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Michael Smith Biography

(1954–83), It a Come

Literature Reference: American Literature, English Literature, Classics & Modern FictionEncyclopedia of Literature: Lemn Sissay Biography to Southwold Suffolk

Jamaican poet, born in Kingston; his father was a mason and his mother a factory worker. By the time he graduated from the Jamaica School of Drama in 1980 he was one of the most popular Dub performance poets in Jamaica. Smith's poetry is so uncompromisingly demotic and instinctively dramatic that, had he lived, he would have been the natural successor to Louise Bennett. Proverbs, biblical cadences and allusions, Rastafarian spirituality, and, above all, complete identification with ordinary people are characteristic of the poems, making him one of the best and closest to the oral tradition of the ‘Dub’ poets. ‘Me Cyaan Believe It’, which is also the title of his LP record, is his most famous poem. It is a devastating and relentlessly sardonic indictment of how ends never meet for the poor. It a Come (1986) is his only book of poetry. Smith was stoned to death by four hired thugs during the Jamaican general election campaign of 1983.

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