Poetic Negotiation of Identity in the Works of Brathwaite, Harris, Senior and DabydeenTropical Paradise Lost and Regained

Author: Williams, Emily
Year:1999
Pages:172
ISBN:0-7734-7931-7
978-0-7734-7931-9
Price:159.95
This volume illuminates the heightened critical assessment of Anglophone Caribbean poetry in the late 20th century. Williams makes a substantial contribution to a canon of literary criticism through her critical examination of selected poetry of Edward Kamau Brathwaite, Claire Harris, Olive Senior, and David Dabydeen. In her analysis she highlights the power of language as it classifies, divides, informs, and synthesizes the lives of Caribbean peoples throughout the Caribbean basin region. While placing emphasis on the poets’ concerns with exile, displacement, and colonial cultural and political domination, it places primary emphasis on their movement beyond poetic forms of mere protest. Using the protest form, each poet appropriates a larger vision which encompasses prophecy for present and future gains based upon a meaningful connection to their African and Indian (cultural) primacy.

Reviews

“One of the greatest values of Williams’ work is that while it is, first and foremost, a critical treatise on the craft of four writers of Caribbean descent, it is also a study of issues of identity, language, culture, and colonialism in a geographic and cultural area that continues to suffer from insufficient investigation and exotic trivialization. Williams captures the inherent inability of English – the language of the colonizer – to capture the past, present, or future of the Jamaican, Barbadian, Guyanese, or Trinidadian speaker. . . . . The biographies of Brathwaite, Harris, Senior, and Dabydeen all remain critical informants of life beyond the Caribbean – a diaspora within the Diaspora. . . . Williams makes a solid contribution to a canon of literary criticism that has, like that of African-American writing, been long overdue.” – Maureen G. Elgersman

“. . . her text is a remarkable contribution to the small but growing body of substantive criticism on Anglophone Caribbean poetry. . . . Williams’ readings of individual poems are informed by a rich variety of interweaving perspectives: sociocultural, biographical, historical, feminist, and psychosexual. . . . it is the demonstration of her acute sensitivity to the subtleties and complexities of language – the poets’ and the peoples’ and the frequent and undeniable blending of the two – that energizes the text and constitutes her most compelling contribution to the field. Readers, whether they have a scholarly or general interest in Caribbean poetry or Caribbean society, will also be motivated to celebrate.” – Melvin B. Rahming

Table of Contents

Table of Contents:
Foreword
1. Beginnings
2. Historical Empowerment in Edward Kamau Brathwaite’s The Arrivants
3. Claire Harris and the Poetic Shape of Women’s Words
4. The Ancestral Quilt of Arawak, African, and European Influence in the Poetry of Olive Senior
5. David Dabydeen’s Poetic Rendering of the Centrality of Journeying in the Indo-Caribbean Experience
6. Toward the Future
Bibliography, Index