The Nicolas Guillen Philosophical Literature Prize are awarded at the international annual meetings of the Caribbean Philosophical Association. The prize is to be awarded to an author whose contribution to Caribbean thought is through the medium of the novel, poetry, theater, or cinema.

The Caribbean Philosophical Association is pleased to announce the 2018 recipients of the association’s awards for contributions to Caribbean thought and philosophical literature. The awards will be conferred in a special session of the 14th annual conference of the Caribbean Philosophical Association, which will take place on June 22-24 at BMMC, CUNY in New York City. For more information on the conference, click here.



The Nicolás Guillén
Lifetime Achievement Award


Kamau Brathwaite

Professor Emeritus Kamau Brathwaite is being honored as one of the Caribbean’s giants of letters.  His work is the subject of many dissertations, literary and philosophical studies, and historical works on Caribbean and African diasporic history.  In addition to his literary, philosophical, journalist, and historical work, Professor Brathwaite also participated in varieties of educational projects on the African continent and throughout the Caribbean and North America.

In the words of the Awards Committee:

Brathwaite is one of the Caribbean’s greatest living poets and philosophers.  He is a co-founder of the Caribbean Artists Movement. In addition to his many books of poetry, which are studied world-wide, there are his theoretical and ethnographic writings on language and folklore.  Dissertations and other studies of his work abound, and his commitments to shifting the geography of reason included his participation in the founding of the Institute for Caribbean Thought in Jamaica, which, along with the meetings in honor of Sylvia Wynter and George Lamming, was a catalyst for the formation of the Caribbean Philosophical Association.   He was also active alongside Guillén in bringing together what Paget Henry describes as the Caribbean poeticist and historicist traditions.   It is an honor for our association to be in a position to celebrate this great intellectual.

President Neil Roberts adds:

Professor Brathwaite’s tireless, lifelong commitment to the creation of philosophical literature and bridging the divide between poeticism and historicism throughout the Caribbean and its diasporas in the spirit of Guillén is an inspiration to us all.  He is truly one of the Caribbean’s great persons of letters.

Among the many websites on which to seek information about Brathwaite’s life and thought, we recommend this link:


Robin D.G. Kelley

The Caribbean Philosophical Association is honoring Professor Robin D.G. Kelley for his groundbreaking work of bringing together the history of African diasporic radical politics with the life-affirming creativity of Black aesthetic production.   He has taught in universities across the globe and is now Distinguished Professor and Gary B. Nash Endowed Chair in U.S. History and Black Studies at UCLA.  His books include the critically acclaimed and influential Hammer and Hoe, Race Rebels, Freedom Dreams, Into the Fire, Thelonius Monk, and Africa Speaks, America Answers!: Modern Jazz in Revolutionary Times.

According to the Committee:

Kelley is the greatest historian of his generation working on the African diaspora.  We have selected him for the Guillén because his research not only examines intersections of race and class but also the importance of Black aesthetic production in revolutionary movements.  His recent writings have focused so much on the arts that honoring him for philosophical literature recognizes his important contributions there, especially in the genre of jazz or African-American classical music, and the direction in which his overall work is headed.  He is also known for his extraordinary writings on Negritude poets, particularly Aimé Césaire.

Fellow historian and activist Barbary Ransby of the University of Illionis-Chicago had this to say upon learning of the news: 

Robin D.G. Kelley is a consummate internationalist in his scholarship and principled praxis. He has decolonized our thinking about the Black radical intellectual tradition by engaging and centering thinkers from the African Diaspora in his work, linking theory to practice, and lovingly honoring a long and rich tradition of Black resistance and subversive dreaming, a tradition that has defied national borders, and inspired us to imagine a new world. He is a stellar choice for the Nicolas Guillén Lifetime Achievement Award. I can think of few people more deserving.

In the words of the association’s President Neil Roberts:

Professor Kelley’s incisive books and essays such as Hammer and Hoe, Race Rebels, To Make Our World Anew, Freedom Dreams, Thelonious Monk, “Black Study, Black Struggle,” and the introduction to Aimé Césaire’s Discourse on Colonialism, “A Poetics of Anticolonialism,” are widely taught and debated. His groundbreaking research in black studies, aesthetics, history, social movements, the intersections of race and class, political theory, and revolutionary politics continue to open new vistas for scholars and activists across the world. Moreover, his extraordinary life and work encapsulate the very best of Guillén’s legacy. 

For more information about Professor Kelley, please click here.


The Nicolás Guillén
Outstanding Book Award


What Comes from a Thing
By Phillip Barron

Phillip Barron, What Comes from a Thing.  Fourteen Hills Press, 2015.

Phillip Barron is a philosopher, poet, photographer, digital artist, journalist, and educator.  He has worked as a digital media specialist at the Center in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, taught philosophy and literature in universities across the United States, and is now completing his doctorate in philosophy at the University of Connecticut at Storrs.  Among his accolades is winning the Michael Rubin Award at San Francisco State University.   

What Comes from a Thing is his much-acclaimed first book of poetry.  Here is an excerpt from the referee report submitted to the Caribbean Philosophical Association’s Award Committee:

This is a stunning piece of poetic philosophical work.   It is a masterpiece of phenomenological description in which poetry is not application or a technique for profundity but instead at the heart of philosophical/poetic evocation.  From explorations of witnessing a death sentence to considerations on history that would make Walter Benjamin stand as a pale comparison, this work takes on the vicissitudes of existence, including a majestic poem on infinity and infinitesimality, in addition to explorations of violence and vulnerability.   The author explores these themes through the accompanying voices of philosophers across the ages.   Although this is not a work in Caribbean literature, it is a clear exploration of class and place—particularly geographical place—in which what could be called “southern thought” looms in the sense of voices from the periphery.  I think it would be a bold consideration for this award. It is a clear example of more than philosophy, more than poetry, what could also be called “poetics.”

Adds Caribbean Philosophical Association’s President Neil Roberts:

What Comes from a Thing is a moving collection that limns industrial and post-industrial landscapes, and it also illuminates the meanings of violence, vulnerability, death, materiality, history, and ideals of nature and the natural therein. We congratulate Phillip Barron on this magnificent achievement.  

For more information about Phillip Barron and his work, click here to see his website.

By Rowan Ricardo Phillips
Professor Rowan Ricardo Phillips is an award-winning poet who teaches at Stony Brook University and lives in New York City and Barcelona mediated by times well spent in his parents’ native island of Antigua.   A protégé of the great Michael S. Harper at Brown University, he inaugurated his career with a dissertation on Africana poetics and since then has written in a variety of genres ranging from poetry to theoretical work to sports writing and other forms of journalism and social commentary across the globe.  His accolades include the 2013 Whiting Award and an Anisfield-Wolf Book Award in 2016.

Here is an excerpt from the referee reports submitted to the Awards Committee:

This is a beautiful collection of poetry interweaving the complexity of imagining the ideal and the utopic.  Heaven is often confused with paradise, Phillips ultimately argues, but its demands—here interwoven between Christian and Pagan motifs from antiquity—reach for the ever elusive but desired.  I see why it has received so many accolades.  As the author is also a child of Antigua, acknowledgment from an organization focused on that region’s significance would be a poignant testament to this artist’s efforts. 

President Neil Roberts offers these words of agreement:

In Heaven, Phillips takes the reader on a journey—much like Beatrice guiding Dante—into the significance of mirrors, the relationship between deities and the human, and the constitution of heaven itself. The result is an intrepid book Guillén would have found befitting of his legacy.
For more information on Professor Phillips, please consult the entry on him on the Poetry Foundations’ site: and his website:




Life-time Achievement:

Conceição Evaristo

Outstanding Achievements in Philosophical Literature Award:

Felwine Sarr

Outstanding Book in Philosophical Literature:

Intimacies of Four Continents
By Lisa Lowe


Life-time Achievement:

Hortense Spillers

Outstanding Book in Philosophical Literature:

La rebelión de las niñas: El Caribe y la “conciencia corporal.” 
By Nadia V. Celis-Salgado

The Black Radical Tragic: Performance, Aesthetics, and the Unfinished Haitian Revolution
By Jeremy Matthew Glick


Life-time Achievement:

Jamaica Kincaid

Philosophical Literature:

Arturo Dávila-Sánchez

Outstanding Book in Philosophical Literature:

Being Apart: Theoretical and Existential Resistance in Africana Literature
By LaRose Parris


Life-time Achievement:

Samuel R. Delany

George Lamming

Philosophical Literature:

Víctor Fowler Calzada

Outstanding Book in Philosophical Literature:

Creole Renegades: Rhetoric of Betrayal and Guilt in the Caribbean Diaspora
By Bénédicte Boisseron


Life-time Achievement:

Ngugi wa Thiong’o

Philosophical Literature:

Frieda Ekotto

Outstanding Book in Philosophical Literature:

Pathologies of Paradise: Caribbean Detours
By Supriya Nair


Life-time Achievement:

Ana Lydia Vega

Philosophical Literature:

Jose Buscaglia


Life-time Achievement: 

The Mighty Chalkdust / Hollis Urban Lester Liverpool

Prafulla Kar

Philosophical Literature:

Gordon Rohlehr


Junot Díaz 


Gabriel García Márquez


Edwidge Danticat 


Ramabai Espinet

Wilson Harris