The Coup Clock Clicks
Brian Meeks has a major international reputation as a political scientist, though his only novel, Paint the Town Red, was very well received on its publication in 2003. Now, only those who were around in Jamaica in the 1970s and early 1980s, or who have come across the handful of poems in anthologies such as Savacou 3/4 and Wheel and Come Again, will know that he was also a very well-regarded poet, often grouped with writer-performers such as Linton Kwesi Johnson, Mutabaruka, Jean Binta Breeze, Oku Onuora and Mikey Smith.
Brian Meeks
ISBN number
Country setting
Publication date
25 Oct 2018

The poems in The Coup Clock Clicks were written between 1971 and 1988, reflecting the work of the then young political activist, poems challenging indifference, and mainly concerned to understand and, if possible, ameliorate the situation of others.  It is also a personal memoir, shaped as autobiography. 

In reggae-conscious free verse in Jamaican patwa, these poems are fierce, sometimes witty jeremiads against economic and socio-cultural division, poverty, violence, and thwarted lives. The collection is suffused with references to music – mainly Jamaican popular music, heard everywhere, but displaying Meeks’ sharply observant eye, as in his poem about a Marley concert where the detailed fashion notes vividly point to the actual separation of classes in Jamaica.

The later poems reflect on the collapse of 1970s' hopes of decolonisation after the widespread defeat of the left through self-inflicted injuries and the new world order of resurgent American power under Ronald Reagan.

As Mervyn Morris notes in his introduction, The Coup Clock Clicks is an important contribution to Caribbean poetry. He characterises Meeks as “a resourceful poet” producing “nicely crafted poems… There is plenty of grief in this collection.  But resilience also, and philosophical questioning.”


Brian Meeks

Brian Meeks was born in Montreal, Canada of West Indian parents and grew up in Kingston, Jamaica. He is Professor of Africana Studies and Chair of the Africana Studies/Rites and Reason Theatre Department at Brown University. He has authored or edited eleven books on Caribbean politics, political culture and thought, including Caribbean Revolutions and Revolutionary Theory (1993 and 2000), Culture, Politics, Race and Diaspora: the Thought of Stuart Hall (2007), and Critical Interventions in Caribbean Politics and Theory (2014).

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