Like Jamaican proverbs, the poems from Jamaica captures the spontaneity of the expressions of our joy and sorrows, our ready, poignant and even wicked wit, our religion and philosophy of life. Many too are deep social commentary.
Arguably, the mother of Jamaican poetry, the late great Louise Bennett-Coverly,through her poems in Jamaican patois, raised the dialect of the Jamaican folk to an art level which became acceptable and appreciated by all in and outside of Jamaica.
Today, we have host of modern day Jamaican poets who are helping to preserve this rich cultural heritage. The list is long but two that stands out in my mind is the ever effervescent Joan Andrea Hutchinson and the radical Mutabaruka.
Needless to say that most of my favourite Jamaican poem are by the one and only Mama Lou.
'All a dem nice', but my ultimate favourite is NOH LICKLE TWANG!
This poem bemoans the fact that a recent repatriate Jamaican returned from the United States without a trace of having been there--not even a little "twang"!
NOH LICKLE TWANG by Louise Bennett
Me glad fe se's you come back bwoy,
But lawd yuh let me dung,
Me shame o' yuh soh till all o'
Me proudness drop a grung.
Yuh mean yuh goh dah 'Merica
An spen six whole mont' deh,
An come back not a piece betta
Dan how yuh did goh wey?
Bwoy yuh noh shame? Is soh you come?
Afta yuh tan soh lang!
Not even lickle language bwoy?
Not even little twang?
An yuh sista wat work ongle
One week wid 'Merican
She talk so nice now dat we have
De jooce fe undastan?
Bwoy yuh couldn' improve yuhself!
An yuh get soh much pay?
Yuh spen six mont' a foreign, an
Come back ugly same way?
Not even a drapes trouziz? or
A pass de rydim coat?
Bwoy not even a gole teet or
A gole chain roun yuh t'roat.
Suppose me las' rne pass go introjooce
Yuh to a stranga
As me lamented son wat lately
Come from 'Merica!
Dem hooda laugh afta me, bwoy
Me could'n tell dem soh!
Dem hooda sey me lie, yuh was
A-spen time back a Mocho.
Noh back-ansa me bwoy, yuh talk
Too bad; shet up yuh mout,
Ah doan know how yuh an yuh puppa
Gwine to meck it out.
Ef yuh want please him meck him tink
Yuh bring back someting new.
Yuh always call him "Pa" dis evenin'
Wen him come sey "Poo".
Note! You can get the words of the other four (4) here.
Its an PDF file, so you may need Adobe Acrobat to open it.
If you are looking to purchase her works, you can check this website dedicated to her or do a quick search on Amazon.com.
By the way, other notable Jamaican poets includes:
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