Brathwaite, Edward Kamau (1930–)

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Brathwaite, Edward Kamau (1930–)

Edward Kamau Brathwaite (b. 11 May 1930), Caribbean historian, poet, and critic. Born in Bridgetown, Barbados, Brathwaite attended high school at Harrison College in Barbados, and college at Cambridge University. He was a professor of history at the University of the West Indies and later became a professor of comparative literature at New York University. As a historian, Brathwaite's scholarly publications include the important works The Folk Culture of the Slaves in Jamaica (1969; rev. ed. 1981) and The Development of Creole Society in Jamaica, 1770–1820 (1971). He is the author of ten collections of poetry and several plays. The Arrivants: A New World Trilogy (1973) secured his reputation as a major poet of the Caribbean. In Roots (1993), a collection of literary scholarship and criticism, and in other critical writings, Brathwaite shows himself to be foremost among the theorists of Caribbean literature and culture. In 2006 he was declared the international winner of the prestigious Griffin Poetry Prize for his collection, Born to Slow Horses.

Major themes of Brathwaite's poetry are Caribbean history and identity; slavery and colonization are integrally connected to the themes of fragmentation and alienation. Brathwaite's poetry attempts to provide a "whole, living tradition" out of which can be derived a new consciousness.

See alsoLiterature: Spanish America .


Gordon Rohlehr, "The Historian as Poet," in The Literary Half-Yearly 11 (July 1970): 171-178, and "Islands," in Caribbean Studies 10 (January 1971): 173-202.

Kenneth Ramchand, "Edward Brathwaite," in An Introduction to the Study of West Indian Literature (1976), pp. 127-142.

Maureen Warner-Lewis, Notes to Masks (1977).

Mervyn Morris, "This Broken Ground: Edward Brath-waite's Trilogy of Poems," in New World Quarterly 23 (June-September 1977): 91-103.

Lloyd Brown, "The Cyclical Vision of Edward Brathwaite," in West Indian Poetry (1978), pp. 139-158.

N. Mackey, "Edward Brathwaite's New World Trilogy," in Caliban 3 (Spring-Summer 1979): 58-88.

Velma Pollard, "The Dust—A Tribute to the Folk," in Caribbean Quarterly 26 (March-June 1980): 41-48.

Additional Bibliography

Brown, Stewart. The Art of Kamau Brathwaite. Bridgend, Mid Glamorgan, Wales: Seren, 1995.

Irele, Abiola. The African Imagination: Literature in Africa and the Black Diaspora. New York: Oxford University Press, 2001.

Rowell, Charles H. Making Callaloo: 25 Years of Black Literature, 1976–2000. New York: St. Martin's Press, 2002.

Williams, Emily Allen. Poetic Negotiation of Identity in the Works of Brathwaite, Harris, Senior, and Dabydeen: Tropical Paradise Lost and Regained. Lewiston, NY: Edwin Mellen Press, 1999.

                                      Evelyn J. Hawthorne