Gardening Tropics

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Question: Write your response to Olive Senior work?
Poet Olive Senior, selection of poem taken from Gardening in the Tropics, retells the story of slavery in the Caribbean. Many of Senior’s poems are named after fruits, for instances guava and pawpaw which gives one a taste of Caribbean culture and identity, since these are native fruits to the Caribbean. The title itself refers to the culture and climate of the Caribbean by the word ‘tropic.’ This is so as ‘tropic’ describes a place that is hot and lush. Also, by the word ‘gardening’ one gets the idea of plantation slavery where enslaved would work in the field and have their small plots of gardening ground home. The gardening ground came as their source of income for their family and themselves.’ Gardening’ can also refer to the scenery of the Caribbean as it has many green pastures. This intern gave us a sense of identity.

Aside from the title which gives us the themes of culture and identity, other themes visible within the poems are oppression (The Knot Garden and Stowaway), family life (Tropic Love) and hope (Babalu: Lord of the earth). These themes allow us to understand the life of the enslaved, feel their oppression as they were denied their rights and believe in their hope, hope of a better life. Each theme single handedly reflects the life of a slave during the years of slavery.

In writing her poems Senior employs a number of techniques. The first six poems of Olive Senior’s work are written in first person, thus it is told through her eyes. She uses conversational tone to make the poems seem closer to the reader. With this the reader becomes apart of the situation. She also utilizes a number of allusions. Two that is commonly used throughout the poems are historical in term of the Taino gods, along with references to African culture (Babalu: lord of the earth) and biblical when she makes reference to the ‘garden of Eden.’ She also uses flashback which is seen in guava. Dialogue is also visible...
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