We send our warmest wishes to Barbadian poet and scholar Kamau Brathwaite. This a beautiful day to celebrate a birthday, and the best way to celebrate is by reading poetry. I recently received a lovely publication by Kamau Brathwaite: Liviticus: the first poem of the Burning of the Body and the tearing of the Flesh. . . (House of Nehesi Publishers, 2017). I would like to share one of my (many) favorite sections of this heartrending and dazzlingly exquisite poem:
There’s nothing more in sorrow than these derelicts of cherish agony
yr bones decayed from rome to dialect in which you cannot talk
the memories withered from the green you can no longer walk
the word hang’s blood forever stained upon our languages. (VI The Lynching)
[Please see the original for the full typographic, SVS experience. See House of Nehesi Publishers for more information.]
Biographical Information from Poetry Foundation
Born in Barbados, Caribbean poet and scholar Edward Kamau Brathwaite was educated at Harrison College in Barbados and Pembroke College in Cambridge. He earned his PhD in philosophy from the University of Sussex.
Using “nation language” as well as linguistic and typographic innovation, Brathwaite composes poems that deftly parse the connected strands of postcolonial, historical, and personal inquiry. As Publishers Weekly noted in a review of Slow Horses (2005), Brathwaite’s work is “omnivorously synthetic, insistently local, sinuously syncopated and consistently exciting.”
Co-founder of the Caribbean Artists Movement, Brathwaite is the author of numerous collections of poetry, including Elegguas (2010), the Griffin International Poetry Prize winner Slow Horses (2005), Ancestors (2001), Middle Passages (1992), and Black + Blues (1976). His first three collections, Rights of Passage (1967), Masks (1968), and Islands (1969), have been gathered into The Arrivants: A New World Trilogy (1973). He is also the author of Our Ancestral Heritage: A Bibliography of the Roots of Culture in the English-speaking Caribbean (1976) and Barbados Poetry: A Checklist: Slavery to the Present (1979).
Brathwaite’s honors include the Casa de las Americas Prize for Literary Criticism, the Neustadt International Prize for Literature, the Bussa Award, and the Charity Randall Prize for Performance and Written Poetry, as well as fellowships from the Fulbright Foundation, the Ford Foundation, and the Guggenheim Foundation.
Brathwaite has worked in Ghana’s Ministry of Education, as well as teaching at Harvard University, the University of the West Indies, and New York University.