Jamaica’s 1930S Poet Miss Lou Love Letter

Me darlin love, me lickle dove,
Me dumplin, me gizada,
Me sweetie Sue, I goes fa you
Like how flies goes fa sugar.

As ah puts me pen to paper
An me pen-nib start fi fly
Me rememberance remember
De fus day yuh ketch me yeye!

Yuh did jus come off a tramcar,
A bus was to yuh right,
A car swips pass yuh lef aise,
An yuh tan up stiff wid fright.

Yuh jaw drop, yuh mout open,
Jus like when jackass start yawn;
Me heart go boogoo-boogoo,
An me know wha meek me bawn!

Do, no scorn me lickle letter;
No laugh after me, yaw —
Me learnin not too gran, so what
Me cyaan spell me wi draw!

De ting eena de corner wid
De freckles, is me heart;
An de plate wid yam an salfish mean
Dat we can never part.

See how me draw de two face-dem
Dah look pon one anodder?
Well, one is me an one is yuh –
Teck any one yuh rader.

Is not a cockroach foot dis,
Is a finger wid a ring!
An it mean me want fi married yuh,
Dis line is a piece of string –

Teck it put roun de weddin finger
A yuh weddin han,
Careful fi get de right size,
An den gi it to dis man.

De man is me. Now, sweet rice,
Keep swell till ah see yuh nex.
Accept me young heart while ah close
Wid love and bans a x.

© MEP Publishers | Miss Lou’s Love Letter | Caribbean Beat Magazinehttps://www.caribbean-beat.com/issue-14/miss-lous-love-letter#ixzz6Mrpp1V69

How she became famous:

It was Louise Bennett’s first public performance. The 17-year-old recited one of her poems in patois, a radical act in mid-20th-century Jamaica, where a mastery of standard English was considered essential for social and economic advancement. For Bennett’s captivating performance that Christmas Day in 1936, Eric Coverley, 25, a well-known Jamaican actor and comedian, presented the student with a prize of two guineas. Ever the pragmatist, Bennett used the money to buy a pair of shoes.

Neither performer nor presenter could have foreseen that, 18 years later, they would marry — a union that lasted 48 years — and that Bennett would become an accomplished actor, a celebrated radio personality, “the first lady of Jamaican comedy,” an educator, folklorist and icon of Caribbean culture.

Louise Bennett-Coverley, affectionately known as Miss Lou, was, and remains, a forceful presence in Jamaican and Caribbean literature. Instead of writing in standard English, as was the custom, Miss Lou challenged the expectation that Caribbean authors should write in the language of their colonizers. By expressing herself in patois, Miss Lou unapologetically made her poetry, novels and plays into acts of subversion.

In her poems she was able to capture all the spontaneity of the expression of Jamaicans’ joys and sorrows, their ready, poignant and even wicked wit, their religion and their philosophy of life. Her first dialect poem was written when she was fourteen years old. A British Council Scholarship took her to the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art where she studied in the late 1940’s.

Bennett not only had a scholarship to attend the academy but she auditioned and won a scholarship. After graduation she worked with repertory companies in Coventry, Huddersfield and Amersham as well as in intimate revues all over England.
On her return to Jamaica she taught drama to youth and adult groups both in social welfare agencies and for the University of the West Indies Extra Mural Department.

She lectured extensively in the United States and the United Kingdom on Jamaican folklore and music and represented Jamaica all over the world. She married Eric Winston Coverley in 1954 (who died in 2002) and has one stepson and several adopted children. She enjoys Theatre, Movies and Auction sales.

Her contribution to Jamaican cultural life was such that she was honored with the M.B.E., the Norman Manley Award for Excellence (in the field of Arts), the Order of Jamaica (1974) the Institute of Jamaica’s Musgrave Silver and Gold Medals for distinguished eminence in the field of Arts and Culture, and in 1983 the Honorary Degree of Doctor of Letters from the University of the West Indies. In September 1988 her composition “You’re going home now”, won a nomination from the Academy of Canadian Cinema ad Television, for the best original song in the movie “Milk and Honey.”

In 1998 she received the Honorary Degree of Doctor of Letters from York University, Toronto, Canada. The Jamaica Government also appointed her Cultural Ambassador at Large for Jamaica. On Jamaica’s independence day 2001, Bennett-Coverley was appointed as a Member of the Order of Merit for her distinguished contribution to the development of the Arts and Culture.

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