"This 'high life' in the poetry of Johnson's Sierra Leone Triology sets us up for the worlds of Caliban and Tarzan, of St. Augustine and Ophelia; Jane and Shylock; and of His Excellency, the politicians. So, too, that of Freetown schools that sound like England and Eton and Harrow. This is 'high life.' It is, also, the highlife of a dance in revolt, especially in the Exorcism poems: 'He reverses the images, shuffles the protagonists; the villains are brought full center. The objects of the Western Enterprise become the subjects ...In the first cycle of poems, Election-- a fanfare of men with power, we get Caliban Agonistes, blinded by the white bone of instant pwer, tossed to him when he had once snapped and growled. But the bone had been shaped into dice. The dice were loaded... Other poems, as in the Viaticum section, do open a mood of fan-like delicacy... Here the cology is not strained through these poems, crystal water on which float precise bamboo-ribbed sails, the water of the rite of ablution of purification." -Sylvia Wynter, The Poetics and Politics of High Life for Caliban
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
LEMUEL JOHNSON was born of Sierra Leonean parents in Maiduguri, Northern Nigeria. He grew up and was educated in Freetown, Sierra Leone and int he United States and France. He has taught at universities and seminars in Sierra Leone, Austria, and Mexico-- and in the United States where he is currently Professor of English at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.