Jamaica Observer / For the first in his more than 50-year career, singer-songwriter Bob Andy will be performing works from his expansive catalogue without singing when he makes his appearance on the 2018 staging of Dis Poem Wordz and Agro Festival. At the eight-year-old festival, which fuses poetry with agriculture, Bob Andy will be, one of 20 spoken word performers who will take to the stage as the event unfolds on Sunday, April 29 at Neville Antonio Park in Port Antonio, Portland.
This was disclosed by festival founder/organiser Ras Takura during the launch at Bookophilia on Hope Road in St Andrew recently.
“We are looking at the new feature that we have now which is the poetry of the reggae artistes, and this time we doing Bob Andy. So we are going to have Bob Andy, not in the usual performance setting, but he is going to be reading his songs in poetry, that’s what Bob Andy will be doing — presenting his songs in a poetic form. Why we choose Bob Andy? Because he is an artiste we always look up to and we like a lot of his songs them: I’ve seen the fire burning hotter than hot, the haves will want to be in the shoes of the have not . He is a revolutionary writer who me pay a lot of attention, so when you bring a man like Bob Andy, is for him to speak the poetry that are in his songs,” Ras Takura told the Jamaica Observer.
Among the other spoken word performers slated for the festival are Mutabaruka, Jean Breeze, Cherry Natural, Ann Margaret, DJ Amber, Marcia Jackson, Steppa, Neto, and Michael St George.
Explaining how the idea for the festival — which adopted the name of one of Mutabaruka’s poems — was born, Ras Takura said: “The concept of the festival came about because we always want an outlet for poetry. Because when we go around we always see that there is no space featuring dub poets — just one or two poets — but dub poets in Jamaica, there was no major stage for them. And that was the intention. The intention is to bring dub poetry on a major stage and I am creating the stage. I don’t think we reach that major stage yet, but we are creating the stage. And we thank the people who are helping us to create that space. The growth has been significant and magnificent and we really respect it.”
Asked why he decided to fuse poetry with agriculture, he said: “I was born on a farm in a little place in St Ann, grow up in a farming community. I am a graduate of Knockclava Agriculture School in Hanover and the College of Agriculture, Science and Education in Portland, and that’s where we started the festival.”
Dis Poem Wordz and Agro Festival received endorsement from the Ministry of Culture, Gender, Youth and Sports. Minster Olivia “Babsy” Grange, who was represented by Barbara Blake Hannah, said as creative people we have a responsibility to contribute to the development of our country, and commended Ras Takura for his initiative.
Dojn Campbell of Regal Customs Brokers, one of the sponsors, also gave her blessings to the festival, stating that it is a wonderful step towards the preservation and continuation of poetry and agriculture in the 21st century.
“This is the eighth staging of Ras Takura’s poetry festival and that alone is something that we should celebrate… So big up Ras Takura for eight years. One of the things I love about this festival, everybody has said but I will say again, is the fusion of literature, poetry and agriculture… the fusion of poetry, literature and agriculture is well-established in metaphors,” said guest speaker Professor Carolyn Cooper.