7.30pm the grand opening of kwame Dawes Wisteria. http://www.rfh.org.uk/poetryinternational/kwameDawes.html Five hundred or so people fill thePurcell rooms and the concert introduced by Ruth Borthwick is on. Wisteria are a set of poems and photos written by Kwame Dawes in interviews with the people of South Carolina. Kwame is a Caribbean academic and poet. The music is operatic and of the deep South and I am moved to tears. Maybe it’s the jet lag mixed with the moving tones. By 8pm I am in floods of tears. Music should move – poetry should destroy and rebuildin the same action. I am in pieces, remind of why I do what I do and why artists are the salt of the earth. I’m sat next to the beautiful Grace Nichols and the wonderful John Agard. Grace encouraged my first reading twenty years ago and here she is. I see oldcolleagues patience agbabi linton kwesi Johnson Bernadine Evaristo and many many others. It is an inspirational event. The company of artists is a great thing – its my favourite past time. And here we are. Poetry International. If poems are royalty and we their dressers then the grand procession has begun.
After the event the performers and others do the food and drink thing. It is now 11pm. I have a brilliant conversation with Linton regarding the establishment of the term DubPoetry. Linton is the person who coined the term when describing DJs chanting as Dub Poetry. He did this in a newspaper in Jamaica. The term was then appropriated, promoted and popularised by Oku Onuora who though in prison at the time had written a book of poetry himself. Linton reviewed his book using the term. Oku Onuora performed at the bob Marley One Love Peace Concert: the one where he held the hands of the two opposing political leaders above his head. At that precise moment lightening struck. Now that’s history right there. Poetry International.