Natural mysticism: towards a new reggae aesthetic in Caribbean writing

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Peepal Tree, Jul 1, 1999 - History - 280 pages
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Kwame Dawes speaks for all those for whom reggae defines the major experiences of life. He describes how reggae has been central to his sense of selfhood, his consciousness of place and society in Jamaica, his development as a writer - and why the singer Ken Boothe should be inseparably connected to his discovery of the erotic.
Natural Mysticism is also a work of acute cultural analysis. Dawes argues that in the rise of roots reggae in the 1970s, Jamaica produced a form which was both wholly of the region and universal in its concerns. He contrasts this with the mainstream of Caribbean literature which, whilst anticolonial in sentiment was frequently conservative and colonial in form. Dawes finds in reggae's international appeal more than just an encouraging example. In the work of artists such as Don Drummond, Bob Marley, Winston Rodney and Lee "Scratch" Perry, he finds a complex aesthetic whose inner structure points in a genuinely contemporary and postcolonial direction.
In constructing this reggae aesthetic, Kwame Dawes both creates a rationale for the development of his own writing and brings a new and original critical method to the discussion of the work of other contemporary Caribbean authors.

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About the author (1999)

Kwame Dawes was born in Ghana, grew up in Jamaica, and studied and taught in New Brunswick, Canada. In the UK he has published five volumes of poetry, an anthology of reggae poetry, and a critical volume on reggae music and literature. His first book of poems, Progeny of Air, won the prestigious Forward Poetry Prize. He teaches at the University of South Carolina in Columbia.