By Laurence A. Breiner

This advent to West Indian poetry is written for readers making their first method of the poetry of the Caribbean written in English. It deals a entire literary heritage from the Nineteen Twenties to the Nineteen Eighties, with specific recognition to the connection of West Indian poetry to eu, African and American literature. shut readings of person poems provide precise research of social and cultural concerns at paintings within the writing. Laurence Breiner's exposition speaks powerfully in regards to the defining forces in Caribbean tradition from colonialism to resistance and decolonization.

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Paris in the 1920s saw Europe rejecting many of its own cultural assumptions and challenging its traditions in the wake of a war that had reshaped society. For the Haitians then, it was part of becoming a good Frenchman to turn against French cultural assumptions, as the French themselves were doing. Having learned this lesson, the students returned ready to reject the assumptions of their parents' generation and particularly any acquiescence to French cultural leadership. They were thus in a frame of mind highly receptive to Price-Mars's insistence not only that Haitian culture was coherent and self-sufficient, but that it preserved precisely the kind of features that European culture now saw itself in need of.

Was there a literature? Was that literature distinctively "West Indian"? It is emblematic that ACLALS begins with the poet ranged against the novelists. During the 1960s the success of compatriots who had gone to England to write and publish set in high relief the uncertainty about a serious audience for poetry. Lamming, Wilson Harris, and Edgar Mittelholzer in particular, who went to England and abandoned poetry for fiction, stood as disheartening examples, drawing all too much attention to the hard fact that a writer's choice of genre had economic and societal implications.

The heart of his formulation is this: The humanist poet, of course, naturally takes his inspiration from his society, and his voice is often speaking away from that society rather than speaking in towards it . . A poet can either approach his subject in a humanist manner or he can attempt not only to take his 17 18 An Introduction to West Indian Poetry inspiration from the broad base of society, but actually to try to communicate directly to this broad base of society. While he calls his three approaches equally valid, Brathwaite thought it most urgent to cultivate the third.

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