Tiffany Paynter. *Photo by Sarah Lagan
Tiffany Paynter. *Photo by Sarah Lagan
Creative and intellectual thought was abuzz at this weekend’s TEDxBermuda conference. Professors, lawyers, scientists and activists mixed with artists, musicians and poets in the first conference of its kind on the island. Ted is a non-profit organization that began in 1984 dedicated to “ideas worth spreading”. Ted stands for Technology, Entertainment and Design and experts in each field make presentations and answer questions from a live audience which are then broadcast for free on the Internet. Organizer John Narraway told us that he planned to organize a second conference in October and hinted that they could become a regular fixture on the island’s community calendar. Sarah Lagan and Amanda Dale attended the conference and reported on the numerous speakers.

Event organizer John Narraway described Tiffany Paynter as “one of the most talented in the arena of the spoken word in Bermuda”.

She garnered arguably the biggest applause of the day with her heartfelt speeches about life in Bermuda.

She received two standing ovations — one at the end of her speech and one during it. Ms Paynter decided to recite three of her own pieces and spoke a little about each one. Rooster was a controversial piece challenging unsavoury politics, religion and white privilege.

“I crow because our youth’s SOS is hieroglyphics in blood, their distress glares red like flare guns and we are losing our minds trying to get found.”

Her piece Indigenous captured the magic of youth as a soft, ambling acoustic guitar carried her words gently and nostalgically into the audience.

“I remember the days we played we played leapfrog and British Bulldog and It and we tried to find ways to say shhhhh**t without saying sh*t. But too soon we lose hope, become adults and trade in our jog ropes for cynicism and clever insults but I liked it then, when everything ended in pretty, pretty please.”

Her third poem, about the difficult relationship she had with her father after he found out she was a lesbian, brought people in the audience to tears. She invited the audience to wear a blindfold, presumably to help us to visualize the vivid imagery within the passage.

“So before I am a lesbian waiting for Two Words and a Comma, I am just a daughter searching for a rescue poem for her father. If only words were a bridge of stones across the ones you’ve thrown I would replace my armour with pajamas.”

TEDxBermuda 2011