Home > Community, Research, Video > Talking Points: The Poet

Talking Points: The Poet

Audrey1cropThis is one of four linked blogposts, building on the Norman Maclean “Talking Points” series of discussions, which focus on specific contributions from the participants.

Audrey West’s first language is Jamaican, and she’s trained to teach Spanish and French, as well as in Cultural Memory.

This gives her an awareness of the intergenerational post-trauma resulting from the trans-Atlantic practice of enslaving Africans for European colonial gain.

Resident in North Wales, she works as an artist, poet, linguist, psychotherapist, trainer, and community development practitioner.

In this extract from the Norman Maclean Language Hierarchies discussion Audrey reflects on her unrecognised bilingualism, being brought up in a Jamaican home in London. Norman’s exhortation to maintain the mother tongue struck home as she acknowledges how stigmatisation prevented ongoing intergenerational transmission. 

Over the course of the Talking Points sessions, Audrey also circulated this film and the script of her poem amongst the participants, an extract from which is given at the end of the Language Contact discussion. She’s kindly agreed to share the full text below.

How did you end up here? Where do you come from?

I remember a place
Where I am cradled by the Mountains
Rocked by the sea…

Mi memba a plies
We di mountin dem kriegl mi
We di sii rak mi in aar skort
Op di goli, pan tap a di hil
Mi kyan si faar faar
Plenti chrii, plenti griin, plenti sii

Memba a plies
We dem nuo mi niem
Dem nuo mi mada, nuo mi faada
Nuo mi fambili
Mi a smadi

Mi nuo se mi kom fram wie bak
A Timboktuu dem kaal it?
Mi piipl dem chravl a Hiijip
Riich bak uom,
A di mountin an di sii

Iz ou mi hen op ier?

Mi nuo se som a wi
De pan buot
Pak op pak op, stingk op stingk op
Kyaan briid
Bot wi riich

A wan plies dem kaal Jamieka
Nier di mountin, bai di sii
We dem
Mek wi wok
Brok wi bak
Tek wi uman
Kil wi pikni
Fi notn

Bot iz ou yu en op ier?

Mi nuo se mi kom fram faar faar
Mosi wan plies we niem Fraans
We dem fait.
Nier di mountin, bai di sii
Fait so bad, dem kaal dem
Espeute, fi suod.
Dem kaal dem Juu
Mek dem ron

Chravl faar faar
Riich klier a San Domingue
We dem
Mek dem wok
Bruk dem bak
Tek dem uman
Kil dem pikni
Fi notn

Mais d’ou viens tu?

Ron klier a Virginia
Weh dem
Mek dem wok
Bruk dem bak
Tek dem uman
Kil dem pikni
Fi notn

Bot iz ou yu en op ier?

Mosi chruu wan plies we niem India
Nier di mountin, bai di sii
Dem bring wi bak
Fi wok
Til wi bak brok
Lef wi uman
Lef wi pikni
Fi likl ar notn

¿Pero, como llegaste aquí?

Ron we, beli onggri
Go klier a Panama
Nier di mountin, bai di sii
Luk fi wok
Til mi bak brok
Dem tek mi uman
Kil mi pikni
Fi notn

Bot, a we yuu kom fram?

Mosi fram wan plies dem kaal Skatlan. Plenti hil,
An di sii skort uova aar fiit
Nier di mountin, bai di sii
Iz ou yu gaan klier a Skatlan?
Iz ou yu en op dier?

Onggri beli
Kech buot, kom a Hingglan
Riich a Soutamton bai di sii
Riich a Landan. Bes suut
Fi luk wok
Til mi bak brok
Sen fi mi uman
Dem kil mi pikni
Fi notn

Mi no si no sii.
Mi no si no mountin.
Grie so til.
Gaan bak uom.
We dem nuo mi niem,
Nuo mi fambili
Mi a smadi
Tek mi uman
Lef mi pikni
Dem aal rait

How did you end up here?
O le wyt t’in dod?

Pikni riich a Naat Wales
I’ve come a long way baby
Back to the mountains,
Back to the sea
Back home, to
Luxe, calme, et volupté

Homage to my parents
Alvin and Mary West

Copyright: Audrey West
June 2020

You can follow this link to get Audrey’s own translation of her poem into Standard English.

Links to the three other blogposts in this short series are given below:

The Linguists (Conchúr Ó Giollagáin, Udaya Narayana Singh, Joseph Farquharson)
The Interpreter (Kalyan Das Gupta)
The Teacher (Jane NicLeòid)

Categories: Community, Research, Video
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