This essay tracks Kamau Brathwaite’s life, his poetic and critical writing, and his travails and thinking, from youth and early career—in Barbados, England, Ghana, and the Caribbean, but mainly from his arrival at New York University in 1991—through his retirement in 2013 and return to Barbados, up to his death in 2020. It especially follows Kamau from his low “time of salt” of the late 1980s in Jamaica through the stunning critical and poetic burgeoning from the 1990s on, with such works as Barabajan Poems; the two-volume MR; the prize-winning Born to Slow Horses; and Elegguas and his unpublished third poetry trilogy, Missa Solemnis, Rwanda Poems, and Dead Man Witness, commemorating and trying to rise beyond what he called his “cultural lynching.” The essay looks at Brathwaite’s online/print Sycorax voice and the politico-philosophico-cultural concept of tidalectics that he developed over these years to create an ongoing Caribbean-based decolonizing of mind, spirit, and material life.

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