Musical poetry launch by St George
Mel Cooke, Gleaner Writer
There was an intertwining of music and poetry at the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts, 1 Arthur Wint Drive, St Andrew, last Tuesday, as Michael St George launched his fourth poetry album. Not that the fusion of poetry and music is unusual, but the extent to which St George used melody in much of the poetry he delivered, going along with rhythms provided by the three-person band, was striking.
St George's Jamaican launch of Fight Your Fears or Die closed off the Poetry Society of Jamaica's 2014 fellowships, which marked its 25th anniversary.
His opening was unusual - an invitation for a critical response from the audience. "At the end of the day, we can only get stronger if we work collectively and challenge each other to do better work," St George said.
And before the poetry of lines and stanzas came sonic syllables without distinctive words - smacking of the lips which eventually led to the verse, along with the fusion of the sung and spoken word. It did not hurt that there were two female harmony singers, carrying the refrain that "life is special".
The general optimism about existence was followed by a specific look at one of the travels of hope, in search of a better way of life. "Is really a immigrant situation," St George said, to introduce One Suitcase. That single carrier of belongings to a strange land was not for someone on a "Plymouth Rock journey".
ROOT TO FRUIT
In body movement, St George was as musical as his poetry and he upped the musical level by strapping on a drum, going back to a previous album to do Root To Fruit, playing along with Congo Billy. Then it was back to the album with a look at Doom and Gloom, which St George said someone had suggested should be named Trust in Jah. The reason was immediately clear, as the phrase featured heavily in the piece.
The album's title track was enhanced especially by Tioma's dance steps, M'Bala adding his drum to the band.
And there was another look back at poems from previous times, St George satisfying calls for an encore with Black Man Tiad Fi Bow from the times he was writing about apartheid in South Africa to close off the launch, the night and the Poetry Society of Jamaica's 25th anniversary fellowships.