Our Complicity in Manufacturing Cultural Identity

         The seminar discussion regarding hypertext poetry and McLuhan’s  famous quote “The Medium is the Message” links back to Dabydeen’s Slave Song: although the medium of poetry and printed text is a familiar one, his criticisms of colonialism lead one to question his choice of medium. The form of Slave Song can be seen to be just as thematically significant as that of Strickland’s “The Ballad of Sand and Harry Soot”. The combination of Creole poetry and critical apparatus create a hypertext of sorts — Dabydeen provides the option to work through his text in any way the reader desires. By allowing readers the freedom to consume the text in any desired manner, each reader of Slave Song unknowingly becomes complicit in the discussed issue of colonialism.

         Based on the order one chooses to read the various components of Slave Song — the Creole poems, the notes, the translations — the reader’s image of Guyanese culture will vary. With the agency to decide how to consume such a work, the reader is complicit in manufacturing that which they wish to see. The criticism of an overly simplistic search for an cultural authenticity is thus exemplified by the very form through which Dabydeen delivers Slave Song.

Leave a Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Leave a Reply