July 13, 2003 – The St. Thomas-St. John Rock Collective, Jamz 105 radio host Josephine Lindquist explained, is an informal, not-for-profit organization dedicated to providing a "welcoming space for the creative and performing arts within the vibrant local community."
The collective did that for sure on Friday evening in hosting its 2nd annual Rock Fling with a gathering of recognized local and off-island artists in a verbal and musical embrace of African and Caribbean culture.
The audience at Club Amnesia was first treated to the sounds of Echo People, a St. John group whose musical works incorporate the ancient folkways of Nigeria, from instruments played to costumes worn. However, these artists also showed their attachment to modern aspects of African culture. The original poetry performed between songs was reminiscent of jazz clubs and urban city living; a slow bongo drum accompaniment easily transformed the club at these moments into a "Midtown" coffeehouse.
The poetry of Lilian Caesar Sutherland, a St. Croix resident originally from St. Kitts, was more reflective. She related in one poem: "Don't expect me to be quiet on a bright or cloudy day, I write about the way things are, the way life was … I write because no one has promised me tomorrow."
Sutherland also took inspiration from her experiences with those in abusive relationships. In a piece titled "Who's Going to Love Us Now, Ma," she credited her work with the Women's Coalition of St. Croix.
"I had three women come up to me and say, 'I finally left him.' And for all those people who are in relationships like these, I'm not making the decision for you; I'm just saying think about it," she said.
Related topics were echoed in many other pieces throughout the evening, as artists focused their thoughts upon a rapidly declining world:
"My mind aches to know that we no longer value the simple things in life," a member of the collective's Rock Poets Lounge read.
"Smell the tender stench of the decaying word," said another. "Let us speak a whole new world."
In a piece called "Trials," New York poet Vibes added: "Each night a new scar, a new bedtime story."
Featured poet Everton Sylvester, a founding member of the Green Card Poets from Brooklyn, turned the subject with works that seemed to broach the issue of where home really is:
So I dilly, and I dally,
And I wonder,
How much longer,
I can philander
Cause each time I bite de apple
It swallow a piece of me
Still it hard to love de fruit
If I never did climb de tree.
The event also featured Mutabaruka, of Kingston, Jamaica.
Proceeds were to benefit Family Resource Center of St. Thomas-St. John.
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