June 6, 2006

Kamau Brathwaite Wins The Griffin Prize

Kamau BrathwaiteKamau Brathwaite, born in Barbados in 1930, is an internationally celebrated poet, performer, and cultural theorist. Co-founder of the Caribbean Artists Movement, he was educated at Pembroke College, Cambridge and has a PhD from the University of Sussex in the UK. He has served on the board of directors of UNESCO’s History of Mankind project since 1979, and as cultural advisor to the government of Barbados from 1975-1979 and again since 1990. Brathwaite has received numerous awards, among them the Neustadt International Prize for Literature, the Bussa Award, the Casa de las Am√©ricas Prize, and the Charity Randall Prize for Performance and Written Poetry. He has received Guggenheim and Fulbright fellowships, among many others. His book, The Zea Mexican Diary (1992) was The Village Voice Book of the Year. Brathwaite has authored many works, including Middle Passages (1994), Ancestors (2001) and The Development of Creole Society, 1770-1820 (2005).

Over the years, he has worked in the Ministry of Education in Ghana and taught at the University of the West Indies, Southern Illinois University, the University of Nairobi, Boston University, Holy Cross College, Yale University and was a visiting fellow at Harvard University. Brathwaite is currently a professor of comparative literature at New York University. He divides his time between CowPastor, Barbados and New York City.

Judges’ Citation

“To read Kamau Brathwaite is to enter into an entire world of human histories and natural histories, beautiful landscapes and their destruction, children’s street songs, high lyricism, court documents, personal letters, literary criticism, sacred rites, eroticism and violence, the dead and the undead, confession and reportage. An epic of one man (containing multitudes) in the African diaspora, Brathwaite’s world even has its own orthography and typography, demanding total attention to the poem, forbidding casual glances. Born to Slow Horses is a major book from a major poet. Here political realities turn into musical complexities, voices overlap, history becomes mythology, spirits appear in photographs. And, in it what may well be the first enduring poem on the disaster of 9/11, Manhattan becomes another island in the poet’s personal archipelago, as the sounds of Coleman Hawkins transform into the words and witnesses and survivors. Throughout Born to Slow Horses, as in his earlier books, Brathwaite has invented a new linguistic music for subject matter that is all his own.”

the streets’ root is in the sea
in the deep

it is a long way from Guineé

but the gods still have their places
they can walk up out of the sea
into our houses

the street directs them upwards like blind incense
they find their way thru the rusty holes of our shacks’ innocence

From Born to Slow Horses
Copyright © 2005 by Kamau Brathwaite

More about Kamau Brathwaite

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Kamau Brathwaite


Anonymous said...

My dear Master Blogger, Since yr fabulous b/day
present to mwe in May, the spirits have been walking
w/me and i guess by now you kno/have heard that i
win the Griffin Prize in Tor a few nights agoa
Pl let de massif know.
i give Tanks

Anonymous said...

To be recognized by peers is acknowledgment that someone is listening. Accolades from further afield may be an affirmation that "some" are finally paying attention to my elder. And, for those amongst us who have always recognized the brilliance of Kamau - the master lyricist, linguists, teacher, thinker, this adulation reminds us of the importance of his work. Congratulations elder. I salute you.

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FSJL said...

This is a wonderful thing. Congratulations to Kamau.