ENG4U Dub Poetry
Historical Context • Emerging in Jamaica in the 1970’s, dub poetry is strongly influenced by reggae music. • It also draws from other aspects of African Caribbean oral tradition, for example, proverbs, riddles, nursery rhymes, hymns, etc. • Jamaican Creole is the natural language of dub poetry. • It is a poetic, and musical genre. • Dub poetry has now become the collective label for a tradition of popular poetry in the Jamaican vernacular or ‘Patwah’, inaugurated by Mutabaruka and Oku Onuora in Jamaica and by Linton Kwesi Johnson in England.
Historical Context Cont’d... • Artists began this form of poetry by chanting their words over the dubs/instrumentals of a record. • The term “dub” was invented by Oku Onoura, who inspired other dub poets to create an art that was revolutionary and anti-establishment.
The Message • Dub poetry (also known as rebel poetry) includes lyrics and narrative poems on a variety of subjects. • Some of the popular subjects of dub poetry include: • Protests against racism and police brutality • The celebration of sexuality • Rastafarian religious themes • Black liberation • The struggles of the poor
The Performance • Although primarily an oral poetry for public performance, it has increasingly appeared in print, notably in Johnson's Dread Beat and Blood (1975) and Benjamin Zephaniah's The Dread Affair (1985). Other leading dub poets include Michael Smith, Jean Binta Breeze, and Levi Tafari. • Dub poetry tends toward a reggae (but not necessarily dub)-based backing
Dub Poetry as Art • There are various ways that dub poets have manipulated the art form. • Aside from being found in musical form, many dub poets like to perform their work a capella or ital. • Dub poetry is read in a variety of places, including prisons, cafes, parks, daycare centres, libraries, schools, universities, retirement homes, dance halls, night clubs, theatres, music festivals, rallies, marches, demonstrations, and concerts.
Women and Dub Poetry • Two women who are the most closely associated with dub poetic form are Lillian Allen and Jean Binta Breeze. • Lillian Allen is considered the birth mother of Canadian dub poetry. • Jean Binta Breeze popularized dub poetry in Kingston, Jamaica, and brought the tradition to Britain. • Women in dub poetry focus on topics such as family, sexism, women’s oppression, and liberation. • These women have expanded on the political topics of dub poetry by including aspects of the personal, private, and domestic sphere. • Women dubbists also write about love, sex, sexuality, spirituality, healing, and women’s inner life.
Dub Poetry • Read the essay “Dub Poetry” on p. 199 and the 3 poems on 203-206 • “Here’s to my hair”, “Grandfather’s Dream” and “Modern Day Slavery” • Authors are all female and come from a variety of backgrounds- Toronto, Jamaica, Barbados, England • Central ideas- how our history is always with us; finding yourself and commentaries on struggles against poverty/government
Your Task • Create a chart of analysis- based on any 2 of the 3 poems. Look at the following in each poem: structure; narrator’s persona (use quotes); symbolic elements (quotes again); view of ‘life’ (or family, parents etc…) • Write a compare/contrast paragraph of these two poems. Use any/all aspects of your chart. Use at least 2 quotes from each poem. • Chart and Paragraph due at the end of class. • 20 marks- 10 chart 10 paragraph