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Audrey can’t remember when she started writing poetry because it seems as if it was something she always did. What she does remember is writing poems for school assignments, writing poetry when she was angry and had no other way to vent her anger, and writing because she just felt like it. Her first inspiration was probably the nursery rhymes that her parents sang to them. Later she discovered that she loved the memory gems and the choral pieces that were memorized for school. As she got older, she delved in the children’s set of encyclopaedia that her parents bought. There she discovered Robert Louis Stephenson. It was then that she started concentrating on rhymes.
She soon turned her attention to free verse and dub poetry. At first, she performed poems like "The Ballad of Sixty-five" by Alma Norman. Next, she studied and performed master pieces such as "Cuss Cuss", "Mary Dry Foot Bwoy", "Kas Kas", and "Uriah Preach" by Louise Bennett-Coverly. Then, she experimented with Michael Smith’s "Me Cyaaann Believe It." Other poems and poets were added to the list…Langston Hughes, Claude McKay, Maya Angelo…. They all brought inspiration. Among the works that she embraced, Audrey explained that while Louise Bennett-Coverly’s work gave her a sense of pride in her heritage, and provided her with a guide for writing Jamaica Patois, it was Michael Smith’s "Me Cyaaann Believe It" that made her pay keen attention to genre. After learning the poem, she experienced a yearning to write dub poetry and vowed not to write another poem until she wrote a dub poem.
This hiatus was broken when she wrote "Life or Death". This is not a dub poem, but she was satisfied with it because she saw it as a performance poem. After writing that poem, her pen threw all caution to the winds, her heart expelled its inhibitions, and throbbed from the passion and freeness of verses. She recorded the poems that came to her ensuring that they each had their own spirit. Poems like "Hatred, Curse and Determination", "Dirty Man", "My Forefathers", "Family of Twelve in the Ghetto", "Stop de Bus" are commentaries on the Jamaican society. Long before Bareface Pickney was even a dream, Audrey wrote "The Middle Child", "The Sad Child", "Mr. Teaching Practice".
After the decision was made to publish her work, she wrote most of the poems in Section 3 of Bareface Pickney. The poems are earthy and racy. They resonate with a spirit that bears close resemblance to the Audrey so many of us know. They have a truth about them that is characteristic of Audrey. And so she called the book, Bareface Pickney. Her first child. A book that got its title when she told a friend that she intended to name it Stories in Poems. The friend replied, "That title is not you. Don't you have a poem in the book that when others hear it, they'll say, that's Audrey?" Audrey responded, "Yes. Bareface Pickney." And so dawned the birth of an unforgettable collection of poems.
In 2007, Audrey published her second book of poems. This collection she called, I am the Djembe. She had been trying to settle into her new life in Canada while dealing with racism. Once more she turned to the writing of poetry as a channel for disappointments and frustrations. When happier times emerged, Audrey kept writing. The work shows various moods and experiences.
It is interesting to note the differences in style and tone in the poems written between 1999 and 2001, and those written between 2002 and 2006. The poems speak about almost everything in life. Love and sexuality (which are themes that hardly appear in Bareface Pickney) are at the forefront of I am the Djembe. This book in which Audrey sees herself as an African drum (Djembe) is for the adult reader. It is a celebration of life. It pulsates with a rhythm that causes your soul to gyrate. It beckons to you to throw precautions to the sun and enjoy all that life has to give.
The book, which Audrey originally thought would be called, Innocence Lost (she gave it that title since 2000), got its new name during the summer of 2006, after the poem "I am the djembe" was completed. Audrey still remembers completing the poem that Friday night. She was at home alone. After finishing the poem, she felt energized. She jumped from the computer, threw her arms in the air and screamed, "Thank you God! The book is ready, because, I am the Djembe!" She could not sleep that night. She has not stopped chanting that verse. page 1>>
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