Mon | May 25, 2020

Olivene’s old-school love

Published:Sunday | December 22, 2019 | 12:00 AMDanik Frazer - Gleaner Writer
Not only does Rhodes write, she also designs her own outfits!
Rhodes smiles prettily with her book of poetry.
Rhodes reading her favourite poem from her first compilation.

Jamaica is home to many brilliant romanticists, whether it’s the lyricists of dancehall or the words of our poets and authors, life and love in Jamaica is forever immortalised. In the eternal words of English poet Robert Graves, “To be a poet is a condition, not a profession”, and truer words could not be said of Jamaican poet Ms Olivene Rhodes, author of Love’s Sublime.

Rhodes began her career as a poet well before she even knew she would be a poet. While technically, she works as the Director of Programme Management and Administration with the Ministry of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining, even getting her masters in human resource management, she began her writing career the way many young writers began, in high school English class. While her poems back then were cute and chaste narrating her everyday experiences, that changed when she met her daughters’ father. To Rhodes, however, even those more romantic poems held a bit of innocence and was missing true depth.

When she met the love of her life, her ‘Chocolate Face’, and the poems began flowing freely with the exact profoundness and feeling she’d always expected to feel, she knew she had the material necessary to compile. In fact, she finally got the confidence to collate her poems after she’d won a competition her friends had urged her to join. It was exactly what she needed to finally commit to her art, and it was all uphill from there. She launched her poetry book in February of this year with a reading. The themes of love are not just of the romantic nature, however, Rhodes has poems within the book dedicated to more platonic love, love for her family and there are even themes about the conflicting pain in romantic love.

This romanticist writes about that old-school love that so many people strive for, that, for her, people don’t put in the work, making something as pure as love difficult.

“I believe it’s something more spiritual than anything else,” she explained. “After having read Songs of Solomon, the love story between the king and his bride, it opened up a new ocean of thoughts.”

Though Rhodes isn’t married, reading the Bible gave her the ultimate understanding of love within a marriage, completing her understanding of what it meant for a couple to come together in love and ‘knowing’.

As a dedicated Christian woman, Rhodes believes love and sex are given to us by God himself, and so the ultimate way to experience love was through marriage.

“You never see the Bible talking about sex, to me that’s deeper than having sex. It’s knowing the individual beyond the physical.”

For Rhodes, this knowing of your partner is so spiritual, it’s like worship. Her new understanding brought to her two poems in the middle of the night when she couldn’t sleep, Know Me and Discover Me, the latter of which is the lead poem in her book.

Rhodes’ wish is to bring back the romance to people’s relationships.

“I believe that women have forgotten how to treat their men,” she began. “God has made man to be the head of the household; you should honour, love and pamper him. You should be there for him, both physically and spiritually, and when you do that, you empower and affirm them to be the best that they can be.”

Love’s Sublime is intended to be that little reminder and the first step in the reigniting of the spiritual side of love she believes is missing.