A way with words
by Donna Sealy
Most, if not all of the patrons who attended would agree that he was good.
They liked his performance, his assertiveness, they liked him.
They liked his erotic poem and most importantly they remembered the message.
But sex isn’t the only thing he writes about.
He told Bajan Vibes he wrote his first poem when he was 18 years-old and even though he wrote about his love for a girl then, today he deals with every day issues, as he said “common sense, being”.
“Hip-hop got me started, a lot of my favorite hip-hop artists are poets and I just drew to it because they were able to channel a lot of their energy through it and they got their message across and I felt it was a really good way of expressing myself.
“I started writing poetry just because it felt natural. I felt it was a way of getting stuff out. When I first started it was just experimenting and getting used to it. I’ve changed so much over the years in terms of how I am as a poet and coming back home to Barbados changed my entire scope on poetry,” he said.
He was a student in the United States when he started.
The 30-year-old Ellis said he returned there was “a poetry scene that was growing in Barbados” which was different to what took place before, the old guard filled with griots was giving way to the younger wordsmiths who were influenced by the urban America in what they were doing yet still influenced by Tony Thompson and Winston Farrell.
“They fuse both You get guys like DJ Simmons who does poetry on a completely different level than what you would hear Winston Farrell do. You get Adrian Green who is a prolific poet and hearing those guys perform, and thanks to people like Enricco Bohne, Selena Dodson, even DJ Kashi who was one of the first people I heard, he’s an amazing poet, an awesome artist.
“Those were the first real taste of hearing this young guard of poets come and totally change of what it was to do poetry in Barbados to me and it inspired me so much that I stopped just writing poetry and wanted to perform it, I wanted to be a spoken word artist so because of them I got into spoken word. I wanted to do poetry on stage, I started to creep into it, crawl into it very slowly.
“It was a beautiful evolution kinda like being a caterpillar and watching yourself become a butterfly over time. I don’t think I’ve become that butterfly just yet, I’m still in that cocoon stage and trying to figure out where I am as an artist even though I’m 30, I’m still blossoming,” Ellis said.
About his performance on February 16?
He said there was “a lot of good energy from the crowd that night” and he was hoping that the audience understood where he was coming from.
“It was a dynamic piece, it was important to me because it came on two separate levels. One level was a personal kind of heartbreak and the other level was when I finished writing I knew how I was going to read it because it felt like words that women don’t hear. It felt like words that women need to hear, things that people don’t tell women because our society doesn’t tell women that they’re beautiful.
“Our society doesn’t tell women that they’re gorgeous, they’re sexy and they’re beautiful without meaning sex behind that. A man can’t tell a woman that she’s sexy without wanting sex from her. A man can’t tell a woman that she’s powerful without wanting something from her and that diminishes the power of women considerably.
“The idea of the piece is to empower women and not just eroticise women and it’s difficult to … because a lot of times women hear poetry like that and they only see the erotic, they only hear the lovely tones that resonate on a bass level and they don’t catch the depth of what somebody’s trying to tell them that they can do anything, they can be anything that they can conquer anything and that they are complete in their own skin which is beautiful. It’s hard to explain that to a woman in a few simple lines on a piece of paper. You try, you try that’s all you can do,” he said.