Kudos for Miss Lou

Kudos for Miss Lou

Poetry festival to honour cultural icon

Observer writer

Monday, February 18, 2019

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The life and work of Jamaica's folklorist, educator and writer Louise “Miss Lou” Bennett-Coverley will take centre stage at this year's staging of Poet In Motion scheduled for the Manchester Golf Club on Sunday, February 24.

Festival conceptualiser Yasus Afari explained to the Jamaica Observer the reason for this year's focus.

“Miss Lou is the neuro-linguistic mother of the Jamaican language and culture, so we have to honour her every morning when the sun rises and in the evening when the moon goes down. This year marks 100 years since her birth; it's a landmark year, and we are the beneficiaries of her brilliance and advocacy,” Yasus Afari, head of Sen Yacum Entertainment, told the Observer yesterday.

The event promoter compared the folklorist to Jamaica's sole national heroine, Nanny of the Maroons.

“She is just a militant as Queen Nanny of the Maroons, but instead of guns and bullets, Miss Lou used language and humour,” he said.

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.

Sunday's staging of Poetry In Motion will feature performances from former Poet Laureate Professor Mervyn Morris, Professor Fred Hickling, Karen Smith, Mutabaruka, Norma Brown Bell, Ka'Bu, Dr Rhys Trimble (Wales), Kim Gaubault (USA), Dr Ann-Marie Wilmot, Mik, Yasus Afari, and Afrolite Dancers.

According to Yasus Afari, the occasion will boast “clean intelligent fun for the entire family”.

Started in 2004, Poetry In Motion is the longest annual poetry event in Jamaica.

“The SenYAcum Edutainment Team is honoured to be a driving force at the forefront on the national, regional and international rise of poetry. Therefore, we take the opportunity to thank and salute those actively engaged in the global poetry movement,” Yasus Afari added.

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