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Breeze, Jean ‘Binta’

The Oxford Companion to Twentieth-Century Literature in English

Jenny Stringer

Breeze, Jean ‘Binta’ 

(1956– ),

Jamaican poet, born in Pattyhill, a village in north-east Jamaica. After working as a teacher, in 1978 she entered the Jamaican School of Drama, where she adopted the African name ‘Binta’, meaning ‘close to the heart’. She subsequently emerged as Jamaica's first female exponent of ‘dub’ poetry, a mode of reading of verse to the rhythms of reggae music. Answers (1983), Riddym Ravings and Other Poems (1988), and Spring Cleaning (1992) are her principal collections of verse. She is noted for her energetic performances of poems, making imaginative use of Jamaican dialect in dramatic monologue forms. The most readily available recordings of her readings are featured on the widely distributed Word Soun' 'Ave Power, Reggae Power (1985). Her work is also rich in the distinctively understated lyricism and compassion of many poems deriving from her observations of everyday experience. Among her works as a dramatist is the screenplay for the film Hallelujah Anyhow (1990).