The Lazarus Poems
Author: Kamau Brathwaite
Publisher: Wesleyan University Press (2021)
This book by the great Barbadian poet Kamau Brathwaite is characteristically sui generis, vatic, and strange, exhibiting ornery bravura. Tonally and typographically frenetic in the 'sycorax video style' he's been employing for decades, the work examines a major theme appropriate to a great poet in the late stages of his career: that of the afterlife. Brathwaite performs a kind of spiritual/aesthetic GPS in his poetry and is is a poet of undeniable stature, writing the final poems of his career. Central to the book is a series of poems outlining the speaker's (the poet's) experiences with what he calls "Cultural Lynching." These poems speak of appropriation, theft, isolation, and exploitation, all within a context of an American hegemony that intensifies the racial politics and ageism underlying the events described. The speaker's pain and outrage are almost overwhelming. Filled with longing, rage, nostalgia, impotence, wisdom, and love, this book is moving in every sense of the word.