Jamaican Poetry
Its History & Development

Custom Search

Jamaican Poetry, contributed by Tracie Blake

The Jamaican Dialect of Patois (pronounced Patwa) is a colourful, expressive and dramatic language.

This native tongue is very passionate with variations between the British English and the American English. This has affected how the language of Patois is perceived in Jamaica and the rest of the world.

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

It was this yearning desire that lead Jamaica’s first poets, Claude Mckay and Thomas MacDermot to write and publish our own poetry in the early 1900s.

McKay and MacDermot were both well-educated and well-traveled but they found their niche in writing Jamaican Poetry.

They opened the door to bring forth the blossoming of Louise Bennett in the late 1900s.


She was also well-educated and well-traveled with most of her travels taking her to England where the Queen’s English was embedded in her.

She however, felt the need to come back to her roots and later argued and fought for Jamaican Patois to be accepted worldwide as a full language- in the same way as English.

She wanted Patois to be seen as a legitimate language- both in writing and performing literature.

This grew wings in the form of books, newspaper publications, festivals, stage shows and television broadcasts. Over the years, it has been taught in schools and has garnered more publicity by being infiltrated to the world via the worldwide web.

From these eras of poets also sprung poets such as James Berry, Joan Andrea Hutchinson, Geoffrey Philip, Langston Hughes, Ralph Thompson and Valerie Bloom.

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.

It soon became popular as a label in Jamaica and on the British scene. The Rastafarian religious beliefs are featured a lot in Dub Poetry and Dub Poets are largely of the Rastafarian Sect. This has been influential in embracing unity and peace amongst political activists in the island.

The first Dub Poets emerging were Mutabaruka, Oku Onuora and in Britain, Linton Kwesi Johnson.

Rastafarian religious beliefs are used a lot in dub poetry. Dub Poetry is mainly done through oral performances but has found itself in written forms over the years.


A Jamaica Gleaner photo

Other Dub Poets include Yasus Afari (Above), Malachi, Prince Far I, Michael Smith, Jean “Binta” Breeze, Levi "Tafari", Delroy and the most recent sensation, 'DYCR' Chandler.

Related Pages

Return to Jamaica Culture from Jamaican Poetry
Return to My Island Jamaica Homepage from Jamaican Poetry

New! Comments

Have your say about what you just read! Leave me a comment in the box below.

Recommended For You ...

P.S. Didn't find exactly what you were looking for? Still need help?

Click Here to try our dependable and effective Site Search tool, It works!

Or, simply click here to ask me the questionI'll do my best to get back to you within 24 hours!

And, Before You Go!

Here (below) are some sweet deals on great Jamaican products at Amazon that you might have otherwise missed.

Amazon.com, by the way, is the internet's most reputable retailer and usually showcases only the best products from their inventory.

As an ardent customer and affiliate I earn a small commission from your purchase, at no extra cost to you. So thanks in advance.

Note: If link does not show, please click here to be redirected to our page at Amazon.com.

Great Articles You Might Have Missed

data-matched-content-rows-num="2" data-matched-content-columns-num="3"

Please help me get the message out by sharing this article with your friends on social media (links below). Thnx ;-)

Ready To Vacation?
Please Book With Us...

wellesley gayle - booking link

Was the information helpful to you?
Here is a great way to support our effort.

All you need to do is book your vacation via the reputable HotelsCombined.com search box below.

It can be for travel to Jamaica or anywhere else on earth.

They combine the best deals from across all major booking sites and shows you only the very best!

Not quite ready to book?  Start by searching (below) to get some amazing ideas now.

You are also welcome to join my special friends list and receive exclusive updates (like this), tips, trivia and stories from lovers of Jamaica! Just enter...

Also connect with My-Island-Jamaica.com on Social Media: 
Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Youtube

Thank You!

Top Of Page
Wellesley Gayle

What's New? Click Here And See


Trending Now

My Gift To You!


Site Sponsors


Our Preferred Sponsors  & Friends (below)

(Our Sponsorship Policy)

Photographers in Jamaica
Wedding Photographers
Jamaican Souvenirs
Best Jamaican Souvenirs Cars For Sale In Jamaica
Cars For Sale

JamaicaSunshine Tours.com

Click Here to Visit Our Sponsors' Page

Top Articles

What's New?

Below is a list of the very latest articles I posted on the site.

Recent Articles

  1. Where is Jamaica? Glad You Asked

    Mar 19, 18 11:16 PM

    Exactly where is Jamaica? Let me help to navigate you.

    Read More

  2. Best Montego Bay Airport Transfers? Here Is My Recommendation

    Mar 19, 18 03:43 PM

    Top Montego Bay airport transfers operators - Here are the top ones, with prices and contact information.

    Read More

  3. Memba When (Remember When) - Jamaican Joke

    Mar 19, 18 02:24 PM

    I got this one from Bro T via WhatsApp yesterday and I couldn't wait to share it with you. Love it! It is especially true to those who were born before

    Read More

  4. What Is Jamaica Famous For?

    Mar 19, 18 01:05 PM

    Answered by Devin Saunds-Dunkley, Associate Writer Jamaica, although often times branded in the news for its crime and violence, is a beautiful island

    Read More

New!  I've created a Welcome Audio. Just click the Play button below to listen.

Please subscribe here to get my latest updates.