Writing & Society Research Centre, Room To Listen online seminar series

Event Name
Writing & Society Research Centre, Room To Listen online seminar series
30 October 2020
11:00 am - 12:00 pm

Address (Room): online: RSVP to s.gapps@westernsydney.edu.au for zoom details


In 1870, a white plantation owner, Michael McTurk, submitted two poems in a kind of Guyanese Creole to Marabunta – a short-lived satirical journal modelled on London’s Punch. McTurk was ventriloquising the persona of an old black plantation worker under the pseudonym of ‘Quow’. These were the first poems in an Anglophone Caribbean Creole written specifically for publication that would form part of an ongoing body of work. They were not without precedent. Ballads in local colonial vernaculars circulated between newspapers across the British Empire at the time and McTurk's 'Quow' poems themselves would later circulate widely. The poems address a very local and contentious event in British Guiana: a commission of inquiry into the treatment of indentured labourers. I will consider the nature and significance of this publishing event for Caribbean poetry written the region’s creole vernaculars. I will focus on the convergence of two literary forms, the ballad and the letter to the editor, before considering their rhetoric as they register and reveal the intentions informing the white ventriloquising of Creole speech and identity.

Speakers: Dr Ben Etherington

Web page: https://www.westernsydney.edu.au/writing_and_society/events/writing_and_society_seminars

Name: Suzanne Gapps


Phone: 0403 699 455

School / Department: Writing & Society Research Centre