Checking Out Me History, Tings an Times, and White Comedy: Re-shaping and re-playing the post-colonial identity
The main purpose of this article is to show how John Agard’s Checking Out Me History, Linton Kwesi Johnson’s Tings an Times and Benjamin Zephaniah’s White Comedy play along the “spectrum of the spoken word”, as Agard himself describes it, and how their words are spoken as concurrent signs of resistance against the colonizing past. They introduce a kind of poetry that, with all its political force, quite literally “makes something happen”. In other words, through a shared happening among performer and spectators, these poets stand in front of the post-colonial eyes as the colonized body, with all that it carries, taking advantage of the effective immediacy of the performance while returning back to the origins of poetry, namely its oral tradition. Based on a post-colonial geometry of self-re-definition and historical re-membering, the past is reclaimed as the personas / performers / writers / speakers carve history into the shape of their own body and carve themselves inside and outside of history. When they confront and question themselves, they confront and question their spectators and history itself as a spectator of its happenings: how can human beings walk in and out of history’s play without crossing the lines of complicity and how can the rules of the play be subverted?
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