When spoken-word artist Ras Takura started the Dis Poem Wordz & Agro Festival nine years ago, he hoped to put poetry on the front burner and ultimately fuse it with agriculture. Today, the event continues to grow beyond his initial vision, with entities like the University of Nebraska in the United States supporting the Port Antonio-based festival. Takura told The Gleaner that the festival made its overseas début in August, courtesy of the institution.
“We partnered with the university in bringing a version of the festival to the Malcolm X birth site in Omaha, Nebraska, and it was successful,” he said. “We intend to expand this partnership and definitely look forward to having the university more involved in the festival come next year,” he continued.
The university hosts an annual Malcolm X festival in which Takura will participate as a guest speaker in April.
Another big deal for the festival will be the presence of international performers who will grace the stage at its home venue at the Neville Antonio Park on April 28. The event will unfold from 10:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.
“We’ll be having the Wakanda One group from Nebraska coming in, Ananda Lo and Sabreen Suban from Atlanta, and Iyaba Ibo Mandingo from Antigua as well,” Ras Takura disclosed.
Poet Malachi Smith is also slated to perform as well as child poet N’Goozi Musik Wright, who won the festival’s poetry competition last year. Takura hopes to attract more patrons to the event through the staging of the competition, which will run until March 31.
“We’re back with Dis Poem All Schools Poetry Competition, and we want students to do a video or audio recording of themselves doing a poem and submit it through email and WhatsApp – primarily email,” he said. “We have a committee that will select the three top entrants who will compete at the festival for the trophy.”
The festival will also include its staple heirloom seeds exchange, which was introduced to the event in 2014 and joins the global fight against GMO produce.
“It’s a major feature of the festival, and we’re inviting farmers to bring their natural heirloom seeds, third-generation seeds, and use seed exchange as a stand against the use of genetically modified seeds,” he said. “We’re in a green rush, ganja rush time, so people need to be aware of the type of seeds that we are using and the ability and inability of some of these seeds to reproduce and continue with future generations.”
Previous performers on the festival include NoMaddz, Bob Andy, Dr Michael Abrahams, Mutabaruka, DYCR, and Richie Innocent.
Source: Jamaica Gleaner Newspaper
Photo Caption: Child poet N’Goozi Muzik Wright collects the trophy for the 2018 Dis Poem All Schools Poetry competition