Asante Jamaica, Asante (Thank you Jamaica, Thank you!)

Asante Jamaica, Asante

The inaugural staging of Asante Adonai Literary Lyme, was a literary rehabilitation treatment session of sorts. The Lyme aimed to engender goodwill and to make a positive contribution to nation building. This is part of the work of making Jamaica a more desirable place to live, work, and play.

We are committed to helping to raise awareness of the importance of a literary culture and of being well-read, all while bettering both individuals and Mother Earth. We only ask that you enjoy this day and celebrate being alive.

Upon completion of the literary rehab session, we hoped that attendees have been inspired to read more and to write more and to share these joys with the next generation. People listened, ate, participated and generally had a good time at the Asante Adonai Literary Lyme!

The event was blessed and sponsors came onboard with cash and services.

Giant Swallowtail sponsor – Juici Patties Limited
Red Corn sponsors – Simply Fresh Bammies, First Global Bank, JIIC, and The Guardsman Group – Nature’s Paradise
Bookophilia as the Official Bookshop
IRIE FM as Media Sponsor

The following entities kindly provided donations to the cause.
-Video Access Electronic Security Solutions
-Jamaica Money Market Brokers
-Wisynco through their WATA Brand
-Chas E. Ramson

Our Service Sponsors provided services without which, the staging would not be possible.
The Imaji Nation
Grace Foods Limited through the Vina Maipo and Trivento brands of wine
Solartech Jamaica Limited
The Atlas Group
ReadyMedia Rental
Judge Productions
Doves Go

We are thankful that they all ‘caught the vision’.

Prelude #1 was on May 1, 2011 at Bookophilia, Liguanea, Kingston 6
Six (6) Readers shared excerpts from books that “touched them”, books that made a difference in how they have lived their lives. Readers included: Bert Samuels, Cathrine Harrison, Fae Ellington, Jean Lowrie-Chin, RasTakura and Paula-Ann Porter

Marcia Rowe, Gleaner Writer wrote the following:

After 10 years the ‘Calabash’ broke, but its seeds have dispersed, germinated and are now bearing fruit in different forms.

A good example is scheduled to commence on May 22 in Winfield, St Ann.
Plans for the Asante Adoni Literary Lyme were unveiled at the inaugural staging of the Run Up Session, on Sunday, at Bookophilia, located on Hope Road in St Andrew.
In spite of the rains, the lovers of the written word came out. A few were called to read excerpts from their favourite books but most were on hand to just listen and to salute the power of the pen.
Leahcim Semaj, one of the organisers, described the creation of the Asante Adoni Literary Lyme as a rehabilitation programme for those who, like himself and his wife, are suffering from post-Calabash withdrawal symptoms. He also explained that the organisers had been fine-tuning details of the event. Winfield, Semaj explained, is a natural amphitheatre.

Good book teaches
In giving the welcome, Kathryn Harrison shared the beliefs of the organisers. “We, the members of the Asante board, passionately believe that a good book should leave one with good memories and slightly exhausted. We believe that a truly good book should teach us. Great literature inspires us to change our actions, usually for the better. Every act of self-improvement, improves the history of mankind,” she said. Soon it was time to listen to some good books.

Fae Ellington, Ras Takura, Bert Samuels, Paula-Ann Porter-Jones, Jean Lowrie-Chin, Kathryn Harrison, and Leahcim Semaj all read. Enthused by the title of the launch, ‘From Inspiration Between the Covers’, the six-the-hard-way arrived with their inspirations – beautiful words bounded in paperbacks or hard covers. It was obvious that some had seen better days.

The proud owners, who were happy to date themselves by telling the history of acquiring same, were emotive and passionate in articulating the thoughts taken from the pages.

And the audience showed their appreciation by voicing aloud the familiar and remaining quiet for the not so recognisable. The authors, who speak to different topics, came from Jamaica and foreign lands. They included Easton Lee, Claude McKay, Mutabaruka, A.F. Scott, Barry Peterson, Maya Angelou and Khalid Gibran.

On Sunday May 15th we hosted Prelude 2 “Pre-Lyme, Post-Script”, an Open Mike Session. We invited persons who thought that they got the words that can move the people… to bring it on under the guidance of M.C. Fabiam Thomas.

“Poetry is finer and more philosophical than history; for poetry expresses the universal, and history only the particular”. Aristotle

Mel Cooke, Gleaner Writer provided the following observations:

The Asante Adonai Literary Lyme took its final pre-lyme step at Bookophilia on Sunday afternoon, open-mic host Fabian Thomas, on occasion, taking incremental sideways steps towards the current reader to gently call the five-minute time limit.

After Sunday’s ‘Prelude #2, Pre-Lyme, Post-Script’ at 92 Hope Road, Liguanea, Asante Adonai takes the big plunge with its debut staging in Winefield, St Ann, on May 22. There open mic – where persons sign up to participate – is a prominent part of the programme and Sunday’s second warm-up was dedicated to that participatory element of literature events.
Host Fabian Thomas set the tone by reading Words and a poem about Bolt’s achievements in Beijing (“now dem waan come test our yam and cassava”) and establishing the procedure for enforcing the five-minute time limit. Thomas said he would move towards the current reader as their time wound down and that novel way of calling time was required and proved effective with the first open-mic participant, Louise Spencer-Strachan.

Absorbed in her reading of Winnie’s meeting with, and marriage, to Nelson Mandela, Spencer-Strachan did not notice a smiling Thomas, chin tucked into his chest, moving towards her in stages. Neither did she hear the giggles from the full house, increasing as Thomas got closer to the microphone.
When he touched the table as she started the line “In June 1958 …” Spencer-Strachan looked up, startled, and there was laughter all around.

It proved to be a good start to two hours of immersion in distinctly Jamaican literary expression in verse, with a mixed-quality bag. There were invited readers as well, the first being Marcus Harrison, who did The Orchestra, What is It? and Your Love (“you slip through my fingers, a mirage”), the last striking a chord with the ladies especially.

Thomas gave Runkus an extensive introduction – and then found out he was not yet there. Thomas said when Runkus performed he would not be repeating the intro and the audience should simply ‘ditto’, which they had the chance to do when Runkus came to the microphone after the break. Sabriya Simon delivered Mr Religion, which she said she had not read in about six years, which referenced the line “since you are so spiritual, let me tell you what I know about religion”, which came up in a discussion with a Christian when she just started growing her locks. Ancient Revolutionary was written about two years ago.

Verona Carter from St Ann’s Bay delivered Backra Maasa was a Pimp(“a brothel, a stud farm, that is Backra Maasa’s investment”) and celebrated The Antique Man who publicly showered his wife with love and respect.

Cherry Natural brought up the break in stirring fashion, saying “me kinda do my thing different”, as she took the microphone from the stand and stood closer to the audience to do Is Long Time Poets a Write, at one point saying, “poetry precede prose”. The audience showed its strong appreciation and Natural also read Moon Energy and Our Mother, her take on the Lord’s Prayer. “Look like the time no done yet,” Natural remarked, when she ended. “Time up, but I couldn’t take a word buck,” Thomas replied.

Runkus opened the second segment, employing music from a keyboard player, his interactive-sung stories involving the audience. The first was about a young people’s relationship across the economic and social divide (“she used to go to Campion College/me used to go to all-age”), No Woman No Cry utilised in the refrain. Runkus engaged the audience in dialogue about the direction of the song, as he did with his next one about a ‘bad girl’ named Caroline – after enquiring if anyone named Caroline was present.

Sexual innuendo
Thomas did No Tomorrow and, coincidentally, Earl, the next open-mic reader, started by asking “what is my fate tomorrow?” After My Friend Brings Joy, he responded to the cut-off signal, making way for another invited reader, Mark Grant, who spoke to current affairs with musings on paternity (a ‘jacket’ described as a “modern Lotto ticket”). In a rare venture into sexual innuendo for the afternoon, Grant closed with a poem turning on the near humblest of wheeled transportation, the female character, saying “whenever my man put me on his bicycle bar/I come quick and I go far”.

Sophia Walters slipped some Erykah Badu into her poem about memories of a lover to excellent effect;

Barbara-Blake Hannah, who was slated to read at the lyme on Sunday but cannot make it as her Reggae Film Festival begins the following day, read to compensate for the unavoidable absence.
As the prelude moved towards its close, Hope McNish made a verbal stand against institutionalised ills (“I refuse to accept that leaders should be strangers to their constituents”) and Yorkali Walters went back to a particularly fecund period after last year’s Tivoli incursion when he wrote a poem each day for a month. He spoke about places where “painted leaders lie on painted walls” and included a poem for those who have children and can hardly find time to be together, celebrating “Mom and Dad escape night”.

Akinsanyah read, Sankofa from the Lime Jewel collection and Takura was the final open-mic reader, a clip of Buju Banton’s Til Shilohpreceding his Her Majesty’s Prisons, Takura forgoing speeches about Buju and allowing the audience to make the connection. He made the connection between peace and production in his next poem, which advised the youths to “pu dung de gun/and make we farm up de grung”.

And Thomas put the lid on the prelude with Yele for Haiti, concluding “we are Haiti and we will rise again.

On Sunday May 22, 2011 – 450 persons (paying patrons, vendors, sponsors and crew) shared the experience of The Asante Adonai Literary Lyme. Some of the comments posted on Facebook are listed below.

Eran Spiro: Sorry to have missed a great day..

Sharon Wolfe sorry I missed this….

Paul O. Beale: Give great thanks to this achievement… Take your credit my friend.

Franklyn St.Juste: Great time and occasion well spent. Gongrats to the Dr.

Judith Falloon-Reid: Awesome event! Congrats ! Still raving about the compost toilets – LOL! and Tanya Stephens is an amazing poet – thanks for showing us her other side.

Dale Pilgrim Wade: Wonderful day indeed and congrats to you and Cecil on all your hard work. The event went off really, really well. So continue to build and they well come. I gave raving reviews to my in-laws this morning, with my Father in Law then saying maybe he could read next year and present his stuff on Ghana. So there you have it. The food caterers were awesome, the coconuts were on point, Bookaphila folks were outstanding, the ride down on the bus was entertaining, oh what ahh time.

Marguerite Orane VISION + ACTION = SUCCESS!!! Congrats Leahcim Semaj, Cecile and everyone who made it happen!

Nadine Higgins: Great show!

Donna Hope Marquis Phd Congrats Leahcim and Cecile! Sorry I couldn’t be there. Looking forward to the next round!

Hilary Nicholson Congrats Leahcim, Cecile and team, it was a wonderful literary lime, thank you SO MUCH

Jean Lowrie-Chin: Thank you, thank you Leahcim and Cecile – what a vibe! And such a professional set-up!

Monique Morrison I hope the word INCREDIBLE covers it.. From your excellent instructions to the earth-loving innovations!

Njeri Saulter: It certainly did fill a void!! I hope you guys grow from strength to strength

Christine Gima Pheonix Maxwell: Simply put…AWESOME event. I can’t wait for next year.

Sandra Evans What a Lyme! From start to finish truly satisfying. A day well spent. One thing, missed hot beverages that I was so sure would have been there – chocolate tea and coffee. Having had the morning cup of java at 6am, was so ready for the second cup at 9.30 when the bus got there at 930am. Coupled with johnny cakes would have been the lick. Congrats on organizing a successful event.

Elton Dexter Universal blessings. Enjoyed the festival, the energy and the eye candy…. I’m a man till death.. and beyond. Reminding you re ‘Questions for Pastor’. Thanks

Jean Beverley King We too came experienced the creativity, left rejuvenated , Asante Adonai Literary Lyme Memorable. Next Year Soon……………..

Claude B. Stewart: Great feedback !! Will try to make the next

Kellie Magnus: Congrats, Leahcim and Cecile. Such a great event!

Janice Henlin: Twas wonderful…..didnt know that side of Tanya……very interesting…congrats to the team

Barbara Blake Hannah: The photos tell the story that a GREAT literary day was had by all. Thanks for sharing!!! See you there next year!!!

Jean Beverley King We too came experienced the creativity, left rejuvenated , Asante Adonai Literary Lyme Memorable. Next Year Soon……………….

Tanya Stephens: Guys you missed a great day! Oonu better plan fi next year from now :0)

Joan Hutchinson: So many persons talk about ideas and never bring them to fruition. Proud of the Semaj team for being ‘make-it-happeners’. Others need to follow suit, as Nike says… Just dweet.
Kudos. Some of us had to be doing mundane things like teaching

GIMA Phoenix: I loved the bathroom setup…I hav a fear of portable bathrooms (porta potties)…they r small and cramped and smelly and just scare the day light outta me… I was relieved when I saw what you did…very creative and practical.

Hugh Lowe: I really am thrilled by what I see reflected in the pics. People from all groups including old and young, rasta and non rasta as well as others enjoying and celebrating the freedom of expressing gems of the soul. Kudos to you Semaj.

Michelle Neita: The Memory of the Literary Lyme in Winefield still lives with me. Congratulations to you and Cecile and your team, Leahcim. I totally enjoyed my day…the trip, the interactions, the setting, the literary offerings…and I look forward to next year’s. Thank you.

The Poetry Society of Jamaica congratulates The Semajes and all participants who brought it together and wish them many more successful staging’s.

Coco Robbie Matthews: next year mi a deh de pan mi eyelash! great job!

ZionItes Farm: We came, We saw, We heard, We ate, We Lymed…Asante

The photos tell the story:

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