This essay revisits the early phases of the history of poetry written primarily in an anglophone Caribbean Creole by closely examining the circumstances in which the White Guyanese administrator Michael McTurk launched his Creole-speaking persona “Quow.” It focuses on an 1870 verse letter to the editor in which McTurk dons the racialized mask of his persona to warn that an inquiry into the abuse of indentured Indian laborers will provoke a violent response from the Afro-Guyanese community. The essay argues that the versification of Quow’s voice seeks to implant him as a “found” character from oral culture within the crossfire of heated yet formal public letters regarding the inquiry. The ballad supplies the means for McTurk to “Black up” the planter voice. In the process, he unwittingly inaugurated a regional tradition of public Creole verse authorship, one whose later exponents would, in different ways, have to contend with McTurk’s minstrel legacy.

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