Sat | Jan 20, 2018


Published:Tuesday | July 19, 2016 | 12:44 AM
Poet Yashika Graham
Sky Juice on stage at the Sound System Vibez.
Shinehead (right) performs at the first Sound System Vibez in the Park at Roy Wilkins Park in Queens, New York, on July 11.

Graham to release 'Directions' video

Westmoreland born poet Yashika Graham, fresh from participating in the World Festival of Poetry in Venezuela, is poised to release a video for the title poem of her forthcoming debut collection, Directions From The Border.

The poem, which documents what she calls ‘a literal and spiritual journey,’ takes the reader through often impossible terrain, charting through memory and vividly capturing rural life. All this is wrapped in a sequence that tugs at the heart, ultimately guiding and calling the reader to ‘come home’.

Though not the typical platform for poems, Graham finds giving visual representation to her work only natural and she intends to continue. “I grew up on stories, sitting at the feet of my elders and siblings, so that forms a key part of my desire to write, to record and retain our histories. Putting the poem to video for me is a way of extending the reach of the story and of tapping into a visual exploration of place and making a connection in that way,” she said.

The self-proclaimed bush woman’s work finds deep rooting in the place of her youth, grounding in the simplicity of rural life and traditions. “I think there is a beauty in the simple things, and that there’s rich poetry that resides in what people might call simple talk and practises. These things are often overlooked but I find them enchanting and haunting as they are perhaps among the richest parts of who we are. It is that sense that I find myself consumed in and hoping to capture and my family is a big part of that inspiration,” she said.

The video, which was shot on location in Westmoreland by local filmmaker Udemba McLean and edited by Bas Akram, is set for release online and on local television later this month, The trailer is enjoying noteworthy online viewership.


Lifetime honour for Mutabaruka

The sixth annual Jamaica Poetry Festival will honour its patron, Mutabaruka, with a Lifetime Achievement Award. Tribute will also be paid to three Jamaican literary icons Mervyn Morris, Kamau Brathwaite and June Jordan. The event is set for Sunday,0 August 14, at the Louise Bennett Garden Theatre, 36 Hope Road, St Andrew.

The festival will commence with free, family friendly creative writing workshops from 10 a.m, - 2:00 p.m., led by Kellie Magnus. The other workshop facilitators will be the international guest poets for the festival. This will be followed by main stage performances at 7:00 p.m.

The main feature of this year's staging of Jamaica Poetry Festival is the Poetree Showcase, featuring Professor Mervyn Morris (Poet Laureate of Jamaica), Yasus Afari, Nabbie Natural, Yeza Rebel, Susie Maine, De Maveric and five Canadian poets, namely El Jones (Poet Laureate of Halifax), Ahmed Knowmadic - The Somalian, Scruffmouth (Canadian national footballer), Bro Sankofa and PruffRock  Shadow Runner (Canada's slam poetry champion), who recently represented Canada in France.

Four of the Canadian poets are appearing courtesy of the Canadian Arts Council. Several other very talented poets will also be presented along with very special guests. The JPF 2016 is sponsored by the National Commercial Bank (NCB), Jamaica Cultural Development Commission (JCDC) and SenYAcumTickets are available at Bookophilia, JCDC, Fontana Pharmacy and New Leaf Vegetarian Restaurant. 


Strong Sound System Vibez in the Park

Thousands of people descended upon Roy Wilkins Park in Queens, New York, on Jul 11 for the inaugural Sound System Vibez in the Park. Produced by Irish and Chin, in conjunction with Irie Jam Radio, it featured performances by Stone Love, Renaissance, Metromedia, Mighty Crown, Banky Hype, Massive B, Fire Links, Tony Matterhorn, Nexxt Level, Kingston 12 with Shinehead and DJ Papalotl, Soul Supreme, King Addies and Road International.

"This year's Sound Fest Vibez in the Park sparked a huge celebration among the lovers and supporters of sound system culture. Further, the event showed that sound culture can still entertain people of all ages when presented creatively," said promoter Garfield 'Chin' Bourne of Irish and Chin. "Our aim was to present the key players of the sound system culture in the manner in which most promoters display artistes. I believe we achieved this, as the event allowed patrons to see the sounds in a prestigious light."

While all the performances won the hearts of fans, there were some moments etched in everyone's minds. One can't forget when Brooklyn generals Soul Supreme paid tribute to the legendary Shinehead during their crowd-pleasing set. A pillar of the culture, the super-talented Shinehead was honoured to join the sound on stage and proceeded to wow the crowd with his hit Strive.

And no matter how many times Metromedia's lead selector Sky Juice removes his shirt, it's always like seeing this for the first time. The audience, especially the kids, got a kick out of his set, which infused music, dancing and comedy. The 'vibez' peaked during Fire Links performance, which was near the end of the show. The feisty selector's set oozed hardcore juggling as he called out fellow sound men, while infectious dancehall tunes flowed from the colossal speakers. Jazzy T of Renaissance, Mighty Crown and King Addies, among others, also had the crowd buzzing.