Entertainment

Glowing words for a poet

BY RICHARD JOHNSON Observer senior reporter johnsonr@jamaicaobserver.com

Thursday, May 01, 2014    

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ACCOLADES flowed at Tuesday's monthly meeting of the Poetry Society of Jamaica held at the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts in New Kingston, as members paid tributes to the guest of honour recently named Poet Laureate, Professor Mervyn Morris.

For poet and percussionist M'bala, there is something farcical about the naming of Morris as poet laureate at this time.

"If you should consider what a poet Laureate should do, then you would realise that Mervyn has been doing this for more than 30 years. I am going to move a motion to have his appointment made retroactive as this man has been working to improve the work of poets in Jamaica."

M'bala would produce evidence of Morris' assistance, by presenting a work, nearly 30 years old, which he wrote and had been vetted by Morris to great effect.

Published poet Raymond Mair also noted the role Morris played in getting his work published in the now defunct newspaper Public Opinion and other journals and anthologies.

"This is a most fitting tribute to one truly deserving... even if he is a reluctant awardee," Mair stated. His final comment was greeted by a loud shout of approval from Morris himself.

However, the most passionate tribute came from dub poet Oku Onuora.

In his inimitable style, the man labelled the father of dub poetry, declared how much a pleasure it is to have been associated with the poet laureate for the past 40 years.

"Mi nuh tek chat from nobody. Mi nuh 'fraid fi say that. But there is just something that make me listen to Mervyn. I owe my career as a poet to him, thanks to two women, Leonie Forbes and Barbara Gloudon who were the pathway to Mervyn."

Onuora also noted that Morris' latest accomplishment, that of poet Laureate, was long overdue, but is testament to the time, effort and the giving of himself to young poets over the years.

"He has done this without waving a banner or ringing a bell. You have been there for us. You deserve this. Thank you on behalf of the many of us you have helped. May you live to see many moons and continue to extend yourself to many more young people. I love you, Mervyn," declared Onuora, before dashing over to embrace him.

With the tributes complete, it was then up to Morris to read a few of his works including Peeling Orange, Valley Prince for Don D, Dream Time, Love Is, To An Expatriate Friend, The Day My Father Died, A Chant Against Death, and To An Interviewer.

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