“Who am I? Black and beautiful
Who am I? Smart and sensitive
Who am I? Phenomenal and philosophical
Who am I? I am me”.
The year 2007 was when Claudette Graham penned those words, not knowing that three years later she would have realized her true potential and that unearthing her hidden talents, would have transformed her into who she really is, a Writer.
Born in the parish of Manchester, Claudette attended the Christiana Moravian Primary School, and later Knox College where she became a drop out who seemed not to care, as she was still in search of her self and had no set goals in life.
“At one point I said to myself that if I were to choose a profession, it would have been in the field of medicine,” she told JIS, her brows raised as if to say, “Oh well, it was just a thought!”
As much as pursuing a career in the field of medicine was ‘just a thought’ for Claudette, she emigrated to the United States, where she did a nursing assistant course and landed a job in a health care facility.
“It still was not satisfying, because I still did not feel like that was me,” she said.
She added that, even though she was blessed with other things she desired in life, such as a husband and children, it was as if something was still missing.
In September 2008, she decided to return to Jamaica, and ‘tried her hand’ at various things, including farming, but still without total satisfaction.
Residing in St. Ann, she tells JIS that she was comfortable at home in Runaway Bay, as her husband has ensured that she was well settled in before returning to the United States.
“As the months passed on and as comfortable as I was, there came a time when I found that I was at a stand still in my life and I re-examined everything around me again and again and again, so much so that I started to write down things,” she explains.
“I would sometimes share pieces of my work with friends, who thought it interesting, and would encourage me to take my writing seriously,” she recalls.
One particular friend, after scrutinizing a few pieces of her writings, encouraged her to tap into her poetic gene.
“Becoming a writer, or even a poet , was not something I ever dreamed of, but I heeded to the words of encouragement from my friend and since June 16, 2009 I have not looked back,” she says.
She has since written over 100 short pieces, in poetry and story form.
Today, Claudette G, is a signature that can be seen on many wall plaques on sale at the Ocho Rios Craft Market, as well as in a few other places in the parish.
“I plan to spread my wings far and wide,” she said, noting that she is currently working on a book of short stories, as well as putting together a manuscript for her first book of poems.
She also plans to formalize her company, Claudette G and the Talent Store.
She tells JIS that she would like to work in collaboration with entities such as the Ministry of Education and the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission (JCDC), among others, to preserve “natural” culture through poetry.
Nothing escapes her at the Brown’s Town Community College, where she attends classes in the evenings.
She encourages fellow students to work on their talents, whatever that particular talent might be.
“I want to see young people thrive, and if I can help them to advance through the use of poetry, then I am more than willing to give of my time and help them to realize that they can achieve,” she said, noting that it takes courage and a strong will to achieve.
Claudette says her personal search has ended and she has settled down to writing stories and poems.
“Yes, this is it for me,” she acknowledges.
“I write whenever I get the inspiration, whether morning, noon, midnight or even before day break, so it is not like I am re creating someone else’s work. Everything I write comes from within me and I stand proud of my achievements today,” she boasts.
So far, Claudette G has promoted an end of term Talent Explosion at the Brown’s Town Community College, a public event dubbed, “Poetic Expressions”, as well as ‘The Spoken Word” and “Sizzling Sonnets”, all of which were well attended.
She is currently organizing her next major event, scheduled to take place at the Turtle River Park, Ocho Rios on Saturday, April 3. It is called, ‘Poetry in the Park’ and will also mark the launch of Claudette G and the Talent Store, a collection of local poets drawn from all sectors of Jamaican society.
Claudette says that she is hoping to make ‘Poetry in the Park’ an annual event that will give young persons a chance to express themselves in poetry.
“It is never too late for anyone to discover the talent that is hidden inside them, and work on it so that it can do good to someone else,” she says.
She admits that she sought in poetry a retreat from the ills of the world, and found not only “a comforter” but “a cathartic aid” to her self-renewal, and a pleasurable means of expression which she wishes to share with all Jamaicans.
“Who am I? Black and beautiful