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“Bad talk” made good: language variety in four Caribbean British children’s poets

Lockwood, M. (2013) “Bad talk” made good: language variety in four Caribbean British children’s poets. Children's Literature in Education, 45 (1). pp. 74-88. ISSN 1573-1693

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1007/s10583-013-9202-y


This article looks at how four British-based poets born in the Caribbean exploit the rich language repertoire available to them in their work for children and young people. Following initial consideration of questions of definition and terminology, poetry collections by James Berry, John Agard, Grace Nichols and Valerie Bloom are discussed, with a focus on the interplay and creative tension between the different varieties of Caribbean creoles (“Bad Talk”) and standard English evident in their work. Variation both between the four poets’ usage and within each individual poet’s work is considered, and a trend over time towards the inclusion of fewer creole-influenced poems is noted. This and other issues, such as the labelling of the four poets’ work as ‘performance poetry’ and the nature of the poets’ contribution to British children’s literature, are considered in the conclusion.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Arts, Humanities and Social Science > Institute of Education > Language and Literacy in Education
ID Code:32713
Uncontrolled Keywords:Children’s poetry; Caribbean poetry; James Berry; John Agard, Grace Nichols; Valerie Bloom.

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