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Talkin Dub – A Mikey Smith Tribute, September 18, 2014, New York

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He was killed by a blow to the head on August 17, 1983, a month short of his 30th birthday. What was silenced was one of the most scintillating and evocative literary talents to have emerged to give voice to the voiceless Jamaican masses: Michael ‘Mikey’ Smith (14 Sept, 1954 – 17 Aug 1983).
On Thursday, September 18 at 7:00 the Poets & Passion – A Caribbean Literary Lime kicks off its ninth season reflecting on the work dub poet, Mikey Smith and the legacy of Caribbean artists as social activists.
Talkin Dub – A Mikey Smith Tribute takes place at Nicholas Brooklyn, 570 Fulton Street (corner Flatbush Avenue), in the heart of the Cultural District of Downtown Brooklyn and features a program of film, music and performance poetry with some of the most dynamic custodians of the dub poetry tradition: Barbadian, AJA and Jamaicans, jaBEZ, Queen Majeeda and Ras Osagyefo. A project of the Caribbean Cultural Theatre, this program is being presented in association with Big Sis Entertainment and Nicholas Brooklyn, Inc. and as a Brooklyn Book Festival Bookend event.
Mikey Smith was one of the most original poetic voices to emerge from the newly independent British Caribbean during the politically volatile 1970.  His weapon – Dub Poetry, an indigenous Caribbean literary form steeped in the traditional orality, social consciousness and personal struggle. Smith’s work raged against a Jamaican political establishment that seemed to fail the majority of its people and decry to social and economic inequities commonplace in black communities throughout the Caribbean diaspora. According to the Jamaica Daily Gleaner report Smith was “hit on the head by a stone thrown by one of three men who had attacked him” in the aftermath of a political meeting held by the then governing party.
Celebrated dub poet and Smith contemporary, Linton Kwesi Johnson, who inaugurated the Poets & Passion series, has been quoted as saying that Smith was “the quintessential performance poet, gifted with an unrivalled talent for mesmerizing his audience.”
One such audience member listening to such pieces as ‘Roots’, ‘Say, Natty-Natty’ and his seminal, ‘Mi Cyaan Believe It’ was an aspiring Barbadian poet, AJA. Describing Smith’s performance at the 1982 Caribbean Festival of Arts (CARTIFESTA) in Barbados as “electrifying”, AJA credits Mikey with being a primary influence on his embrace of music and nation language, or patois, in his work.
However, Jamaica’s Poet Laureate, Mervyn Morris remembers Smith as viewing his poetry as also “a vehicle of giving hope. As a means of building… awareness… Poetry is part of the whole process of liberation of the people.” Declaring that “I just want them fi understand wha I a deal with: describe the condition which them live in but to also say, ‘Boy, don’t submerge yourself under the pressure.'”
Echoing this notion of art as more than merely entertainment, E. Wayne, Caribbean Cultural Theatre artistic director noted, “we need to appreciate this particular artistic expression should not be divorced from its social and political underpinnings,” continuing, “Be it in music or literature, Caribbean writers have always been instrumental in giving eloquence to the pain within their societies.”
The Caribbean Cultural Theatre, which presents the work of Caribbean based and/or influenced writers, filmmakers, folklorists and theatre practitioners, has been artist-in-resident at the Caribbean Research Center – Medgar Evers College for the past three years. The 2014-15 Caribbean Cultural Theatre season of presentations will focus on the role of Caribbean artists being the ‘creative consciousness’ within our community.
Throughout the past eight seasons, the Poets & Passion – A Caribbean Literary Lime platform has featured one hundred emerging and celebrated poets, novelists and children’s book writers, and seeks to position their work as part of a larger conversation on community empowerment.
This 60th birthday tribute is presented with support of Nicholas Brooklyn, a cutting-edge business incubator and creative outlet in the heart of Brooklyn’s vibrant Downtown Cultural district with programs in poetry, music and independent film, and Big Sis Entertainment, headed by Sister Kufunya and producing work in popular music and celebrating the Rastafari culture. This is the third Poets & Passion program with community based organizations highlighting the range of Caribbean letters leading up to the annual Brooklyn Book Festival. Previous programs have featured Robert Antoni (Bahamas), Earl Lovelace (Trinidad & Tobago), Oonya Kempadoo (Guyana) and Montague Kobbé (Venezuela)
Talkin Dub – A Mikey Smith 60th Birthday Tribute, on Thursday, September 18 beginning at 7:00pm at Nicholas Brooklyn, 570 Fulton Street, Brooklyn, NY 11217 and features poets AJA, jaBEZ, Queen Majeeda and Ras Osagyefo. This Poets & Passion – A Caribbean Literary Lime 2014-15 Season opener is presented by the Caribbean Cultural Theatre, Nicholas Brooklyn and Big Sister Entertainment as a Brooklyn Book Festival Bookend Event. Donation: $10.00. 

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Written by Staff Writer