The Rhyming Irons of Abdur-Rahman Slade Hopkinson
Despite being a highly respected member of the Brathwaite-Walcott generation, Abdur-Rahman Slade Hopkinson has received only passing attention from scholars of West Indian literature. In an attempt to foster greater appreciation for a Caribbean artist recently dubbed “the forgotten poet” in his native Guyana, this article uncovers an organizing principle running through Snowscape with Signature (1993), a substantial posthumous selection of Hopkinson's poems that includes both secular and religious verses. The defining characteristic of Hopkinson’s poetry, I argue, involves his careful imbrication of competing notions of poetry as, on the one hand, a space for transcendent aesthetics and, on the other hand, an arena for socio-economic critique. Focusing on poems that are most explicitly about the act of writing poetry, this essay charts Hopkinson’s efforts to work through the familiar predicaments of the postcolonial artist through a distinct and formally imaginative process of invoking and complicating forms and ideas associated with the “Western Tradition.”
22 Dec 2016.