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Xango Music

In the Xango ceremony, the contraries of New World African experience find transcendence. From the established, bodily patterns of ritual comes release into the freedom of the spirit; from the exposure of pain comes the possibilities of healing; and for the individual there is both the dread aloneness with the gods and the ‘we-ness’ of community.


Geoffrey Philp
Date published
1 Jun 2001

Simultaneously the rites celebrate the rich, syncretic diversity, the multiple connections of the African person in the New World and enact the tragic search for the wholeness of the lost African centre. And there is the god himself, standing at the crossroads, ‘beating iron into the shape of thunder’, both the prophetic voice warning of the fire to command the creator who hammers out sweet sound from the iron drum.

Geoffrey Philp finds in Xango a powerful metaphor that is both particular to the Caribbean and universal in its relevance. If his first collection, Florida Bound, was characterised by the exile’s bittersweet elegies of regret, and the second, hurricane center, stared edgily into the dark heart of a threatening world, xango music brings a new sinewy toughness of line to an ever deepening vision of the dynamic polarities of human existence.

David and Phyllis Gershator writes in The Caribbean Writer: 'Using rhythm and riffs, he can pull the stops on language and give it a high energy kick. In 'jam-rock' he winds up with 'the crack of bones, the sweat of the whip; girl, you gonna get a lot of it; get it galore; my heart still beats uncha, uncha uncha, cha'(31).

Philp successfully uses a variety of traditional forms, including the sestina - not an easy form to master but masterfully handled in 'sestina for bob.' Eclectic, the poet pays homage to Kamau Brathwaite, Bob Marley, and Derek Walcott.

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Geoffrey Philp

Geoffrey Philp is a Jamaican author of poetry, short stories, novels and children's books. Philp teaches creative writing at Miami Dade College and has a Master of Arts in English from the University of Miami. Peepal Tree has published seven of his books. A huge supporter of Caribbean books and writers, he posts interviews, fiction, poetry, podcasts, and literary events from the Caribbean and South Florida on his blog (under the website link).

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