Remembering Miss Lou

misslou1-smallREMEMBERING MISS LOU – Beverly I. Henry

Jamaica’s late  Ambassador of Culture and First Lady of Comedy, Hon. Louise Bennett Coverley, OM, OJ, MBE, D.Litt., was popularly known as “Miss Lou” to those who knew her and others who read her poetry.  She will long be remembered for her contribution to the culture, literary arts and language of Jamaican and West Indian peoples and by extension, to those worldwide especially in the United Kingdom, Canada, Africa, the wider areas of Europe and the British Commonwealth with whom she interacted in her tours and through theatre, the print and electronic media.

Her celebration of the Jamaican dialect “patois”, elevated it so that it became ‘respectable’ defending “the dignity and autonomy…of the Jamaican Creole. (Auntie Roachy Seh vii, Louise Bennett, 1993).   Miss Lou changed the dynamics of her culture.  Her influence on the language percolated and impacted the social mores and made Jamaicans proud of their identity.

As a testament to her work as a poet extraordinaire, many of Miss Lou’s poems continue to be performed  at the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission (JCDC) annual competitions as they are still relevant to the culture and social identity of the Jamaican people. Many theatre goers will recall Louise Bennett’s contributions at the annual pantomimes as author, lyricist, and performer; and she continues to be a role model for modern writers, actors and storytellers.

The synergy of her vivacious personality continues to reverberate across the world. She no doubt would have had a word for life today if she were here with us. Let us applaud Jamaica, land of her birth, and Miss Lou’s adopted homeland, Canada, which honoured her with the “Miss Lou’s Room” at Harbourfront Centre in downtown Toronto in 2007; and McMaster University’s DeGroote School of Business which houses many of her documents since 2011.

Let us remember to “Walk Good” and celebrate the life and legacy of Louise Bennett Coverley, Miss Lou, on the 10th anniversary of her passing.

bihenry@hotmail.com