The HSW Literary Agency



Pamela Claire Mordecai

The rave reviews that greeted Pamela Mordecai's first collection of short fiction,
Pink Icing
 (Insomniac Press 2006), invariably praised her ability to use a range of languages and registers for her narrative purposes. Not surprising, for Kamau Brathwaite has described her as "one of the most brilliant and witty" of Caribbean poets. She's written a lot. One critic notes her "prolific output across literary genres [which] suggests multiple strategies for capturing… the contours of Jamaican landscapes: social, economic, physical and historical." Born in Jamaica and educated there and in the US, she has spent most of her life in the Caribbean, but has lived as well in the USA and Canada. She has been a diplomatic wife, a teacher, a trainer of teachers, a TV host, editor of an academic journal and a small press publisher. A prize-winning author, her writing for children is well known on both sides of the Atlantic. She has published many textbooks and anthologies, five children’s books, four collections of poetry – Journey Poem (1987), de man: a performance poem (1995), Certifiable (2001) and The True Blue of Islands (2005) – and, with her husband Martin, a reference work, Culture and Customs of Jamaica (2001). She lives in Kitchener.

Works on Offer:


Grace Carpenter is eight when a lightning storm ignites a tree in the backyard of her family’s barracks hut on Wentley Park Estate in the Caribbean island of St Chris. She rushes to tell her beloved grandfather, Gramps, who warns her sharply to stay away. He’s gazing at a stranger who is lying in his small cultivation of ‘medicinal plants’. The skin on the dead man’s face and arms has swollen and lifted from his flesh like a gigantic blister.

Thirty years later, Grace, a distinguished international civil servant, returns to her small island to collect an award from the university there. The island is under curfew because a government minister has been murdered and another has disappeared. Mark Blackman, Chancellor of the university and an old colleague of Grace’s with whom she has had a brief relationship, dreads her arrival – for one thing, she’ll have to meet his wife, Mona, whom he suspects has somehow come to know of their affair. Surprises await Mark. Grace’s mother, Phyllis, and Grace’s friend and colleague, a clairvoyant African priest named Jimmy Atule, arrive unexpectedly, accompanied by Grace’s four-year-old son. Grace is leading an HIV/AIDS project in Sub-Saharan Africa of which Atule is a part. The priest, a controversial Jesuit, hails from Mabuli, where his work in HIV/AIDS education and treatment has put him in conflict with local authorities as well as those in Rome.

Mark is stunned when he sees Grace’s son and even more amazed when his wife greets Jeremiah affectionately by name.

And then a blister on Grace’s little finger spreads to her hand and her arm and the skin begins to blow up like a balloon…

Manuscript available
Rights: World

Praise for Pink Icing by Pamela Mordecai:

“Telling stories of ordinary lives with extraordinary skill, Pamela Mordecai draws delicately detailed portraits of life in Jamaica and other islands, with occasional trips to Canada. Her characters speak with the cadences of the Caribbean, and cope with the universal experiences of birth and death, joy and betrayal.... Mordecai turns a sharp ear to the nuances of everyday speech, exposing the currents beneath the calm exterior and producing complex tales that will challenge and entertain her readers.”

-- Open Book Toronto

Subversive Sonnets
TSAR Publications, 2012

Subversive Sonnets, Pamela Mordecai's fifth poetry collection, reimagines the sonnet for a contemporary audience, upending both form and content in ways that are as playful as they are provocative.

Manuscript available
Rights: World, excluding Commonwealth English

Praise for Subversive Sonnets:

"Like Pamela Mordecai’s other work, Subversive Sonnets is clever, witty, insightful and linguistically acrobatic. Never one to shy away from difficult themes, Mordecai employs the sonnet form to sing more than ‘little songs’. There is organ music here too as thematically she moves between the bottomless deeps and praise of heaven’s wonders. A courageous, affirmative, and –  yes –  entertaining read. A wise, highly crafted and satisfying exploration of life deeply lived in all its infinite refractions and life as we’d like it to be."

-- Olive Senior, author of Dancing Lessons

Subversive Sonnets is sweet, acerbic, scintillating, and sassy. If you want to be right, you can't go wrong in reading these verses that modernize the sonnet, putting it in service of mischief, not only meditation. Mordecai has assembled a collection that is arrogant in its dazzle and provocative in its sizzle. Here's the real poetry, folks: thought given discipline and then set free to sing and/or singe.”

-- George Elliott Clarke, E.J. Pratt Professor of Canadian Literature, University of Toronto

“ all good stories, [Mordecai's poems] make us feel like part of the fabric of humanity. These poems are a brilliant blend of lyric and narrative…These poems are fierce. Unafraid. Mordecai shows us shocking images and tells us terrible stories. However, it's the presence of the speaker that makes them so powerful. She's not afraid to become the characters in her stories and to probe the darkest places of humanity.”

-- Canadian Literature 217, Summer 2013