Hope: Living and Loving with HIV in Jamaica

Hope: Living and Loving with HIV in Jamaica

From Kwame Dawes

Dear Friends,
This project, presented here in this interactive website, is what I have been doing for the past six months and what I expect to continue to do for the next little while. The performance of these poems and the music composed by Kevin Simmonds, will be on tour in the fall. The crew for this piece is the same that had such success with Wisteria. A long essay with stunning photographs appears in this month’s issue of The Virginia Quarterly Review and two short documentaries are appearing around the country on the program Foreign Exchange. I trust that you will be moved by this work.

Props to Kwame, Kevin, and all involved for going to Jamaica and documenting this history with their own art.

The multimedia site is spectacular. Everything moves effortlessly allowing the poem text, poet’s voice, music and images to come together in the finest tradition of orature. Equally impressive is the site’s ability to let the user personalize which combination of elements will allow them to best experience the narrative.

Multimedia Site— www.livehopelove.com
YouTube— InFocus: Talking HIV in Jamaica
Essay— Learning to Speak: The New Age of HIV/AIDS in the Other Jamaica

Practical Poesia


martín in action
Originally uploaded by geminipoet

Even the most political poem is an act of faith. Because you have no way of quantifying its impact on the world. But the fact is we write these poems and put them into the environment, into the atmosphere and we have no idea where they’re going to land. We have no idea who’s going to breathe them in. We have no idea what affect it’s gonna have on an individual life unless that person materializes and says, “Poetry saved my life.”
-Martín Espada

Bill Moyer’s interview with Martin Espada is up and running. Mad props to Mr. Moyers for shining such a spotlight on poetry: how it develops from the master poet, to the teaching poet, to the student poet and its effect on audience.

While Espada’s work and words are the high definition of inspiration, I also want to talk about young poeta Haydil Henriquez and her desire to make poetry such a part of her life. A life that is driven by a practical family brought to this country for practical reasons, envisioning a practical life for their daughter and in the eyes of this family poetry is not a practical thing.

I’ve had this conversation with a lot of writers who come from an immigrant background and few have ever been encouraged to pursue the art of writing as a practical part of their life. Yes, they have been told that poetry is a fine hobby and that the novel they are chipping away at is a fine use of spare time but unless it equals real dollars & cents then it’s equal in value to a good night out drinkin or a quick pick up game of basketball.

I’d be very interested to read Haydil’s poem ‘In Papi’s Shoes’ because I imagine it to be her strategy to not only get her voice in the world but to also demonstrate to her family the practical use of poetry: as a means to acknowledge the sacrifice of the previous generation and let them know this generation will not squander what they have worked so hard for.

Also good to see Rich, Aracelis and the Bruckner Bar & Grill on the Moyers Journal! (For more on Acentos, check out Rich’s interview at labloga.)

Full transcript of Martín Espada on Bill Moyers Journal
Video of Martín Espada on Bill Moyers Journal
Video of Martín introducing Aracelis Girmay at Acentos Bronx Poetry Showcase
Poems from Martín Espada
Poems from Aracelis Girmay

a petri dish of faces

last night’s amiri baraka reading has me still in a loop. i want to blog as quick as i can here before heading to another reading in order to try to see what (if anything) is different from this reading.

sadly, amiri only read a bit of his work (two short stories from his new collection and an older poem). the readings were beautiful, nuanced, savvy, authentic all befitting the amount of literaryt effort that went into them.

then we move on to the q&a which was the bulk of the evening. while there were a few questions of a literary nature most of them revolved around political currents.

i can indict a whole bunch of fools here, and i will later, but the biggest culprit was me. instead of asking this man about poetics & the rigors of a writer’s life i asked a very naïve question regarding us politics. something that i should reserve for a local alderman or the like. i aint happy with myself about it but its a lesson learned. a hard lesson.