“As a firefighter, the people know you always have to out fires, but sometimes you just have to bun a fire, too,” said Professor Carolyn Cooper, MC for the open-mic sessions at the 2018 Calabash International Literary Festival in Treasure Beach, St Elizabeth, as Sanjae Facey exited the stage.
Manchester-born Facey has been living in the parish where he has been carrying out the duties of a firefighter for four months short of a decade. He had a colleague work for him on Saturday, June 2, in order to attend the popular biennial festival of readings and music. He stepped on stage for the first open-mic session for the day and soon turned the heads of persons in the audience with his poem, So You Can Understand.
It is his second time attending Calabash but his first interactive session at the festival. “I have anticipated the event, to take a chance at sharing some of my work. There are not many platforms like Calabash, and it is a good place for a poet like myself,” Facey said. He is also a disc jockey but says that his poetry is of core importance. Already, Facey has two books being sold online, namely Missing Pieces of a Broken Souland Alive Yet Dead: Are You Alive or Just Living.
However, Facey cheerlessly expressed that the self-published compilations are not doing well. The trained rescuer says like his job, his literary work is for the people. “I do not write about my personal experiences. They are never included, but any thoughts that flow freely are easily understood by listeners,” he said.
When asked by The Gleaner how he balances writing, being a firefighter and playing music at events, he said, “I understand that my choice of careers means that I hardly sleep, but that’s how I have been from a child. Once I get three hours at a time, it rejuvenates me.”
Members of the audience cheered him as he ended, one female saying, “It was short and to the point. I guess he could get the title of fireman instead of firefighter after this piece,” hinting that Facey did actually ‘light the stage afire’. Coincidentally, the theme for this year’s Calabash is ‘Lit Up’.
By: Stephanie Lyew