwealth; previous ones had been White and male. It is incredible to think that the first female Governor was from the small Caribbean island of Grenada given that the Commonwealth includes Australia, New Zealand, Canada and India. It was an incredible achievement for her and for women.
I met with Merle Collins at Senate House in London where she was scheduled to speak at a poetry event. With busy schedules and unreliable technology it took commitment from both of us to get the interview done. I experienced her as a warm and engaging person very much comfortable in her own skin.
Merle Collins experienced her primary and secondary education in Grenada before earning a degree in English and Spanish at the University of the West Indies, Jamaica. Her time in Jamaica gave her an insight into social class in the Caribbean. As well as teaching Spanish in Grenada and St.Lucia she also spent some time in Mexico, fine tuning her language skills and getting an insight into Mexican cultures. She would discover the ethnic tensions between Mexicans descended from Spaniards and those whose ancestors were Amerindians. Unfortunately she also found herself stared at as an exotic rarity. This would lead her to study for a Masters in Latin American Studies in the USA. Read more