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Black Yeats: Eric Roach and the Politics of Caribbean Poetry

Published by Peepal Tree Press

ISBN: 9781845230470

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For readers of West Indian literature, a study of Eric Roach requires no justification. He is the most significant poet in the English-speaking Caribbean between Claude McKay (who spent nearly all of his life abroad) and Derek Walcott.

Roach began publishing in the late 1930s and continued, with a few interruptions, until 1974, the year of his suicide. His career thus spans an extraordinary period of Anglophone Caribbean history, from the era of violent strikes that led to the formation of most of the region’s political parties, through the process of decolonization, the founding and subsequent failure of the Federation of the West Indies (1958-1962), and the coming of Independence in the 1960s.

This book presents a critical analysis of all of Roach’s published poetry, but it presents that interpretation as part of a broader study of the relations between his poetic activity, the political events he experienced (especially West Indian Federation, Independence, the Black Power movement, the 'February Revolution' of 1970 Trinidad), and the seminal debates about art and culture in which he participated.

By exploring Roach’s work within its conditions, this book aims above all to confirm Roach’s rightful place among West Indian and metropolitan poets of comparable gifts and accomplishments.

Laurence A. Breiner is Professor of English at Boston University. He is the author of the widely praised Introduction to West Indian Poetry and numerous scholarly articles in Caribbean Literature.
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