Click here to print page

Honour of a Lifetime

By Aaliyah Cunningham
Observer writer

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Professor Edward Baugh received the Lifetime Achievement Award for his contribution to language and literature at the ninth Jamaica Poetry Festival. The event, organised by dub poet Yasus Afari, was held Sunday evening at the Louis Bennett Garden Theatre on Hope Road in Kingston.

According to Yasus Afari, the decision to honour professor Baugh was “unanimous”.

“We (my team and I) did some research. We did some consultation, we deliberated, and we talked back, and we evaluated and compared, and we reached out. In reaching out and sharing information and doing a little bit more research, everybody thought it was overdue. The response that we got from the public show seh we got it right,” he told the Jamaica Observer.

Baugh is a literary scholar, poet, educator, and actor whose work has made him a Caribbean icon. He is a past student of Titchfield High School, University College of the West Indies, Queen's University in Canada, and University of Manchester in England.

Baugh has compiled three collections of poems — A Tale from the Rainforest, 1988; It was the Singing, 2000; and Black Sand: New and Selected Poems, 2013.

His works have appeared in numerous journals and anthologies including Mississippi Review, Poetry Review, and The Oxford Book of Comic Verse.

“So, this is everything about books, from manuscript to artwork, proofreading, editing, self publishing, publishing, printing, audio books, launch, distribution, intellectual property rights. JIPO (Jamaica Intellectual Property Office) was here and Ian Randle as a successful Caribbean publisher was here and people who are aspiring as well as people who have already achieved and are achieving,” said Yasus Afari.

“It was good and it was well-received by the patrons,” he continued.

The event also paid homage to revered national icon, Louis Bennett-Coverley. The centenary of her birth will be observed next month.

It also saw performances by some of Jamaica's leading poets such as Yasus Afari, Ka'Bu Ma'at Kheru, Mutabaruka, Amaziyah, Akinsanya, and I Kong. Canadian El Jones also gave a worthy show.

Yasus Afari said he continues to stage Jamaica Poetry Festival because of its value to the arts.

“We have gotten a response from the people. They want to access the poetry and they want to access the minds of the people to inform and inspire and empower. We want to revive and re-engineer and renew and resurrect the people so we using poetic quotes to empower; and it resonates and the people respond and suh we continue doing it because we see the importance of it,” he explained.