Dub poetry
Stylistic origins Dub - Spoken word
Cultural origins 1970s, Jamaica
Typical instruments Guitar - Bass - drums - Organ - Keyboard - Brass - Melodica - Synthesizer - Vocals
Alternative poetry

Oral tradition
Oral interpretation
Oral literature
Oral poetry • Ethnopoetics
Poetry reading
How to read poetry out loud
Performance poetry
How to perform poetry
Sound poetry • Slam poetry
Spoken word • Rap • Dub

Found poetry

Cento  • Erasure poetry
Cut-up technique
Flarf • Spoetry

Visual poetry

Pattern poetry
Carmen figuratum
Diamante • Calligram
Concrete poetry
How to write a concrete poem
Haptic poetry
Concrete and visual poets

Digital poetry

Hypertext poetry
Interactive poetry

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Dub poetry is a form of performance poetry of West Indian origin.[1] It evolved out of dub music consisting of spoken word over reggae rhythms in Jamaica in the 1970s(Citation needed). Unlike Dee Jaying (also known as Toasting), which also features the use of the spoken word, the Dub Poet's performance is normally prepared, rather than the extemporized chat of the Dancehall Dee Jay. In musical settings; the Dub Poet usually appears on stage with a band performing music specifically written to accompany each poem, rather than simply perform over the top of dub plates, or riddims, in the Dancehall fashion. Musicality is built into Dub poems, yet, Dub Poets generally perform without backing music, delivering chanted speech with pronounced rhythmic accentuation and dramatic stylization of gesture. Sometimes dub music effects, e.g. echo, reverb, are dubbed spontaneously by a poet into live versions of a poem. Many Dub Poets also employ call and response devices to engage audiences.

Dub poetry is mostly of an overtly political and social nature, with none of the braggadocio often associated with the dancehall. The odd love-song or elegy appears, but dub poetry is predominantly concerned with politics and social justice, commonly voiced through a commentary on current events (thus sharing these elements with Dancehall and "Conscious" or "Roots" reggae music).

Linton Kwesi Johnson (LKJ)'s album Dread Beat an' Blood first appeared in 1978 then Oku Onuora's Reflection In Red in 1979 followed by Benjamin Zephaniah's Rasta, and many others in the early 1980s onwards. Although the genre was most popular in the 1980s and 1990s, many dub poets are still active today; dubstep musician Kode9 works almost exclusively with MC The Spaceape, who MCs in a dread poet style over most tracks on the Memories of the future album.

Toronto, Canada, has the second highest concentration of Dub Poets preceded by Jamaica and followed by England (Citation needed). Poets like Lillian Allen, Afua Cooper, and Ahdri Zhina Mandiela are among the founding mothers of the Canadian Dub Poetry legacy.

LKJ still runs LKJ records in the UK, a label which publishes both his own books and music, and also that of other musicians and poets.

Zephaniah continues to publish in the UK. He has written novels as well as poetry. He was put forward for the post of Oxford Professor of Poetry in 1989 and UK Poet Laureate in 1999, and was also offered an OBE in 2003, which he declined.

Many of the dub poets have published their work as volumes of written poetry as well as albums of poetry with music.

Notable dub poetsEdit



  1. Chris Roberts, Heavy Words Lightly Thrown: The Reason Behind Rhyme, Thorndike Press,2006 (ISBN 0-7862-8517-6)
  2. [1]
  3. [
  4. [2] CDBABY.COM
  5. Ahdri Zhina Mandiela

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