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Guinness poet 'burrows' into the word

Published: Sunday | November 23, 2008

Krista Henry, Staff Reporter

Ainsley expresses himself in action as well as with words.

Poet, musician and writer Ainsley Burrows has come too far in his career to be considered anything less than great.

Born and raised in Jamaica up to his teenage years, Burrows has gone through many journeys to find his way to passion for the spoken word. Recently, Burrows has added to his international fame as the face of a revolutionary new Guinness commercial, the theme of which is the 'Sounds of Greatness'.

But while Burrows has accomplished much through his creativity and ability to convey emotions through words, as a child, poetry was never a primary interest.

In a telephone interview the poet told The Sunday Gleaner "in high school I was more interested in writing songs; poetry was just something I had to take in school. I got involved when I went to school in the States, where I hung around a bunch of people who were interested in poetry".

Car accident

Ainsley expresses himself in the Guinness advertisement. - Contributed photos

Even then, Burrows' academic path took him into accounting. It was only in 1997, when he and a few friends were involved in a horrific car accident, that he decided to pursue his poetic passion. Following the accident he left school and returned to New York City where he began sending manuscripts to various publishers. In 1999 the aspiring entrepreneur founded his own company, Burrows Ink, and published his first book Black Angels with Sky-blue Feathers, followed by his first album, Cataclysm.

Since then Ainsley Burrows has performed at festivals, cafés and institutions across Europe, the United States of America, Canada and the Caribbean, receiving numerous awards.

Inspired by politics, as seen in his most recent poem, 'Obama', which was written before the US elections, Burrows is also inspired by art, literature and people around him. He describes his work as 'surrealist', based primarily on imagery, which he is now taking to the big screen. Burrows is currently working on getting the screenplay for his movie, Black California, picked up by a production company. He is also working on his first novel, Land of My Birth, based on his years growing up in Kingston and holidaying with family in St Mary.


Ainsley Burrows in a moment of Guinness greatness.

"I expect it to do well (the novel). I want to get awards (laughs). I have other friends in the Caribbean who have said it's amazing, it reminds them of their experiences in their islands," he explained. This novel comes on the heels of Burrows' recently released book of poetry, The Wolf Who Cried Boy, a collection of his work over the last two years.

However, his first major break, according to Burrows, has been the commercial with Guinness. In the commercial, the predictable blend of sex and women traditionally used to sell alcohol is abandoned for the aspirational soul of the everyday man. Interesting graphics, as well Burrows' lines, have sparked an immense response. The words are "I'm on a journey. It started 28 years, 12 weeks, three days, six hours, 36 minutes, and 14, 15, 16 seconds ago. And in this time I've come too far; too far to listen to critics; too far to consider defeat; too far to be less than great ... 25, 26, 27, 28. The knocks on my journey are mapped out by my scars; they're both story and proof of how I reached for the stars. My hands in the air, my feet on the floor ... 41, 42, 43, 44. I'm on a journey, and it won't stop until I do ... 49."

Amazing response

While most persons would naturally believe the poet wrote the script himself, it was given to him by Guinness. He said "this Guinness commercial is so widespread, I would normally do stuff and it would be localised. This is across all lines ... they (Guinness) contacted my manager, we sat down, I read it and they said you're the person".

He says the response has been amazing, both from the general public and from the poetry community.

Each day Burrows aims for new heights, working on a number of different projects.


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