KAMAU 85 – EDITORS' NOTE

EXCERPTS FROM AN 85TH -BIRTHDAY EMAIL CORRESPONDENCE

Quoting "John R. Lee" December 23, 2014:
> Hi Rob
> Your copy of Sent Lisi mailed this morning.
> Could something similar, an anthology of poetry and art (and prose?) be
> done in Bdos to celebrate Kamau's 85th next year?
> Best for the season,
> R.
 

Date: Wed, 24 Dec 2014 06:04:10 +0000
Hi, jrl,
It's possible to do such a publication for Kamau.  I'll have to run something by a few people, see what floats.  Will keep you posted, but don't hesitate to ask from time to time about any progress.
Here's looking forward to a creative & productive New Year.
RES

15-01-18
Hey, jrl,
So Linda and I are going to do this thing in May, Kamau's birth month, through our online publication.  We're going to aim for 85 candles, of course: pieces of writing and images from contributors.  
Would you be willing to help us with that outreach and further suggestions for who to contact?
Let me know soon as you can.  And thanks again for the encouragement to do this.
Until,
RES

Subject: Re: IMPORTANT: Draft Email to Writers for Kamau's Candles
Date: 2015-02-04 10:17

Hi, Rob,
Looking good. I like the tone--friendly, but meaning business! This thing is ON.
JRL has been in touch. Says he's waiting to hear from you how he can help on this seeing as how he's to blame for it. He's a good'un!
L

On 16 February 2015 at 11:16, Linda Deane wrote:
Dear Kamau,
Hope you good, the wordspirit too.
That troublemaker John Robert Lee made a big, powerful suggestion that now has Rob and me like bees on red drink.
You may know bout it already: A celebration across artsetcbarbados.com  in honour of your 85th birthday. Kamau-themed/inspired art, images and writing. You, your work celebrated all over the site in May. We calling it Kamau's Candles.
Love/gratitude...alwys
LindaDeane

From: Kamau Brathwaite
Date: Mon, Feb 16, 2015 at 8:55 PM
Subject: Re: A shout...and an ask re your 85th

My dear Linda Deane, Not sure i too-too coumfô the CYANDLE(!) concep but givin THANKS and nuff nuff appreciation yr ETC 85th Projec, startin out w/from the TROUBLEMAKEr—so good have MAKERS in this world!
Love <<Kamau>>

<<..>>

And this is how we got here.  After the initial correspondence, your co-editors moved quickly to assemble a wish list of co-conspirators, issue a general call for submissions (recognizing the best was also unknown to us), and set tight, tight deadlines.

The result: 85+ artistic candles for Kamau Brathwaite’s 85th birthday offered in tribute to his life and work as poet, historian, mentor, friend, disturber of false peace, inspiration and instigator—or plainly, as Nailah Folami Imoja puts it in her Foreword, in celebration of the man as “national treasure,” the boundaries being the Caribbean and beyond.

The outpouring of good will and affection reflected in the number of submissions alone was both surprising and gratifying.  We knew there should be plenty submissions; having faith rewarded emboldened us.  We heard from poets, of course, but also novelists, visual artists, short-story writers, storytellers, graphic novelists, dramatists, singer-songwriters, academics, independent scholars, editors, publishers: all admirers and well-wishers, some fannish, some not.

What we have in each Kamau Gallery across ArtsEtc’s departments is a heart-strong response to an artist who has challenged us to emancipate our minds and celebrate the humanity of our souls.  Kamau’s example is uncommon and worthy of special praise: his work continues to teach the world about language, history, art, culture, religion…about itself.  In helping us to liberate our tongues, many of us have found more than our voices.

All the pieces in these galleries, whether or not for Kamau, by Kamau, à la manière de Kamau, or about Kamau, reflect his influence (thus far) on the author and the content of his or her ideas.  In other words, the offered poem/essay/fiction/song is the acknowledgement, the open compliment, that we wouldn’t express ourselves quite as we do if not for the man or his words.

So this has been—this is—an opportunity for artists, particularly artists in and of the region, to do something we perhaps too often do only when the person is no longer around or able to say, “You’re welcome”: show our appreciation to a fellow artist for his guidance, his camaraderie, his erudition, his poetry, his sense of humour and especially of hope.

In honour of your gifts, we say mesi, merci, gracias, thanks, dank u….

Nuff respect, Kamau.

Walk good, wherever your feet find you.

The Editors