Embracing history through literary arts

Dr. Julius Garvey.
Dr. Julius Garvey.
Photo by Dawn Plummer

It could have been therapy for some or for others, the reflective moments to grasp on memories, which elevate their minds and spirit, we cannot tell. The greatest force in the cosmos may have the answer for this. The large gathering of Jamaican literary art lovers who assembled at the Jamaican Consulate Office on the evening of Friday, Sept. 22 in Manhattan, were there with thankful hearts to extend to legendary Jamaican authors, who for many years have given them blissful moments through their writings and their performances.

These legendary authors, lyricists, and poets, expressed themselves through their own work to the audience, giving thanks in the interim, for how they were able to master their work. They delved into the histories that came with that work and enunciated their Jamaican vernacular with such clarity and conviction having the audience bursting in laughter.

The event brought an extraordinary evening to attendees. The presentations were brilliantly delivered by these artists who reminded the audience of the power of human resilience. In revealing their work efforts in the initial stages of their careers, the artists also injected lines of humor, as they recapped the experiences, and the lessons they have learnt from those experiences that few people may have known about. They expressed emotions; some tearful and some were extremely nostalgic while recapping the moments that came along with their work.

Some folks in the audience sighed in expressing their understanding of the stories being told. Some laughed at times when there was overwhelming excitement in the story. The presenters left much for the audience to wonder about. What propelled their bravery, especially during the difficult period when their work began.

During the readings and gestures of the artists, they shared firsthand experiences and the development that took place with their work. Tears were shed as the truth behind some stories was told. The history of the artists was magnetic and memorable, and it engenders a mood for a continuation of their work for the next generation of authors. The revelation of their early socialization in Jamaica, which helped inspire them to the stage they find themselves in today, (no pun intended).

To express gratitude to the artists, give encouragement, listen to the experiences of the work done and congratulate them, was the son of the late Marcus Garvey, Dr. Julius Garvey, who did not only congratulate the artists for their brilliant work, but he also challenged them to bring extremism to the table and become critical thinkers with creative ideas. Dr. Garvey told the audience that the problems of imperialism must be solved and “our authors have to write about these things.” He noted that creativity must be embraced and that the authors continue to disseminate the history of their work. Garvey asked that people read not just a genre but everything that they can read. “What we are doing have a purpose.”

Dr. Garvey himself reflected on the early stages of his life in Jamaica and how his father always emphasized the importance of reading to his brother Marcus Garvey, Jr., and himself.

The artists themselves were all reminiscing and receptible in the work, not just for the history that comes with it, but the intention to further expound and expose their work for the younger generations to claim the roots and further the artistic and cultural phenomenon of Jamaica. The artists, all with published work included Andrene Bonner, Burnett Coburn, Lyndra R. Edwards, Faith P. Nelson, Lorel G. Morrison, and Dawn Forrester-Price.

The evening’s event was also a fund-raising effort by the American Foundation of the University of the West Indies, to give financial assistance to well-deserved students at the University of the West Indies.