Brathwaite at 90

Celebrating the legacy of Kamau Brathwaite (1930–2020)

The Barbadian writer, scholar, and editor Kamau Brathwaite, who passed away on 4 February, 2020, was a towering figure in Caribbean letters and culture for over half a century. Numerous contemporary Caribbean writers and scholars acknowledge him as an influence and a mentor.

To celebrate his life, work, and legacy, and to mark Brathwaite’s 90th birthday on 11 May, 2020, the NGC Bocas Lit Fest brought together thirteen writers to read the poem “Wake”, from The Arrivants.

Featuring (in order of appearance) John Robert Lee, Danielle Boodoo-Fortuné, Rajiv Mohabir, Kelly Baker Josephs, Aaron Kamugisha, Vahni Capildeo, Roger Robinson, Safiya Sinclair, Andre Bagoo, Loretta Collins Klobah, Tanya Shirley, Malika Booker, and Vladimir Lucien

The Bocas Lit Fest previously honoured Brathwaite with the 2020 Bocas Henry Swanzy Award for Distinguished Service to Caribbean Letters.

Other commemorations of Brathwaite’s 90th birthday include the online project #40NightsoftheVoice, hosted on Twitter @KamauRemix, with readings and performances nightly from 11 May to 19 June, 2020.



A guide to selected online resources by and about Brathwaite


For a comprehensive list of Brathwaite’s published work in all genres, see the Kamau Brathwaite Bibliography compiled by Kelly Baker Josephs and Teanu Reid



“Coral”, published in the Winter 2019 issue of The Paris Review, plus a video reading by US poet Major Jackson

“Kumina”, published at the Poetry Foundation website (see other poems at the Poetry Foundation website here)

“Namsetoura & the Companion Stranger”, published in Anthurium: A Caribbean Studies Journal, vol. 1, no. 1


Audio and video recordings

PennSound’s Kamau Brathwaite archive, the most comprehensive online collection of audio recordings of the poet reading his own work

Brathwaite reads from Born to Slow Horses at the 2006 International Griffin Poetry Prize ceremony

“My Poetry”, a talk by Brathwaite delivered in 1996 in Washington, DC

Linton Kwesi Johnson performs Brathwaite’s poem “Negus”

Teju Cole reads Brathwaite’s poem “Caliban”

Binyavanga Wainaina reads Brathwaite’s poem “Prelude”



Poetics, Revelations, and Catastrophes
Brathwaite interviewed by Joyelle McSweeney in Rain Taxi, Fall 2005

From The Brathwaite Effect: Poets and Scholars on the Influence of Kamau Brathwaite (a special section of sx salon, February 2018):

“Kamau’s Children”
A conversation between John Robert Lee and Vladimir Lucien

“Brathwaitian Engines of Expression”
Anthony Joseph interviewed by Kelly Baker Josephs

“Poetic Prisms”
Pamela Mordecai interviewed by Kelly Baker Josephs

“He changes your imagining”
Elaine Savory interviewed by Kelly Baker Josephs


Obituaries and tributes

Tributes from Susheila Nasta, Fred D’Aguiar, Edward Baugh, Jane Bryce, Evelyn O’Callaghan, Louis James, and Elaine Savory in Wasafiri

A roundup of tributes by writers and others from the Peepal Tree Press website

By Kelly Baker Josephs in Caribbean Beat

By Neil Genzlinger in the New York Times

By Lyn Innes in the UK Guardian

By Gabrielle Bellot in NYR Daily

By Janine Mendes-Franco in Global Voices

By Vijay Seshadri in the Paris Review Daily

Barbados Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley’s tribute delivered at Brathwaite’s funeral, 21 February, 2020