Thesis Title: Form and Prosody in Contemporary Caribbean Poetry
My thesis explores the range of form and prosody found in contemporary anglophone Caribbean poetry, tracing the impact of African, European and East Indian influences on poets’ practise and considering how this informs the articulation of Caribbean cultural identity. In doing so, the research challenges a dominant critical narrative of an inescapable conflict or dichotomy between Western and non-Western poetic form.
The rationale for my project shares the conviction of the current international research collective Crafts of World Literature that ‘technique is the way art thinks’ and therefore analysis of form is crucial to contextualising poetry, and integral to the comparison of cultural traditions. It builds upon scholarly study of the relationship between form and context in Caribbean poetry and challenges the conflation of form with cultural politics and the resulting oversimplification of this nuanced relationship.
Through a form led exploration of the works of a diverse range of practitioners (including, but not limited to: Kei Miller, Vahni Capildeo, Jean “Binta” Breeze, Patience Agbabi and Vladimir Lucien) my research aims to juxtapose cultural traditions, exploring their hybridity. Chapters will focus on: fixed form; dub, calypso and other musical influences; visuality; iambic, nyabinghi and other meters; oral tradition and alliterative emphasis.
My research brings two broad fields of literary analysis, Caribbean studies and poetry studies, into dialogue, by drawing attention to cultural diversity in poetic form as well as foregrounding the work of contemporary Caribbean poets who have received limited critical attention. The research will also address the tendency of seminal writings on form to present Western poetic standards as the benchmarks of all anglophone poetry, by drawing attention to the need for cultural diversity within study of form through analysis of how form interacts with different cultural traditions and the resulting implications for contemporary anglophone poetry.