Stage or Page? A Dub Performer or A Dub Poet? A Study of Linton Kwesi Johnson’s Political Activism in “Five Nights of Bleeding” and “Di Great Insohreckshan”

  •  Yasser Aman    


This paper investigates Linton Kwesi Johnson’s political activism in “Five Nights of Bleeding” and “Di Great Insohreckshan” in order to answer the much-debated question: which is more effective in conveying Johnson’s political message: the performed song or the scribed poem? First, the paper gives a brief history of dub music which started in Jamaica, Johnson’s motherland. A discussion of dub poetry follows highlighting the pioneers such as Johnson and Mutabaruka. I argue that the performed songs and the scribed poems under study are effective in convey Johnson’s message each in its own way; however, the scribed form has a stronger, more longstanding impact on imparting the message than stage performance because it relies on the musicality of the words created by sounds and aural images easily grasped even by an international readership alien to the heritage of dub music. An analysis of political events in the two poems shows that a scribed poem, which, as in “Five Nights of Bleeding”, graphically represents a tension between Standard English, and Jamaican Creole and Jamaican English, and which highlights sounds at play as in “Di Great Insohreckshan”, asserting identity, can do without stage performance.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
  • ISSN(Print): 1925-4768
  • ISSN(Online): 1925-4776
  • Started: 2011
  • Frequency: quarterly

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