As Jamaican as I am, I am not Jamaican
It is now one o’clock in the morning in Kingston, Jamaica. I am giddy with the fatigue of straining my head and body against hundreds of allergy induced sneezes, reading the book manuscripts of an exciting crop of Jamaican poets who are working hard to get their work published, and the general tiredness that comes from too much travel. I have been traveling. I want to sleep, and yet, I want to blog . .
because I am supposed to blog; and blogging from Kingston where cricket is king at the moment, and the brilliant yellow pouis trees are blooming in startling color all over the foothills of the Blue Mountains, where the island is still taunt with its own energy, and yet cool and easy with its own nonchalance, is where I am—home, but peculiar home. I was welcomed by the customs agents who said they knew my name and called me famous, but who insisted that I had to pay the US $100 for a visa to come home. My situation is somewhat odd because as Jamaican as I am, I am not Jamaican—not technically. So they were right both in seeing the absurdity of it all, and in forcing me to pay the visa cost. But this is how, and I am here with my good friends, the novelist Colin Channer and the film producer and all around amazing woman, Justine Henzell—the three of us forming the core crew that plans the Calabash International Literary Festival which occurs in St. Elizabeth, Jamaica, each year. I am on the road, but that is not why my blogs have slowed down. They have because my computer crashed. It was a horrendous thing and has left me quite vulnerable. So this blog will not go anywhere—it is just a way of saying, soon come (as we would say in Jamaica.)
Born in Ghana in 1962, Kwame Dawes spent most of his childhood in Jamaica. As a poet, he is profoundly influenced by the rhythms and textures of the country, citing in a recent interview his “spiritual, intellectual, and emotional engagement with reggae music.” His book Bob Marley: Lyrical Genius (2007)...