New Caribbean Poetry. an Anthology

Article excerpt

Miller, Kei. Ed. New Caribbean Poetry. An Anthology. Manchester: Carcanet Press, 2007

This anthology of 'new Caribbean poets' gathers the poetic work of eight emerging writers from the Caribbean but they all write in English. Miller dates the beginning of West Indian Literature from the beginning of the twentieth century, but recognises two foremost poets in the development of contemporary Caribbean poetry: Derek Walcott and Kamau Brathwaite. Miller remarks how being often counterpoised by criticism, these two poets instead show many similarities in their work, even if one seems to be closer to the European tradition, and the other to the African tradition.

The Haitian Marilene Phipps-Kettlewell opens the collection. Miller associates her work with Walcott's, but especially with Lorna Goodison's. The three poets are also painters, and Phipps-Kettlewell shares with Goodison a sense of spirituality, the freshness of language - and in her case the insertion of Haitian Kwéyol -, all elements in her work which show a constant dialogue with God, as duly reflected in her poems 'Sanctuary', 'The Christ is Born', or 'On a Cross'. Her work is Caribbean because it takes inspiration from the people, the language, and the land itself. The work selected here was taken from her six collections of poetry, but she is also a short-story writer.

The Jamaican poet Delores Gauntlett published two books of poetry. Corning out of Wayne Brown's workshop, this poet, according to Miller, echoes the American formalist Robert Hayden, and she often employs iambic pentameters in her work. Her themes are linked to Caribbean religion as 'Pocomania', events related to Jamaican history as the train 'Kendal Crash - 1957', or intimate subjects like in 'A Song for My Father'.

Christian Campbell is a Bahamian writer and in his poetry he tries to combine different styles and voices coming out of the Caribbean tradition, like what Miller recognises as the 'grandmummy' ('Twilight', 'Moruga', 'Anthuriums'), the 'rent-a-dread' ('Groove'), an Oxford voice, or some jazz rhythms as in 'Rudical, Derek Bennett, killed by the police' .

The Puerto Rican Loretta Collins Klobah has not published any collections of poetry as yet when compared to Campbell, but they both have been mentioned in poetry competitions. She employs English significantly in her poetry, but she often inserts Spanish, or spanglish ana patois, as can be seen from 'El Velorio, The Wake', 'Going Up, Going Down', or 'Novena a La Reina Maria Lionza'. From her poetry, her movements emerge. …