Long before he knew that he was a poet, Joseph Edwards was fascinated by writing and would often become engrossed in reading basically anything that is well written.
“I realized that, while at primary school, I had a penchant for writing essays and comprehensions,” he recalled.
“My use of language was really very good because I listened to radio talk-show hosts back in the days – like Dorraine Samuels, Neville Willoughby, and Wilmot Perkins.”
His affinity with the literary arts intensified after he left Rosemount Primary School.
“I further developed that love when I started high school at Charlemont,” Edwards said. “I would buy Hardy Boys books and Nancy Drew books and I would read – voracious reading.”
He fed his appetite mainly through an arrangement with Mr. Bigg’s Book Shop in Linstead.
“I used to swap my books,” Edwards explained. “I would, for example, buy two Hardy Boys books and when I am done reading them I would take them back to Mr. Biggs and he would give me two different ones. That is where I really developed my love for writing. So, it started out as reading and then it turned into writing.”
Edwards began writing poems when he was about 12 years old and was a junior at Charlemont High School.
He later wrote songs, and also penned opinion columns and letters that were published in The Gleaner and Jamaica Observer newspapers.
Although he dabbled in various forms of creative expression, Edwards proved to be a poet at heart.
His poetry collection grew exponentially, pushing him to publish his first book – Moments In Jamaica, which comprised 77 poems. It was published in 2015 by Lithomedia Printers in Spanish Town.
“I didn’t know in 2015, but I am learning now that I really had a bit of success because I sold well over 200 books,” Edwards said, noting that no digital platform was available to him at the time.
Edwards, over the years, participated in various literary competitions, including those administered by the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission (JCDC). From 2016 to 2019, he won three JCDC gold medals, two silver, and a bronze.
In the throes of the novel coronavirus pandemic, he buckled down and published two other poetry books.
The books, Edwards told The Beacon, reflect mainly Jamaican experiences.
“When I say persons have really looked on the books and seen the value in them, they have,” he said, adding that the library at his alma mater – Sheridan College – has taken on the publications.
Edwards is now mulling a fourth poetry book, which he said will be centred on the theme of social justice internationally.
He encouraged poets to keep writing even when it does not seem immediately lucrative.
“Poetry, in general, is not lucrative. I was told that after the fact,” he reasoned. “Yes I sold some books, garnering some income. But to say you are going to take up poetry as a profession, it is not a wise move to be a poet alone. I look at my writing as residual income because these books that are now on Amazon…many years from now persons will still be reading them. That is the value of writing any book at all.”
Edwards noted that his poetry is not driven mainly by dollars and cents.
“It is not just for making money,” he said. “It is for recording the things that are happening now so generations to come will be able to know what happened when they were not around.”
To purchase a copy of his latest books, click HERE (for Come Away With Me – Poetry for Reflection) and HERE (for Coloured Views – Poetry Unraveled). To read more about Joseph Edwards’ life, click HERE.
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