African Diasporic Literature
Anyone seriously interested in understanding contemporary Jamaican live and literature must encounter reggae as a cultural phenomenon that has engaged the spiritual, political, social, erotic, and racial dynamic of Jamaican society. Understanding reggae’s role in the word today is to understanding the complexity and post-modernist reality of the popular culture in the late twentieth century. For Kwame Dawes reggae is a lens through which to examine the cultural, political and social development of Caribbean society and with which to encounter the larger world. As a writer, Dawes has found an aesthetic grounding in reggae music. However, his interest in reggae extends to his scholarly work which argues that any reading of contemporary Caribbean literature can not be done effectively without a rasp of reggae music. His lectures and seminars on reggae (which he has conducted in colleges and universities around the world) constitute an engaging introduction to the range and complexity of reggae music and a rigorous exploration of its position as a defining aesthetic force. Dawes seeks to demonstrate that reggae artists are some of the most astute and gifted poets and polemicists to have emerged in the Caribbean in the last forty years. Kwame Dawes is an expert on the music of Bob Marley and his books on reggae and reggae’s impact on Caribbean literature speak to his fascination with this subject. His lectures and talks are a fitting introduction to the manner in which popular culture is fitting matter for serious scholarship.
The fact is that Caribbean poets have generated a significant body of interesting work that is worthy of critical attention. Kwame Dawes’ introductions to Caribbean poetry allow him to expose others to the work of poets that have been giving voice to the landscape language and personalities of the Caribbean for decades. His books Talk Yuh Talk: Interviews with CaribbeanPoets and Wheel and Come Again: An Anthology of Reggae Poems, along with his numerous essays and reviews on the work of Caribbean poets, form the basis of his lectures and seminars on Caribbean poetry.
In these lectures he traces the aesthetic and formal concerns of the poets from the region and does so by closely examining the poetry of some of the regions most important poets.