Tidalectic Lectures: Kamau Brathwaite's Prose/ Poetry as Sound-Space

Anna Reckin
2003 Anthurium A Caribbean Studies Journal  
This paper looks at the ways in which Kamau Brathwaite draws on spatial paradigms in his work, in particular, paradigms that call attention to dynamic, sonic, and performative aspects of spatiality. I am interested in bringing together and overlaying some ideas about the key words in my title: Kamau Brathwaite's use of the term "tidalectic" and the notion of a sound-space. Three works, "History of the Voice," Barabajan Poems, and ConVERSations with Nathaniel Mackey, are discussed here as
more » ... ssed here as examples of a particular kind of sound-space, the transcribed lecture: an all-too familiar cultural space in the academy and the literary world that Brathwaite transforms into a venue for a dazzling performance on the page that encompasses drama, bibliography, autobiography, poetry, polemic, geography, literary theory, history, and much else besides. Key to an understanding of this kind of space are its dynamic qualities. Brathwaite proposes "tidalectic" as "the rejection of the notion of dialectic, which is three-the resolution in the third. Now I go for a concept I call 'tide-alectic' which is the ripple and the two tide movement" (Naylor 145). Even the word-play between these terms, with its unsettling nearanagramming of "tida-" and "dia-," seems to perform a tidalectic movement in microcosm. On a larger scale, Brathwaite has suggested that it describes the structure of trilogies such as Mother Poem, Sun Poem, and X/Self, and the reprise of these three in Ancestors shows the "tidalectic" as a creative process; a process that I would argue also shows up very clearly in his radical reworking of the lecture form in the three texts I discuss here.
doi:10.33596/anth.4 fatcat:g2qg4fm4wbeqldmjknkkfisbzi