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Three Emerging Voices From Jamaica Head to Bristol

Mel Cooke, Yashika Graham & Dingo are set for some reverse cultural colonisation

Miss Lou captured the mass migration of Jamaicans to England in the wittily titled ‘Colonization in Reverse’. Now three Jamaican poets have borrowed and tweaked the title for their own journey to the England as they stage a fund-raising event dubbed Colonization in (Re)Verse. The name now functions as a in a tongue-in-cheek reference to cultural colonization as they along with Poet Laureate Mervyn Morris spread verses from ‘yaad’ across the City of Bristol, UK.

The three poets, Mel Cooke, Yashika Graham and Dingo are gathering up their verses to head off to Bristol for a series of poetry readings. The readings are being held in relation to Professor Poet Laureate Mervyn Morris who will be delivering the annual Bristol Poetry Reading.  

The fund-raising event will take place at Redbones the Blues Cafe, New Kingston, on Monday, October 6, 2014, just a few days before the trio depart for Bristol where they are slated to perform for civic leaders (including the Mayor of Bristol), members of the Jamaican community and a wider audience. Interestingly, all three poets have been members of and honed their skills at the Jamaica Poetry Society. Graham, is currently an executive member of the Society.

The performances in Bristol, including Prof Morris’ reading, came out of the Arts in the Park - The Spoken Word Edition event by the Ministry of Tourism and Entertainment during Reggae Month 2014. The Reggae Month event featuring a range of Jamaican poets was held at Devon House as part of the ministry’s thrust to promote the cultural industries, and provide an opportunities for new and emerging talent. The activity sparked a discussion between visiting representatives from Bristol and the ministry about cultural exchanges surrounding literature.  

poet and singer Jah9 will be bringing some reggae flavour to the event“It’s a great time for Jamaican literature, and it shows that we made a good decision to bring increased attention to it,” explained Gillian Wilkinson-McDaniel, Senior Director of Entertainment, pointing to the recent successes of Kei Miller and Marlon James, both of whom are currently reaping significant critical acclaim. 

“Now we want to get writers into the Hay Festival and into the South Bank Centre,” Wilkinson-McDaniel continued. “It’s a genre we’re strong in but we’ve never celebrated it,” she said.

The Division of Entertainment and the Entertainment Advisory Board were also the main force behind the official installation of the Poet Laureate.

Colonization in (Re)Verse is being staged to co-fund the international travel for Cooke, Graham and Dingo, who received partial funding from the Jamaica Tourist Board. 

Along with readings by Cooke, Dingo and Graham, the event will also feature performances by special guests poet Velma Pollard and poet and singer Jah9. 

Colonization in (Re)Verse takes gets underway at 7pm. Admission is $1,000.00.