James Berry is one of Britain’s poetry titans. Born in 1924 in colonial Jamaica in a small coastal village called Fair Prospect, Berry travelled to the United States before finally settling in Britain in 1948. `Instantly, my great obsession was to improve my English language so I could begin to write’, wrote Berry of his arrival in England. He developed his writing practice while working as a dental technician and telephone engineer, and became one of the earliest writers to use Jamaican patois in his writing. Berry wrote often about the Caribbean migrant experience, highlighting the racism and hardships black people faced in Britain. He also wrote about his childhood, slavery, and about Africa, seeing the continent as his ancestral homeland. In 1979, his first poetry collection, Fractured Circles, was published and in 1981, he won the National Poetry Competition in 1981 with his poem ‘Fantasy for an African Boy’. But Berry was not just a poet, he was also an editor whose influential verse anthologies Bluefoot Traveller (1976) and News for Babylon (1982) championed Caribbean writers at a time when black writers were not welcomed by mainstream publishing. He was also a prolific writer of stories and poems for children, giving to young readers the same compassion, humour and acute socio-political eye he did his adult audience. Ever popular and a decorated writer, Berry was made an OBE in 1990. After suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease for several years, Berry died of a heart attack in 2017. His archive is held at The British Library and in 2021, the James Berry Poetry Prize for emerging poets of colour was created in his honour.