Yasus looks to the DiasporaTuesday, July 27, 2021
BY RICHARD JOHNSON
POETS from the d iaspora will be the main feature of this year's staging of the Jamaica Poetry Festival set for Sunday, August 8.
The event — now in its 11th year — will see performances coming from poets drawn from the diaspora, some with Jamaican connections, as well as local artistes, in a virtual showcase to be streamed on various social media platforms as well as broadcast live on Public Broadcasting Corporation of Jamaica.
Event conceptualiser dub poet Yasus Afari told the Jamaica Observer that despite the challenges posed by the novel coronavirus pandemic, there are positives and negatives to be had from a virtual staging.
“In some sense, it's easy and then more challenging in others. Last year, we were navigating the learning curve and wanted to raise the bar for the 10th anniversary and that we did by showcasing 10 poets from 10 countries. The good thing about a virtual event is that we can reach a wider audience. We have been exposed to 600,000 persons growing from a low of 50 to about 500 in the physical stagings. Going virtual also means there is no staging costs associated with a physical event. But since we stage for free, we don't have any entrance fee... we don't benefit from that,” he said.
This year's festival will be a hybrid, combining live performances in studio, performances being streamed live from other locations, as well as pre-recorded items.
Yasus Afari noted that this year's Lifetime Achievement Award will go to Jamaican writer Dr Velma Pollard, while the Award of Honour will go to musician and arranger Ernie Ranglin.
The list of performers will be headed by renowned UK-based poet Linton Kwesi Johnson; Poet Laureate of Jamaica Olive Senior; AkinSanya from Portland; American writer Stephen Wise; Canadians BeExpressiceSoul and Coco LaRain; Emerson Alcalde from Brazil; and Babs Guns representing continental Europe.
The Asia-Pacific region will be represented by Ambassador Shorna-Kay Richards, Jamaica's ambassador to Japan, and Dave Collymore, a representative from the Jamaicans in Japan organisation.
Yasus Afari is also included in the line-up, along with his daughter Mikaya “MiK” Sinclair. They will be promoting their new single Plain and Simple. And, according to the organiser, this will be their first performance as a duo under the name MikYa.
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