Tuesday, June 03, 2003

First up was Mel Cooke, a Jamaican journalist and poet with a booming voice and a bone to pick with Jamaican violence and American politics. One poem rhymed "rub-a-dub" with "blood," and another called the president of the United States a "son of a Bush." The young poets who followed him were mostly obsessed with sex, with much ado about flesh-slapping, the divine B-O-D-Y and wombs "stuffed like cumulonimbus."

Then Adziko Simba, a British-born poet living in Jamaica, performed her poem "Crazi Ladi Daze." With long arms waving and bare feet moving up and down as if on hot coals, she had a poetic breakdown, a long, agonized "Ahhh!" and then confessed breathlessly: "Sometimes I have a need, a need to have a crazi ladi day ... And suck thumb and suck thumb and rock and suck thumb rock and suck thumb ... and scream ... I need a day." She was a knockout.

Colin Channer's Calabash Literary Festival made the NY Times yesterday. Of course the Jamaican newspapers covered the event extensively for weeks--see Mervyn Morris's summary in last Thursday's Observer here.

What I'd really like to know is why Walcott pulled out at the last minute. Anyone have the inside story?

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