Tag Archives: poetry


16 Dec

The literary class on facebook has taken off. Literally!

Participants had hardly consumed and digested the intellectually edifying lesson on Prefix, Suffix or compound words, that was so aptly taught by the effervescent Alcia Morgan-Bromfield, before they were face to face with another.

Marlene Gilling was at it again. This time around she needed clarity on the issue of whether it is okay to start a sentence with “Because” or “And”. Can’t say I was surprised because she did warn us it was coming. This is becoming a habit. A very good habit. Who the heck is complaining anyway? There is a popular saying that “where freeness is bliss, it is folly to resist”. We all dug in when Marlene took to facebook and wrote:

“Rosie has been avoiding me all day. Because I told her that what she did to Ray was wrong she has decided not to speak to me. And if she is upset about the truth I’m not apologizing. CeeBarbs plz get the team on board. I need help. The because and the and have me”

The discussion did not get too far before the expert came and set the record straight. Alcia Morgan-Bromfield responded:

“Sentences can be categorized in two main ways: by their function and by their structure. Marlene, your query is concerned with the structure so I will focus on that. Sentences by structure are classified as simple, compound, complex or compound-complex. To help determine the structure of a sentence, one must examine its formation.
One main clause ( simple sentence)
Two simple clauses joined by a coordinating or correlating conjunction ( compound sentence)
Two simple clauses joined by a subordinating conjunction (complex sentence)
Two or more clauses joined by both subordinating and coordinating conjunctions (compound-complex)

Both “because” and “and” fall in the class of conjunctions. Their main function is to join clauses or phrases. “Because” is a subordinating conjunction whereas “and” is a coordinating conjunction. Remember, subordinating conjunctions are used in complex sentences which comprise an independent or main clause and a subordinating or dependent clause. Eg:
“Because I told her that what she did to Ray was wrong (subordinating clause), she has decided not to speak to me (main clause).

If you divide the sentence into two clauses this is what you would get:
(1) Because I told her that what she did to Ray was wrong (subordinating or dependent clause)
(2) She has decided not to speak to me. (independent or main clause)
If the subordinating clause were left on its own, there would have been questions to answer; the thought would not have been complete; hence the reason it needs to be joined to a main clause.

THE POSITION OF THE DEPENDENT CLAUSE IS NOT IMPORTANT as long as it is followed or preceded by a main clause so the sentence could have been written as the foll:
She has decided not to speak to me, because I told her that what she did to Ray was wrong.
On the other hand, the conjunction “and” joins two simple sentences or two main clauses to form a compound sentence.
I am going to wash the dishes and Cee is going to wash the car.
I am going to wash the dishes. (main or independent clause)
Cee is going to wash the car. (main or independent clause)
Both ideas are complete; there are no questions left unanswered.
In creative writing and speech however, it is a convention of both format that the author’s or character’s stream of consciousness can be shown using any class of word in an unconventional way. Writers and speakers will get away with that as there is the understanding between writer/speaker and audience) that this is permissible and accepted.

AS FAR AS I KNOW, it is not permissible to use a coordinating or correlating conjunction (eg either/or) to function as a subordination conjunction in academic or formal writing as in the example cited in the post “And if she is upset about the truth I’m not apologizing”.
Again, I hope this helps. Please enlighten me if your readings/research show you otherwise.”

It does not get better than this. You agree, right? What I have come to admire and appreciate about the lecturer of these lessons, is her open approach to the subject of discussion. Despite her wealth of knowledge, she does not take it for granted that she is always right. This great show of humility captured in the last line of her response.
By the way, she mentioned in the second lesson that she would charge for the next, BUT…. let’s see how the remuneration package pans out.

Do you have a challenge with the use of ‘Because” and “And”? Share your experience. Even if you’ve never had a challenge with the use of the words, you are welcomed to share your thoughts.



5 Mar

I must have been driving at full speed because I got there in less than ten minutes. I needed to get a parking space inside the venue. All my rush was in vain. the parking lot was already full. First cue of what kind of night it would but didn’t realize it then. I anticipated a good turn out but I was not prepared for the actuality.

As the crowd gentle trickled in, anticipation was ripe as ‘ole’ friends link up and meet and greet with wide smiles an bear hugs. The early bird audience was treated to cocktail of rhythm from Ombala (hope I got the spelling right) and the band. We were served the rich sounds of the African continent, fused with what sounded like Indian folk. All of this was sautéed with the happy voices of chatter and laughter, like a music bed below the band. You couldn’t help but feel and acknowledge that you were in the right place. The beauty, magical mist and soulful spirituality in the music which swept across the excited crowd, was a perfect prelude to the exciting night that lay ahead.

A beaming Owen Blakka Ellis signing a patron's book

A beaming Owen Blakka Ellis signing a patron’s book

All rocked to the Riddim, and there was the obvious answer to the Riddle of who or what was able to bring together such calibre of talent, intellect, influence and creativity in one place….Owen Blakka Ellis and the launch of his book “Riddim & Riddles”.

As I listened to speaker after speaker, reader after reader, I felt chills of inspiration; saw souls of the anonymous and the mind of prolific pen. The launch was filled with an exciting mix of entertainment, From the powerful choral reading done by talented group of young theatre professionals, to individual readings by some of the nations’ most popular literary icon such as Oku Onuora and First lady of theatre Leonie Forbes – all handpicked by the man of the hour. The performers took the words of the poems and painted images on canvass seen by the mind’s eye; made music that induced uncontrollable movements of laughter; told stories that captivated the audience and stained their minds with irremovable memory. The collage of emotions evoked by the poetry flooded the large gathering as every spect-actor hung on to every spoken word. I thought to myself, there is nothing like the power of words. Therapeutic. Entertaining. Reflective. Insightful. Explanatory. Relaxing. Energizing. Engaging.

The atmosphere lacked ‘air’. It felt and smelt real. Packed with genuine people with a genuine love and support for a man who has brought joy and laughter to many; inspire some and mentored some. The harmony of the mix of people was a perfect orchestra splintered cohesively across the space. This launch was all about loving the lover of words. It won the hearts of many as almost everyone walked away with a copy of a book.

As Blakka recounted stories after stories about his love for words, I couldn’t help but think that EVERY child should read; not should, MUST read as part of their early development. You can’t help but feel that an event of this nature must held more frequently.

Riddim & Riddles was a launch with a difference. I am happy I got to consumed it all from beginning to end. Congratulations Owen Blakka Ellis and Blue Moon Publisher on the success of this well planned, executed and tasteful event.


12 Jun

Two one’s two, two two’s four, two three’s six….


Here it is. Do you remember having one of these?

Do you recall saying (or should I say singing/chanting) this after lunch while you were in primary school? It was the highlight of the day. During that time, our little exercise book had them laid out in detail at the back. Without fail, you could enter almost any school compound after the lunch break and there would be at least two classes reciting timetables…I seldom hear this anymore.

Do you recall reciting poetry? The teacher would write it on the board or on a chart and you would have to learn it by heart. One of my favourite was “The Revolt of Chief Tacky” by Alma Norman. There were slots allotted for reciting the poetry in class. At that time the teacher would tell you to say it with lots of facial expression. He/she would help you interpret it so you understand it so you could find the right expression. Thus, learning poetry was fun…I seldom hear this anymore.

I still remember my timetables; I still remember some of the poems learnt then…So I ask the question, is rote learning bad?  With reform in education, so-called experts ruled that using rote is not learning and students need to learn higher order thinking skills. I wholehearted agree that children must be made to develop higher order thinking skills early but I also contend that there are somethings that are best learnt through rote. Some persons may disagree with me but that is okay.  I was recently  doing some calculations with a student and when I asked her seven times seven (7×7), she paused and it took her a while to give me the answer. Out of curiosity, I started asking her some others in the same way they were asked of me in primary school and she was stunted. She did not know.

The fact is, despite higher order thinking being the best way to go, rote learning has a place and serves a valuable function in our education system. We should have found a balance between the two; instead, we threw out the baby with the bath water. We aim to improve numeracy but how will we do that when our students do not know timetables? How are we going to improve literacy when our students do not read and are not having fun learning poetry, prose and short stories?

There are some things that as educators we must revisit and implement; see their worth and determine where they best serve their purposes.

Did you recite timetable regularly and do you still remember them? Do you recall poems learnt in primary school? Is there anything you learnt through rote and you still remember it? Share your thoughts here.



30 May

*“If education is the key, tell me who change the lock….”     but has the lock really changed or  is it that the key did not fit from the onset?

It is just absolutely disappointing yet not surprising the ugly turn that this situation with the Minister of Education has become.  Doran Dixon in the past has been a very good president of the Jamaica Teachers Association (JTA).  It was under his presidency that teachers received the most satisfactory wage increase and other benefits.  Despite, this, I will be one of the first to admit that his analogy re the minister of education as a mongrel dog was unfortunate, inappropriate and unacceptable.   But what strike me the most about this matter is the numerous persons including Principals and members of the Jamaica Parent Teachers Association (JPTA) who immediately rushed to chastise him for the same.

When Rev. Ronnie Thwaites made the pronouncement about retracting study leave with pay, I did not hear these persons ( principals & PTA representatives) adding their voices to the discourse in defense of teachers entitlement.  But it is not surprising. Only who feels it knows it.  The benefits allotted to principals are quite attractive and so it seems that the plights of a regular classroom teacher are not recognized by some of them.    As for the JPTA organization of Jamaica, I have never heard that organization start a discourse about the absence of parental involvement in schools, or high level of violence in schools, yet on Mr Dixon comment seem to have allowed them to emerge from the shadows.    What is now unfortunate is that the important issues are being ignored and the emphasis is now on the comment made by former JTA president.


How can the education system move forward if we continue to ignore what the real issues are?  The recent report by the National Education Inspectorate with the damning information about the education system that the ministry of education made public, is laying the blame squarely at the feet of teachers.   It is quite disappointing that Mr Thwaites would stoop so low as to use information in the context of ammunition for his lack of disregard for teachers.      In his most recent interview on the matter he advanced that this information was presented to him some time ago.  My question is, why wasn’t it made public before?  Why wait until now when he is about to recant the provision that allows for continued professional development of teachers?   Such action in my mind alludes to his intention of vilifying teachers in order to justify his decision

The last fifty years, our education system has not grown significantly because there is a lack of investment by the powers that be. This further indicates why the economy has not grown.   It is the human resource of a country that contributes to its growth process. But how can we improve human resource when there is little or no investment in education.  The education ministry should be investing base on per student capita, not a general school populace. No wonder Jamaica’s education system is the worst in the Caribbean and possible the world. ( I will have to do some research on this)  the current discourse should be about what has the government invested or NOT invested why over the years, we fail to improve the education system.  There should be implementation of best practices adopted from other countries/regions where their education system is flourishing.  Therefore, the focus of the discourse is wrong.

This is should be focus of our government

If only our leaders could effectively do this….



The damning reports also revealed that leadership is a major problem.  If my knowledge serves me well, and I know it does, It is the ministry that approves principalship.    Each school in Jamaica has an education officer whose task is to work closely with a school’s administration and hold them accountable.  The education officers must report to the permanent secretary.  It therefore mans that if incompetent leaders are in our schools, somebody is NOT doing their job is it is definitely not the teachers.  So I ask the question, who is attacking thing from that perspective? I therefore say Mr Thwaites need to pick the beam from his eye so he can clearly see what is in someone else’s.

The double standard continues.     The last fifty years, the economy of Jamaica has deteriorated to a crisis level.   Our dear politicians- who Mr Thwaites is one- are responsible for all the policies and decisions made.   Cumulatively, the decisions made by the political representatives have only served to put the country into further peril-further decay of education. Therefore if this is not under performance I do not know what is. Yet still, they have been rewarded with multimillion dollar SUVs.  It therefore means the same country that is unable to keep teachers on study leave with pay because of a lack of resource yet it can afford to give these high end vehicles.  Yet, the populace did not make it their mandate to lobby against such actions.  Why didn’t they cut their benefits as a symbolic gesture to the nation that they are also holding strain?   Teachers are easy target.

It doesn’t stop there. Numerous politicians have been missing parliamentary sittings without apologies and no logical explanation. Yet still they have retained their positions in the government and reaping benefits.  But tell me, which teacher can just opt not to attend work at his or her leisure without facing dire consequences?  Impossible!!!!   The politicians do it all the time though with no ramifications.  Yet, the common consensus is that teachers are failing.  Where is the equity in measuring performance?  The real question therefore is; is it our teachers that are failing or is it that our Education managers have FAILED to adequately manage education?

This article is in no way trying to paint a perfect picture of teachers because I do believe we have a few incompetent ones in the system BUT  I believe the main problem with our education system is not with the teachers but the short comings and short sighted and politically driven policy makers who are at the helm.  They are using the WRONG key.  As with most things, someone must take the fall and in this case it’s the teachers.

Education is not a romping shop

*line taken from the poem “Locks & Keys” by Sabrena McDonald.

*images taken from google pictures