Cascadoo 2017 took place in Trinidad and Tobago during Emancipation Day celebrations, and the vibes were wonderful! Roots Foundation teamed up with Northern Griots Network to support 3 poets to participate from Canada: nth digri, Dwayne Morgan, and EddyDaOriginal1. Topnotch spoken word poets from around the Globe were also part of the events, including Lamont Carey (Washington DC), Randy McLaren (Jamaica), Amal Kassir, Amir Suliman, Hodari Davis, Candace Antique (Oakland), as well as brilliant young Trinidadian poets like Shenique ‘Shamiso’ Saunders (T&T National Slam Champ), Jeremy, Isaiah Wayne John, Mikal Logie, Emmanual Villafana, Jeremy Joseph, Sharifa, and others.
The international poets were all alumni of Cascadoo festivals over the last five years, as part of a special celebration of the fifth anniversary of the festival. The events also included a component of workshops and discussions, forming the South-North Griots Summit 2.0, a follow-up to the 2015 Summit held in Toronto, Canada, and organized by the Northern Griots Network.
As part of the visit, the Canadian poets traveled with the Cascadoo performers to perform at the Emancipation Village in Queens Park Savannah, Port-of-Spain.
Audiences at the Emancipation Village Roots T&T tent included children and youth from a Summer camp in Goncales, as well as the many in attendance at the Emancipation Village perusing the various arts & craft vendors and taking in the tremendously talented drummers, singers, and other performers such as the legendary Desperadoes Steel Orchestra.
On August 1, the Emancipation Day holiday, we had an opportunity to attend the Emancipation Day Parade, which featured music, moko jumbies on stilts, iron sections, and a host of cultural revellers dressed in lovely African garments.
The poets also traveled to perform at the Youth Training Centre in Piarco, a detention facility. I enjoyed a pretty good workout playing ball with the youth, even hitting a few nice jumpers!
The schedule was fairly packed, and the group performed at workshops at the National Archives in downtown Port-of-Spain with groups of youth. Good thing we were staying close by at the SERVOL residences on Pembroke Street, as I didn’t have to walk too far in the frequently rainy weather to get there, and the Savannah was very close by, as well. I also had a chance to go by Maracas Beach a few times, which I would highly recommend to all visitors to Trinidad and Tobago. I was pretty luck, as it seemed each time I reached the beach, the weather was sunny and nice and cool with the beautiful sea breeze!
We also performed at the Green Market in Santa Cruz, alongside the sounds of the Revelation Institute for Performing Education (RIPE) steel band. It was an amazing location in the fertile and lushly green Santa Cruz valley, with spoken word performed under banana trees and passion fruit vines, and amongst the talented arts and crafts and tasty agricultural products ( I ate one slice of yellow melon so juicy it was like a drink!). As well as performing, I also helped curate the pop-up ‘guerilla poetry,’ and act as MC. Here I am passing the mic to the insightful and entertaining ‘Kreativ Activis’ Randy McLaren, who along with US poet Lamont Carey, most impressed me with their passion and substance
The two feature shows took place at the Kaiso Blues Cafe – owned by the renowned musician, Carl Jacob – and at the Centrepoint Mall in Chaguanas, where Candace Antique threw down an encore of her musical piece, “Put Your Crown On.”
Many thanks to the excellent hosts and our many friends and family who treated us so well during our stay in the twin island republic, including SERVOL, Rachel, Gregory, Sosa, Carl, David Thompson, Mtima and the whole ROOTS Foundation team, Jeanine and Vicky from the Green Market, Young Nick the photographer/MC, and last but not least, Marvin (the man with the Danger van!)