My grandfather died on December 9, 2002. He was the single most important person in developing my intellectual side and in supporting my creative energies. Whatever inspiration I have as a writer has come through him. He was a great writer of poems, short stories and plays. He was a committed artist with a vision for elevating the spirits of humanity through art. He spent the last 25 years of his life in Jamaica working to build an artistic community that put a spotlight on the best of Jamaican culture: roots culture. Of course there is much more to Jamaica than roots culture, but what has been broadly consumed in recent years (“slackness lyrics“) falls beyond the tradition of Bob Marley, Dennis Brown, Garnett Silk and others. My grandfather always believed in the nobility of art rather than the elitism of art. Art, as an expression of dignity, ennobles and emboldens the human spirit.
I included this poem in the program at his memorial service.
The place to be is here The time to be is now You can not have it otherwise So put your shoulder to the plow Some rant and rave and flail the air to change the place, the hour The gift of the life is all we get We supply the sorrow Ease is never guaranteed The journey may be rough It may be short and violent There may never be enough Let what we do with what we have Let how we get along Let the good we do, not the bad we get be the melody of our song!