By Rudyard Fearon
Reviewed by Jorge Antonio Vallejos
We all have a noise in our mind at some point. That thing we are thinking about, contemplating, frustrated over. It buzzes in your ear and on your brain. Rudyard Fearon’s Noise in my Mind is a collection of the thoughts that have the Jamaican poet up at night writing after a lot of thinking. In his minimalist style the talented scribe says a lot with very few words.
Working at a library by day Fearon puts pen to pad at night. He stays at work after his shift ends to read, write, re-write, and better himself at his chosen craft. And you can see it in his short poems made up of five or so lines that leave you thinking for five hours.
In The Better Way Fearon explores a reality that many hope never to witness: suicide on the subway. You always hear rumors about daily jumpers; the codes spoken over the loud speaker get people thinking that every “emergency” at another station means death; and a couple of times a year the cover of the newspaper has a story about someone deciding their end, or worse, the end of another.
“so little is said
of the man who LIFE
ends in a subway.”
Fearon spells life in capitals and points to life ending the person as opposed to the person ending their life. Which is it? Is it both? Can it be both? Is it one or the other? Is Fearon exploring a spiritual idea? Is Fearon slashing the possibility of spirituality taking play in such sad situations?
Fearon ends The Better Way with
“so little is said…
except in an alleyway.”
Alleyways are empty, dark, and hold large trash bins. Those that live in alleyways are society’s discarded and forgotten ones. Forgotten like those who LIFE ends on the subway. If the numbers are as high as people suggest how can you remember all those people? Still, there’s a poet who writes into the night and has such peoples on his mind.
Most people have heard of, and know, the acronym DUI—Driving Under the Influence. Have you heard of driving while Black? Better yet, have you heard of what I like to call WOC—walking while of colour? Certain peoples not of the dominant class get harassed by those who are supposed to serve and protect because of the way they look and dress. Fearon has experienced this and shares one of these instances in Black Bud. Writing in patua, his mother tongue (providing a glossary at the book’s end), Fearon shares what it’s like to walk while of colour:
“ah fraid fe walk pon street,
De way de cops dem a shoot,
Ah feel like black bud pon tree.”
Fearon writes of being surrounded by six cruisers and questioned for no reason. A woman from a window yells that she is watching what the cops are doing. Fearon is let go. Later that night a young Black man is not so lucky.
“me never did realize me luck,
‘Til me read de next day bout de Barnett bwoy dat dem kill…”
Many poets question society. They explore their surroundings. And they speak out against injustice. Fearon is one such poet. It could have been Fearon that the papers wrote about the following day. Knowing this, the poet writes of how fragile life is and how certain powers prey on certain peoples.
Fearon ends Black Bud by giving thanks for not following the instinctual urge to run.
“Fah if me foot did obey me brain dat night…
Me wouldn’t live to tell yu me story!”
There is a certain responsibility that comes with being a poet. More than being disciplined to write, there is the responsibility to share story and write them well and in a way that people understand. Fearon knows to whom much is given much is required. This is why we get to read his story of walking while of colour.
Good writers are good readers. Fearon is a reader who displays his vast knowledge on the page. In the spirit of those who came before him, Fearon’s poem A Curve follows E.E Cummings’ 1a) (a leaf falls on loneliness):
Noise in my Mind has much to share with all readers and lovers of the written word. Fearon uses traditional styles as well as experimenting with language, sound and form. More important, he leaves you thinking. His hard-hitting poems resound in your psyche. His soft lullabies have you re- reading. Whatever he writes leaves some sort of noise in your mind.
Tune in to Black Coffee Poet Wednesday April 13, 2011 for an inclusive interview with Rudyard Fearon.