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'Fight Your Fears' in the Jamaica Gleaner

Poet to launch fourth full-length set next Tuesday

Mel Cooke, Gleaner Writer
Michael St George plans a mixture of poetry done ital - without musical accompaniment - and with the input of instruments at the Jamaican launch of his fourth album next Tuesday. Fight Your Fears will make its official Jamaican debut at the Drama School Amphitheatre, Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts, during the monthly Poetry Society of Jamaica Fellowship.
It has already had a summer launch in Canada at the Irie Music Festival in Toronto and before that, there was an online launch in April.
"The album is very musical," St George said. "I have always been musical. My thing is how we can move this thing in an area where there is a fully complementary relationship between the poetry and the music, not compromising one or the other."
So for the launch, St George said, "I am trying to represent the album as best as I can." That does not mean, though, that he will be doing material exclusively from Fight Your Fears. "There are a couple poems not on it that I want to do," St George said.
However, there is one on the album that he feels compelled to do. It is One Suitcase, which reflects not only his journey to Canada over two decades ago, but also his most recent trip (of many) to Jamaica. "I left with one suitcase and I came back with one suitcase. It is an immigrant's journey," St George said, clarifying that he actually returned to Jamaica this time around with two suitcases, but one contained items for other people.
In a similar vein, the cover art and title for Fight Your Fears are related to St George's life journey. The picture of him with a jackhammer was actually taken in the basement of his house, in the process of making space for his Full Stride Studio where most of the work for Fight Your Fears was recorded (work was also done in Jamaica at Beres Hammond's Harmony House studio and England).
"For me, the album is a departure from a lot of things. It is different from other albums I have done. I did not feel I had to use the typical music packaging. I had to represent the journey of the album. I literally had to fight my fears and other things," St George said. And that fight is work.
In this context, the cover image "represents work. It has grit, dirt".
Relating his experience to life in general, St George said it is important for persons to grow, to face their fears in order to accomplish a vision or a dream. "Fears are very real," he emphasised. "If you do not face those fears bit by bit, you will lose the light you came into the world to shine. You will die. Incrementally, you will die."
Face Your Fears was about three years in the making, three of the poems which did not make the previous set were reworked and included.
Targeting Young People
St George's work as an artist connects with the Turnaround Project, targeting young people, which is conducted mainly in Portland at the College of Agriculture, Science and Education. For the recent International Day of Women Entrepreneurs he performed with two young ladies who were a part of the project and are now teaching in Mandeville, Manchester.
While the Turnaround Project has been active in Portland for seven years, St George said young people from the urbanised areas of August Town, Spanish Town, Fletcher's Land, Grants Pen and parts of Papine have been recruited for the programme. "We take them to country and intersperse them with rural youth and Canadian educators," St George said.
"The programme is arts-based - video, film and photography, creative writing, music, visual arts, theatre. We teach leadership and transferrable skills through the arts," St George said. There is also an education fund.
Noting the programme's development, St George said there is now a thrust to fully establish a Jamaican arm, with its own board, logo, mandate, and other requirements.

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