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Associate professor @ Department of English, Faculty of Arts, Palacký University, Olomouc, Czech Republic


Pavlína Flajšarová, PhD, is an associate professor in the Department of English, Faculty of Arts, Palacký University, Olomouc, Czech Republic. In 1999–2000 she was a Fulbright visiting researcher at The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. She has published four scholarly monographs, The Bridge and the Eclipse: Metaphor in The Poetry of Samuel Taylor Coleridge; Poetry in Great Britain and Northern Ireland after 1945; Diaspora in the Fiction of Andrea Levy; and Grace Nichols Universal and Diverse: Ethnicity in the Poetry and Fiction of Grace Nichols. Furthermore, she has presented many papers on anglophone poetry and fiction at international conferences, has published numerous articles in peer-reviewed journals, and contributed several entries to The Greenwood Encyclopaedia of American Poets and Poetry. Her current scholarly interest is British ethnic and diasporic literature. At the same time, she serves as the vice-dean of international relations at the Faculty of Arts, Palacký University.

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Black Power in Literature


‘The Caribbean, America, United Kingdom and Pan-Africanism Meet in the Poetry of Claude McKay

In his 1925 essay ‘Enter the New Negro,’ Alain Locke defines the status of Black people in America, and in Harlem in particular, thus: ‘It does not follow that if the Negro were better known, he would be better liked or better treated. But mutual understanding is basic for any subsequent cooperation and adjustment.’ Furthermore, he states that ‘Harlem has the same role to play for the New Negro as Dublin has had for the New Ireland, or Prague for the New Czechoslovakia.’ This paper intends to look at the links between the Caribbean, United States, United Kingdom and Czechoslovakia in the poetry of Claude McKay. A special focus will be devoted to McKay’s engagement with the idea of Pan-Africanism and with the social and communist issues during his stays in America, in Britain in 1919-1920, and in Russia. His plea for racial, social and class equality was eagerly accepted and misinterpreted by the communist regime in Czechoslovakia and therefore, he was one of the few Caribbean-American poets that could be translated into Czech despite very strict Czech censorship. The paper will show, through the example of McKay ́s poems written and published during his stay in the United Kingdom, how his concept of the role and status of Black people evolved and in what ways he uses the suffragette campaign to draw attention to the race question. In addition, his references to his native Jamaica and his attachment to Jamaican homeland and the African ancestral home will be considered as a background onto which he projects his political views.

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