An excerpt from Kamau Brathwaite’s impressive interview…critical reflections on slavery/postcolonialism…experiment in typography titled Conversations with Nathaniel Mackey. Brathwaite first developed this ‘Sycorax video style’ of text layout in his poetry. He describes it as “a use of computer fontage to visualise his sense of dream & morph & riddim drama — videolectic enactment”, a way to better account for the complexities of Caribbean histories while escaping ‘Metropolitan’ (i.e. colonial powers’) strictures. 

It can take a bit of getting used to, for example when footnotes (p30-32 on Derek Walcott) seem to take over the entire page. But in the end it feels liberating and exhilarating. Worth looking out for the wonderful Brathwaite neologisms, especially ‘tidalectic’ and ‘nigration’ which open out unexpectedly on reconceptualisations of  what you thought you had long sorted out.


Brathwaite, Kamau–Conversations