CLA Life Member Christopher Varlack Publishes Article in the South Atlantic Review



Dr. Christopher Allen Varlack published an article entitled, "Revisiting Claude McKay's 'Quashie to Buccra': 'Language . . . [as] a Political Instrument' in Disenfranchising Linguistic and Sociopolitical Systems" in The South Atlantic Review 85.3. Per his abstract, historically, African-American Vernacular English and other “nonstandard” variations have been maligned, not just in the United States but in regions across the globe, perceived as less refined, lazy, or vulgar, particularly in areas with a prominent socio-racial hierarchy that places emphasis on white superiority. As a result, dialect poetry by authors such as Paul Laurence Dunbar and Claude McKay may have been subject to those negative stigmas, particularly by members of the Black intelligentsia who perceived that work as counterproductive to the uplift movement of the early twentieth century. This study explores Claude McKay’s poem, “Quashie to Buccra,” from his 1912 collection, Songs of Jamaica, and the ways in which it relies upon linguistic structures to challenge not only the negative stigma of dialect but also to assert the value and power of the Black identity and to confront headfirst the disenfranchisement of Blacks. Through this work, we can reach a better understanding of the ways in McKay—described by Wayne F. Cooper as the rebel sojourner—rebelled against the exploitation of Blacks in multiple ways while constrained to a bicultural approach, having been reared in the British imperial tradition.