Arts & Literature

Seth-Adrian Harris: Flash Impressions of Poetry-Magic

SETH-ADRIAN HARRIS is a Jamaican-born filmmaker.  In 2006 he was the recipient of the Gemini Award for Best Direction of a Performing Arts Program from the Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television for his television movie, “When Moses Woke”. His documentary, “Catatonia’s Incantations,” won him the 2005 World Gold Medal for Best Health/Medical Promotion Program at the New York Festivals and in 2002 his film “Back” won the Vision Award for Best Direction at the Vancouver Videopoem Festival. He lives and works in Toronto, Canada.

The following introduction to Seth-Adrian Harris’ poetry was first published in In Focus, Vol. 12, No 1, March 2015.

Seth-Adrian Harris is a poet enamoured and empowered of the word like few others. It seems that the word is, for him, tantamount to the primordial act of creation. Perhaps this is why he often reduces language to its most pure and basic components – words, syllables, sounds. For he knows their power… Strung together like spells in arcane languages, his words explode in a Big Bang of rhythm-sound-meaning-feeling.

His poetry is earthy, urban, cosmic, irreverent and full of reverence, impassioned, vulnerable, real; it enfolds so many seemingly contradictory aspects of life into a sensory assault that leaves you with a big, satisfying “yesss!” His poetry does not analyze the human condition but celebrates it with wit and warmth, laughter and tears; life is to be experienced, not dissected.

Effortlessly stretching his consciousness and inspiration from the root of the Jamaican ackee tree to the Milky Way, Harris speaks forth his truth in “pohymns” incanted to life’s ordinary moments and to the majesty of universe, treating both with equal veneration, for I suspect that he grasps that all there is is All That Is. His collection Sacred Space-Urban Sprawl (Fetus Fiction Press, 2004), selections from which we feature here, juxtaposes, superimposes and melds the mystical and the mundane in the most natural way and with acceptance. Or is it with transcendence…? For even when he dredges up the darkest of racial memories as in “we weren’t packed / stacked / shipped / whipped” he does not abandon the reader to a lingering horror; he quickly transmutes it with lightness and humour.

Harris treats the word, and any portion of a word, as “the Word that was with the Creator.” And since manifestation through energy and vibration (for what is poetry other than a transmission of resonance from poet to reader?) is the creative act par excellence, this creator draws down his unique perceptions, as a series of entrancing utterances, from the realm of ideas to a piece of paper or before an audience…

Before an audience, yes, because Harris is also a spoken-word artist. The adept magician within him knows that, in order to trigger shifts in the fabric of reality “to inform, educate, entertain and engage” as he declares his mission, the word-command must be uttered aloud. He knows that he must emote, enact and energize it with his own life force so that it can journey out into the world and imprint itself upon the consciousness of anyone whose path it crosses.

It’s no wonder that Seth-Adrian Harris is more than a poet; he is also an award-winning filmmaker because, beyond the word, he has many other conjuring tools at his disposal with which to draw audiences into his inner-reality hologram. I urge you to watch his films, to hear his voice, to listen to his dub poetry performances at “Seth-Adrian Harris” on Youtube.

Written by Irena Joannides 
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