If you are familiar with the works of the late, great Louise ‘Miss Lou’ Bennett-Coverley, then you know about her Aunty Roachy, the dispenser of sage advice and commentary. Today, both Miss Lou and her famous relative are being celebrated at the Aunty Roachy Festival, taking place at the JCDC’s Independence Village at Ranny Williams Entertainment Centre.
The literary festival will feature readings from various Jamaican authors, including A-dZiko Simba Gegele, Kellie Magnus, Roland Watson-Grant and Coleen Smith-Dennis; poetry from Lyrical Hotsteppers – Cherry Natural, Abbebe Payne and Britton Wright, as well as comedy and drama from Tony ‘Paleface’ Hendriks and Ricky Rowe.
Also on the day’s agenda will be a ‘Link Up and Labrish’ discussion forum under the theme ‘I Am Who I Am, But Who Am I?’, moderated by Amina Blackwood-Meeks. The festival will end with a poetry reading, hosted by the Poet Laureate of Jamaica, Professor Mervyn Morris, and featuring Blackwood-Meeks and fellow storyteller Joan Andrea Hutchinson.
Today, we take a look at Blackwood-Meeks, Hutchinson and a few other Jamaican poets and storytellers carrying on Miss Lou’s legacy.
A writer, director, performer, and “custodian of the oral tradition,” she has been instrumental to the renaissance of traditional Caribbean storytelling. Spinning both traditional and contemporary folk tales, Blackwood-Meeks‘ rich, dramatic readings are beloved by Jamaicans both young and young-at-heart. She has travelled the world, sharing Jamaican culture with eager audiences.
Blackwood-Meeks is also a political scientist, early childhood educator and the director of the Culture In Education Programme in the Ministry of Education. She is also:
- Founder of Ntukuma, The Storytelling Foundation of Jamaica, 2002
- Founder/Artistic Director of LikkleStoryFest, an annual storytelling festival for children, operating since 2002
- Founder/Artistic Director, Child’s Play, Antigua, 1992
- Founder, Zebra Theatre Group, Antigua, 1987
- Founding member, Theatre Group for National Liberation, Jamaica, 1976
- Workshop facilitator
- Motivational speaker
- Lecturer in Caribbean History and Aesthetics
Joan Andrea Hutchinson
An accomplished actor, teacher, singer, motivational speaker, poet and storyteller, Hutchinson is internationally celebrated for her poems, monologues, stories and performances, written and done in Jamaican Creole (JC). This multi-faceted cultural exponent has done extensive work in preserving the Jamaican-language heritage in ways only she can. And her dynamic repertoire is replete with the comedic and dramatic slices of Jamaican life. This is hardly surprising since her literary work is greatly influenced by none other than the late bastion of the Jamaican language, Louise Bennett-Coverley.
Hutchinson has produced seven books and three CDs, including Dat Bumpy Head Gal, Wild About Jamaica, Anancy and Aunty Joan, Inna Mi Heart and Kin Teet Kibba Heart Bun: Celebrating The Creativity Of Jamaican ‘Poor’ People. She has received various awards including:
- Caribbean Hall of Fame Award for Excellence in the Performing Arts
- Jamaica Music Industry (JAMI) Award for dub poetry
- City College of Birmingham, Language Ambassador Award
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