by Kamau Brathwaite - £12.99 Peepal Tree Press Ltd (2016)
paperback ISBN 13: 9781845233082 | ISBN 10: 1845233085
Recent winner of the Frost medal from the Poetry Society of America, Kamau Brathwaite has discovered a rich new vein of inspiration late in life, writing poems of urgency, wisdom, pain and brave humour. No poet since Hardy and Yeats has written about old age so insightfully and with such deep feeling.
What you also hear in the poems, reaching back through Brathwaite’s distinctive Barbadian nation-voice, his creolisms of sound and graphic display, is a dialogue with ancestors of all kinds, including English poets such as Blake, Wordsworth and John Clare, as fellow visionary spirits who call through the ages with their sense of place, the loneliness of vision and the oneness of life.
The urgency comes in the dialogue between contemporary frailties (“the last green slanting curve/ of wind and final bell”) and the urge to recreate the world against the loss of memory, the recognition that “o yes we leave – and soon//but what happens to the turn/of spirits left on their wheel & verge/of final shape. The soft concentric runnels of our labour?”; the wisdom in the struggle between acknowledging the pain of physical loss and the fear that the world is becoming a worse, not better place, and the peace of acceptance.
It is a collection full of beauties of form, phrase and sound, such as in the poem “Sleep Widow” where instead of finding comfort, the poet and loved woman “bull-fight like lock-horm logga-head until the evening pools the grief along our edges/ and cools us to this peace”, the very sounds in the poem fighting their way towards resolution.
(Price & availability last checked: September 2016)
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In booklists: World Poetry - Latin America and Caribbean, Black and Asian Poets, Aging, Elders and Grey Power, In categories: Poetry & Writing, World - Latin America & Caribbean, Society, Welfare, Justice & the State, Health & Wellbeing, Changing the World,