Finding their voices

CAMPION College past student Shenoya Brown has been showcased as proof that the Jamaica Poets Nomadic College and School Tour has achieved its goal of unearthing talent among the student population.

Now the 20-year-old Brown, who will be pursuing a career in marketing, said she is honoured to be a featured participant at this year’s staging of the tour, scheduled for schools islandwide from Thursday, October 26 to Friday, November 10.

Stating that she’s ready and more assured, the curtains already drawn on the initial nervousness from the first time she read, Brown said, “I was nervous, but that quickly dissipated when I realised that most poets and members of the audience were very supportive and quite interested in my work. And last year at UWI [The University of the West Indies], Mona, presenting for the second time, all the fears were behind me after reading the first poem with everyone satisfied,” she said.

Experiencing the tour as a student, Brown said, was both inspirational and educational, “and it was also great to hear the varied poetry pieces that strongly appealed to emotion and the ones that addressed pressing world issues that should be fixed”.

This year’s event, sponsored by Maggi and the Betting, Gaming and Lotteries Commission, is being held under the patronage of Jamaica’s Poet Laureate Olive Senior.

Brown believes that the tour’s main impact on students is being able to express themselves through writing and public speaking and by creating a space where they’re given a voice, they’re able to learn more, and be inspired.

There’s nothing more inspiring to the founder of the tour, the internationally acclaimed dub poet Malachi Smith, who said he’s struck by the heightened interest, year after year, of students and teachers.

Through the tour, Smith said, he would like to create opportunities for young poets and writers, in particular, to be more aware about presentation and publication. He would also like the tour to be a resource base to assist Jamaican poets and writers travelling to international festivals.

In addition to Smith, this year’s line-up of poets will again feature Professor Opal Palmer Adisa, the founding editor of Interviewing the Caribbean who has more than 25 publications to her credit; Kwame MA McPherson, a prolific award-winning writer who is the first Jamaican to win the Commonwealth Short Story Prize (2023); Tomlin Ellis, founding member of Poets in Unity and the Poetry Society of Jamaica; and Cherry Natural, International Reggae And World Music Awards winner.

The tour also marks a major milestone, with the publishing of an anthology by the participating poets. Titled the Jamaica Poets Nomadic Tour Anthology, it was designed by Judith Falloon-Reid and edited by Professor Palmer Adisa.

Copies will be provided to participating schools — with all that will again be hoped for… more students finding their voices.