Liviticus by Kamau Brathwaite opens CARIFESTA Symposium book launch series

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A report by Jacqueline A. Sample for the Bahamas Weekly.

Liviticus by Kamau Brathwaite will be launched at the Walcott Warner Theatre, UWI, Cave Hill, on Saturday, August 19, at 10 A.M., according to the CARIFESTA Symposium.

The celebrated Barbadian poet is 87 and “Liviticus opens the CARIFESTA XIII Symposium book launch series,” said Lasana M. Sekou of House of Nehesi Publishers (HNP) — Brathwaite’s publisher. Four new titles by noted authors will be launched in the series during the exciting regional festival.

Liviticus is called “a monument to sorrow that cherishes our origins as we live our lives of Modern distraction,” by Garrett Hongo, the Pulitzer-nominated USA author.
While the new poetry could also be cast as a priestly testament, it has a chilling quality that fits Brathwaite’s description of the freshly minted Liviticus as, “The first poem of the Burning of the Body / and the Tearing of the Flesh.”

Another reviewer connects to what has been identified elsewhere as the “global importance” of the Caribbean poet/scholar’s work. “Even as Kamau Brathwaite writes eloquently and heartbreakingly about his ‘Cultural Lynching,’ there remains the poet’s steadfast desire to connect to the pasts, presents, and futures of a seemingly indifferent world,” said Kelly Baker Josephs, editor of the sx salon journal.

Liviticus is available at the UWI Bookshop. The book will also be available at the launch in the Walcott Warner Theatre, located at the Errol Barrow Centre for Creative Imagination, UWI, Cave Hill.

Admission to the literary event is free and “the public is welcome,” said Symposium organizers. The CARIFESTA Symposium can be contacted at carifesta.symposium@cavehill.uwi.edu.

The Liviticus poetry is written in Brathwaite’s Sycorax Video Style (SVS). The book’s 8.5 x 11 size accommodates the SVS wide spacing, punctuations, and font varieties.

At times this aesthetically unique style has amounted to a challenge if not a point of editorial contention with major publishers eager to publish the Barbadian poet but may find themselves at odds with the requirements of his SVS brand, said Sekou.

According to HNP, Kamau Brathwaite was born in Barbados in 1930. He earned his PhD in philosophy from the University of Sussex. The co-founder of the Caribbean Arts Movement in the UK has lived and worked in the Caribbean, Europe, Africa, and the USA.

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