Last week’s poetry event dubbed “A Literary Lunch” was literally a meeting with the stars: wordsmiths, social commentators, creative vessels. All who came had one thing in common — a love for the spoken word. It was a perfect day made even more special due to friends like the Vances who came along.
It was a jubilant occasion, one that made the three hours of discomfort in the five-person-a-row, packed-like-sardine bus ride to Kingston more than worth it. I was the first poet slated to present so when Tanya Batson-Savage introduced me with heartfelt enthusiasm, I approached the microphone, eager to share the five poems I had brought with me.
I began with “Poetry”, a poem I wrote at UWI as a creative writing student of Mervyn Morris. Back then he was as superb a teacher as he was a confidant; now he is Jamaica’s first Poet Laureate. This poem means a lot to me, particularly because it stands as a testament of my love for poetry. It highlights how poetry gives “voice to the struggle bubbling up in me”. How it helps me overcome.
When I was in high school, poetry was my therapy, my catharsis, my way of making sense of the world. When I felt depressed I’d write it out, take out my anguish on pen and paper. When I was angry and feared that if I spoke I’d explode, I would write it out, let the paper swallow up the noise and dust and fragmented hurts splintering through me.
It’s hard to put in words how poetry helped me vehicle my emotions in constructive ways. But suffice it to say, writing is far more than just words on paper. It does something to me and I suspect to all the poets that attended the event. We write, because we must.
I was quite impressed with some of the performances, particularly the “man-band” that was Mbala, a poet that spoke poetry accompanied with music from his handmade instruments which included drums, mbira and others I cannot now name.
After the event, I mingled with Milicent Graham — a poet that before then I’d met only on Facebook. Mbala and A-dZiko came by, encouraging me to participate in more events, particularly the monthly readings organised by the Poetry Society of Jamaica. Though I won’t be able to attend every month, I plan to drop by as often as I can. After all, it’ll help me share my work and connect with other writers.
After the event, I spent some time with my church friends, the Vances, who I must give tribute to for their loving support and of course the pictures! We ate lunch (pizza! yum-yum 🙂 ), and stopped by the Church headquarters to see faces I hadn’t seen in months.
Then it was off to the bus park, to the packed bus and sweat-stained seats, pass traffic-infested streets that stretched all the way to Spanish Town, to the dark roads that meandered around mountainsides, to the sea-salt scent of Montego Bay. To home sweet home.
Since then I’ve been keeping busy, reading (sometimes stalking poets) Sylvia Plath, Lauren K. Alleyne, Kei Miller, Vladimer Lucien, and Danielle Boodoo-Fortuné while working on the business. Sometimes the words flow, sweeter than honey. Sometimes lines of poetry flash in my head like lightning — while I’m in the taxi heading home at night, while I’m walking in the streets! I just have to grab my notebook, scramble for pen and write! Sometimes the days feel long and overwhelming and I walk home gray as a ghost. But most days I keep positive with my head up, holding on to my dreams.