Sunday, November 22, 2009

Review by Huntley Medley published in the Sunday Gleaner

Lowrie-Chin chats with Angela Patterson at the Launch of Souldance last December

Communications guru Jean Lowrie-Chin has launched her maiden collection of writings – Souldance, highlighting in the process, a side of her that is not as well known as her 30-odd years in public relations.

Souldance is a work of literary art that presents a celebration of life so vividly captured even before your begin to turn the pages. For the cover, well known Jamaican artist Viv Logan has provided an awe-inspiring rendition of life in its most innocent depiction yet laced serious social, cultural and religious symbolism. Her work, Cherubs Gone Rasta depicts two dreadlocked children at play sharing ripe berries picked, no doubt, from their lush garden backdrop. These children are perfect icons of the free spirit that produced Souldance and their growing pains, loss of innocence and concern for their changing world are etched in the ensuing dance of words with varying movement and tempo over the work’s 170 pages.

Family is a recurring theme in this first section of the book with works dedicated to her father and to her children, Anita and Noel, to whom Souldance is also dedicated. 'Pick-Up Time', dedicated to her children, like none other, underscores family. Soaring profits, gourmet lunch, important clients and incoming contracts are not enough to interfere with a caring mother’s daily preoccupation with picking up her children. For that and their sublime laughter time freezes.

While the author’s immediate family is brought into focus, there is no doubt that she views her Jamaican society and the big wide world around her as her extended family.

Jean Lowrie-Chin achieves much in Souldance. She philosophizes, dreams, empathizes make social comments, enters the skin and minds of her subjects and urges humanity to take another look at itself through the mirror of time and one’s own actions. In Souldance, Jean Lowrie-Chin has a lot to say and does so beautifully and with power.

In Part II of the work which is subtitled 'Growing Pains', Jean Lowrie-Chin steps boldly into the realm of the reality of personal social experiences. In this section the Cherubs have come of age and whether it is 'Loving Free', 'Goodbye', 'Separate', 'Wedding Vows Revisited', or 'I Want You Back', she delves into the emotions and takes us on the journey that is her life and that of her loved one, husband Hubie.

Much of Souldance is incisive social commentary. The piece 'Yu See Mi' dramatically sums up the class divisions and economic disparities that drive much of the crime and violence in the Jamaican society. But it does more than that. It also explores the psychological dimensions of the problem and urges the show of respect and tangible expression of concern that must be the starting point and main engine of any sustainable solution to the problem.

In keeping with theme of social responsibility that recurs throughout the work, and is summed up in 'God’s Unblinking Eye', all the author’s proceeds from first quarter sales of the publication was donated to the Stella Maris Foundation and Food for the Poor. Driven by a belief that in the absence of sharing none of us, rich or poor, will be able to survive, Jean Lowrie-Chin reminds us that “Our deeds are our unending story.”

If the measures of poetry are the quality of the beauty it evokes and its emotional power, then Souldance fits the bill as being both beautiful and powerful. True to its promise, the poems of Souldance are written mainly in the free verse that is like oxygen to a work of this texture.

The third section of the Souldance – titled 'The Power of Words' – is a collection of her more recent articles and prose writings that continues the dance through (not around) the issues of the day with thoughtful reflection, sharp analysis, relevant commentary and useful recommendations. Of note is the piece, “The Rendezvous of Conquest,” about the fastest man in the world, Usain Bolt and President-elect of the USA, Barack Obama, remarkably, written in June 2008 – months before their stunning triumphs and Jamaica’s Beijing experience. (Excerpts from review by Huntley Medley published in the Sunday Gleaner)

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