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David Dabydeen Biography

(1956– ), Slave Song, Coolie Odyssey, Turner: New and Selected Poems, The Intended

britain poetry blacks hogarth

Guyanese poet, novelist, and art historian, born in Guyana, educated at Cambridge and London Universities. He has held a number of academic appointments in America. His first book, Slave Song (1984; Commonwealth Prize for Poetry), contains harshly ‘anti-pastoral’ monologues in Creole dialect recreating the brutally restricted and anguished lives of sugar plantation workers. The poetry in Coolie Odyssey (1988) is more reflective and directly personal though still firmly based on the East Indian experience, and the destructive legacy of colonialism, both in Britain and in Guyana. Turner: New and Selected Poems appeared in 1994. His first novel, The Intended (1990), is partly a critique of Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness; Disappearance (1993) explores the disillusionment of a Guyanese man whose notions of ‘civilization’ and ‘antiquity’ are contradicted by his encounter with a decaying, postimperial Britain. Other works include Hogarth's Blacks: Images of Blacks in Eighteenth-Century English Art (1985), and Hogarth, Walpole and Commercial Britain (1987). With Nana Wilson-Tagoe he co-authored A Reader's Guide to West Indian and Black British Literature (1988).

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