Mapping creative interiors: Creative process narratives and individualized workscapes in the Jamaican dub poetry context

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Indiana University
Dub poetry, or reggae poetry, developed in the 1970s as a synthesis of oral, musical, and dramatic traditions practiced in Jamaica. Scholars have focused attention on the published texts and the public performances, the creative fruits, of the genre’s pioneering poets. Dub poetry’s textual and performative components represent only two spheres in which poets’ creativity flourishes. Recently, scholars have called for a deeper exploration of the creative processes, the creative roots, associated with verbal, musical, and dramatic traditions. This dissertation focuses on the creative processes, of two dub poets, Cherry Natural (b. 1960) and Mbala (b. 1953), as practiced in the non-public “preperformance” realm. During my 1996 and 2001 fieldwork sessions I mapped the geography of two of these non-public realms—what I refer to jointly as creative interiors. Observation of the poets’ workscapes, specially engineered spaces for creating, revealed that “poeming” (poem-making) is intimately linked with the patterns and practices of everyday life. The poets rely on their workscapes for inspiration as well as for supplying resources that are commonly used in the creating, editing, and maintaining of poems. Analysis of the Jamaicans’ creative process narratives revealed the existence of unique poemscapes, tangible patterns associated with the life-cycles and development of poems. By exploring these two creative interiors it was possible to document key dimensions of the poets’ creative processes, their relationships with poems, and their patterns of daily life. Part One contextualizes my research with the body of scholarship on reggae, Rastafari, and dub poetry. Part Two provides an historic overview of the notion of poetic composition and key processual models associated with the study of creativity. My methodological practices for “coaxing and capturing” creativity are also described. Part Three documents Cherry and Mbala’s workscape environments and the daily routines they follow. Part Four examines the ways in which the Jamaicans speak of the progressive cycles of birthing, building, editing, working/driving, and parking poems. I conclude by suggesting that the field of “preperformance studies,” should play a vital role in making linkages between the creative processes and the creative products associated with verbal, musical, and dramatic genres.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--Indiana University, Dept. of Folklore and Ethnomusicology, 2007
Dub Poetry, Reggae, Jamaica, Caribbean, Oral Tradition, Creative Process, Personal Narrative, Folklore, Ethnomusicology, Cultural Anthropology
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