There are some really great characters behind Jamaican poets. It´s a special group of people and they deserve to be recognized as such. They’ve been around since the nineteenth century and have been steadily growing, moving upward with hopes of establishing a place for themselves. Some of the first figures to mention are Claude McKay, Edward Baugh, Jeremiah Gorak Fas, John Figueroa, Roger Maris, Una and Mervin Morris, Andrew Salkey, Michael Smith, and Dennis Scott and they’re no ordinary people if you take a closer look at their work. The background of the Jamaican language, Patois, was already taking shape in influencing Jamaican poetry. There was nothing to stop it from standing up beside the English language as another tongue for native Jamaicans. Patois would even have more say it what was to come, the future of Jamaican poetry.
As time went by, this group would get bigger and better and even more widely read on an international basis. Jamaican poets were set to create a special place in English literature for a creative and unique group of people who was bound to excel because of the environment, the tropical climate and its beauty, the anomathopia, and the mixture of language. English would continue to prevail, and even to this day it has, but Patois would become the next big thing to influence Jamaican poetry. Louise Bennett is prime example of this, Miss Lou as she was popularly known on the island. Her poetic humor has been so satisfying for a lot of Jamaicans. Jean breeze, Lillian Allen, Afua Cooper, Linton Johnson, Matabaruka, Oku Onuora, Mikey Smith, Benjamin Zephaniah, D’bi Young, No-Maddz and Levi Tafari came up with Dub, a kind of poetry based on Dub music.
As the group added more and more people to its list, the better it gets. Great poets began to appear on the scene, not that the original group wasn’t great. It was. But now the newcomers were arriving with storytelling through poems but at its best. Lorna Goodison, Arthur Hendricks, Thomas MacDermot, Brian Meeks, Pamela Mordecai, Kimberly Walcott and Olive Senior are all examples of this new kind of poetry with all its fullness in bloom that is unique of the island of Jamaica. Poems have become a part of literary life on the island and its richness is just beginning to be taken into account by groups, clubs and organization around the world. They’re ones who are going make Jamaican poetry become a solid part of English literature. A lot of Jamaicans who have enjoyed reading these poets can tell you of the quality and sweetness of their verses. Schools, theaters and outdoor recitals are places where this form of Jamaican art is being read on a constant basis because there is life behind Jamaican poets.
There’s an enormous future awaiting Jamaican poets. They will have a bold new world to contemplate with and produce poems of a new era. The Internet will of course be one of their important tools and it will take their poetry to places that were once unknown to them. More people will have access to them. They’ll be able to enjoy them because of the art form that without any doubt will take from its past and combine it with the present to produce beautiful poetry. The surrounding, the flora and fauna, the sounds, the languages, are so unique to the region that they’ll all give the poet a taste of creativity to write them. It is only natural that this kind of storytelling on the island proliferates for everything around the poet is blended with harmony and a force that can activate every poet’s imagination. S/he can feel, hear, touch and see much more because of the atmosphere. Jamaican poets are destined to have a place in history and we the young entrepreneurs from the island are going to go out of our way to make this dream of enchanting the world with our poetry come true. We want the planet to know about this art form on the island. It is worth the while reading because we know that everyone who comes in contact with it is bound to be thrilled by it.
Don’t forget that at Wade Hilton from Jamaica we always welcome your ideas and suggestions to whatever concerns us and the subject of Jamaican poets is one of them. Let’s hear from you as soon as possible especially to let us know what you think about Jamaican poetry. You can read some right here online. We'll help you choose from whatever whets your appetite.