Arts & Culture

Yasus gives poetry fest the thumbs up

BY KEDIESHA PERRY
Observer writer

Sunday, March 03, 2019

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Yasus Afari, head of Sen Yacum Entertainment, says diverse cultural performances made this year's staging of Poetry in Motion a memorable one.

“Across the board, there were great performances. We had a six-year-old open, Mikaya Sinclair, and she was the youngest to ever do it. Her diction, stage presence and confidence really wowed us. Then there was Kim Gaubalt from the US, who we refer to as a humble giant because her thing was deep. Dr Rhys Trimble from Wales performed his piece in Welsh and English and it had a 16th century medieval undertone to it, and then we had another performer who did a piece about love within the context of slavery. Everything was quite good,” he told the Jamaica Observer.

Other performers include Professor Fred Hickling, Karen Smith, Mutabaruka, Ka'Bu, Dr Ann-Marie Wilmot, Yasus Afari, and Afrolite Dancers.

Held at Manchester Golf Club on last Sunday, the event showcased the life and work of Jamaican folklorist, educator and writer Louise “Miss Lou” Bennett-Coverley.

The event conceptualiser was also pleased with the crowd.

“We had a standing room only and there was a full house. The event has been doing well in recent times because of the presence it has in the community and we really seek to live up to our standards,” he said.

There was also a tribute to Miss Lou written by poet Mervyn Morris and Professor Geoss Palmer of Scotland, recited by host and performer Norma Brown-Bell.

The event organisers also gave back to the community.

“We presented a charity cheque to Friends in Need; an organisation that feeds the street people of Mandeville and help the disabled and less fortunate,” he explained.

The February 23, 2020 staging will incorporate more African details.

“We will have our usual live outside broadcast. This year we did a test run and had African items on sale such as food and games. However, next year we will have the official launch along with our broadcast ... Next year we will have a full centenary celebration for Miss Lou,” he said.

The next event will be the Jamaica Poetry Festival on August 11 at the Louise Bennett Garden Theatre in St Andrew.

Born in Kingston on September 7, 1919, Miss Lou grew up to become the leading proponent in preserving the practice of presenting poetry, folk songs and stories in patois — Jamaica's native tongue.

Her work took on mass appeal through her presence in media — initially in print and later the electronic media to radio and then famously on television where she hosted Ring Ding, a weekly talent expose on the now defunct Jamaica Broadcasting Corporation.

The 86-year-old died on July 27, 2006 at the Scarborough Grace Hospital in Canada where she lived the last decade of her life. She is interred in the cultural icons section of the country's National Heroes' Park in Kingston.


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