Thu | Dec 9, 2021

Poet Laureate spearheads poetry writing, self-defence programme for inner-city girls

Published:Monday | June 19, 2017 | 12:00 AM
Lorna Goodison

Jamaica's first female Poet Laureate, Lorna Goodison, has hit the ground running, as 25 girls from inner-city Kingston, ages 11-14, are to benefit from a five-week summer programme that will couple poetry writing with basic self-defence principles with an aim to foster self-empowerment.

A partnership with the Institute of Jamaica Junior Centre, 'All Flowers Are Roses: Poetry and Self-Defence' will see classes being held on Tuesdays and Saturdays from July 18 to August 19, 2017, and will educate girls on personal-safety techniques and strategies combined with motivational and self-affirming poetry.

"It's about building their confidence and self-esteem," Goodison told The Gleaner.

"At this young age, they're not ingrained. They're open to wonder and delight, regardless of what's happening in the world, and good poetry can make life a little better, a little easier. Poetry has the ability to sneak into them at this stage and stay there, no matter what life does to them."

The name of the series is a play on the title of her poetry collection To Us, All Flowers Are Roses, published in 1995.




In recounting her life experiences, Goodison has underscored the importance of targeting youth, students in particular, with her poetic material.

"My father died when I was 15 years old. It was one of the worst things that ever happened in my home, as he was at the centre of our lives. I didn't know what to do at that point and my saving grace was the poems that I had memorised; they healed me," stated the St Hugh's High School past student, whose collection of published works are in excess of 600 pages.

A lover of 'poems with medicine', Goodison's material has been utilised by local professors at various workshops designed to help at-risk youths.

Since her investiture in May, Goodison has visited Windward Road Primary and Junior High School, St George's Girls' Primary and Infant School, and Hillel Academy as part of her school tour series.

The Poet Laureate will be joined on the summer programme by poets Cherry Natural and Yashika Graham.