Spellbinding poet gives inspirational recital in Lewes

John Agard
John Agard

Award-winning local poet John Agard has inspired a new generation with a stirring performance at Sussex Downs College.

The Lewes resident and renowned wordsmith, who recently received the Queen’s Gold Medal for poetry, gave a spellbinding recital of his work as part of the college’s celebrations for Black History Month, which kicked-off on October 9.

The event at the college’s Lewes campus celebrated Caribbean and African culture through food, music, poetry, dance and the arts.

Headlined by John, the all-star cast featured Sierra Leonean writer and poet Kadija George – herself the recipient of many awards – and renowned musician Paul Gladstone-Reid, who blew the audience away with a fascinating speech about globalisation.

Music for the evening was supplied by African DJ Tony Kalume and Cuban band Son Guarachando, who had the crowd off their seats and on to the dance floor. There were also dance and singing performances from Embrace and Clap Star Music – groups formed by Sussex Downs College students.

Principal Melanie Hunt said: “We wholeheartedly embrace diversity throughout the college and celebrating Black History Month is just one of many ways we engage with the rich cultural tapestry of our country’s heritage.”

John Agard said: “I was pleased to take part in Sussex Downs’ Black History month, though focus on this history shouldn’t be seen as an isolated diversion for a month but an integral part of the fabric of British and global history.

“For example, the meeting of Charles Darwin in Edinburgh with a freed slave, John Edmonstone, who taught him the skills of taxidermy, is an encounter that is crucial to a dialogue on evolution and gives young people, both black and white, a greater awareness of hidden cross-cultural connections. The occasion was also a chance for the students to share their creative talents.”