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Louise Bennett Biography

(1919–2006), (Jamaica) Dialect Verses, Jamaican Humour in Dialect, Anancy Poems in Dialect, Jamaican Labrish

Jamaican poet, born in Kingston, Jamaica, educated in Jamaica and at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London. She worked briefly for the BBC. When she first composed verses in ‘patois’ or Jamaican dialect in the 1930s and 1940s, Bennett used the language of the common people which was regarded as uneducated. But her early books such as (Jamaica) Dialect Verses (1942), Jamaican Humour in Dialect (1943), and Anancy Poems in Dialect (1944) indicate a passionate interest in using local speech to dramatize or comment on scenes, personalities, or issues drawn from ordinary life in Jamaica. Later, she gave readings and performances of her work which helped to establish her as both a poet and an authority on Jamaican folklore. Bennett's contribution to Caribbean literature is seminal in that her work introduced ‘Creole’ or ‘Nation Language’ to a wider public. Her later books, Jamaican Labrish (1966) and Selected Poems (1982), confirm her primary achievement: the transformation into literature of subjects and techniques normally considered appropriate only in oral art or folklore. She has received many awards including the Order of jamaica (1974).

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Literature Reference: American Literature, English Literature, Classics & Modern FictionEncyclopedia of Literature: Pierre Augustin Caron de Beaumarchais Biography to Michel Bibaud Biography