On a balmy, moonlit Sunday evening, December 11, 2011, on the terrace of the Altamont West Hotel in Montego Bay, the St. James Office of the Jamaica Cultural Development Association treated an enthusiastic audience to a selection of readings.
The MC for the evening was Mr. Brian Brown, who also read some of his poems, written over the course of several years. He reminisced on the diverse states of his mind when he wrote them. My favourite was his poem about his daughter.
Mr. Albert Robinson read from his novel Locks and the Cross, which was given an Honourable Mention at the Creative Writing Awards Ceremony, 2011. Mr. Robinson has moved speedily to publish his novel, which is now available as an e-book on Amazon.
Miss Keniesha Lowe and Mrs. Arlene McKenzie, put us in a reflective mood with their thought-provoking poems, while Mrs. Marline Stephenson-Dalley had us all laughing at her pun on the words ‘greater’ and ‘grater’.
I read a chapter from Delroy and the Marog Princess for which I had won a bronze medal and Best Intermediate Novelist in the Creative Writing Awards Ceremony, 2011. Regrettably, I am unable to say when this novel will be published. I intend to self-publish, and am looking into the feasibility of doing a print-run as well as publishing as an e-book.
Mrs. Jane Crichton entertained us with a selection of her poems, some peaceful, some provocative, some hilarious—all read with her emphases, which we miss if we simply read them from her anthology or her calendars.
The highlight of the evening was the reading by Professor Mervyn Morris, poet and professor emeritus at the University of the West Indies, Mona. Prof. Morris was born in Kingston, and studied at the University College of the West Indies (which became UWI) and as Rhodes Scholar at St Edmund Hall, Oxford. In 1992 he was a UK Arts Council Visiting Writer-in-Residence at the South Bank Centre.
Professor Mervyn Morris
The blurb on the cover of I been there, sort of: New and Selected Poems, published by Carcanet in 2006, describes him thus: “Mervyn Morris is one of the most distinctive West Indian poets, his work characterised by economy, wit and humane seriousness. He makes elegant use of Jamaica's linguistic range, with poems in international standard English, Jamaican Creole and mixtures in between. These variations inflect his treatment of love, lust, time, memory, death, religion, politics, commitment, identity, history, art and other concerns. His poems frequently suggest the tension inherent in moments of choice.”
I been there, sort of: New and Selected Poems brings together poems from three of his previous collections, Shadowboxing, The Pond and Examination Centre, alongside new work.
In his delivery of the many poems he selected for us, including the famous ‘Little Boy Crying’ and ‘The Roaches’ from his first collection of poems, The Pond, in spite of a lifetime of achievements, he came across as unassuming, friendly and caring. I am privileged to have shared the evening with him.
Interspersed among readings by invitees were presentations at the open-mike by members of the audience. Natalie Morris of JCDC, and organiser of this event, read one of her poems. If you are one of the other creative people who plucked up courage to come to the mike, I would love you to give me information about your reading, in a comment which you can make below, and I will edit this post to include it.
Those in attendance enjoyed pudding and punch, and made a contribution of one thousand Jamaican dollars towards the activities of the St. James Office of the JCDC. I am looking forward to the next poetry evening which they are planning.