Read all about Anthony Kellman's recent visit to Leeds
Limestone is the epic poem of Barbados and a major development in an indigenous Caribbean poetics. Drawing on the folk music of Tuk, Anthony Kellman invents his own forms of Tuk verse to write the story of his island from the destruction of the Amerindians to the present day.
Part one uses both invented characters and actual historical persons such as Bussa and Nanny Grigg, the leaders of the 1816 slave revolt, to explore the epic of loss, survival and reinvention in the lives of the African slaves.
Part two is set in the post-emancipation period up to the twenty-first year of independence. Through the voices of those who led the struggle against colonialism -- Samuel Jackman Prescod, Charles O’Neal, Clement Payne, Grantley Adams and Errol Barrow -- Kellman explores their inner anguish over the slow pace of advance and the inevitable compromises with external power. And as the queues of would-be emigrants at the American consulate lengthen, the island asks: when a White business class still dominates the economy, who has benefited from the people’s struggles of the past?
Part three is set at the end of the twentieth century and tells the stories of Livingston, a young musician, and Levinia, an Indian-African Barbadian schoolteacher who has migrated to the USA. Their stories explore the complex relationship of contemporary Barbadians to their homeland: deep attachment and an equal frustration over the absence of opportunities.
Limestone constructs a vision of Barbados that encompasses suffering and achievement, heroic struggle and the setbacks of born of self-interest and timorous compromise. Above all, Limestone is never other than a poem: a vast treasure house of images, sounds and rhythms that move, entertain and absorb the reader in its world.
Read a poem from this collection
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Anthony Kellman was born in Barbados. He currently teaches at Augusta
Published: 31 March 2008