An Introduction to West Indian Poetry by Laurence A. Breiner

By Laurence A. Breiner

This creation to West Indian poetry is written for readers making their first method of the poetry of the Caribbean written in English. It deals a accomplished literary background from the Nineteen Twenties to the Nineteen Eighties, with specific cognizance to the connection of West Indian poetry to eu, African and American literature. shut readings of person poems supply distinct 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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Some had already published poetry; Philippe Thoby-Marcelin's "Sainement" (written in Paris in 1926), had already struck a stance indistinguishable from the Negritude of a decade later: Jurant un eternel dedain aux raffinements europeens, Je veux desormais vous chanter: revolutions, fusillades, tueries Bruit de coco-macaque sur des epaules noires, Mugissements du Iambi, lubricite mystique de vaudou Me depouiller de tous oripeaux classiques et me dresser nu, tres sauvage et tres descendant d'esclaves.

From among the students came Emile Roumer's Poemes d'Haiti et de France, which combined classical forms with distinctively Haitian subjects and even Creole language. In his poem "Declaration paysanne," for example, a peasant compares his beloved to a series of such local dishes as crab in eggplant, but he speaks in unimpeachable alexandrines. By a nice irony, these alexandrines have themselves been set to the music of the Haitian meringue? and the irony cautions us to avoid facile antitheses here; in fact Morpeau included an introductory essay about poetry written in Creole ("La Muse haitienne d'expression Creole"), and Roumer was a contributor to his anthology.

It should not be surprising that a writer's favored genre will affect his conception of the society he writes for. The expectation of a middle-class audience goes hand in hand with an identification of literature with fiction, and especially with the novel, the preeminent form in the West, which requires, and often reflects, the culture of a leisured middle class. The novel is produced, and nowadays also read, in solitude; not surprisingly, serious novelists, like Raja Rao and Naipaul, think of "the writer" as self-absorbed, and would conceive of the poet as an even more extreme case than the novelist.

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