Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Poem of the Month: March: Getting There - Edward Baugh

...ignorance becomes a poetic opportunity.
          -Edward Baugh

Edward Baugh spoke these words when I heard him speaking recently at Glasgow university. He called History with a capital H, and spoke of the power of words to counteract. Baugh's discussion focused on the history involving the Caribbean people and their dialect. Creole has been under threat throughout history and attempts have been made to eradicate it entirely. In short, the difficulties encountered by Creole speakers, and writers, are similar to that suffered by the Scots.

Centuries ago was an attempt to completely wipe out the Scottish dialects, and writers struggled to communicate what they could with 'standard English.' Of course, such attempts were thwarted by the likes of Robert Burns whose poetry is peppered with Scots words and phrases. Such has it been with Creole, and various Caribbean writings.

To pick up any literature from the Caribbean or from Scotland is to notice the use of dialect. The writer has either completely removed any hint of dialect, or has used it obsessively to the point where understanding is near impossible for any outsider. Or, alternatively (and most excitingly) the writer has used both and the poetry, or prose, reads fluently while the two infect each other.

Baugh's poetry is difficult to track down online; at least, it's more obscure than other poet search engine ventures. But a few examples of his work can be found here. Exotic, and beautiful