If there is one thing that COVID-19 has taught us it is that you don’t have to be gathered in a large crowd to entertain or be entertained.
While some prefer live shows, these have been non-existent in recent times as the Caribbean and the entire world continue to battle the COVID-19 pandemic.
Creatives have been forced to come up with new ways to keep their brand out there while engaging the public through the use of the internet.
Barbados has not been left out. Every Saturday at 6 p.m., spoken word artistes and poets meet to deliver a world of words to the senses of the virtual community on the Wuh Gine On Instagram page.
Businessman and poet DJ Symmonds told Bajan Vibes what started out as a one time meet up in celebration of World Poetry Day on Saturday, March 21 became a demand for poetry lovers. Wife of DJ Symmonds, Empress Zingha, also known as The Bajan Fairy, co-hosts the show which has an audience of hundreds not limited to the regional community.
“With more people at home because of COVID-19 and practicing social distancing, we launched the Online Open Mic where we just send out the invitation to anyone who is interested in sharing their poetry, lyrics or sounds. It’s not limited to poetry so we put out the call on our Instagram platform Wuh Gine On,” he explained.
He said a lot of the poets also performed overseas such as Passion Poet Robert Gibson who recently returned from Grenada and the poetry community of the Spice Isle would have logged on.
Sharing the online stage would be spoken word artist and rapper Akeem Chandler Prescod, Cindy Marshall, T’afari Steede and Nicholas NEC Boyce who performed in Africa. Those from South Africa and poetry lovers in Canada and the United States would have also logged in. Spoken Word champions also logged in as well as poets from Jamaica who are friends of Empress Zingha.
“Right now, all the eyes are locked on to social media when anyone goes live and that is a great way to bring the local poets straight to the eyes of the audiences in Barbados and beyond. Similar to how there was the Extempo Challenge, poetry is a great way to comment on what is happening in society. It is a great form of social commentary,” he said.
The Gine On Online Open Mic, he further explained, is an escape from the bad news and to enjoy good vibes.
Quick interviews are also done for the poets to grow their network. Spoken Word artiste T’afari said it is a great way for artists to connect, especially when they can feature on another artist’s open mic.
“The only issue is the financial aspect which I think can be problematic but working with companies is the way to go. It is convenient, easy and honestly, a wider reach. Once consistent, it is a great way to build.”
NEC said that it has proven lucrative, especially on a digital platform, even if they are not able to meet and is helping to break barriers.
“The platform with Gine On has been given a great response, seeing the family come together along with international artists to perform in the open mic.”
Robert Passion Poet Gibson said that as a creative, it gives a place for them to network.
“Just as how you can go to an open mic and have the same camaraderie and have everyone having fun and a relaxing time… that kind of ambience was transported very well onto that platform. Not only will you have that experience, but you can go back and watch it again,” he said.
Gibson said that he can always go back and view the comments. Last week, he spoke of Birdspeed, a UK based poet who extended an opportunity for poets to be mentored by her for free.
“People come online because they hear the Gine On name. People came to me and contacted me for proofreading jobs even,” he added.
This coming Saturday, you can grab that wine or juice, your popcorn and log on to the Wuh Gine On page for the Wuh Gine On open mic night. (MR)