Anthony Kellman was born in Barbados in 1955, educated at Combermere School, at UWI (Cave Hill) and in the U.S. At eighteen he left for Britain where he worked as a troubadour playing pop and West Indian folk music on the pub and folk club circuit. He recalls that this was ‘glamorous and a great deal of fun’, but when the ‘harsh realities’ of living as a full-time musician set in, he enrolled in a journalism training programme. During the 1980s he returned to Barbados where he worked as a newspaper reporter, then worked part-time to pay his way through UWI (Cave Hill) where he did a BA in English and History. Afterwards he worked in PR for the Central Bank of Barbados, experiences which he drew on in writing The Coral Rooms. As part of this job he was involved in organising art exhibitions and readings.
At this time he published two poetry chapbooks, In Depths of Burning Lights (1982) and The Broken Sun (1984), which drew praise from Kamau Brathwaite, among others.
In 1987 he left Barbados for the USA where he studied for a Masters of Fine Arts degree in Creative Writing at Lousiana State University. After completing in 1989 he moved to Augusta State University, Georgia, where he is a professor of English and creative writing. He finds considerable resonances between the Caribbean and the Southern states in the USA, which feed into his poetry, where blue jays, dogwoods and wisteria rub shoulders with angel fish, sugarcane and coral reefs.
In 1990 Peepal Tree published his third book of poetry, Watercourse, (which appeared with a glowing endorsement from Edouard Glissant), the novel, The Coral Rooms (1994), The Long Gap (1996) and Wings of a Stranger (2000). A second novel, The Houses of Alphonso is due in 2004. All his work has a powerful involvement with landscape, both as a living entity shaping peoples’ lives and as a source of metaphor for inner processes. The limestone caves of Barbados have provided a particularly fertile source of inspiration.
He is currently working on a long narrative poem written in the rhythms of tuk, the indigenous musical form of Barbados. In 1992 he edited the first full-length U.S. anthology of English-speaking Caribbean poetry, Crossing Water. A recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship, his poetry, fiction and critical essays have appeared in journals all over the world.
An account of his own writing processes can be found in ‘The Revisionary Interior Image: A Caribbean Author Explores his Work’, in Studies in the Literary Imagination, Georgia State University, Vol XXVI, No. 2, 1993.
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