The power of poetry

BY HOWARD CAMPBELL
Observer senior writer

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

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Poet Malachi Smith continues his quest to unearth literary talent and expose Jamaica's culture to the country's youth with the Poets School Tour. The 11-day series will be launched November 5 at The Amphitheatre at Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts in St Andrew.

This is the event's third year, which will have dates at colleges, high and primary schools in Kingston and rural parishes. It closes at the Bookophillia store in Kingston on November 15.

Smith, who is based in South Florida, told the Jamaica Observer that he funded the previous series through his Malachi Mission. Despite financial challenges, he points to enthusiastic responses from students and poets as the main reason for his return.

“We were at Cornwall (College) last year and this student told me that he enjoyed the session so much, because at home he is not allowed to read anything Jamaican. We not only read to the students, we encourage them to read,” said Smith.

Poets School Tour 2019 is endorsed by the Poetry Society of Jamaica.

In addition to Cornwall College and Mount Alvernia High School in St James, Poets School Tour 2018 made stops in St Elizabeth (Munro College), and St Andrew at the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts and St Andrew Technical High School.

“We want to do it in every parish, that's the vision. Depending on time, each poet does three poems, then there is a Q&A, followed by a presentation on the history of dub poetry,” Smith explained.

He added that participants are taught that poetry transcends performance, as the medium is used in many countries as a form of conflict resolution.

“All of these things come through the sessions,” said Smith.

Originally from Westmoreland, Smith started his career as a deejay with the song Kimbo to Kimbo. His sound changed to poetry after hearing Oku Onura's Revolution Red and Everytime A Ear De Soun by Mutabaruka.

Smith has recorded five albums, including Wiseman which was released in 2017.

Several of the poets who were part of last year's Poets Schools Tour, are confirmed for next month's event. They include Tomlin Ellis, Cherry Natural, Fabian Thomas, Ann Margaret Lim, Richie Innocent and Judith Falloon-Reid.


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