Duppy Conqueror

Kwame Dawes

“It’s no surprise that the author of the best book on Bob Marley’s lyrics is also a great poet. Dawes’s verse has an expressive power and lyric resonance that can be attributed to a trans-Atlantic consciousness weaned on the spiritual sources of reggae. Over several decades, the Ghanaian-born, Jamaican-raised poet, educator, editor, novelist and playwright (who now lives in America and has strong ties to Britain) has written some 16 books of poetry. This collection, named for a Marley song, gathers Dawes’s best work and represents his most substantial publication to date in the United States. In ‘Shook Foil’ — a cheeky, witty response to the Gerard Manley Hopkins poem ‘God’s Grandeur’— a man walking along Kingston Harbor, ‘drunk with the slow mugginess / of a reggae bassline, finding its melody / in the mellow of the soft earth’s breath,’ finds grace in the ‘silver innards of discarded / cigarette boxes’ he stumbles across. It is emblematic of Dawes’s literary and cultural reach. Whether writing about Jamaican AIDS patients or Jim Crow segregation, he summons a strong sense of righteousness and a stark social awareness. He also revels in the indissoluble properties of song, as in a sonnet narrated in the voice of Frederick Douglass: ‘I can tell the spirits rising / are old as dirt, old as my skin, and my heart / swells to know that these white folks / will see how we have come so far, / how we can call on ghosts to choke / the beasts that held us back so long.'”

status Copy #1 (7520): in
genre Literature and Fiction » Poetry
publisher Copper Canyon Press
publish date 2013
popularity checked out 0 time(s)

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