Crossing the Digital Divide: Caribbean Performance Poetry and Internet Audio Archives

  1. 1. Janet Neigh

    Penn State Erie, The Behrend College

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The flourishing of archives of poetry recordings on websites, such as PennSound, The Electronic Poetry Center, and UbuWeb, have provided an excellent resource for building an audience for contemporary poetics, particularly for more performance-based poetics. While these digital platforms seem to promise democratization, we must ask whose voices are being recorded. Many of these collections, which now determine the content of poetry syllabi in university classrooms, reinforce the United States as the dominant center of Anglophone poetry in the Americas. Not only are Caribbean poets underrepresented in these curated collections, their online presence is often sparse, limited to random YouTube videos. For example, a Google search for the renowned Jamaican artist Miss Lou will produce few actual sound recordings of her poetry, which greatly limits the study of her engagements with the performance dynamics of Creole speech. This presentation will examine both the limitations and possibilities of digital technologies for Caribbean performance poetry, and how we might address the digitization of sound archives such as the University of the West Indies’ Library of the Spoken Word. In order to tackle the “digital divide,” economic resources are clearly an issue, but we also need to carefully consider the structure of Internet audio archives – their metadata, their navigation systems, and their database design —so that they better reflect the oral cultures of Caribbean performance poetry. This presentation will conclude with a consideration of the youth led artist collective the 2 Cents Movement, based out of Trinidad, who have successfully used social media to circulate their video poems. Their populist approach, which combines education and activism, offers a compelling example of the potential of digital technologies to reinvigorate the earlier transnational coalition building initiated by the dub poetry movement.

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Conference Info

In review

Caribbean Digital - 2014

Hosted at Barnard College, Columbia University

New York, New York, United States

Dec. 4, 2014 - Dec. 5, 2014

31 works by 38 authors indexed

Series: Caribbean Digital (1)

Organizers: Caribbean Digital

  • Keywords: None
  • Language: English
  • Topics: None