Sadeke Brooks, Staff Reporter
When the Jamaica Poetry Festival kicks off at 7 p.m. today, patrons will be celebrating 50 years since Jamaica's Independence and 100 years of Jamaican poetry.
At the event that will be held at the Louise Bennett Garden Theatre, St Andrew, the organiser, Yasus Afari, says a special tribute will be made to the country, as well as poets like Harry Belafonte, Bob Marley and Claude McKay.
100 YEARS OF JAMAICAN POETRY
"We will be celebrating 100 years of Jamaican poetry that was marked by the publication in 1912 by Claude McKay," he told The Sunday Gleaner, noting that last year Louise Bennett-Coverley, Marcus Garvey and Mikey Smith were honoured.
"I don't see anybody talking about it but I just do my thing. It is a significant thing, so that's why I pay tribute and bring awareness."
In an earlier press release, Afari said he was inviting the public "to be a part of this very special Jamaica Poetry Festival experience in 2012 as we salute 100 years of Jamaica poetry. We are in the process of formalising the Jamaica Poetry Foundation and this will help to form the foundation of our sustained effort to enhance the impact of Jamaican poetry as we move beyond the Jamaica 50th anniversary."
Afari noted that an audio-visual tribute will be made to all three honourees before the start of the show, while different performers will honour the three during the show.
Coming days after Jamaica's Independence, he said the event will be used to "refocus our mindset on the next 50 years".
While tributes will be made, there will also be performances from several poets such as Professor Fred Hickling, Mutabaruka, Wayne Chen, Yasus Afari, Joan Andrea Hutchinson, Akinsanya 'Uprising' Palmer, Dr Michael Abraham, Osakwe, Kai Falconer, Ras JaJa, FuZion, Richie Innocent, Steppa, Viv Morris-Brown, K'Shema Francis and special guest performers.
But earlier in the day, between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., an environmental and poetry workshop will be held.
Though it is just being held for the second time, Afari says the event has already shown improvement over last year, as persons have been requesting booths and companies who were unable to sponsor the event due to prior Olympic and Jamaica 50 commitments have been buying tickets for their staff and clients.
"We think we will have a wonderful turnout and a wonderful show. Last year, we had a thunderstorm up to 6:15 p.m. and people turned out in droves and we had a successful show," he said.
"People loved the event so much, people turned out and supported the event in its inaugural staging on the heels of a thunderstorm. We have a tremendous line-up and we want people to have fun, but responsible fun. It's a feast of the performing arts. People will be equipped with tools to help build the Jamaica that we want to see."