Mon | Sep 25, 2017

Sean C Harris: Finding healing in his craft

Published:Sunday | June 19, 2016 | 6:00 AMKeisha Hill

Towering at over six feet, his gentle demeanour and easy, endearing smile pulls you in. Poet, songwriter, and writer Sean C. Harrison says poetry writing gives people the ability to dive deep into parts of themselves that they want others to understand, what they want them to feel, and what to take home with them that will resonate long after reading.

Harrison regularly writes poetry and songs that have had a positive impact on the lives of others, especially at the local church he attended as a child. Despite innumerable challenges, he has been determined to hone his craft and has recorded much growth in his level of expression and continues to develop as a writer.

Harrison's inspiration stems from his life experiences, finding solace in writing poems, songs, proverbs, and encouraging pieces. The most impactful circumstances is a 19-year battle with mental illness. This could have deterred him, but, instead, has made him more determined to sculpt his insights through poetry and other forms of expression.

"There is no greater sadness than not knowing one's self-worth, but there is no greater power than complete understanding of one's identity. Poetry can give you that power. It is also therapeutic because I have an artistic outlet to delve deeper within myself because of my current situation," Harrison said.

Harrison was born and raised in St Thomas by his father, a bus driver/carpenter, and his mother, a homemaker, and, later, a trained teacher. His artistic ability was first recognised at three years old when he got rave reviews at a local gospel concert. After his debut, he continued mesmerising audiences with his talent even into adulthood.

At 14 years old, while a student at the Morant Bay High School, he wrote his first song, A Song I Used to Sing. A brief stint at the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts led to a collaborative entry with the band Connected in the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission (JCDC) Gospel Festival 2000 and also involvement in prison ministry activities and appearances at various Christian gatherings in Kingston, St Andrew, and St Catherine.

Harrison matriculated to the University of the West Indies twice; however, he did not pursue it. Instead, he entered the world of work at 18 years old at the National Commercial Bank (NCB) as a clerk. He subsequently fell ill and had to move back home to St Thomas to recuperate. He eventually re-entered the world of work and for 10 years held a job in the health services.

Subsequently, because of his adversities, he stumbled upon poetry and developed a deep affinity for the craft. "Poetry came because there was a time when I had difficulty writing songs. I experienced what I will term 'songwriter's block'. Because of my illness, I wasn't able to sing for a number of years because the medications affected my voice. I soon realised I couldn't sing the songs anymore, so I turned to poetry," Harrison said.

Harrison has had a long association with the JCDC, having won awards in primary and high school for performance pieces, and was featured on the then Jamaica Broadcasting Corporation (JBC) Television's broadcast of the national finals as a child reciting Confessions. He also appeared on the then high school programme 'Rappin', singing with schoolmate Simona Sampson.

"I find that to pass the time, I write a lot. One Tuesday afternoon, I wrote an article on child abuse. Almost 3,000 words and persons were surprised and could not understand how I wrote the article in one afternoon," Harrison said.

Entering the contest in 2014, Harrison took home the coveted Best Overall Writer title at the JCDC Jamaica Creative Writing Competition and Exhibition Awards.

Harrison received the prestigious award on the back of several strong pieces that netted him three gold and one silver medal. He took the gold medals for his poems The Captive Song, Summer Sun, and Keep Your Soul. The lone silver was for his fourth poem Who Are You. He also received a cash prize from sponsors, and his work joined the many chosen entries in the Jamaica Creative Writing Exhibition Tour that visited every parish library.

In 2015, as well, he topped the JCDC writing contest, venturing to write essays that did well and which further established him as an excellent writer.

He is also a regular contributor to The Gleaner, with more than 10 poems being published and three having been awarded poem of the week.

Harrison has four e-books of poetry available online on createspace.com and Amazon.com; A Deeper Joy: Keeping Hope Alive in a Fallen World, Three Steps Away From Faith and the third, a Jamaican-based compilation, As I Reminisce and most recently a children's compilation titled Special Poems for Exceptional Children.

Harrison has also collaborated with a now popular artiste in penning two songs, Thank You All and Forgotten Children, for his debut album. He also has released an EP featuring seven gospel and inspirational songs on the Internet titled 7th Heaven which is available on several websites including, iTunes, Spotify and Amazon.com.

"I want to empower myself so I can grow and have my own. I possess the capacity to be successful," Harrison said.

keisha.hill@gleanerjm.com

Original Thought? (c)2014

Is there any such thing

Where finite man

A speck upon this gargantuan universe can say

He coins the way things work?

Fools we are for knowledge is endless

And ever was,

Wisdom only unearthed

Never chiseled from nothingness.

We dare think, "Eureka!"

As God smiles for only he's in the know.

You say no? About what, if so?

"Everything and first", I'll quip.

If he does, then he simply does.

He will be, was and is.

He doesn't exist

But we do!

And to exist is to have not known

And worse to not have been first in anything.

You don't speak of God?

Just on human terms?

Well...someone walked this way before

And learned what you learned.

So ditch your pride.

All knowing's bought.

There's no such thing as original thought!