On Tuesday, January 29, Mel Cooke will launch a 38-minute live poetry CD at the Poetry Society of Jamaica’s monthly fellowship, Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts, 1 Arthur Wint Drive, St Andrew.
The fellowship stars at 7:30 p.m.
Entitled ‘Mel Cooke… Seh Sup’m: Live from Kingston’, the CD has 14 original poems and nine tracks of audience interaction, in which Cooke gives context to the upcoming poem. Together, they form a comprehensive, engaging presentation in which he takes on a diverse range of issues as they impact on Jamaica. Those issues include male homosexuality, political garrisons, concepts of manhood, the beauty of Jamaican women, the aftermath of the Haitian earthquake and Jamaica’s development since independence.
Among the poems are ‘Bad Man Pull Up’, which takes a caustic look at men showing their underwear, ‘This is Jamaica’, a reworking of the National Anthem, ‘House Cleaning’ – based on Mavado’s song of the same name and which challenges stereotypes of manhood through personal experience – and the somewhat raunchy ‘Schoolas’, which uses word play extensively. The recording was done at the March 2010 staging of Seh Sup’m, held at the Village Blues Bar, Barbican. The event was hosted by Clement ‘Izimi Clem’ Hamilton, who introduces Cooke on the CD.
Significantly, the only accompaniment to Cooke’s voice is the audience’s response, as he wants the words to stand on their own without music. “I have always wanted to do a live CD, so over the years I have been doing a few readings I have collected a number of recordings. I had intended to take compile poems from these recordings to make a live album, but when Clement gave me a video recording of this particular reading I felt it was strong and diverse enough to be edited for that purpose,” Cooke said.
Audio from the original video recording, done by Jesse Golding, was edited by Sean Mock Yen. Cooke, whose debut poetry book ‘11/9’ was released by Blue Moon Publishing in 2008, is happy that his first CD launch will be at the Poetry Society’s fellowship. “It was the first place at which I read poetry publicly in January 2000 and for so long the Poetry Society has provided a free, stable space for persons interested in listening to and developing the art form to gather. I feel as if I am going back home to report on my progress since my first full reading as the Society’s featured poet at its November 2002 fellowship,” he said.