An Introduction to West Indian Poetry by Laurence A. Breiner

By Laurence A. Breiner

This advent to West Indian poetry is written for readers making their first method of the poetry of the Caribbean written in English. It deals a complete literary historical past from the Nineteen Twenties to the Eighties, with specific realization to the connection of West Indian poetry to ecu, African and American literature. shut readings of person poems provide particular research of social and cultural matters at paintings within the writing. Laurence Breiner's exposition speaks powerfully in regards to the defining forces in Caribbean tradition from colonialism to resistance and decolonization.

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Each island had produced its writers, but the recognition of a West Indian literature, even by its practitioners, depended on their physical proximity which, under the circumstances of those days, only London could provide. It was there that writers from different islands could discover a common endeavor, and sustain one another's work. Their salon was the BBC studio in which for several crucial years the "Caribbean Voices" program brought together those who had left home and beamed this paradoxical show of unity back to an audience scattered throughout the islands.

Literary selfconsciousness unfolds at different times in different islands, but while even territories that spoke the same language (such as Haiti and Martinique) were often barely in communication with one another until quite recently, common external pressures induced sometimes strikingly parallel - though not simultaneous — patterns of cultural development across the board. In 1912 the Panama Canal was completed; in 1914 war broke out in Europe. The first of these events strengthened political, military, and economic ties between the United States and the Caribbean as a whole; the second weakened ties with Europe.

In the context of West Indian attitudes and education, what was modestly revolutionary was not of course the mere use of these terms, but their parity. To set the Little Tradition on a par with the Great was to exalt it, even to fly in the face of the relation of "little" to "great," and for many this seemed necessarily a rejection of the Great (though the rejection of a tradition is a gesture more frightening than actually possible). Yet for those who worked most closely with these terms Brathwaite, Wynter, and Rohlehr, among others - the relative values of the two traditions were of much less interest than the exploration of the West Indian writer's possible relations to the two of them.

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