Poetry stalwarts to be honoured
Olivea Hayles, Gleaner Writer
The inaugural staging of the Jamaica Poetry Festival, to be held on Sunday, August 14, at the Louise Bennett Garden Theatre, will pay tribute to Marcus Garvey, Louise Bennett-Coverley (Miss Lou), and Mikey Smith. The tribute will be an annual feature in which different poets will be celebrated.
Being presented by Edutainment Promotions and the Jamaica Poetry Foundation, these poets were chosen as the first to be honoured because of significant dates, which coincide with the date of this literary celebration. First of all, Marcus Garvey's birthday is on August 17, which is the day on which Mikey Smith was stoned to death in Stony Hill. Second, Miss Lou's birthday is on September 7.
Spearheaded by Jamaican dub poet Yasus Afari, the Jamaica Poetry Festival will take the form of a day and night event. The day event will consist of family-friendly poetry and storytelling workshops between 10 a.m., and 2 p.m., and is free of cost. The daytime activities include face painting, portrait creations, display booths and other interesting activities.
Starting at 7 p.m., the night segment will feature a wide array of national and international poets and specially invited guests, which include Macka Diamond and Canadian-based poet, Melissa 'The Mad Poet' Dean. At this point, patrons are required to pay $1,000 for adults, and $500 for children.
According to Yasus Afari, several persons have been asking if the Jamaica Poetry Festival would be taking the place of Calabash, to which he responded, "Whether or not that happens, it was never in our intention."
Yasus Afari told The Gleaner that before Calabash, there was an appetite for the art, and in the demise of the literary festival, the desire is still there.
"We have done other events which reveal that the appetite is still there. We cater to that need. With or without Calabash, people will support us," he added.
The Edutainment Promotional group has hosted successful events such as Poetry In Motion and Pomedy, and so the Jamaica Poetry Festival is expected to be just as fruitful.
Developing Jamaican poetry
The Jamaica Poetry Festival will be instrumental in the development of the Jamaica Poetry Foundation and the Jamaica Poetry Fund.
These two entities will then assist in the growth of poetry and the literary arts in Jamaica. The foundation will be governed by a board of directors comprised of most of the poets involved in the inaugural staging of the festival.
Yasus Afari contended that while the daytime event is free, the admission cost for the evening show will offset expenses and go towards setting up the poetry foundation.
Mutabaruka will support the festival, among other poets, in association with JIIC, JCDC, Visual Vibe, Mona Graphic Printers and Fontana Pharmacy.