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Elegguas (Paperback)

P&S History > Humanities > Poetry

Imprint: Wesleyan University Press
Series: The Driftless Series & Wesleyan Poetry Series
Pages: 136
ISBN: 9780819580184
Published: 2nd February 2021
Casemate UK Academic

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Deeply felt requiems from an internationally celebrated poet

 

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.

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