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Goodison, Baugh and Miller Have 'Affair With Literature'

Kei Miller reads at Love Affair With Literature

Sunday morning was cold and grey, as a cold front crept across Kingston. However the cool winds and accompanying drizzle were not enough to dampen the flickering of love for literature. It was the first day of activities of the Kingston Book Festival 2013, and also the first in the series of activities to mark March as Literatures in English Month. The feast of readings provided by the Department of Literatures in English, UWI, Mona, dubbed ‘Love Affair With Literature II’, proffered poetry and prose to the literature lovers who flocked to the Neville Hall Lecture Theatre.

Professor Edward BaughProfessor Edward Baugh was the first of the morning’s poets and he delivered a metapoetic suite that celebrated poets, evoked ideas of poetry and our perceptions of it with his vivid style, easily matched by his wondrous oratory.  Baugh began his reading with ‘What's Poetry For' before moving to the pieces 'Slight and Ornamental', and 'At Coventry'. Baugh also delivered 'Yabba', a poem in tribute to Master Potter Cecil Baugh as well as 'Soundings for Kamau Brathwaite'. Professor Baugh ended his reading with the funny yet poignant pieces ‘For Attention’ and 'Obituary Page', a striking poem which captures the folk voice of his most famed works.

Lorna Goodison followed Baugh to the podium and though she has an impressive repertoire of poetry and prose, she chose to focus on poetry for the morning’s reading. Goodison explained that as she had received several requests and she would be reading some of her older pieces. She began with 'The Road of the Dread’ which was followed by 'After the Green Gown of My Mother Gone Down'. She then delivered two pieces on blackness 'Black Like Dis' and 'To Make Various Sorts of Black.'Lorna Goodison

The latter poem had marked the arrival of her newer pieces as she read to the audience a set of works which came out of a trip to Spain and Portugal last year. ‘To Make Various Sorts of Black’ skillfully combines an artist’s guide to creating black with the experiences that have been burnished into history and become definitive aspects of blackness. The read a few other pieces inspired by her travels through Iberia including 'You Should Go to Toledo' and 'Africans in the Plazas of Madrid' which explored the current plight of Africans who illegally pedal their wares in Spain’s major cities. The poem describes them as "living breathing contraband" despite the wealth of Africa that have been poured into building Spain.

Goodison made a brief return to Jamaica with the witty and poignant 'Hope Gardens' which was followed by 'The Bear' describing a sighting of a bear she described as having the confident bop of President Obama. She ended with 'In the Blue Boarding House'

The morning closed with the words of Kei Miller who delivered poetry and prose. He started with the humourous and daring The Rather Raunchy Obituary of Everton Campbell, whicDr. Michael Bucknorh may have caused more than a few heart palpitations among the more conservative of the audience. As a kind of story about stories, the piece also reveals that it breaks many of the rules about Caribbean writing. Miller explained that he had read excerpts of the novella at the Bocas Literary Festival (Port of Spain) but had been wisely advised by Morris that he could not read it in Jamaica. Taking that advice as a challenge, he proceeded to.

Miller then produced a suit of poems from an upcoming collection. He read several untitled poems which imagine a cartographer coming to Jamaica and presents the cartographer’s views juxaposed against those of a Rasta man. The poems present a re-imagination of cartography and its absences and all the things that maps define but cannot represent. Miller closed with two pieces other from the collection 'A Poem for the Unflumoxed Beaver' and 'Distance'.

The morning had opened with Tanya Batson-Savage who read the folktale inspire ‘The Thing With The Tale’ from her collection of stories for children, Pumpkin Belly and Other Stories. As such, Love Affair With Literature II had presented a varied fare featuring folktales, poetry and prose. It was a dalliance worthy of being repeated. Opening remarks were presented by Dr. Michael Bucknor, Head of the Department of Literatures in English while Kellie Magnus, Chairman of the Kingston Book Fesitival delivered the thanks.

The second annual Kingston Book Festival continues through to Sunday March 10 and will feature school tours, film screenings, panel discussion and workshops as well as a major book fair on Saturday, March 9 at Devon House.