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Poetry revival taking shape

Basil Walters

Friday, September 30, 2011    

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SPOKEN word performances are gaining momentum in Jamaica.

In August, the island had its first poetry festival, and a month later One Hundred Thousand (100,000) Poets for Change — the local chapter — was launched. The launch, this past weekend, saw poets delivering their art in the name of change at various points from Moxons Beach Club in Ocho Rios to Half-Way Tree in the Corporate Area.

The series of events climaxed on Tuesday with the Poetry Society of Jamaica's monthly fellowship at the Edna Manley College Amphitheatre.

This special staging was in tribute to two iconic contributors to the art form, Miss Lou and Mikey Smith. It was also the start of the countdown to the launch of its coming of age project Verse vs Verse.

The project is an islandwide initiative being undertaken in association with the Caribbean Examinations Council and the National Association of Teachers of English to, among other things, build and inspire students to develop a deeper appreciation and application of literature.

"This (Verse vs Verse) is going to be an islandwide project, we are going to be going into all the schools across the island and we are going to the youth dem and demystify literature...," declared president of the Jamaica Poetry Society, Tommy Ricketts.

"We figure that in the end we are going to empower some youth to recognise seh language and communication is a magical opportunity." Introduction to Verse vs Verse featured poets Ras Takura, Abbebe Payne and local convenor for 100,000 Poets for Change, Damali Adele Ife.

Not quite the 100,000 Verses as was touted, but it sure was a meeting of the minds, which included the discussion on topical issues with a vision to developing solutions and inspire positive change.

And the consensus was that as Jamaican people their intrinsic ambition was to use the 100,000 Poets For Change as a catalyst for the intrepid need for civil leadership and prescriptive community activism. It is the hope and intention of the group to propel changes in the society with a strong involvement of positive poetic influences.

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