Feature on Erika Heslop Martin, Jamaican author and poet

erika heslop and family

erika heslop martin

erika heslop martin

By: Denise N. Fyffe.
Copyright © 2014, Denise N. Fyffe

Erika Heslop Martin a.k.a. Poetess Er is a multi-talented, young and inspired Jamaican Poet born in Kingston, Jamaica. She is the Jamaican Author of this book A Poetic Revelation, The Power of Words, and A Poetic Journey. Her poems have been published in the Sunday Gleaner and the Jamaica Observer and her Book Launch of: “The Power of Words” was featured in The Jamaica Herald. She has been featured and interviewed by the Jamaica Information Service (JIS) for television (TVJ) and radio, Nationwide Radio, Love 101, RJR 94, Power 106, Public Broadcasting Corporation (PBC) on the Writer’s Block and the Love Zone on CVM Television.

Erika does poetry presentations locally and internationally at a wide variety of events and ceremonies and is also a Motivational Writer and Speaker. She is a member of the Book Industry Association of Jamaica, JAM Copy, Poetry Society of Jamaica, Poemhunter.com, Jamaican Writers Society and an active member of her Church Choir. She is also an Accountant by profession and has worked in various accounting capacities in the Financial Sector.

Executive Members of Jamaican Writers Society, The photo shows left to right: Poetess Denise N. Fyffe (poet, writer); Erika Heslop Martin (poet, writer); Tanya Batson Savage, (publisher of adult and children's books, and author); Diane Browne ( author children's books); Kalilah Enriquez, (poet); Godfrey Taylor (musician, author); Arnoldo Ventura (scientist, poet)

Executive Members of Jamaican Writers Society, The photo shows left to right: Poetess Denise N. Fyffe (poet, writer); Erika Heslop Martin (poet, writer); Tanya Batson Savage, (publisher of adult and children’s books, and author); Diane Browne ( author children’s books); Kalilah Enriquez, (poet); Godfrey Taylor (musician, author); Arnoldo Ventura (scientist, poet)

Erika Heslop Martin is an outstanding past student of Camperdown High School. She is  a Bank of Nova Scotia Foundation Scholarship Recipient and a Business Graduate of the University of Technology in Accounting & International Business and the University College of the Caribbean, in Financial Securities Management. Her career dream is to be a successful Business Professional and a Bestseller of her books of poetry and upcoming novel.

In her spare time, Poetess Er enjoys spending time with family and friends, encouraging others, writing poetry, reading , surfing the internet, taking pictures, modeling, acting, singing, listening to music, dancing, traveling, watching movies, speaking Spanish, planning and organizing events and cooking delicious meals. She is a faithful mother of twins (boy and girl) who is very compassionate, bold and ambitious.

Her books are currently available in a few local Bookstores and worldwide on amazon.com in paperback and kindle formats. She has been described as “one of Jamaica’s best kept secrets” that the literary world would benefit greatly from; “a Poetic Guru and Creative Genius” who writes from her heart. You may connect with her on her Facebook Author’s page Erika Heslop and Twitter page Erika Heslop Martin. Some of her poems can be read on poemhunter.com and watched on youtube.com. Erika is truly in love with Poetry and wants the whole world to know and be positively touched.

Erika Heslop Martin, Poetess Er

1. What do you want to be remembered for when you die?

I would love to be remembered for my poetry, my positive, bold, genuine and pleasant personality; a good daughter, sister, wife and mother. I would also like to be remembered for being different, dependable, not a follower, but someone willing to serve with a smile.

2. What is most important to you in this life?

Of utmost importance is my relationship with God, my family and my close friends.

3. How has God shaped your life, especially as it relates to you craft?

God has shaped my life through the multiplicity of experiences that he has allowed me to endure. He is the source of my strength and so whatever I go through in this life, I have to reach out to him. My inspiration comes from God and he has blessed me with all my talents.

4. Name one experience and how has it influenced your entire life.

One experience that has influenced my entire life is my first trip to North America as a child. My eyes were opened to another culture and lifestyle other than Jamaica. This helped me in becoming a more rounded, bold and outspoken individual. My perspective on life is much broader, totally not limited to Jamaica and I believe that traveling to different places is important. Also, to be the best that I can be wherever I go and to never forget where I am coming from.

Jamaican Writers: Feature on Louise Bennett, Ms. Lou

ms louLouise Simone Bennett-Coverley or Miss Lou, OM, OJ, MBE (7 September 1919 – 26 July 2006), was a Jamaican poet, folklorist, writer, and educator. Writing and performing her poems in what was known as Jamaican Patois or Creole, she was instrumental in having this “dialect” of the people given literary recognition in its own right (“nation language“). She is located at the heart of the Jamaican poetic tradition, and has influenced other popular Caribbean poets, including Mutabaruka, Linton Kwesi Johnson, and Paul Keens-Douglas.

Miss Lou died on July 26, 2006 in Toronto. She was accorded an official funeral at the Coke Methodist Church, and interred at National Heroes Park beside her husband Eric “Chalk-Talk” Coverley.

List of Louise Bennett/Ms Lou poems:

  1. Dry Foot Bwoy
  2. Nuh Likkle Twang
  3. Back to Africa
  4. Social Climbing
  5. Scandal
  6. Colonization in Reverse
  7. Cuss-Cuss
  8. Candy Seller
  9. Street Bwoy
  10. perplex
  11. White Pickney
  12. Obeah win di war
  13. Pass fi white
  14. Votin Lis
  15. Bans o’ killing

Louise Bennett recordings are:

  1. Jamaica Singing Games (1953)
  2. Jamaican Folk Songs (Folkways Records, 1954)
  3. Children’s Jamaican Songs and Games (Folkways, 1957)
  4. Miss Lou’s Views (1967)
  5. Listen to Louise (1968)
  6. Carifesta Ring Ding (1976)
  7. The Honorable Miss Lou, (1981)
  8. Miss Lou Live-London (1983)
  9. Yes M’ Dear (Island Records) (1983)

Louise Bennett Awards and Honors:

  1. In 1960, made a Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire
  2. In 1974, appointed to the Order of Jamaica
  3. In 1974, appointed Cultural Ambassador at Large for Jamaica.
  4. received the Institute of Jamaica’s Musgrave Silver and Gold Medals
  5. the Norman Manley Award for Excellence (in the field of Arts),
  6. an Honorary Doctorate of Letters from the University of the West Indies (1983),
  7. an Honorary Doctorate of Letters from York University, Toronto.[4]
  8.  in 2001, appointed as a Member of the Jamaican Order of Merit


Jamaican Poetry: Ghetto Burial

By: Davene Rowe.
Copyright © 2010, Davene Rowe.

Buttons and T-Shirt memorabilia of a man who lived and died by the gun
Ironically with the words ‘GONE TOO SOON” engraved
A glass chariot transports the dead in style reminiscent of a fairy tale life
The blings and the mode of dress are no different from the standard expected
and worn at last week’s weddi weddi with a slight deviation in the colours

Once there is a bus, car or bike, then transporation is more than available
With just a little Vybz Kartel and Mavado to set the mood
There is hardly any need for money , at the ‘deadyard’ food is a must.
All that is needed is a few bottles of whites and you certainly can’t forget the little bag of greens

There are two services; one inside the church officiated by the pastor while the other is usually outside surrounding a Chillum Pipe.
The sistren in the shortest dress is strategically placed in the front seat with her neon colour hairstyle & outfit,
mourning her loss and at the same time defending why she is the wife and the mate two rows behind ‘just nah happen’.

But like every other funeral , a loved one is bemoaned and in some way, shape or form
life for the family will undoubtedly change even though life in the ghetto will always remain the same.

Jamaican Writers: A Chat with Louise Bennett (1992)

ms louINTERVIEW: A Chat with Louise Bennett (1992)
Caribbean Writer Volume 12 – Lilieth Lejo Bailey

Louise Bennett, a Jamaican folk poet and performer, has been instrumental in giving “voice” to the intellectual and cultural identities of the Jamaican peasantry. In using her art to record the life of ordinary Jamaicans, Louse Bennett has been recognized as the foremost West Indian female to employ the Creole idiom for promoting the acceptance of a diasporic wisdom embedded in the Jamaican poetic tradition.

Born in 1919 in Kingston, Jamaica, to a widowed dressmaker, Bennett’s artistic learnings, creativity, and love for performance were nurtured by her mother and grandmother. Bennett recalls that as early as age seven, she delighted in telling stories and performing for play-mates and family members.

Unlike poets Una Marson (1905-1965) and Claude McKay (1898-1948) who experimented with the Jamaican Creole, all of Bennett’s works (1943 to present) are written and performed in the Jamaican vernacular. Despite vehement criticisms from the upper classes and their concerted efforts to sentence her works to a marginalized position in the emerging Jamaican literary canon, Bennett has continued to use folk language to express the experience of the ordinary Jamaican. She is indeed a revolutionary who uses Jamaican Creole as a fundamental tool for bringing respect and literary recognition to Jamaica‘s national language.

“Miss Lou,” as Bennett is affectionately called, has been writing, performing, and publishing for over forty years, but recognition only came in the 1970s. For her contributions to the preservation and development of Jamaican culture, she has received numerous awards, including the Order of Jamaica in 1974. Today, she is known as the “Honorable Louise Bennett.”

There are clear distinctions in the development of Bennett, the artist. Her works can be divided up into four distinct categories: pre-World War II, post-World War II, pre-Independence, and post-Independence. Because many of her works are commentaries on everyday events, the topicality of much of Bennett’s earlier poems received biting criticisms from several critics. To these criticisms, Bennett responded with the pen and the voice, as if to insist “important things can be said in the native language.”
Examination of Bennett’s works brings to light successes in the development of national pride. Indeed, she has challenged the position that the national language is inferior to standard English because both, she contends, are derivative of other languages. The respectability that English enjoys, she believes, ought to be afforded the native Jamaican tongue. The capacity for rational choice, social responsibility, and demand for respectability in a class-conscious, racially ambiguous society, finds Miss Lou giving voice and chiseling out a space for the everyday Jamaican folk.

LB: I noticed that in most of your works, you haven’t addressed very much one thing that is a certainty in life, and I think it’s a very colorful aspect of the Jamaican lifestyle—our treatment of death.

MISS LOU: I used to start off most of my lecture demonstrations with the Dinkie Minnie which was a function held to cheer up the family of the dead person or to banish grief.

LB: Like a Nine-Night?

MISS LOU: But the Dinkie is not a Nine-Night. The Dinkie is eight nights after the death. From the first night to the eighth. The Ninth Night is a more religious ceremony. The Dinkie Minnie is to keep the family from grieving. And the number eight is definitely significant.

LB: From the African cosmology.

MISS LOU: Yes, from the African tradition. I have talked about this all over the place. I can remember talking about it in Britain once, years ago. There was this lawyer who said he came to London years ago as a law student. He said to me, “I have become so British and have begun to look at things through the British eyes.” You know the stiff upper lip and what-not. And he said, “I used to think that when you go to a funeral, it is such a sad thing and all that.” And I said, “In our tradition, we danced.” He said that he used to think that was primitive. He had this terrible thing about being primitive. And there I was talking about the Dinkie [during the lecture in London] and telling them about the jollity. You laugh your loudest; nothing sad must happen at a Dinkie. You find that in a lot of our folk songs, where the tune of the song might be sad, the mood is happy. Because it’s a Dinkie. The whole Dinkie mood is happy. I always cite songs like “Linstead Market”: “Carry mi ackee go a Linstead Market / Not a quattie wut sell.” It is a sad thing, you know. But instead of singing it in a doleful mood, you sing it happily.

LB: So even though you’re dealing with serious subjects. . .

MISS LOU: Yes, you can think about the Dinkie as a creative center because a lot of our folk songs come from the tradition of the Dinkie. Things like “Judy Drownded” and “Herrin’ an’ Jerk Pork.” The important thing is that whatever the songs, they were topical at the time. Whatever was topical, they would make a song on it, eh.

LB: They are doing that still.

MISS LOU: Yes, the Dinkie goes on, man. The Dinkie really goes on. There can be a time in the Dinkie when you feel sad. If the people notice that there is somebody who is grieving within, and not dancing it off, not moving it off, not bawling it off, word would go around, “Boy, we don’t mek her cry yet, you know. She no cry at all yet, you know. We haffi mek her bawl.” Most of these things are done in circles, in a ring. Everybody would hold hands, including the grieving person. If it’s a woman grieving for her husband or if it is a man grieving for his wife or if it’s a parent grieving for a child, that person would be in the circle and hold hands, and in the center of the circle they would put. . .If it is a woman and a child, in the center they would put a woman and a child. And if a child had died, a child in the circle would lie down, as if he were dead. And the crowd would just circle. . .everybody start to sing this doleful song:

Bawl ‘oman bawl, yuh baby dead Bawl ‘oman bawl, yuh baby dead Bawl ‘oman bawl, yuh baby dead Bawl ‘oman bawl, yuh baby dead Bawl ‘oman bawl.

And they keep up that tune until you hear this scream. The person who was grieving inside screams! And the minute she screams, you know, they hold her. They know she’s gone. And they start something that is stronger, a more frivolous beat to get her moving, moving. So I talked a lot about Dinkie at this lecture demonstration in London, and this fellow came to me and he said, “You know, I experienced that. I came to this country and for years, I never went back home.” Then his father died. And the day he heard that his father died, he was so sad. And everything came down on him. And he talked about the number of times he could have really gone back to look at them. And all the things they did for him. And he felt it. And when he got at the airport [in Jamaica], his three brothers came to meet him, and they took him home. And on the way home, near home, he heard the music and the drums. All the time he was grieving inside, you know. And then he said to himself, “My father is dead, and they’re dancing.” But he never said a word; he just sat down inside the house. And the brothers came in and said to him, “Come and dance.” And he said, “No. I am not dancing. How can I dance? My father is dead.” And the brothers said, “Yes, your father is dead. Come.” They grabbed him, man, and they took him out to the drums. And then he started to move. And the next thing, he was really dancing. And he got into the mood, until he suddenly realized what was happening. He felt so much better after the dance. And he said, “What a great therapy that I had, and yet I never realized how good it is.” He said he saw everything in perspective after that.

LB: Would you say that your work functions to connect people with their past? Do you have that in mind when you are writing or performing?

MISS LOU: (Laughs.) No. My main thing is to get people to respect the language. I was thinking mostly of Jamaicans. One night I sat in a theatre waiting to go on and in the darkness, I heard two male voices—but I never knew who they were—and I heard one say, “What yuh tink ’bout Miss Lou?”

LB: How early was that? When you just started?

slide3_mislou4MISS LOU: Yes, it was within the first year or so of my really performing. And the other one said, “She is all right man, but she limit herself, man. She limiting herself. She won’t get any show but in Jamaica. She can’t go no further but Port Royal with that.” You know, this is the way they were talking. And I said to myself, that if I can get Jamaicans to understand what I mean, that’s all I want. But, Jamaicans are all over the world—those men forgot. We export our people, and we like to travel. We are adventurous. That’s the type of people we are And because of that, I have been to every country you can think of. But my main thing was to make people respect their language.

LB: You seem to be so unlike people of your time who aspired to become so British. Yet you were one person who saw the value of using our language—the value of our culture which, looking back, is remarkable. What would you attribute this insight to?

MISS LOU: I believe it’s my early connections with the language, with the people. My mother was a dressmaker. She sewed for every type of person, from the fish lady, the coal lady, to the governor lady. Everybody was a lady. My mother lived in town (Kingston) for about 17 years of her life, but she was always a country girl. Eleven years of her life she spent in St. Mary. And St. Mary is one of the parishes that maintains a lot of the traditions, the African customs, and so on. My grandmother, my mother’s mother, used to tell me “nancy stories,” especially at bedtime. It was almost like a lullaby to me, singing the songs and the Anancy stories and all that. All types of people would come into my mother’s sewing room. And gal, people would talk. And sometimes you would hear somebody bus out “Cooyah!”

LB: What I’m trying to get at, Miss Lou, is what is the one thing that you’d put your finger on, if possible, that allowed you to see value in this?

MISS LOU: You would have to tell me that. You would have to figure that out from when I talk to you. The thing is, I never had a feeling of inferiority. Praise God. When people say, “She have bad hair, and dat one have good hair,” my mother always said, “There is no such thing as bad hair or good hair. It’s just different types.” So I said to myself, the talk is not bad either. How can everything be bad about our people. These are the people that I know and love. You know, you read about the whites a lot in school. We were never taught much Jamaican geography, not much Jamaican history. We were singing English folk songs; we were doing the English dances. I was doing Scottish waltzes before I knew how to do “Come Mek Mi Hol’ Yuh Han’.” The teachers discouraged our folk dances. So, I always asked myself how it could be bad.

LB: It seems to me your mother’s view of the world and her values were passed on to you.

MISS LOU: She passed that on to me. Yes. The way in which people treated each other. We were all friends. You know, I was remembering. (Laughs.) I’ll tell you the joke about this teacher. These teachers were teaching us obedience, and there was this poem “Casa Blanca”: “The boy stood on the burning deck. . .” Oh, child, we went through that. And the teacher told us, “The boy obeyed his father,” and all of that. So I went home in the evening now, and I walked into the sewing room. Everybody used to call me Miss Bibs. They said, “Well, now Miss Bibs, wha happen today? I answered, “I learned about obedience.” And it sweet mi now for hear mi to di people dem, “The boy stood on the burning deck.” And I went on with this thing, man. And when I finished it, I said: “You see that, the teacher said, the boy obeyed his father. He even died.” Hear a little old woman, “She a wait fi somebody clap her. Poor ting. Him time did come.” (Laughs.)

LB: Had nothing to do with obedience.

MISS LOU: Had nothing to do with obedience, for “him time did come.” It struck me, you know. “Him time did come.”

LB: So it seems to me that the feedback you got from these people reinforced what you valued, and gave you more of an insight into life.

MISS LOU: Yes, a great deal of insight into life. Well, I tell you now. As you see, I like to tell stories. Suh mi use to do yuh know. An’ mi use to try it out on de people in de sewing room same way, yuh know. Go een man, and tell dem story and ting. And I found that I had the gift of laughter. Anyhow, I used to go and try out my little things, and tell them jokes, and tell them stories. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Copyright © by Lilieth Lejo Bailey


Jamaican Poetry: Dry-Foot Bwoy by Miss Lou

slide3_mislou4Dry-Foot Bwoy by Miss Lou

Wha wrong wid Mary dry-foot bwoy?
Dem gal got him fi mock,
An when me meet him tarra night
De bwoy gi me a shock!
Me tell him seh him auntie an
Him cousin dem sen howdy
An ask him how him getting awn.
Him seh, ‘Oh, jolley,jolleyl’

Me start fi feel so sorry fi
De po bad-lucky soul,
Me tink him come a foreign lan
Come ketch bad foreign cole!
Me tink him got a bad sore-troat,
But as him chat-chat gwan
Me fine out seh is foreign twang
De bwoy wasa put awn!
For me notice dat him answer
To nearly all me seh
Was ‘Actually’, ‘What’, ‘Oh deah!’
An all dem sinting deh.
Me gi a joker de gal dem laugh;
But hear de bwoy, ‘Haw-haw!
I’m sure you got that bally-dash
Out of the cinema!’
Same time me laas me temper, an
Me holler, ‘Bwoy, kirout!
No chat to me wid no hot pittata
Eena yuh mout!’
Him tan up like him stunted, den
Hear him no, ‘How siiley!
I don’t think that I really
Understand you, actually.’
Me seh, ‘Yuh understan me, yaw!
No yuh name Cudjoe Scoop?
Always visit Nana kitchen an
Gi laugh fi gungoo soup!

‘An now all yuh can seh is “actually”?
Bwoy, but tap!
Wha happen to dem sweet Jamaica
joke yuh use fi pop?’
Him get bex and walk tru de door,
Him head eena de air;
De gal-dem bawl out affa him,
‘Not going? What! Oh deah!’
An from dat night till tedeh, mah,
Dem all got him fi mock.
Miss Mary dry-foot bwoy!
Cyaan get over de shock!

No Lickle Twang

By: Louise Bennett Coverley

Me glad fi see yuh come back, bwoy,
But lawd, yuh let me dung
Me shame a yuh so till all a
Me proudness drop a grung.

Yuh mean yuh go dah Merica
An spen six whole mont deh,
An come back not a piece better
Dan how yuh did go weh?

Bwoy, yuh no shame? Is so yuh come?
After yuh tan so lang!
Not even lickle language, bwoy?
Not even lickle twang?

An yuh sister what work ongle
One week wid Merican
She talk so nice now dat we have
De jooce fi understan?

Bwoy, yuh couldn improve yuhself!
An yuh get so much pay?
Yuh spen six mont a foreign, an
Come back ugly same way?

Not even a drapes trousiz, or
A pass de riddim coat?
Bwoy, not even a gole teet or
A gole chain roun yuh troat?

Suppose me laas me pass go introjooce
Yuh to a stranger
As me lamented son what lately
Come from Merica!

Dem hooda laugh after me, bwoy!
Me couldn tell dem so!
Dem hooda seh me lie, yuh wasa
Spen time back a Mocho!

No back-answer me, bwoy – yuh talk
Too bad! Shet up yuh mout!
Ah doan know how yuh an yuh puppa
Gwine to meck it out.

Ef yuh waan please him, meck him tink
Yuh bring back someting new.
Yuh always call him ‘Pa’ – dis evenin
When him comes seh ‘Poo’.

Kas Kas by Louise Bennett

By: Louise Bennett

Yuh se me trial now mah?
Dat marga gal winjy
Want put me eena kas-kas
An big lian story

She sen come call me toder day
An wen ah goh me chile
De whole fambly gader roun me
Like I was kerosene ile

Dem sey smaddy tell miss Terry
An she tell her darter
Dat Lou dah walk bout an dah
definate her character

An de smaddy wey tell Miss Terry
Sey smaddy wey know Winjy
Sey Winjy tell dat smaddy an
Dat smaddy mus be me

Wen dem start fe chat yuh se mah
Ah glad i wasn’ ile
For ah hooda mus ketch fire
De way me tempa bwile

Ah plasta me mout pon dem yaw
Ah hooden tek it soh
Dem nevah know sey dat I know
De rightful way it goh.

I hear say Jane sey Imo sey
Dat Amy sey dat Sue
Tel smaddy dat Miss Matty sey
She hear sey Sam beat Lou

Me ongle whisper it to Fan
An she goh fas tell Ju_
Him tell Doan and she pinch tell Vie
An Vie goh tell back Sue

Den Sue ax Matty, and you know
De size o fe har mout
She call fe Winjy name an den
De ole tory bruck out

But Lou sey Sam doan beat har
Him ongle fling a stone
An it meck mistake and soh lick har
An bruck har collar-bone

An weel right t’rough de gate and all
Dem call I hooden look
I doan bizniz wid dem Kas kas
For my life is open book