The hugely important Louise Bennett (1919-2006), Jamaican folklorist, storyteller and educator. She was instrumental in establishing patois and creole speech as valid forms of language at a time when the Jamaican middle classes dismissed Jamaican dialect as vulgar and offensive. The great dub poet, Linton Kwesi Johnson said of her: “She is the mother of Jamaican poetry, and has had a greater impact on our cultural life than any other writer in the history of Caribbean literature.”
Just as Zora Neale Hurston traveled the Southern US collecting stories, folklore and children’s games, Miss Lou scoured the Jamaican countryside for folk songs, Anansi trickster tales, proverbs and more. Though she published volumes of poetry she never truly received the recognition she deserved.
All the hip young things who quote Bob or drop Jamaican patois lyrics probably don’t realise how much they owe a debt to Miss Lou.
Gwaan Miss Lou! Di people dem fi love yu!
Link below is to a tribute to her work from the Caribbean Review of Books:
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