David Dabydeen: Turner Overturned - Art and the Literary Vision of David Dabydeen

David Dabydeen’s ‘Turner’, written in response to Turner’s famous painting of 1840, ‘Slavers Throwing Over the Dead and the Dying’, is a masterful reworking of the painting originally celebrated for its composition and colour – Ruskin noted the ‘genius’ with which he illuminated the turbulent sea and sky during a typhoon – in which critical process the slaves whose lives were cast aside so easily in the hopes of a successful insurance claim were quite forgotten.

In Dabydeen’s poem, this process is reversed and the “slaves who have been drowning in Turner’s sea for centuries” are given a voice – the voice of the poem’s speaker, a child Dabydeen names Turner.

Originally published in 1994, Dabydeen’s poem has a particular contemporary resonance at a time when once more, victims of inhumane situations face enormous peril travelling by sea.

(David Dabydeen’s participation in the Festival is made possible by the generous sponsorship of Unilever Foods.)


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Photography by The Fotocube

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