Of Beauty and Freedom: The Law Concerning Mermaids by Kei Miller

Of Beauty and Freedom: The Law Concerning Mermaids by Kei Miller

Monday, 13 March, 2023

If you haven’t treated yourself to Kei Miller’s work — poems, essays, novels — you need to remedy that immediately. This prose poem is a brilliant snapshot of what he’s all about, and his musical, moving narration is riveting.

Kei Miller was born in Kingston, Jamaica. His poem ‘The Law Concerning Mermaids’ is from the book A Light Song of Light, a collection of differently-shaped poems that blur the lines between song and poem. There are ghosts and bandits and other creatures of the night. And this one, inspired by an obscure British law about mermaids.

The Law Concerning Mermaids — Kei Miller

There was once a law concerning mermaids. My friend thinks it a wondrous thing — that the British Empire was so thorough it had invented a law for everything. And in this law it was decreed: were any to be found in their usual spots, showing off like dolphins, sunbathing on rocks — they would no longer belong to themselves. And maybe this is the problem with empires: how they have forced us to live in a world lacking in mermaids — mermaids who understood that they simply were, and did not need permission to exist or to be beautiful. The law concerning mermaids only caused mermaids to pass a law concerning man: that they would never again cross our boundaries of sand; never again lift their torsos up from the surf; never again wave at sailors, salt dripping from their curls; would never again enter our dry and stifling world.


About Kei Miller

Kei Miller was born in Jamaica in 1978. He completed an MA in Creative Writing at Manchester Metropolitan University and a PhD in English literature at the University of Glasgow. In 2014, Miller was named one of the 20 ‘Next Generation Poets’ by the Poetry Book Society. In 2018, he was awarded the Anthony N Sabga Caribbean Award for Excellence in Arts & Letters and was elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.

Pssst… Hear Mel talk about why she loves his book The Last Warner Woman in our podcast episode Jamaica: Let’s Get Together and Feel All Right.

Top image courtesy of Nsey Benajah/Unsplash.

Want to keep up with our book-related adventures? Sign up for our newsletter!

keep reading

There's so much to recommend a trip to Jamaica. Where else to eat some callaloo, sip smooth Blue Mountain coffee, walk in the footsteps of pirates, sing with the rebels of reggae, and splash in the warm Caribbean?

sharing is caring!

Can you help us? If you like this article, share it your friends!

our mission

Strong Sense of Place is a website and podcast dedicated to literary travel and books we love. Reading good books increases empathy. Empathy is good for all of us and the amazing world we inhabit.

our patreon

Strong Sense of Place is a listener-supported podcast. If you like the work we do, you can help make it happen by joining our Patreon! That'll unlock bonus content for you, too — including Mel's secret book reviews and Dave's behind-the-scenes notes for the latest Two Truths and a Lie.

get our newsletter

Join our Substack to get our FREE newsletter with podcast updates and behind-the-scenes info join in fun chats about books and travel.

no spoilers. ever.

We'll share enough detail to help you decide if a book is for you, but we'll never ruin plot twists or give away the ending.

super-cool reading fun
reading atlas

This 30-page Reading Atlas takes you around the world with dozens of excellent books and gorgeous travel photos. Get your free copy when you subscribe to our newsletter.

get our newsletter
Sign up for our free Substack!
follow us

Content on this site is ©2024 by Smudge Publishing, unless otherwise noted. Peace be with you, person who reads the small type.