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David Dabydeen

(b. 1956)


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(1956– ),

Guyanese‐born poet and novelist, educated at Cambridge and at University College London. Among several academic posts, he became a lecturer at the University of Warwick. Recurrent themes in Dabydeen's poems are the exploration of the experience of slavery and indentureship, the cultural denigration and dislocation resulting from colonialism, and the power of language to redeem. Slave Song (1984, rev. 2005) is notable for its innovative use of Guyanese rural Creole; the poems are accompanied by a ‘translation’ and commentary in Standard English highlighting the historical and cultural power relationships between the two forms of language. The long poem Turner (1994) exhibits a lyrical sensuous beauty, and takes the submerged African head in Turner's painting The Slave Ship (1840) as its starting point. His novels include The Intended (1991), set in multicultural south London; Disappearance (1993), narrated by a West Indian engineer working in a Kentish village; and A Harlot's Progress (1999), the story of a slave boy, based on paintings by William Hogarth. His other novels include The Counting House (1996) and Our Lady of Demerara (2004).

Subjects: Literature.


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