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Jacko Jacobus

Poor sower of seeds with a gift for dreaming, Jacko Jacobus knows that his destiny is to found a people to shake the nations. But when he has to flee Jamaica to escape his brother's wrath, he finds himself pushing crack for his Uncle Al in South Carolina.


Kwame Dawes
United States of America, Jamaica
Date published
1 Nov 1996

In writing his dub version of the myth of Jacob and Esau, Kwame Dawes builds on a gripping narrative of prophecy, love, deceit and murder to address contemporary Caribbean realities; and in portraying the conflict between Jacko's trickster, anancy inventiveness and the narrow righteousness of his brother Eric's path, he explores the universal tensions between Jacko's sense of duty as the chosen instrument of God, and his desire to make his own way, whatever the consequences.

'The Caribbean is finding a big new voice of alarm in Kwame Dawes. Jacko Jacobus is a long rollickingly controll biographical-political-erotical epic - a novel in two-line verse-form almost - but always a poem - inspire by that most socially intriguing of Old Testament Bible "prophets", the story of Jacob and Esau Already I hear this on radio, on CD, see it in flim & video Where nex to, Jacko?' - Kamau Brathwaite.

Peter Nazareth writes: 'So what is happening in this "biographical-political-erotical epic" - to use the designation of Kamau Brathwaite - in which it seems that the protagonist never rises? Dawes is stirring "the darkness / of these defeated descendants of slaves," giving voice to and celebrating what otherwise might be seen as mindless defeat, celebrating survival in the face of historical odds and preparation for the next round: "It is for no other reason but this one / overreaching truth, that all things must be said / at least once - spoken and then tugged / dancing in the wind, before cutting the string, / letting the thought go to the bluest of skies, then gone forever - the spoken unspoken".
Kwame Dawes has drawn from the Bible in his own way. His "hero" moves from being a pusher in the U.S. to a seller of condoms and Hustler magazine back in Jamaica. Still, he survives, and so does the young poet, for "Every creator is a trickster." There is a moral point of view in the poem/novel, but it is not a conventional one.'

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Kwame Dawes

Kwame Dawes is the author of over thirty five books, and is widely recognized as one of the Caribbean’s leading writers. He is Glenna Luschei Editor of Prairie Schooner and a Chancellor’s Professor of English at the University of Nebraska. His next book of poetry from Peepal Tree Press will be 'A New Beginning', a cycle of poems written with John Kinsella. He has been elected as a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets.

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