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Edward Kamau Brathwaite Biography

(1930– ), The Arrivants: A New World Trilogy, Rights of Passage, Masks, Islands, Mother Poem

cultural caribbean history trilogy

Barbadian poet, born in Bridgetown, Barbados, educated at Pembroke College, Oxford, and the University of Sussex. After working as an Education Officer in Ghana, in 1962 he began teaching at the University of the West Indies, where he became Professor of Social and Cultural History in 1982. His poetry and his writings as a historian display a common concern with the cultural heritage of the Caribbean and American descendants of Africans dispersed into slavery from the seventeenth century onward. The Arrivants: A New World Trilogy (1973), consisting of Rights of Passage (1967), Masks (1968), and Islands (1969), uses an autobiographical framework to trace global patterns in the historical and contemporary conditions of the African peoples. A further trilogy comprising Mother Poem (1977), Sun Poem (1982), and X-Self (1987) sustains his investigation of personal and cultural identity, encompassing interpretations of economic, political, and religious developments since the Roman Empire in its increasingly expansive movement towards an affirmative vision of growth and change. Vivid imagery, an energetic variety of tonal and rhythmical effects, and inventively experimental forms are among the characteristics of his verse, which addresses its complex spectrum of themes with compelling directness. His other volumes of poems include Other Exiles (1975), Third World Poems (1983), and Middle Passages (1992). Notable among his works as a cultural historian are Folk Culture of the Slaves in Jamaica (1970), Caribbean Man in Time and Space (1974), and History of the Voice: The Development of Nation Language in Anglophone Caribbean Poetry (1984).

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