Set in Jamaica in the late 1980s and 1990s, Prophets is a poem of rhythmic and metaphoric inventiveness that portrays the social and cultural resonances of Jamaican society along with the tension between an ebullient cynicism and a heartfelt desire for faith.
As 24-hour television, belching out the voices of American hellfire preachers, competes with dancehall, slackness, and ganja for Jamaican minds, Clarice and Thalbot preach their own conflicting visions.
Clarice has used her gifts to raise herself from the urban Jamaican ghetto. She basks in the adulation of her followers as they look to her for their personal salvation. Thalbot has fallen from comfort and security onto the streets. With his wild matted hair and nakedness, he is a deranged voice in the wilderness.
Whilst Clarice has her blue-eyed Jesus, Thalbot brandishes his blackness in the face of every passer-by. But when, under cover of darkness, Clarice “sins” on the beach, Thalbot alone knows of her fall. He sets out to journey, like Jonah, to denounce the prophetess and warn the Ninevite city of its coming doom. An epic struggle begins.
Kwame Senu Neville Dawes (born 28 July 1962) is a Ghanaian poet, actor, editor, critic, musician, and former Louis Frye Scudder Professor of Liberal Arts at the University of South Carolina. He is now Professor of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and editor-in-chief at Prairie Schooner magazine. New York-based Poets & Writers named Dawes as a recipient of the 2011 Barnes & Noble Writers for Writers Award, which recognises writers who have given generously to other writers or to the broader literary community.