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Words of change

Tamesha Doughty

Words of change

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Spoken word will no longer be judged by the same criteria as drama when this year’s National Independence Festival Of Creative Arts (NIFCA) gets under way.
Renowned spoken word artiste Adrian Green said that after suggesting, lobbying, writing letters and even speaking to officials from the National Cultural Foundation (NCF) about spoken word and drama being two separate art forms, they had finally acknowledged it and taken action following his appeal for a review of the judging criteria.
The social commentator, who has been contributing at NIFCA via spoken word for the past five years, said: “They kept the system the way it was and it was working to the detriment of the spoken word artistes in Barbados.”   
While he acknowledged that NIFCA was a wonderful idea and forum, he said: “The deck was stacked to the disadvantage of the spoken word artistes and everyone is not as stubborn as me to keep coming at it even though the situation is poor.
“I talked to them for a few years and finally one year, after writing another letter and having it basically ignored, I decided to go public and spoke about it on the NIFCA platform – which stirred up a little bit of controversy.
“I don’t recall ever having the lyrics of any of my poems printed in the Press before but when I blasted the NCF about their lack of action on that issue, they printed the lyrics in the newspaper. However, it worked to my advantage because persons in authority took notice,” Green said.
As a result of the change, he predicted: “You are going to find a lot more spoken word artistes coming through NIFCA and I am very happy about that because there are a lot of talented artistes out there that most Barbadians wouldn’t have gotten to see otherwise.”
Efforts to reach NCF corporate communications specialist, Wayne Simmons proved futile.
Meanwhile, Green shed some light on the decision to cut his hair and the reasons behind it.
“I had the feeling to cut my hair and I cut it similar to when I have the feeling to grow it; I grow it. It is not something that I think about deeply. It is basically a matter of how I feel at that particular stage of my life.”
Green was adamant that the decision to cut his hair – or not – was his alone.
“It is always my decision. I’ve turned down jobs before in the past because people wanted me to cut my hair. The biggest thing about cutting your hair is the reaction from people.”
Well said, for it was the reaction of mild shock and disbelief from students attending a recent event at the Cave Hill Campus of the University of the West Indies that ignited the need for Green to address the issue of his haircut.
“Although I don’t feel different, the way people perceive you is different and they reacted differently; some people made a big deal.
“The irony of that is, I am a very vocal advocate of natural hair on black women and the response a lot of women have with processed hair is, ‘It is only hair’. “
Admitting that he did not understand why there was so much fuss over his hair, Green said: “Well, if it is ‘only hair’, then why do so many people make a big deal when I cut my hair?
“Obviously, to them at least, it isn’t just hair. People made a big deal out of Senator Damien Griffith’s corn rows; if it is only hair, why make such a big deal?”
Green resorted to seeing humour in the situation.
“It isn’t that I recognize that people perceive hair as more than just hair; it is funny how it is just hair when they want it to be just hair but it is more than hair when they want it to be more than hair.”