Louise (Simone) Bennett Critical Essays

Introduction

Louise (Simone) Bennett 1919–

(Also known as Louise Simone Bennett-Coverley and Miss Lou) Jamaican poet.

Bennett's poetry develops out of the Jamaican culture. She has been called "the voice of the people." Relying heavily on the native dialect and the natural rhythms of the spoken language, Bennett preserves what has largely been an oral tradition by transforming the myths, stories, and songs of her people into written form. Her ability to make people laugh is one of her most prominent characteristics. Claiming she "believes in laughter," she crafts her poems with a light and comic touch.

Although Bennett is popular in her own country—mainly due to her public readings, which border on theatrical performances—many critics do not take her seriously, labelling her a comedian or entertainer not worthy of in-depth critical attention. Others, however, find underneath the comic surface of her poems an intricate understanding of the native dialect and sensibility, which is essential in order to grasp the subtlety of her writing and the underlying depth of her concerns.

(See also Contemporary Authors, Vols. 97-100.)