Karen Morrison Promotes Use Of Patois In Literature

Karen Bryck Rose Morrison
Karen “Bryck Rose” Morrison

by Howard Campbell

[NEW YORK] –  As a child of Jamaican parents in Brooklyn, New York, Karen Morrison learned from early to embrace her roots. She loved reggae, Jamaican food and their dialect, referred to as patois in the home country.Morrison, known as Bryck Rose, is as Jamaican as it gets in her first book, Dewdrops: Heartical Poetry English &  Jamaican Patwa.

Dewdrops by Karen "Bryce Rose" Morrison

Self-produced, it was launched in New York on October 16. The book contains 52 poems, 18 of them in patois.

“It was extremely important for me to make some of these poems Jamaican to have a closer reach of heart to my people and to engage the foreigner who has already fallen in love with the culture and those that are curious about it,” said Morrison. “I know that many Jamaicans as well as other Caribbean brothers and sisters can and will  relate to many of the topics in the book.”

The Inspiration

Many of the poems in ‘Dewdrops’ were inspired by actual events Morrison saw while living in Jamaica. Those include Sumadi Son, about the crude public transportation system there.

That piece is in patois, an hybrid of rural and urban slangs that was considered backward by academics and colonialists until the 1940s when folklorist Louise “Miss Lou” Bennett championed its use in Jamaican theater and literature.

Patois eventually found its way into pop culture through films like The Harder They Come, roots-reggae and dancehall music.

The poems in ‘Dewdrops’ cover different themes. Time, Weh Yuh A Guh (Time, Where are you Going) looks at the fast pace of life while Why Did You Go  addresses suicide.

Because patois is, arguably, the most difficult of the Caribbean tongues to decipher, Morrison includes a ‘dictionary’ in her book.

“Foreigners who love Jamaican culture should not find it to be such a hard read, especially with the assistance of the glossary. I think they will have fun with it. There is a lot of humor in the book. I wrote it the way it came out of my spirit. This is my contribution to my people and culture,” she said.

While she has always loved poetry, Karen Morrison started her career in the 1990s as a singer known as K-Vibes. She performed throughout New York City’s boroughs with stalwart sound systems such as Downbeat The Ruler and recorded for the legendary Studio One label.

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