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‘The Political Calypso; A Socio – Linguistic Process of Conflict Transformation’. by Everard M. Phillips 2009 seems like a rare book – at least you can’t buy it online. I found a copy in the Oasis Academy public library in Shirley whilst waiting for my daughter to have a music session. It seemed to hold clues as to how we might get out of the mind cage of Humanist (neo-classical) western Literary elite thinking structures? I scanned a couple of pages with my phone.

“Call and Response allows the audience to co-author the proceedings of the evening, while they are engaged in the process of co-constructing meaning…. The phenomenon of Call and Response is a co-active, reciprocal process that involves inter-communication, taken in turn, between the calypsonian and subsets of an audience, as a story is told through the medium of a calypso. The process enables the performer and the audience to engage in a form of rhetoric union, whereby they are together able to create, interpret and respond to a rhetoric act.” p.55

In this book Everard M. Phillips argues that calypso “is an attempt to consciously articulate a congruent, coherent paradigm for transforming indigenous conflict”.


The Emcee is vital to this process. “In and of itself, this negotiated recall procedure is central to the process of raising consciousness.”

“A skilled Emcee is able to use a humorous approach that embodies a variety of culturally codified methods. This approach enables the audience to embrace the multi-dimensionally rhetoric that leads to Conflict Transformation, by enabling them to shift both their lev els of cognition and their capacity to engage in their own cathartic experience. The Emcee does this through a literary narrative that is constituted of substantial audio-visual cues, permitting an audience to engage their moral and aesthetic judgement, as instigated by the rhetorical instrument of the calypso.”

“Trinidad and Tobago, the calypso was born out of the struggle against oppression and domination, within a heavily stratified, hierarchical society that gave power to the white European ruling class, with the slaves in the bottom rung of that ladder.” p.77

So this is rhythmic poetry articulating concerns of the day. A cathartic audience response is midwifed by Emcee person who manages with an ‘abundant use of humour’ (but not the humour of “used in European setting European settings as espoused by Plato, Aristotle, and Cicero where this latter type of humour has its foundations in ancient Greco-Roman societies (Grant 1970).” p.77

This makes the process of reception of art more complex that simply taking it in as an individual. He is describing an organised social response to art. The form of which he has reason to believe is cathartic in processing social conflict. This is core to agit disco thinking…

Since i first put this up I’ve been in touch with the author and found out:

The book has a limited distribution in the UK through the following bookshops:

1 Pempamsie, 102 Brixton Hill, London SW2 1AM, 020 8671 0800

2 New Beacon Books, 76 Stroud Green Road, Finsbury Park, N4 3EN, 020 7272 4889

  1. All eyes on Egypt, 25 Brixton Station Road, SW9 8PB, 020 7978 8321
  2. Wolfson & Tay, retail Unit 12 Bermondsey Sq, SE1 3UN
  3. Alternatively from the author by emailing him on cost £10 plus p + p



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