Monday, 2 March 2015

5 THINGS WE'RE TALKING ABOUT: Goodison's moment; Kingston Book Fest; Chronixx on tour, and more

LORNA GOODISON'S MOMENT: Lorna Goodison deserves every single award coming her way. The celebrated Jamaican poet, author and culture chronicler, a recipient of the Order of Distinction and the Gold Musgrave Medal from the Institute of Jamaica, was recent honoured by the University of Michigan with the 2015 Shirley Verrett Award for her literary work, which spans poetry, short stories and narrative non-fiction. The ceremony was hosted by the Walgreens Centre in Michigan. Goodison, a past winner of the Commonwealth Writers' Prize, is a former University of Michigan professor. The award, given out annually to a faculty member whose work encourages the advancement of women of colour in the arts, was created in 2011 in homage to the late Shirley Verrett, a renowned university professor and opera singer. Says Goodison, "To be associated with the calibre of Shirley Verrett is a very wonderful and extraordinary thing."

ETANA'S CAUSE: Conscious songbird Shauna 'Etana' McKenzie-Morris doesn't just talk the talk. Teaming up with the United African Congress, the Give Them a Hand Foundation and her label VP Records, the award-winning artist has joined the fight against the deadly ebola virus that continues to claim hundreds of lives on the African mainland. Announcing her participation in the Stop Ebola and Build for the Future campaign, Etana's team has revealed that she will also take part in a March 2 concert at the United Nations, which is among the initiatives slated to benefit efforts designed to combat the illness seriously affecting countries like Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Ever using her music and artistry to inspire and enlighten, Etana has contributed the title track off her 2013 album Better Tomorrow for the campaign's official anthem. The song will be re-released on March 3 via iTunes, with all the proceeds from sales going towards the cause.

CHRONIXX ON THE MOVE: It's about time. Following sold-out performances on tour of the UK and the United States last year, Mr. Dread & Terrible is hitting the road again, but this time he's catering to fans at home. This month will see Chronixx and the Zinc Fence Band embarking on an islandwide trek to connect with fans, dubbed the Capture Land Jamaica Tour Part 1. On March 11 and 12 the musicians will bring the noise to Negril's Rockhouse Hotel; on March 13 they head to St. Elizabeth Technical in Santa Cruz; on March 14 the Kingston massive can catch them in action at Jamaica College's Karl Hendrickson Auditorium, while Portland natives will get to jam with the reggae rockers on March 15 at Oyster Bay. Tickets: $1500, students with ID cards pay only $1000. For more information, visit Chronixx Music on Facebook.

A DAY TO REMEMBER: Here at TALLAWAH every day is Jamaica Day, but on Feb. 27 we joined the forward-thinking Ministry of Education in spirit in promoting cultural awareness and island pride at the primary and secondary level with the much-welcomed Jamaica Day 2015. Under the theme, "Celebrating Jamaica: Celebrating Regional Friendships from Boukman to Bolivar, activities at several of the island's participating schools included cultural presentations, motivational addresses from noted public figures and flag-raising ceremonies. At Norman Manley High, in particular, a peer mentorship programme was brought to life, with students from that Kingston-based secondary school being selected to mentor students and implement new projects at the Maxfield Park and Rousseau Primary schools. "This is the one day that we we want our students to look with eyes of approval at themselves," explains Amina Blackwood-Meeks, Director of the ministry's Culture in Education programme, "and the day when we encourage the wider community to live the vision of a better tomorrow, so that what we learn in school is applicable outside of the school gates."

BETWEEN THE PAGES: Book lovers, rejoice. It's that time of year again when the culture capital of the Caribbean celebrates all things literary at home with the BIAJ-sponsored Kingston Book Festival. From Sunday, March 1 to Saturday, March 7, select venues across the capital will play lost to everything from poetry readings and book launches to panel discussions and a wide assortment of activities to mark World Book Day on March 5. "Jamaican literature has captured the attention of the world in the last year, and there have been exciting developments as well," reports festival chair, Kellie Magnus. "We want to continue to generate this kind of interest at home and show the power brokers and the wider public that amazing things are happening on the literary scene."

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