Last updated: 28 july, 2009 - 15:34 GMT

Art and Culture

Caribbean Voices

To play this content JavaScript must be turned on and the latest Flash player installed.

Play in either Real OR Windows Media players

If a good newspaper acts as a nation talking to itself, then Caribbean Voices distinguished itself as a sounding board for the British colonies in Caribbean.

It was a weekly programme where poets, playwrights and prose writers - amateur and professional - sent forth their contributions from the Antilles and those stories, selected, edited and fastidiously recorded washed back over the airwaves as the BBC called the Caribbean.

In this two-part series Colin Grant examines how the programme served to kick start a literary tradition in the region.

The door of the freelancers' room at the Langham Hotel, with its ochre walls and pea-green dado, was always wide open and a host of soon-to-be famous names walked through; Sam Selvon, Derek Walcott, Andrew Salkey, V.S. Naipaul and many others.

The series will travel back to the anxious beginnings of these impoverished fledgling writers who tapped out their stories, on the smooth non-rustle paper, to the sound of their bellies knocking on their backbones.

In part two, Colin asks writers who they think they are, who are their readers and whether they strive for recognition at home or abroad.

He also looks at the impact the populist Jamaican poet, Louise Bennett had on the country's most popular art form, pantomime and how the film 'The Harder The Come', brought Jamaican patois and music to mainstream audiences.

He speaks to the organiser of the literary festival Calabash who feels that present Caribbean authors are not being pigeon holed by history and writing about slavery and colonialism but writing about everything and anything.

Colin also finds out why local bookshops are maybe to blame for the lack of Caribbean literature in the region themselves.

First broadcast on Wednesday 29 July 2009

More from this series

  • Derek Walcott and George Lamming on the beginnings of Caribbean Voices

Download This Documentary

Download Other Documentaries

Documentary Archive

BBC navigation

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.