A Song from the Depths of the Sea: Eco-epic Textures in Romare Bearden and Derek Walcott

Ania Kowalik (Georgia Southern University)

Abstract

An eco-critical analysis of Romare Bearden’s The Sea Nymph (1977) and Derek Walcott’s “The Schooner Flight” (1979) not only reveals new interpretive possibilities for Caribbean literature, but also demonstrates the centrality of nature in Afro-diasporic historical imaginary. This article argues that epic invocations of the Caribbean Sea in both works deconstruct the nature/culture binary by foregrounding a notion of diasporic environment as a text creatively rewriting Black Atlantic histories. To examine textual effects of the Caribbean Sea in Bearden and Walcott, I elaborate a notion of an “eco-epic texture,” a mode of literary figuration that highlights entanglements of history, nature, and literature in processes of diasporic life-making. These textures, I argue, engender a cultural and political imaginary where affirmations of belonging give onto a critique of historical determinism and political ontology.

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