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Edward Kamau Brathwaite obituary

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Poet and academic who aimed to create a distinctively Caribbean form of poetry to celebrate the region’s voices and language

Edward Brathwaite, also known as Kamau Brathwaite, who has died aged 89, was a Caribbean poet and historian, praised by the American poet Adrienne Rich for his “dazzling inventive language, his tragic yet unquenchable vision, [which] made him one of the most compelling of late twentieth century poets”.

Brathwaite began composing and performing his best-known work, The Arrivants: A New World Trilogy (1973), while teaching and studying history in Jamaica and Britain in the 1960s. This epic trilogy traces the migrations of African peoples in and from the African continent, through the sufferings of the Middle Passage and slavery, and dramatises 20th-century journeys to the UK, France and the US in search of economic and psychic survival.

Rise rise
locks-
man, rise
rise rise
leh we
laugh
dem, mock
dem, stop
dem, kill
dem, an go’
back back
to the black
man lan’
back back
to Af-
rica.

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