Mel Cooke, Gleaner Writer
Next week Sunday's Dis Poem Word Festival is slated for Hope Bay Beach, Hope Bay, Portland. As it is now an outdoor event, it was appropriate that last Friday's launch, which unfolded as a preview of what will take place on Sunday, took place outdoors as well.
The word festival's official launch was held on the deck of Bookophilia, Hope Road, St Andrew, with a number of those who will be performing stepping up to the wooden stage area as invited by Ras Takura.
One of the night's presenters, Ann-Margaret Lim, who read from her book The Festival of Wild Orchid, will not be on the Dis Poem Word Festival.
Mutabaruka, I-Wayne, Professor Carolyn Cooper, Steppa, DYCR, Jah9, Prof I, Abbebe, Uprising Roots Band, Cen C Love and Tuff Gan, Oren, LSX, History Man, Mama Kaffe, Yasheka, Randy McLaren, Ice Cold, MJ Lamey, Andrea Williams, and K'Shema Francis are in the line-up.
Hosts for the day-long event, which runs from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., are Elise Kelly and DJ Talia.
Ras Takura, who doubled as host and performer, delivering the celebrated poem by Mutabaruka which gives the event its name in addition to his own work, declared his intentions for Dis Poem Word Festival's future.
"We a seh Dis Poem Word Festival is really a poetry festival whe deh inna Jamaica fi stay," he said, after doing Dis Poem. "Like the poem seh, it will continue in your mind."
GROWTH FOR POETRY
He is looking for growth, not only for his event, but poetry in general, as he has seen the art form's potential in Jamaica.
"We always know poetry have its people and have a space it can create. People can turn out like a big reggae or dancehall event," Ras Takura said, noting the magnitude of Reggae Sumfest and Rebel Salute.
"We want to build it like a festival, so we have people all over the world can come see what the poets doing in Jamaica."
Outlining why the event is held 'In honour of the Iancient Mutabaruka', Ras Takura said that the dub poet and broadcaster is an ancient within the Rastafari tradition.
However, in addition to that, Ras Takura pointed to persons like Steve Biko from South Africa and Malcolm X from the United States who died at a much younger age than Mutabaruka is now.
"Muta is 60. You nuh have nuh whole heap a revolutionary whe deh round I an I and reach 60," he said.
"Him is a ancient and a forerunner of the spoken word. Muta inna de ting and reach a level, and wi a seh respect," Ras Takura said.
Emma Lewis read a pair of poems, WB Yeats' The Second Poem and The Owl and the Pussycat from the first book she ever owned (a gift when she was three years old), before McLaren outlined his poetic persona in detail.
Among the 'Kreativ Activist's' attributes are being "non-aligned, going past the headline", and he asked, "How me hardly see a protest when a cop drop?" He then did What is It? declining Takura's request to do a poem about walking barefoot like Mutabaruka to seek a girl's affections. That one, McLaren said, would be heard by those at Dis Poem Word Festival next Sunday.
Lim read several poems from her book, including After the Drowning (referencing the Port Royal earthquake), It Don't Have to Be Good Friday Noon (centred on Flat Bridge), and On the Way to Hellshire. Sea Dirge is not in the collection and after Kingston Blues and Marcia, Lim ended with When I Die ("when poets and songwriter's should fly her home").
Lynch and Sage of LSX (X was not present) put intensity into their work, taking turns at the microphone, each doing back-up duties while the other delivered lines.
Sage dismissed the "tell-lie-vision", stating "humanity, you need some vision", while Lynch said "why everybody inna red, green and gold/Rasta in full control". There was a "high fire, life fire" tribute to women.
Ras Takura, who has consistently spoken to farming in his work, did his own Praedial Larceny before History Man delivered some of his data-filled pieces, African Inventors and Their Intentions and Bob Marley Story.
In between them, he described his attributes as a Real Rasta: "Mi nuh eat piggy, mi nuh eat rammy/nutten wid face mi no nyam I".
Peter Harvey closed off the evening's readings.