The Poet's Africa: Africanness in the Poetry of Nicolas Guillen and Aime Cesaire

The Poet's Africa: Africanness in the Poetry of Nicolas Guillen and Aime Cesaire

The Poet's Africa: Africanness in the Poetry of Nicolas Guillen and Aime Cesaire

The Poet's Africa: Africanness in the Poetry of Nicolas Guillen and Aime Cesaire

Synopsis

This work is the first to study the writings of Nicolas Guillen and Aime Cesaire in a comparative framework, exploring their poetry as the exemplification of Negritude art and Caribbean writing. Using non-canonical theories of literary and cultural analysis, Kubayanda proposes and demonstrates an original Caribbean poetics, anchored in Africa's cultural systems and linked to Afro-American protest thought. Focusing on race, culture, roots, and history, the book discusses the relationships between creative writing, the idea of Africa, and the rediscovery of African values in the Caribbean.

Excerpt

It was Andrew Salkey, in his Island Voices (1965), who noted that West Indian writing was still "vitally shapeless." the primary stimulus for this book is to demonstrate the exact opposite theory in regard to Caribbean Francophone and Afro-Hispanic poetry; from the 1920s through the early 1960s, Afro-French and Afro-Hispanic poetry from the Antilles developed a coherence of its own. Specifically, my purpose is to show that a more enlightened idea of Africa and of things African has provided a unified principle around which the poetry of Nicolás Guillén of Cuba and Aimé Césaire of Martinique has been constructed.

My immediate interest in the poetry of Guillén and Césaire is attributable to two major factors. One is its preoccupation with Africanness, that is, African consciousness, or the rediscovery of African values in the so-called New World and the recognition of Africa as the black matrix. Another is that, technically speaking, it represents something like a watershed in contemporary (post-World War I) writing from the Caribbean. Guillén and Césaire are considered by many critics and literary historians to be the foremost Caribbean poets of the twentieth century, for they have shaped, not always in the same ways but nearly always in a similar manner, the main contours of Caribbean poetic discourse.

Previous critical studies that have helped establish my general view of Caribbean poetry include Janheinz Jahn Muntu: An Outline of the New African Culture (1961),George Coulthard Raza y color en la literatura caribeña (1958),Wilfred Cartey Black Images (1970),Lemuel A. Johnson's The Devil, the Gargoyle and the Buffoon: the Negro as Metaphor in Western Literature (1471),Richard L. Jackson The Black Image in Latin American Literature (1976) and Black Writers in Latin America (1979), and Christopher L. Miller's Blank Darkness: Africanist Discourse in French (1985). Through these critical readings it became clear to me that there is an urgent need to explore further the role of the idea of Africa in the poetry of Guillén and Césaire; to date no extended . . .

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