Caribbean Poetry Analysis


(Critical Explorations in Poetry)

From its earliest beginnings in the eighteenth century, Caribbean, or West Indian, poetry has been an elusive but dynamic art. Though sometimes static, it has always been an evolving art form. According to one scholar, Lloyd W. Brown, the first 180 years of West Indian poetry were uneven at best; however, Brown was appraising only the formal aspect of Caribbean poetry, a poetic tradition that was imposed on the peoples of the West Indies first by a slavocracy and later by an imperialist regime. There has always been an oral tradition in the Caribbean, and although this tradition has been suppressed, it could never be destroyed. It has existed in children’s ring games, in calypso, and in the combined arts of carnival, Junkanoo, and other folk and religious celebrations. Then, too, the unwritten tradition of the Amerindians has enriched the art of Caribbean poetry. Ironically, after years of suppression, the folk and oral traditions, combined with other aspects of Afro-Caribbean cultural experiences, are theorized, by Edward Kamau Brathwaite, as the wellspring of “nation language.”