Edward Baugh

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Edward Baugh is a famous Jamaican poet and scholar born on the 10th of January 1936 in Port Antonio, Jamaica. He began writing poetry at Titchfield High School where he attended.

He won a scholarship to study English literature at the University College of the West Indies in Mona, Jamaica, and later did postgraduate studies at Queen’s University in Ontario and the University of Manchester, where he earned a Ph.D. in 1964 he taught at various Universities throughout his life.

 

He taught at the Cave Hill campus of the University of the West for three years (1965-1967) and at the Mona campus for over thirty-three years (1968-2001). He became Professor of English at the University of the West Indies, Mona in 1978.

 

Baugh is a prolific writer and has a long list of publications to his credit. This include, “It was the Singing” (2000), “I was a Teacher too” (1991), “A Tale from the Rainforest” (1988), “Derek Walcott: Memory as Vision” (1978), “Critics on Caribbean Literature” (1978) and “West Indian Poetry 1900-1970: A Study in Cultural Decolonisation” (1971).

 

The 23rd Annual Conference on West Indian Literature is honoured to have Edward Baugh as our plenary speaker, given his wide knowledge of West Indian literature and criticism, his personal experience of the cultural wars of the 1960s and the 1970s, and his exemplary career as a superb and inspiring teacher and intellectual mentor whose intellectual generosity and rigorous expectations shaped several generations of Caribbean literary scholars.

 

His criticism, from 1965 to the present, has consistently highlighted the role of the critic as cultural mediator and interpreter between the writer and society.

 

Like Matthew Arnold, Baugh recognizes the symbiotic relationship between culture, criticism, and society, as evinced in essays such as “Towards a West Indian Criticism” (1968) and the groundbreaking “The West Indian Writer and His Quarrel with History” (1977).

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Poetry is an expressive, creative way of writing and when combined with Patois, it becomes positively explosive. In Jamaican Poetry, there is an opportunity to express ourselves comfortably in our native tongue evoking emotions freely and comfortably.

 

Poetry is very common especially in the Jamaican culture; people used it as a way of self expression. Poetry has a long history, dating back to the Sumerian Epic of Gilgamesh.

 

Early poems evolved from folk songs such as the Chinese Shijing, or from a need to retell oral epics, as with the Sanskrit Vedas, Zoroastrian Gathas, and the Homeric epics, the Iliad and the Odyssey. Ancient attempts to define poetry, such as Aristotle’s Poetics, focused on the uses of speech in rhetoric, drama, song and comedy.

 

Poetry in Jamaica has expanded into Dub Poetry. Dub Poetry is a form of musical poetic expression tied to Reggae Music. It is typically written and performed by Rastafarians with a distinct drumming as the background music. It emerged in the early 1970s when disc-jockeys started “rapping” poems and lyrics to the music they spun.

 

There are lots of poets in Jamaica and Edward Baugh is just one of the few, his poems are used in schools too in that lovely country.