Roden, A. J. (Alderman Johnson)

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Roden, A. J. (Alderman Johnson)

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A. J. (Alderman Johnson) Roden, "tailor poet," was born March 28, 1893 in Jamaica. His date and place of death are unknown, although he did live to be at least eighty-nine years old. On August 14, 1911, Roden moved to Limon, Costa Rica where he was educated at a preparatory school.. Recognized as a good student, Roden began writing poetry at age twelve and won a scholarship to attend St. George's College, but was prevented from attending by his father who disliked Catholicism. Instead, Roden became a tailor and set up shop in Port Limón, moving between Matina and Bataan as economic conditions necessitated. Unable to achieve his goal of publishing a collection of his poetry, in spite of gaining support from Professor Donald K. Gordon and the important Costa Rican writer Quince Duncan, Roden burnt most of his work. Some of his work had been published in the Costa Rican periodical The American Advisor between 1968 and 1971 and other poems were self-published.

Donald K. Gordon, in his article about Roden titled "Alderman Johnson Roden: The Tailor-Poet" (1983) describes Roden as "one of the earliest and strongest voices of protest against racism." Gordon also described Roden as a "rarity" as he wrote in English while living in a Spanish-speaking country.


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See Donald K. Gordon "Alderman Johnson Roden: The Tailor-Poet," Afro-Hispanic Review (May 1983): 9-12. Also see Dorothy E. Mosby, Place, Language, and Identity in Afro-Costa Rican Literature (University of Missouri Press, 2003):47.

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