Louise Bennett-Coverley: why does Google Doodle celebrate the poet?

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Affectionately known as “Miss Lou”, she championed the Jamaican patois and remains one of Jamaica’s most prominent cultural figures.

Today, September 7, Google Doodle honors Louise Bennett-Coverley, Jamaican poet, writer, folklorist and educator, on what would have been her 103rd birthday.

Bennett-Coverley, affectionately known to Jamaicans as “Miss Lou,” created poetry in Jamaican Patois.

She championed the English-based creole language and remains one of Jamaica’s most important cultural figures.

Here’s everything you need to know about his life.

Louise Bennett-Coverley was a champion of Jamaican folklore and language (Photo: Google)

Who was Louise Bennett-Coverley?

Bennett-Coverley was born on September 7, 1919, on North Street in Kingston, Jamaica.

The only daughter of Augustus Cornelius Bennett and Kerene Robinson, her father died in 1926 and she was raised solely by her mother.

While at Friends College, Highgate, she developed an interest in Jamaican folklore and began writing poetry in the local dialect, Jamaican Patois, publishing her first book of poetry, Dialect Verses in 1942.

It was this passion that helped her receive a scholarship to the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) in London, becoming the school’s first black student.

After completing his studies at RADA, Bennett worked for BBC radio, hosting the show Caribbean Carnival and West Indian Guest Night.

She returned to Jamaica in 1956 where she taught folklore and drama at the University of the West Indies and became director of the Jamaican Welfare Commission from 1955 to 1959.

Bennett-Coverley also worked in radio and television, with her longest-running show, the beloved children’s show Ring Ding, running from 1970 to 1982.

In 1998 she was appointed by the Jamaican government as a Goodwill Cultural Ambassador and in 2001 Queen Elizabeth II honored her with the Order of Merit.

What are some of his most famous poems?

Bennett-Coverley, affectionately known as “Miss Lou”, wrote poetry in the Jamaican patois.

His works covered real issues faced by everyday Jamaicans, with an emphasis on local folklore.

One of his most famous poems is “Noh Lickle Twang” which is featured in his poetry book Aunty Roachy Seh.

“Noh Lickle Twang” tells the story of a Jamaican man who returned home after living in America to find no trace of them having lived there before.

Here are the lyrics to Bennett-Coverley’s poem “Noh Lickle Twang”:

I’m glad you came back bwoy,

But lawd yuh let me poop,

Shame me o’ yuh soh until all

My pride drop a grung

Yuh mean yuh goh dah ‘Merica

An spen six whole months

A comeback not a betta piece

Not even tongue licking bwoy?

A nail work yuh sista wat

She speaks so well now that we have

Bwoy yuh couldn’t get better!

Yuh spen six months’ a stranger, a

Not even a trouziz drape? Where

Bwoy not even a gole teet or

A gole chain rolls yuh t’roat

Suppose I las ‘rne pass go introjooce

Like I lamented son wat lately

Dem hooda laugh at me, bwoy

I couldn’t tell soh!

Dem hooda sey lie to me, yuh was

Noh back-ansa me bwoy, yuh talk

Shame; you don’t care

Ah I know how yuh a yuh puppa

Ef yuh wanna please meck him tink

Yuh bring something new

Yuh always call him “Pa” in the evening

When it comes sey “Poo”.

When did she die?

Bennett-Coverley died on July 27, 2006, at Scarborough Grace Hospital in Ontario, Canada, at the age of 86.

His body was flown back to Jamaica to rest undisturbed at the National Arena in Kingston, with his funeral taking place at Coke Methodist Church.

For her contribution to Jamaica, she was interned in the cultural icons section of the country’s National Heroes Park.

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