Kellman, Anthony 1955-
KELLMAN, Anthony 1955-
Office—Augusta State University, 2500 Walton Way, Augusta, GA 30904-2200.
Poet, novelist, and educator. Augusta State University, Augusta, GA, professor of English and creative writing, 1989—. Previously worked in public relations for Central Bank of Barbados, and as a musician and newspaper reporter.
National Endowment for the Arts fellowship.
Watercourse (poems), Peepal Tree Press (Leeds, Yorkshire, England), 1990.
(Editor) Crossing Water: Contemporary Poetry of the English-speaking Caribbean, Greenfield Review Press (Greenfield Center, NY), 1992.
The Coral Rooms (novel), Peepal Tree Press (Leeds, Yorkshire, England), 1994.
The Long Gap (poems), Peepal Tree Press (Leeds, Yorkshire, England), 1996.
The Houses of Alphonso (novel), Peepal Tree Press (Leeds, Yorkshire, England), 2004.
Also author of the chapbooks In Depths of Burning Lights, 1982, and The Broken Sun, 1984.
Poet and writer Anthony Kellman was born in Barbados and first left home for England at age eighteen. He played popular and West Indian folk music in British pubs and on the folk club circuit for a number of years before studying journalism there. Kellman returned to Barbados to work as a newspaper reporter, earned a degree in English and history, and then took a position with a bank that involved organizing art exhibitions and readings. Kellman was writing poetry when he came to the United States to study creative writing at Louisiana State University. Upon completing his degree in 1989, he took a position teaching creative writing at Augusta State University. One year later, Watercourse, a volume of poetry, was published.
Kellman edited the 1992 volume Crossing Water: Contemporary Poetry of the English-speaking Caribbean, a collection of entries by familiar Caribbean poets, including Derek Walcott, Dennis Scott, and Edward Brathwaite, as well as many younger writers who are less well known. "Kellman is not merely offering a regional anthology," commented Edward Halsey Foster in MultiCultural Review, noting that "his introduction underscores the political context that places these poets in a dialogue with each other."
Kellman notes that with the end of colonialism in the 1960s, poets were able to range farther in their poetry and incorporate their views on oppression, class differences, and poverty. Caribbean poets returned to their rich, local dialects to emphasize their differences while embracing their common perspective. The various rhythms and styles of the thirty-seven poets represented in the collection reflect the cultures of Barbados, Jamaica, and Trinidad. Small Press Review's Leo Vincent called Crossing Water "a delightful find and much more, a landmark in world literature as well as a guide to the language of the West Indies."
The Coral Rooms, published in 1994, is Kellman's first novel and is set on the fictitious island of Charouga. The life of the protagonist, the dreadlocked Percival Veer, is similar to Kellman's own in that Percival is a former journalist. He is successful and has a beautiful home and drives a Mercedes-Benz. His second wife, Materia, ten years his junior, is too busy with her fashion business to have children, and Percival suspects that she may be cheating on him as she travels the world.
Percival is threatened by Burrowes, a man who was once his rival and whom Percival destroyed by paying a prostitute to seduce him. Percival is also depressed by his troubled marriage and struggles with the knowledge of his own infidelity. He dreams of a cave and the need to explore it, "a metaphor of self-redemption perhaps," suggested Sasenarine Persaud in World Literature Today, "of his having to die for the 'death' he has caused Burrowes, of being reborn in the primeval innocence of the first creation." Percival sets out with Arrow Cane (his man Friday) to find the cave and nearly drowns in the process while experiencing visions of the Indians who were corrupted by the gaudy treasures of the Spaniards during the time of Columbus. Persaud concluded by saying that "this is a novel about that love for self which motivates Percival Veer to risk losing all his material wealth, to touch that spark of goodness which lights every consciousness."
Reviewing The Long Gap, Cyril Dabydeen wrote in World Literature Today that "Kellman's meditative tone and voice with measured rhythms are unique, here going beyond his first book in verbal flexibility and metaphorical maturity." Caribbean Writer reviewer Patricia Harkins-Pierre wrote that the title poem of The Long Gap "is a rich tapestry of family history woven into images and sounds," consisting of "one long strand of verse paragraphs that employ subtle, often internal rhymes rather than overt end rhymes, and passages that are sometimes more prose-like than lyrical."
Kellman's second novel, The Houses of Alphonso, is the story of a restless man who is compelled to return to Barbados to search for a disabled brother who was hidden from him during childhood. Kellman weaves racial, political, and economic issues into the story in which Alphonso's restlessness cannot be resolved until he reestablishes his roots in the place of his birth.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Caribbean Writer, summer, 1998, Patricia Harkins-Pierre, review of The Long Gap.
Library Journal, July, 1992, Lenard D. Moore, review of Crossing Water: Contemporary Poetry of the English-speaking Caribbean, p. 88.
MultiCultural Review, October, 1992, Edward Halsey Foster, review of Crossing Water, pp. 68-69.
Small Press Review, March, 1993, Leo Vincent, review of Crossing Water.
World Literature Today, summer, 1995, Sasenarine Persaud, review of The Coral Rooms, p. 628; winter, 1998, Cyril Dabydeen, review of The Long Gap, p. 184.