Ritual masking and performed intimacy: the complex 'I' of Edward Kamau Brathwaite's life poem
This essay charts the shift in Edward Kamau Brathwaite's poetic oeuvre from the w/Word of the tribal poet drummer whose ‘I/eye’ is the body through which the peoples of the African diaspora are enabled to see themselves and their history, to work that is more clearly aligned with a personal biography in which the poet might be understood to ‘perform intimacy’—‘I’ is ‘me.’ The poetry that follows this personal ‘middle passage’ represents a re-visioning and re-vocalisation of public utterance: poems, or bits of poems, that appeared in the earlier volumes as historical or archetypal journeys are re-contextualised as contemporary and personal journeys. The ‘I/eye’ in this most recent work is clearly signalled as the body through which the interdependent biographies of a community and an individual are performed.
Collett, A. (2009). Ritual masking and performed intimacy: the complex 'I' of Edward Kamau Brathwaite's life poem. Life Writing, 6 (1), 97-110.