Elegguas

Elegguas

By Kamau Brathwaite

Wesleyan University Press, Hardcover, 9780819569431, 123pp.

Publication Date: October 5, 2010

Description
Kamau Brathwaite is a major Caribbean poet of his generation and one of the major world poets of the second half of the twentieth century. Elegguas a play on elegy and Eleggua, the Yoruba deity of the threshold, doorway, and crossroad is a collection of poems for the departed. Modernist and post-modernist in inspiration, Elegguas draws together traditions of speaking with the dead, from Rilke's Duino Elegies to the Jamaican kumina practice of bringing down spirits of the dead to briefly inhabit the bodies of the faithful, so that the ancestors may provide spiritual assistance and advice to those here on earth. The book is also profoundly political, including elegies for assassinated revolutionaries like in the masterful Poem for Walter Rodney.
Throughout his poetry, Brathwaite foregrounds nation-language, that difference in syntax, in rhythm, and timbre that is most closely allied to the African experience in the Caribbean, using the computer to explore the graphic rendition of nuances of language. Brathwaite experiments using his own Sycorax fonts, as well as deliberate misspellings ( calibanisms ) and deviations in punctuation. But this is never simple surface aesthetic, rather an expression of the turbulence (in history, in dream) depicted in the poems. This collection is a stunning follow-up to Brathwaite's Born to Slow Horses (Wesleyan, 2005), winner of the Griffin International Poetry Prize.


About the Author
Since the early 1950s, Kamau Brathwaite has been one of the leading producers of intellectual discourse on Caribbean literature and culture. With poetic works such as the Arrivants (1973), a chronicle of the triangular slave trade, his place as a major contemporary poet and original literary voice of the Caribbean is well-established. The richness of Professor Brathwaite's verse is paralleled by the depth of his scholarly essays in literary criticism, cultural theory, and history. In recognition of his many literary achievements, Professor Brathwaite has been awarded the Neustadt International Prize for Literature, the Casa de las Americas Premio, the Guggenheim Fellowship, and the Fulbright Fellowship. Among his books are Ancestors, Magical Realism, Golokwati, WORDS NEED LOVE TOO, Ark: A 9/11 Continuation Poem, The Development of Creole Society in Jamaica 1770-1820, CONVERSATIONS WITH NATHANIEL MACKEY, Born to Slow Horses, and TRENCH TOWN ROCK.