Int'l verse connects - Fourth Jamaica Poetry Festival at Louise Bennett
Shereita Grizzle, Gleaner Writer
The Louise Bennett Garden Theatre, Hope Road, St Andrew, came alive on Sunday night with the fourth staging of the Jamaica Poetry Festival.
Dubbed the International Edition, the show featured experienced local, regional and international poets. It began promptly at 7 p.m., as promised, with a tribute to a number of poets, including Mutabaruka, Jean 'Binta' Breeze, Amiri Baraka and the late Maya Angelou.
The first feature performance of the night came from Maia Chung. Chung is known as a trained journalist, but was quick to point out to that she is multidimensional. Admitting to being nervous about her debut, Chung went on to give a good maiden showing.
She gave audience members a peek into her life, sharing poems on issues they could relate to. Chief among them was a poem on disabilities. Her voice cracking at times as she fought back tears, Chung delivered an emotional tribute to one of her disabled clients, who had passed away under questionable circumstances.
Nadine McNeil, otherwise known as the Universal Empress, was next on the line-up and also gave a strong performance. McNeil took the audience along on her many voyages across the globe and educated them on their rich heritage.
Then it was on to a more intimate issue, one the audience received with open ears. The poetic sexologist Dr Karen Carpenter took to the stage and made no qualms about what she would be discussing before jumping into her set. Sex and relationships were her main topics, and Carpenter took the audience on an exciting journey to ecstasy with her words.
Resounding 'oohs' and 'aahs' could be heard as Carpenter painted brilliant pictures of love-making.
Other notable performances came from Dr Sonjah Niaah and Kellie Magnus, but the standouts of the night were Anguilla's Alexis Ryan and Jamaica's Annmarie Wilmot. Wilmot thrilled with her effortless delivery, while Ryan had audience members on their toes as he spoke about issues such as domestic violence and the negative effects of the Internet.
Both performers had the audience begging for more towards the close of their sets, but, pressed for time, the organisers could not oblige.
Following a brief intermission, the second segment of the show got underway, in which there were standout performances from Steppa, Jean 'Binta' Breeze, Philadelphia's Dr Neil Hall and special guest Admiral Tibet. The festival's organiser, Yasus Afari, also performed, but, compared to the others, his showing was on the weaker side.