Trinidad poet mixes jazz with poetry

Anna Riggenbach

As the music begins to play, award-winning poet Eintou Pearl Springer reads her words aloud.

I’ll turn up the music

leave the fire sizzling,

and go find some jazz

for my callaloo.

Springer, originally from Trinidad, read her poetry to a lively audience last night in Oscar Ritchie Hall. Accompanied by her musician, Springer danced, sang and shared her emotional poetry.

Springer said music, especially jazz, has helped her through some hard times.

“Jazz keeps me going,” she said. “Music keeps me going.”

Springer shared two new poems, “The Thrill is Gone” and “On a Blue Note,” which she said have not before been read aloud. Both dealt with music.

Professor Emeritus Halim El-Dabh welcomed Springer by bringing ancestors into the room.

“You have manifested your thoughts in poetry,” he said. “The ancestors greeting you are here with us.”

David Hassler, director of the Wick Poetry Center, spoke of Springer’s visit to Northeast Ohio, letting the audience in on her busy schedule of the past four days.

“Everywhere she’s gone, she brought her rich Trinidadian culture,” he said. “We’re already thinking of ways to bring her back.”

Associate professor Joanne Dowdy had a large part in bringing Springer to Kent State. She spoke of her instant attraction to Springer and her work.

“Eintou Pearl Springer has been a presence in my life like the air that surrounds and inhabits me,” she said. “She was always a force, a presence, a whirlwind of energy, passion and productivity.”

Freshman biochemistry major Thisanjali Gangoda said she thought Springer and her performance were wonderful.

“She is a lively, colorful person,” she said. “She fills the room.”

Freshman exploratory major Corey Farrow enjoyed the music along with the poetry.

“The combination with music and her together let them feed off each other,” he said. “The energy engulfed the whole room.”

Springer has been involved in many cultural organizations and has always tried to be a storyteller.

“My life has been full of struggle,” she said. “My life has been about establishing self.”

Dowdy said she was inspired by this aspect of Springer’s life.

“(She is) no nonsense, up front about her personal biases and perspectives,” she said. “You never have to guess what she thinks and how she wants you to think on subjects that are dear to her heart.”

Dowdy went on to say that although she saw Springer as an icon, she wanted to make her a friend.

“I choose to see the mother in her,” she said. “It is in that department that she is kindness, acceptance, tenderness and love personified.”

Much of Springer’s poems are about celebrating womanhood.

“Some of my work is particularly focused on women,” she said. “I hope that I can empower, in particular our young women, with an enhanced sense of self.”

Springer has published four books, most recently “Loving the Skin I’m In,” and has received numerous national awards for her work.

Contact College of Arts and Sciences reporter Anna Riggenbach at [email protected].