Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Literary Arts: The Poetic Icon, by the Poet Laureate

PROFESSOR Mervyn Morris, Jamaica's Poet Laureate, launched his latest book, Miss Lou: Louise Bennett and Jamaican Culture, at Lecture Theatre 3, University of the West Indies, on Tuesday.
It is a mini-biography on the legendary folklorist Louise 'Miss Lou' Bennett-Coverley who died in 2006.
Morris, who was a close friend of Bennett-Coverley, said while Miss Lou's performing skills are evident in the range of her work, he noted there was formidable opposition to her work.
"Although her work was mainly African heritage, Miss Lou always mingled in different streams...she was not excluding people," he explained. "Miss Lou was trying to redress cultural imbalance. She was not trying to reject standard English."
He pointed out that Miss Lou was religious and deeply spiritual. He closed by reading from his book.
Three of Jamaica's outstanding poets -- Mutabaruka, Oku Onuora and Jean 'Binta' Breeze -- performed at the event. Each testified to Morris' influence on their careers.
"I am a dub poet without apology because the process I deal wid is straight dubbing," said Onuora. "Mervyn is influential in that there is a upsurge in dub poetry in Jamaica. Mervyn, you helped to signal a new trend in poetry...dubbing is a process that can't be limited."
Onuora performed from Echo, his collection of poems which was written while he was incarcerated.
Breeze drew laughter with a humorous swipe at Onuora, whose 'set' went overtime.
"Mervyn taught me not to use two words (with the same meaning) in a sentence when one can do. Apparently he didn't tell Oku."
She performed some of her work including The Simple Things In Life, Repatriation and Third World Girl before saluting Morris, whom she said legitimised myself and others in the university".
Mutabaruka recited Call Me No Poet or Nothing Like That, Nursery Rhyme Lament, Haiti and Dis Poem.
- from the Jamaica Observer

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