This is what I call a brilliant collection of essays! This be read and studied widely! Brilliant!
In Kei Miller’s long-awaited collection of essays Things I Have Withheld , he exams in the author note, silence, his body and how it is viewed by others. This is examination is continued throughout the collection. The title of the book Miller notes, was taken from poet, Dionne Brand. In each the essays he says, is an act of faith, an attempt to put my trust in words again. My attempt to offer, at long last, a clearer vocabulary to the things I have only ever mumbled…
In the thirteen essays included in this collection, Kei Miller examines his body and how it is viewed by others. He writes about being a Black Man, Writer, Gay Man, from the Caribbean and what is expected of him. How others view him and the racism he continually faces. He examine racism and classism in Jamaica by citing examples of things that happened recently- Usain Bolt being told to “go back where he comes from” #NeverForget . We read his open letters to James Baldwin and the impact he had on him. Family secrets and things you don’t talk about, love affairs and trauma. Being a gay man in Jamaica, how the writer’s white tears continue to be something he cannot shake and carnival in Trinidad- the “different type of energy”. We go on his visit to the African continent – we get mugged, visit a Rastafarian village and go to the launch of Accra Noir. So much is packed into this collection, this is a collection that is crisp, biting and intelligent. What a ride!
I particularly loved the essays Mr. Brown, Mrs. White & Ms. Black, The Boys At the Harbour, Our Worst Behavior, The Buck, The Bacchanal, And Again, The Body . After finishing The Boys At the Harbour, I was moved to tears. I literally could not breathe reading what their life is like. Miller was able to give a realistic look into he lives of these boys, what they dreams are (yes, they have dreams) and how fluid their lives can be. I was transported to the Kingston Harbour, hearing the waves crash while I reasoned with them. WOW. What I loved was how Miller handled their stories with care, this essay was truly masterful.
Jamaica wasn’t big, but there were so many different Jamaicas, that it was possible to live in the worlds that really had never intersected.
Miller’s writing is perfection. His brain is brilliant. The topics he covered was done in such an insightful way. This is a must read collection of essays that I cannot stop thinking about.