Artistic Statement of dubpoet Klyde Broox 2023
Dubpoets focus primarily on the sonic identity of words. Dubpoetry dubs daily life into poetry to dub poetry into daily life. Generally, the dubpoetry is wordsoundengineering. This branch of poetry characterizes a simultaneous contemporary departure from colonialized Eurocentric print-muted literary traditions and a present-day, digitally enabled, return to oral origins of scribal literature where voice, tongue, and body are fundamental literary resources. Dubpoetry mainly occupies the domain of English Literature, but its principles and practices embrace music, straddle theatre, put at least a foot in dance, and sometimes paint verbal imagery that seems to reference elements of visual art. Dubpoems are globally portable because wordsounds are common to all languages. Indeed, wordsound is the rhizome of universal humanity and body language is polylingual. Such features seem common to all forms of poetry written primarily for utterance and performance. This outspoken branch of poetry is simultaneously a poetry of person, place, time, space, race, and the political power of words. As a dubpoet, my artistic vision is rooted in a steadfast focus on art as much more instrumental than ornamental. My artistic practice blends into regular communal life and is grounded in the geography of physical location. My aesthetic techniques mine social mystique to generate verse causally related to the interplay between person and place. I also toggle perspectives to dub global (bird’s-eye) discourses into local (worm’s-eye) narratives to universalize the frame of reference of my work.
In my interpretation and practice of dubpoetics, I recognize, accept, and embrace the fact that dubpoetry and “spoken word” very often function as interchangeable tags for each other because both “spoken word” and dubpoetry are written primarily to be performed and they both erase oral scribal division by blending oral and scribal literary modes of versification. Dubpoets and “spoken word” artists have energized the re-ascendancy of wordsounds into poetic prominence because we recognize that in the same way that a photograph of a house is not the house, the printed poem is not the poem, it is only the picture of the poem. Poets who practice dubpoetry and spoken word focus on wordsounds as means of occupying social space to contest and subvert official narratives and discourses. These approaches to poetry can instrumentalize written and uttered words to give voice to disenfranchised members of society across a transcultural, intersectoral, and multilingual barriers in any given society. Performative poetry can be utilized as a platform for issue-based public engagement, a medium for knowledge sharing, and an engine of social transformation. Poems can even function as instruments of anger-management and stress-relief, as well as sources of mental health improvement and social upliftment. The performance of poetry asserts its cultural vitality and social utility and can instigate other community members to explore the art within themselves. Thus, poetry can function as a platform for fostering respect and support for disempowered and vulnerable sectors of society, by providing marginalized voices with opportunities to advocate for themselves.
Klyde Broox is an award winning Jamaican born dubpoet, informal scholar, author and literary activist, with a growing international reputation. Broox has earned the 1979 Nathan Brissett Poetry Prize in Jamaica, a 1992 James Michener Fellowship, from the University of Miami, in the United States; the 2005 City of Hamilton Arts Award for Literature and the 2011 Rev. John. C. Holland Award for Arts Achievement, in Canada. He has published two volumes of poetry, Poemstorm, (Swansea, Wales, 1989) and the award-wining, My Best Friend is White, (McGilligan Books, Toronto, 2005). He held a 2017 fellowship with McMaster University’s Centre for Community Engaged Narrative Arts, and was a 2018 finalist for the Ontario Premier’s Award for Excellence in the field of literature.
Migrating to Canada in 1993, Broox emerged as one of the nation’s foremost practitioners of dubpoetry, and was a core member of Toronto’s now inactive Dub Poets Collective. In 2007, Klyde coordinated an international dubpoetry festival in his hometown Hamilton, where, since 1998, he has hosted a monthly performance oriented open-stage series, PoeMagic. Klyde regularly travels across Canada to perform his poetry, give workshops and deliver guest lectures. Over the decades, he has earned a reputation as “a consummate stage artist who blends speech, song, dance and gesture into a powerful package that is inspirational, entertaining and intellectually provocative.” Broox usually invites audiences and workshop participants to “experience poetry as social communion”.