Sunday, January 18, 2004

Although a very important Guyanese poet, he is not among the major writers of the Caribbean. He is not rated as a great poet and is not a brilliant craftsman; neither is his prose found among the major statements in West Indian literary criticism. But the time and climate in which he did most of his work and the overall context in which it is to be placed most definitely elevate it.

The weight and importance of this volume then, is to be measured not only by the quality of the poems alone, but by what they reveal about the mind of a poet whose value extends far beyond poetry. It is the only substantial collection of the work of an extremely prolific writer, whose work has made a great contribution to West Indian literature.

-- Al Creighton reviews A.J. Seymour's Collected Poems 1937-1989 in his column in today's Stabroek News (never mind the book was published almost four years ago & is already out of print). I agree that Seymour "is not among the major writers of the Caribbean", if by this one means that he is not among the region's twenty or so most important writers, but I think rather more highly of Seymour's craft than Creighton does, & have argued that "Over Guiana, Clouds" is a landmark in the literature of the English-speaking Caribbean. This book is an essential text for anyone meaningfully interested in West Indian writing, & at the very least a definitive selected edition of Seymour's poetry ought to be kept in print permanently. (If some wise benefactor were ever to establish a Caribbean version of the Bibliothèque de la Pléiade or the Library of America, Seymour ought to be one of the first authors included.)

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