A Poetics of Performance
A Poetics of Performance examines the impact of orature performance on Caribbean prose fiction. Arguing that orature performance is the structuring device for many contemporary novels and short stories, this work extends the critical consensus that Caribbean oral modes infuse all genres of literature from the region. This book also demonstrates how the formal and thematic synergies between Caribbean orature and literature constitute an inter-performative relationship between the region’s literary and performance cultures. Beginning with a retrospective analysis of New Day and The Lonely Londoners, two harbingers of an aesthetic of orality, A Poetics of Performance offers fresh readings of fictions by post-1950s writers Earl Lovelace, Merle Collins, Marie-Elena John, Marlon James and Colin Channer alongside calypso, reggae and different modes of Caribbean oral storytelling. Bailey elucidates what may be termed the most consequential aspect of Caribbean literary self―fashioning: an “inward turn” to the expressive resources and discursive tools of folk and popular culture. This recuperation, she argues, has in turn forged a literary tradition grounded not only in the folk and urban working-class performance cultures but, inevitably, in a woman-centred poetics.
CAROL BAILEY is Assistant Professor, Department of English, Westfield State University.