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Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Talking Trees Writers Use Humour/Pathos to Describe the Jamaican Situation


Talking Trees Writers Use Humour/ Pathos to Describe the Jamaican Situation

By Gwyneth Harold

Garfield Ellis told a woman's tale
On what was possibly the biggest line up of Jamaican artistes reading from their own work, readers at the Two Seasons Guest House on May 28 had the audience laughing as they reflected the on the pathos and joys of our society.

The event featuring fourteen Jamaican writers, and publisher Ian Randle, drew about 300 persons for day two of the Tourism Enhancement Fund-sponsored Treasure Beach Breadbasket Festival that ran from May 27-29. Book seller Bookophilia allowed for connections with the writers and also had a range of local and Caribbean publications on-hand. Master of Ceremonies for the day was Gwyneth Harold.

Novelist Garfield Ellis opened the show with excerpts from Till I’m Laid To Rest. The excerpt included a conversation between two women on making life in the USA.
 “So what if the woman want her dog teeth clean every day? What can eena dat?”
“Clean di woman dog teeth, are you serious? I would leave too man!”
“Mek two quick brush, then make a quick rinse, what could a hard eena dat? The stupid gal turn hose down di people dem dog throat. I don’t know if dog can gargle….all now di dog still can’t bark again. Now she say she going home like she better than people.”

Pamela K Marshall
An authentic voice from the Diaspora, Pamela K Marshall is a social worker whose experiences were the muse for her first novel, Barrel Child. Talking Trees was the Jamaican launch of her book. Sarah, at age 18, had not seen her mother in 14 years until she migrated and is living with her step family in the USA. “Can material things truly compensate for a mother’s love?” is the haunting question the book addresses.

The impact of the real stories from her job as a paternity testing officer is still within Sonia King who read from her book Jacket or Full Suit. In her comments, King recalled a woman’s story, “All six barrel come one time fi dis bwoy, and we know seh it wasn’t for my uncle. We did know long time, cause him hand never bear the strong family trait; it never twist.” 

Dr Nova Gordon Bell
Short story writer, Nova Gordon Bell, received the only standing ovation for her evocative readings and the satirical piece that she used to finish her set.
“These people, Lord these people. You cannot help them no matter how hard you try… No matter wha di politician dem try to switch.
No matter how much song dese people sing, no matter how much gold medal dem waan to win.
This country must know seh class is class!
Dese people will never be like you and me;
Weh speaks di Queen’s hEnglish perfeckly.”

Theatre professional Jean Small read from her work-in-progress about co-founder of the Little Theatre movement, and one of the earliest stars from Calabar High School, the late Noel Douglas Vaz, who Edna Manley called, The Theatrical Magician.
“If you see a small boy cutting figures out of his father’s Evening Post and moving them around as if in some imaginary play, then that is a sure sign that that boy will grow to be consumed with the love of the theatre.”

Connecting perfectly with the audience, Veronica Carnegie had the crowd in stitches as she delivered her stories including re-wording the inappropriate nursery rhyme Three Blind Mice and also words to Hilda’s song and the children whose mother did a wrong thing and went to jail in a foreign country.
“Donna felt that certain phrases had to change when she got a job teaching;
small changes, Words and phrases like dunce and black sheep would not
be used in her students’ vocabulary.”

Malachi Smith
The poets Malachi Smith and Tomlin Ellis were celebrating the 22nd anniversary of the Jamaica Poetry Society that they helped to found. Let Them Try for Alton Ellis was read by Malachi Smith who said that it hurt him to see the wife of a producer at a Miami reggae show cater to an new artiste while Alton Ellis was left standing in the sun with a meal ticket,
“…as you waited patiently off stage for a meal you had already paid for in Trench Town;
My father, take my hand and sit, I will serve you;
For how could we not know better?
How could we not know when you had given us so much song/dance sermons? How you stopped this dance from crashing so long ago.”

Tomlin Ellis paid tribute to other poets with a piece that he said emerged from a 1989 Poets in Unity workshop.
“Just write and chant, poetry with the Jcan descant;
Like Malachi, like Mordecai;
Them poets write the truth, dem don’t write no lie;
Dem poets write the poems to open you eyes.
So write and chant poetry with the J’can descant.
Oku Onura, Mutabaruka, Smith Mikey, Poets in Unity;
Dub poetry still relevant in dis yah era.
So write and chant poetry with the Jcan descant.”

Aisha Davis, Scarlette Beharie, Sean Davis, Keiran King
Biting angst rippled at sunset in 1942 at the Myrtle Bank lounge between Aisha Davis and Keiran King’s characters in a scene from Keiran King’s production, Last Call.
“You are in the same dress I saw you in yesterday.”
“You are in the same bar I saw you in too.”
“Everybody has got to survive somehow. That fool has his bottle, you have your memories and I have my midnight oil to burn.”
The musical runs through August at the Philip Sherlock Centre for the Creative Arts, UWI.




Joan Andrea Hutchinson
Headline performer, Joan Andrea Hutchinson, dug deep into her vast repertoire and delivered a riveting 90-minute performance that included proverbs, reflections of love and relationships; tales of old Jamaica and goings on in contemporary society.
She felt it for men who are not expected to be gentle:
“Baby me check for you and you done well and know; but a man can’t mek him feelings show….man a thug and thug no suppose to show love.
Me will give you sweet and gentle loving till you clyde…but John public no haffi know bout me love, cause me a thug, and thug no show love.”

Tyrone S Reid, Judith Falloon Reid, Ian Randle, Joy Simons Brown
 Issues around publishing were discussed in a one-hour segment with moderator, musician Joy Simons Brown and featuring e-zine publisher and writer, Tyrone S Reid; Ian Randle of Ian Randle Publishing; and Judith Falloon-Reid of the Independent VoYces Literary Fair. All agreed that it cost just as much to put out a good piece of work as a bad one, so it was better to make the investment worthwhile. Falloon-Reid was passionate about writers not waiting on a publisher to be published; while Randle said that publishers provided a service as all other services. Despite the advance of digital book readers, the panellists and audience seemed to agree that books will still not become redundant.
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