Word Sound and Power

Dub poetry isn't the kind of literary genre you'd expect to thrive in public libraries. But in honor of Black History Month, the Broward County Library showcases the dubbed-out poetry of Miami-Dade police officer Malachi Smith, who, when he's not out catching perps, is a local expert on all things dub-related. For those unfamiliar with the genre, it started in Jamaica in the 1970s as a form of performance poetry recited over instrumental reggae. There's only a handful of celebrities within the genre — Linton Kwesi Johnson, Lillian Allen, and Mutabaruka among them — and there's lots to be learned about the mixture of Caribbean English and West African rhyming patterns that go into making dub poetry what it is today. So for those interested in learning something new, Smith will also exhibit his new documentary, Dub Poetry: The Life and Work of Malachi Smith, which aside from being a shameless plug, should also join the relatively short catalog of recorded dub poetry in existence.

Malachi Smith performs Thursday, February 22, from 6 to 8:30 p.m. at the African-American Research Library and Cultural Center, 2650 Sistrunk Blvd., Fort Lauderdale. Call 954-357-7348, or visit

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Jonathan Cunningham