Dub Poetry

Show Summary Details

Quick Reference

A kind of poetry that emerged in Jamaica and England during the early 1970s, influenced by the rhythms of reggae music. The term was at first applied to the improvised ‘rapping’ of the Jamaican disc-jockeys known as ‘toasters’, who sang or recited their own words over the dub versions of reggae records (i.e. the purely instrumental re-mixed versions on the B-sides); but it has come to be adopted as a collective label for a tradition of popular poetry in the Jamaican (and black British) vernacular or ‘Patwah’, inaugurated by Mutabaruka and Oku Onuora in Jamaica and by Linton Kwesi Johnson in England. Dub poetry includes lyrics and narrative poems on various subjects including protest against racism and police brutality, the celebration of sex, music, and ganja, and Rastafarian religious themes. Although primarily an oral poetry for public performance, it has increasingly appeared in print, notably in Johnson's Dread Beat and Blood (1975) and Benjamin Zephaniah's The Dread Affair (1985). Other leading dub poets include Michael Smith, Jean Binta Breeze, and Levi Tafari.

Subjects: Literature.

Reference entries

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.