Anthologizing the Caribbean

Authored by: Erika J. Waters

The Routledge Companion to Anglophone Caribbean Literature

Print publication date:  June  2011
Online publication date:  June  2011

Print ISBN: 9780415485777
eBook ISBN: 9780203830352
Adobe ISBN: 9781136821745


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‘Every anthology is a balancing act’, Nicholas Laughlin tells us in The Caribbean Review of Books (2005). All anthologists juggle a multiplicity of factors, such as appropriate material, permission fees, publishers’ dictates and copyright restrictions, along with intangibles, such as their own inherent preferences and the particular moment in time. ‘Like those time capsules laced in the cornerstones of local public libraries’, Nancy Cirillo has written, ‘[anthologies] freeze a culture at a particular moment’ (2004: 228). Further hurdles arise when assembling material from the Caribbean with its many island countries, four colonial languages and legacies and numerous distinctive cultures and nation languages. When Caribbean literature is situated within an African diasporic framework, viewed as part of the margin vs. centre controversy, organized through a gendered perspective, or published in the metropolis, the process is additionally problematical. Yet once published, the anthology becomes a potent vehicle for canon formation: sanctioned by the editor and often, significantly, by a metropolitan publisher, a writer’s work is thereby canonized.

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