James Berry was born in Jamaica in 1924. He grew up in Jamaica and at the age of seventeen went to work in America and eventually settled in England, where he would spend the rest of his life.
Berry published his first book, Fractured Circles (Beacon Press), in 1979, and rose to prominence two years later when he won the National Poetry Competition. He was the first West Indian poet to win the prestigious prize.
Berry is the author of several books of poetry and children’s literature, including A Story I Am In: Selected Poems (Bloodaxe Books, 2011), Windrush Songs (Bloodaxe Books, 2007), and Only One of Me: Selected Poems (Macmillan, 2004). His honors included the Smarties Prize, the Signal Poetry Award, and the Cholmondeley Award. In 1990 he was awarded an OBE for his services to poetry. He died on June 20, 2017.