Whenever I told anyone I wanted to be a writer or poet and expressed how fascinated I was with English Literature I ‘d always get the same bewildered look followed by any comment from “Only dead guys were poets” to “Why would you waste your time doing something so useless?” And after a couple of years of hearing the same thing over and over I thought maybe there is some truth to what they said. I used to write poems for the local newspaper when I lived in Jamaica. I was no Edgar Allen Poe but I received great praise for my work. I soon gave up on this after finding out my poems were published which was great except I was not mentioned as the author.
I worked as a Chef in London for many years. I loved the excitement and adrenaline the job brought but often wondered how different my life would be if I did what I really wanted to do. It took a lot of courage and and strength in myself to make the decision to apply to study at University although I didn’t get the chance to finish sixth form. Last year I made a choice that wasn’t thought through enough and had no connection to my future aspirations. I believed I would eventually like the subject (Geography) and at that time thought it would provide better and broader career prospects but it just wasn’t for me. So here I am taking my first real step on the path I was always meant to take.
I began to revisit all the poets, authors and playwrights that I loved in my teenage years. I developed a keen interest in literary works created during the Harlem Renaissance, especially those of the Jamaican poet Claude Mckay. His poem “If We Must Die” spoke of protest, resistance and empowerment as a response to the race riots and attacks in 1919 across the United States. I believe this poem connected to those affected and conveyed a message of strength and solidarity within the African-American community.
Langston Hughes, another favourite poet of mine, also published poems during the Harlem Renaissance. A poem of his I remember called “I, Too” was one of the first poems from him that I read. His poem depicted the segregation and mistreatment of people of colour during a time when equality wasn’t an option. This poem painted a picture of what life was like for African-Americans during a time when toilets, entrances, exits and rooms were separated, though through this they remained strong and hopeful for a better future.
I also admired the works of Louise Bennett Coverley who revolutionised the Afro-Caribbean literary world with her use of “Jamaican Patois” which inspired me to start writing again about my country and my culture.
Given the chance to study English Language and Literature I would be able to expand on my interests and explore more of the literary world. My hope is that at the end of my studies that I’ll be able to train to become a teacher and share my love of the subject.