16th Annual Reading Festival
Urban Voices - A Rich and Varied Reading Festival
The Louise Bennett-Coverley 16th Annual Reading Festival was successfully staged on Saturday, February 11th at the African-American Research Library and Cultural Center in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. An enthusiastic audience turned out for the literary feast, and they were not disappointed. The Jamaican Folk Revue opened the festival. They were in fine form as they delivered from their repertoire of well-loved Jamaica folk songs.
Guest Speaker Prof. Christopher Walker, Director of the Division of the Arts at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, took his spellbound audience on a tour de force with Poetry in Motion via lecture, recitals, and interpretations of many famous Jamaican poems including; Colonialization in Reverse, Song of the Banana Man, Uncle Time and Revolt of Chief Tacky. Walker anchored his presentation with Jamaican folk songs and traditional dance.
Walker, who is the founding artistic director of the First Wave Hip Hop and Urban Arts Program at UW–Madison, is a contemporary dance and performance artist from Jamaica whose creative research reengages the technology at the core of traditional and urban ritual practices across the African diaspora.
Visual artist, blogger and media personality Richard Blackford presented on the roots of Jamaica’s music, ending with a call for Robert Nester Marley to be declared a National Hero of Jamaica without delay. He was well received.
Nicaraguan Poet Francisco Larios brought the struggle of the Nicaraguan people to the fore. The themes of his reading were the suffering of his people, the nightmare dictatorship that they are now living under and his hope for their liberation and redemption – the pain was palpable. He ended on an upbeat note with a shout out to the wonderful music of Bob Marley.
The First Wave Hip Hot Touring Ensemble closed the evening, sharing the struggles of their young lives through spoken word poetry.
President of the Louise Bennett-Coverley Heritage Council, Dr. Susan Davis brought greetings on behalf of the Council. Emcee for the evening was Sophia Nicholson, decked out in bandana, who kept the program moving along in fine style.
Sponsors of the festival were Broward County Cultural Affairs Division, The Jamaica Tourist Board, Grace Foods, Broward County Library, and The African-American Library and Cultural Center.
Photos by: Don Parchment