Jamaican Art | The Problem As I See It

by Tyreke

Why do we insist on poetry, music, art etc having some kind of Afrocentric relation or patois in order for them to gain the title "Jamaican art"?

I'm pretty much a beginner poet and my poems tend to be abstract, philosophical and reflective, as that's what interests me currently (I'm 20).

I tend to get great feedback online whenever I post a piece but there doesn't seem to be any room for me locally if I'm not emulating Miss Lou or Blakka Ellis.

It sucks to hear that as a young writer because I'm being denied my identity based on my topic and style. I'm as dark-skinned as anyone else, I grew up and live in a rural area (Linstead, St Catherine - of "carry mi ackee go a Linstead Market" fame), I literally breathe Jamaica, what more do I need?

We are very traditional people, yes but what's now tradition was once new. Can the govt and our art teachers and critics not see that?

Why is the creativity of the youth being so narrowly restricted? Small wonder our population is now decreasing as other countries and cultures are happy to accept the emeralds and pearls we've thrown out for not being diamonds.

What do you guys think?

(Note: This isn't restricted to me, a few of my friends who write prose and poetry and a friend who loves drawing said it dissuaded them from even applying to Edna Manley College after High School and they sought alternatives)

Editor's Note

Hi Tyreke,
First, thank you for sharing.

I'm truly sorry to hear you sounding like that though. But I am encouraged about the fact that you had your say here.

You may not realize but you have just trumpeted your concern to a wide online audience, which yes, includes influential persons in academia, government and politics.

My hope is that someone who heard this will address this issue, and even if not able to contact you directly (via the comments link below, address this from their vantage point.

I can't recall seeing any of your work, but it would be a shame to lose this talent or deny someone like you this opportunity to make your own impression on our artistic culture.

You said it perfectly, 'what's now tradition was once new'.

By the way, if you have any completed work, I invite you to submit same via my Jamaica Poems page. I will be happy to review and publish online on your behalf.

Thanks again for sharing... and good luck in your endeavours.

Note: My readers are welcome to learn more about art in Jamaica here.


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Aug 18, 2019
Listen To Your Young People Jamaica
by: Very Concerned Jamaican

I agree with the young man. This seems as if Jamaica is moving backward and not forward like other countries are doing. Please leave the past in the past. Jamaican young people are no different from those in the United States, Europe etc. I also know of a fact that Jamaican young people excel wherever they go around the world.

They are tech savvy, smart, intelligent and know exactly how to move the country in the future. These are the young generation of Scientist, Poets, Techs, of the future and they are the ones going to be left behind if Jamaica doesn’t stop putting tradition a head of their future. Like it or not the world is changing and if we stick to tradition then the country is going to remain poor traditionally. I suggest Jamaica build a museum and store all their tradition there for tourist and let these brilliant young minds move the country forward.

Listen to your young people Jamaica, get their feedbacks you will be surprise how much they can teach you. We don't want to move to other countries to help build their countries nor do we want other countries to use our country for their own benefit.

Continue to post your comments young man and get your friends to post their comments also. Someone will listen somehow.

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