The Cayman Islands will participate, though in a limited way, in an international celebration of poetry on Saturday, 21 March.
Chief Officer in the Ministry of Culture Jennifer Ahearn said the ministry thought that this year would be an opportune time to informally observe the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation’s (UNESCO) World Poetry Day, with a view to more formally and actively observe the day in future years.
Recent years have seen more local poetry, novels, non-fiction, and increasing numbers of storytellers and songwriters emerging, thanks in large part to the Cayman National Cultural Foundation’s (CNCF) many programmes and events, such as Gimistory and various poetry workshops over the years. This year CNCF marks the day with a special screening of “Poetry is an Island”, a documentary film about the Caribbean Poet Laureate Derek Walcott. The screening will take place at the Harquail Theatre on Saturday, 21 March, with wine and canapés at 6:30pm and the screening beginning at 7pm. Ida Does, the director of the film, will be in attendance from Amsterdam and will be holding a Q&A session following the film.
Residents are encouraged to join in this day of appreciation. “Literature and poetry (especially oral) is entrenched in the Cayman Islands, from storytelling to songs and poems,” noted the Ministry of Culture’s Deputy Chief Officer Nancy Barnard. “We encourage members of the public to seek out the poetry and publications of resident poets. Take a book of local poetry such as “Grown from this Ground” by Leonard Dilbert, to a coffee shop or the beach this weekend; discuss and recreate over the poetry, perhaps become inspired to create your own poetry.”
Other active resident poets include Nasaria Suckoo-Chollette, who represented Cayman at Poetry Parnassus, held in conjunction with the Olympics in London in 2012, Roy Bodden, Quincy Brown, Alta Solomon, Damian Thaxter, Jamal Nugent, Kevin Creary, Michael McLaughlin, Melissa McField, Umberto Scano, Pal De Cruz-Jones, Krisha Arch, Gordon Solomon, Arikka Ebanks, Randy Chollette, Tish Scott, Priscilla Pouchie, Chelsea Walton, Michel Powery, Nicolas Ramos Lopez, Karolyn Smith, Mathew Hylton, Fiona Pimentel, Peter Westin, Barbara Garcia Anselmo, Lady Rabia, Sophia McKenzie and Eugene Christian.
The Ministry of Culture is grateful for all the public and private groups and clubs encouraging this creative growth, such as Culture Jam, Floetry, Nosotros, Better Read than Dead, and various personal book and poetry clubs.
For many years the Ministry of Education’s annual National Children’s Festival of the Arts celebration has also encouraged and facilitated creative expression, with an annual book of youth poetry, and other creative writing, printed at the end of the arts celebration.
While this weekend’s observance seeks to sensitise the public regarding the global event, it also seeks to educate morepeople about all of UNESCO’s cultural initiatives.
In 1999 UNESCO designated 21 March as “an invitation to reflect on the power of language and the full development of each person’s creative abilities.”
The agency also “supports linguistic diversity through poetic expression and offers endangered languages the opportunity to be heard within their communities”. For more information on UNESCO’s Poetry Day, visit: http://www.un.org/en/events/poetryday/. (GIS)