Subjection and Resistance: Landscapes, Gardens, Myths and Vestigial Presences in Olive Senior's Gardening in the Tropics

Hannah Regis


This paper argues that a selection of Caribbean writers has engaged an aesthetic that spotlights the idea of a living or divine landscape through a deployment of folkloric, mythological, magical or spiritual epistemological frames. This aesthetic foregrounds the expansive possibilities of nature and other life forms in the wake of empire and global modernity. By an engagement with these tools, the creative writer deconstructs the limits of colonial ecological damage and modern-day agricultural devastation, while simultaneously affirming the Caribbean landscape as an active and creative agent within articulations of community and belonging. Through a blend of eco-criticism as examined by Elizabeth DeLoughrey and Wilson Harris's formulations of the "living landscapes" and Caribbean mythologies, this essay seeks to interrogate the manner in which Caribbean poet, Olive Senior, consciously deploys the literary imagination as a platform to plant seeds of reform and activism in the trail of environmental destruction. Senior accomplishes this through notions of mythic time and space that are unfettered by monolithic ideologies and linearity. This signposts an effort to posit a reliance on a spirit-infused universe—a deeply felt ideology which is pivotal to acts of environmental healing and societal recuperation.


myth; ecocriticism; landscape; Caribbean; haunting; poetry; history; colonialism; culture

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