Eroding Witness

Nathaniel Mackey, Author
Nathaniel Mackey, Author University of Illinois Press $9.95 (99p) ISBN 978-0-252-01230-3
Reviewed on: 01/01/1986
Release date: 01/01/1986
African religion, anthropology and folklore provide inspiration for this young black poet, who casts himself in the role of a modern griotthe storyteller/shaman whose songs are sacred to his people. The poems have a grandiose quality to them, echoing the diction of traditional chant and ancient epic in such works as ""Gris-Gris Dancer,'' ``Song of the Andoumboulou,'' ``enuma elish 2,'' ``New and Old Gospel,'' ``Tarot-Teller,'' ``Memphite Recension.'' While Mackey's attempt to search through the ancient roots of his ancestors' literature is a promising beginning, it often seems programmatic in the extreme and therefore less than authentic or persuasive. His griot imitations come across as derivative rather than divinely inspired or original. A first collection, this book is one of this year's five prize-winners in the National Poetry Series, judged by Michael S. Harper. November
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