Poetry Kaleidoscope: Guide to Poetry
Dub Poetry is a form of performance poetry consisting of spoken
word over reggae rhythms, that originated in
Jamaica in the 1970s. Unlike Dee Jaying (also known as Toasting or
Chatting) which also features the use of the spoken word, the Dub Poet's
performance is normally pre-prepared, rather than the extemporised chat
of the Dancehall Dee Jay, and in many cases the Dub Poet will appear on
stage with a band performing music specifically written to accompany
their poems, rather than simply perform over the top of dub plates in
the Dancehall fashion.
Dub poetry is mostly of an overtly political and social nature, with none of
the braggadocio often associated with the dancehall. The odd love-song or
but dub poetry is predominantly concerned with politics and social justice,
commonly voiced through a commentary on current events (and in this it does
share much with Dancehall and 'Conscious' or 'Roots' [reggae] music).
Linton Kwesi Johnson (LKJ)'s album Dread, Beat an' Blood first appeared in 1977
then Oku Onuora's Reflection In Red in 1979 followed by Benjamin Zephaniah's
Rasta, and many others in the early 1980s onwards. Although the genre had its
heyday in the 1980s and 1990s, many of the poets are still active today; many new poets are emerging, and even
experimenting with the genre (i.e., the Jamaican dub style over hip-hop beats).
Toronto Canada has the second highest concentration of Dub Poets preceeded by
Jamaica and followed by England. Poets such as
Lillian Allen, Afua Cooper, and Ahdri Zhina Mandiela are among the founding
mothers of the Canadian Dub Poetry legacy.
LKJ still runs LKJ records in the UK, a label which publishes both his own
books and music, and also that of other musicians and poets.
Zephaniah continues to publish in the UK. He has written novels as well as
poetry. He was put forward for the post of
Oxford Professor of Poetry in 1989 and UK
Laureate in 1999, and was also offered an
OBE in 2003, which he declined.
Many of the Dub Poets have published their work as volumes of written poetry
as well as albums of poetry with music.
Notable Dub Poets
Jean "Binta" Breeze
Linton Kwesi Johnson
ahdri zhina mandiela
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