I’ve been poeting in schools recently. A common corridor conversation has run like this:
Pupil: Cool hair sir!
Me: Thank you, I grew it myself
Pupil: Ooh, you think I could do mine like that sir?
Me: Well, you could do…
Pupil: How long does it take you to get it like that sir?
Me: It did take a few years…
Pupil: Can I touch your hair sir?
Pupil: Are you from Jamaica sir?
Me: No, but my dad’s from Barbados.
Me: Barbados? Where Rihanna’s from…
Pupil: Aw, wow, do you know Rihanna sir!?
I don’t know Rihanna.
I do know and have been blessed to link with several other Bajan artists who do not receive Rhi Rhi’s international acclaim however. One of the foremost griots, Adrian Green breaks down why “if you’s an artist that really really keep it real, you set yourself up to fail” in his epic poetic ‘Hard Ears’ which in nine minutes does more to enlighten on the state of contemporary Bajan culture and society than nine years, nine albums, nine lives of catchy polished “jam and wine” ever could:
Props due to Rihanna (and latterly Cover Drive) for putting Barbados on the map for the few culturally-deprived pupils in Rotherham, Doncaster, Sheffield I encountered – yet there is of course a whole cohobblopot of enriching nutrition that never makes it across the Atlantic to huge international acclaim.
The soulful intoxicating flow of Jamaican poet Kei Miller headlined the recent Cultureword National Black Writers Conference in Manchester three weeks ago and this weekend the North of England again gets a chance to sample more poetic Carribean flava with the Peepal Tree Press Narrating the Caribbean Nation conference taking place in Leeds as well as the Jamaican Society celebrating the 50th anniversary of Jamaican independence.
Check the PTP website and flyer below for more info and also check the burgeoning Bajan poetry scene and the inaugral Bim Literary Festival if you are lucky enough to be over in that part of the Diaspora.