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Kwame Dawes' Prophets: A Reader's Guide

Jeremy Poynting's illuminating and entertaining introduction and comprehensive notes offers a user friendly guide to Kwame Dawes's Jamaican poetic masterpiece, Prophets.

£9.99

Author(s)
Jeremy Poynting
ISBN
9781845234133
Pages
240
Price
£9.99
Classification
Literary Criticism
Setting
Jamaica
Date published
29 Mar 2018

This guide is written from the conviction that Prophets is a major work of Caribbean poetry, and that whilst it can be read with enjoyment without the aid of a book of this kind, it is a work so rich in local reference and allusion that a little help can enhance the reader’s understanding and pleasure. The introduction discusses Prophets in its social and political setting of 1980s Jamaica, the significance of the poem’s social geography; and perhaps most necessarily, it elucidates the poem’s religious context, in particular, how it relates to both Biblical and Jamaican notions of prophecy and to the emergent charismatic churches. It discusses Prophets’ relationship to the key texts that influenced it, or against which it was written, including Derek Walcott’s Omeros, Sylvia Wynter’s The Hills of Hebron and the early novels of Alice Walker and Toni Morrison. The introduction concludes by discussing Prophets’ formal excellencies as a poem, and the themes and tropes that make it an important work in the postcolonial cannon. The introduction also discusses the important role that allusion plays in the poem and its conscious riskiness as a communicative device.

The second section of summaries and annotations provides a line by line guide to the poem. This includes notes to its very specific references to the social and cultural manifestations of 1980s Jamaica, identification of places identified in the poem, but above all there are notes to the poems’ many allusions: to the Bible, but also to other works of literature and to the reggae lyrics that form a bridge between the Bible, the prophetic and Jamaican popular culture.

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Jeremy Poynting

Jeremy Poynting was born in 1946, did a first degree in English at Leeds University, was active in the Communist Party (he left in 1968), joined the Socialist Workers Party briefly, then joined the ranks of the unattached Left, and now Momentum.

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