Friday, April 21, 2017

Ah drinking babash in this Fo-Rum: Creative Enterprise We-Style For Sir Ken Robinson and the other imports

football and well-played alcohol
will break down every social wall
From WM Herbert, Handmade (for the World Summit of Arts and Culture,  Newcastle UK June 2006)

Dear Ken, Sir,
So a decade after we fo-rum together - because you know for sure we share more than the same initials and on the same programme at the World Summit of Arts and Culture in Newcastle when you got a taste of the stuff Trini creativity is made of - you coming for more, eh? On my home turf? Ah drinking babash, cause dey…
Sir Ken boy, ah hear they importing you to we soil – ‘cause nothing cyar hide in we choonkey lil island. Although we have no grapevine and grow no grapes, news, especially if iz some cochoor, spread like crop season bushfire.  The bacchanal and cankalang alone could drive ah woman to drink. Ah drinking babash, cause dey…
From the fire in meh wire ah hear they bringing you and some other boys, just like they bringing the IMF, to tell we about creativity and what to do with we education and how to do creative business and about creative enterprise. As if we don’t know how to do creative business. 
Ah drinking babash, cause dey…
Sir Ken boy, you think we Trinis don’t know creative business? You really don’t know how creative we could get with we rum! We could take next people rum and bottle it and say is we rum yes. A label over a label and look papaya - is your rum! That is how creative we could get, here, Sir Ken boy. You might want to use that in one of your speeches. 
Ah drinking babash, cause dey…
We have we own kind of creative economy too and creative accounting and management that is what they lorn in dem Institutes for higher, or hire, learning - I not sure which. They growing creative managers and we still hoping they go ripen into some leaders. Where else, eh, billions of dollars flowing in from oil, dey say, and all them oil business in billions of dollars debt and they not thinking bout diversifying they still waiting for the next oil boom, just like how as soon as Carnival done, they cyar wait fuh the next one.  Is like dat. That sounds like some creative sense to you? Oil tabanca to fill a tabantruck. And the lil artist and writer still balancing a budget and living without debt eh, so is tax and tax and tax we into debt and drink. Ah drinking babash, cause dey…
Sr Ken, I know you like to talk about enterprise. I could tell you about Enterprise. In fact I will show you, when you come.  In Enterprise dem boys know creative pursuits eh. Guns, drugs, murder and mayhem. Dey learn well. Wild wild west style just like in the movies they cyar practice they trigger-happiness in, cause we doh have ah movie industry. So is practice on the streets, day and night: bang! bang! Live movie action. Ah drinking babash, cause dey…
Sir Ken, remember the couple nail biting hours we shared watching the 2006 World Cup qualifiers in front of that screen in the Newcastle/Gateshead caterpillar they call the arts centre – we have one now too, we own arts centre that not only look like a caterpillar, it have caterpillars and other termites crawling all over too, right smack in front the Range as if to say is a bigger saga boy than the natural beauty of the Northern Range. Crumbling like all them institutions law, parliament, education, all crumbling at the beams from termites and parasites 'cause the centre cannot hold.  It open in 2009, three years after I return from the Summit, talk about cultural transference. You will see it when you come, if you get time to step out of the higher-at place they keeping you nah, I could take you on an eye-opening LiTTour - a Journey Through the Landscapes of Fiction - although it staring you in your face is all fiction eh, no truth in that at all at all.
Ah drinking babash, cause dey…
Sir Ken, boy, your visit really send me down memory lane. When we was watching that football match World Cup Qualifiers T&T vs UK 2006. I nearly chew-out the top of all meh fingers after that first goal, hoping that we boys would at least score one peeny-weeny goal against ye old Brits so I could ah tell the fo-rum the next day when I presenting on MAS Culture what mas do fuh we! Well-qualified to tell how we boys had some good babash that’s why they lick all-yuh good. Ah drinking babash, cause dey…
 But just how they rig the match and give we poor boys dat coonoomoonoo kindda liquor the Scots call ‘water of life’ ooskie, so the boys played like coonoomoonoos. Is no different nah, is just so they rig my presentation and I come with the best powerpoint with motion video of the winning 2006 most colourful wining Carnival girls inserted in powerpoint even before powerpoint had invented the movie insert feature – but the first world didn’t have the new software to run it, at least that is what they say, as if I could believe that the first world didn’t have the software and me from me from a teeny weeny backward banana boat island have this technology. Ah drinking babash, cause dey … 
Good thing I had a back-up plan and walk with me rum for the fo-rum in the NewCastle caterpillar, eh Sir Ken, boy. Because between you and me you never know how them boys would perform. But we could export real creative ways of managing football funds eh – arkse Jack, ah warn you, it go blow yuh mind. We creative fuh so. Ah drinking babash ‘cause dey…
That day at the summit when you and your boys stumbled out of the room, with two goals and well at least I scored with some ‘well-played alcohol’ – ask WM Herbert who made that poem for and on our fo-rum at the World Arts Summit where that line came from.
football and well-played alcohol
will break down every social wall
From WM Herbert, Handmade (for the World Summit of Arts and Culture,  Newcastle UK June 2006)
 Is we Trini rum he talking ‘bout! It is true we didn’t win the world football qualifying match, but we won the World Summit fete! Ah could tell you that because I had the creative intelligence to pack meh bottle ah rum for the fo-rum! You have to agree, that was pure genius to break down them social walls if not the glass ceiling, eh! And it look like I help T&T qualify too cause at last now we have you, Sir, come here and grace we with your knightly presence! After all the times I have to go to talk to fo-rums in all yuh first world, tho not here, eh, not here! But exchange is no robbery where creative enterprise is concerned eh. Now you understand? 
Ah drinking babash, cause dey…
Sir Ken boy, to tell you the truth, I really thought when I see the invitation from the World Summit on Arts and Culture to talk, and me name list next to yours on the programme, I thought that is why I was invited you know, to bring some Trini rum for the fo-rum, so is the first thing I pack. And 9/11 rules didn’t kick in yet so I could walk through immigration with it so bold face holding it in front me, waving it like the national flag and all them immigration and customs people through the Brit airport nodding and smiling maybe hoping for a sip.
Ah drinking babash cause dey
I couldn’t bring babash though. It was not just because of the airline rules and ye olde mercantilist impulse to make everything indigenous like we own way of making we own rum illegal. It is really because as a true daughter of the soil - eating dirt, as they say, cause breaking that glass ceiling tough boy - I holding on to me secret knowledge of babash-making because we like to keep we real creative stuff hidden in the backyard nah. Ah drinking babash ‘cause dey
They importing you and the boys to tell them how to be creative without a mind about parting with their creatively-earned foreign exchange – easy come easy go. 
Ah drinking babash ‘cause dey
Who knows more than me about how they killing creativity, eh, about passion eh, about living yuh talent, about multiple intelligences eh? Ah drinking babash ‘cause dey
Now we boys don’t have not even a peeny eeny bit of curiosity to know the secret knowledge of creating babash, after they kill the industry dead dead to feed a few pipers to play some foreign tune for them. Those who have a lil curiosity want to know for free, ask Spree, and still they wouldn’t listen. Ah drinking babash ‘cause dey
If you want to know how to kill Trini creativity – Sir Ken boy – I know that is yur pet subject and you want some local insights, I sharing, for free because in T&T the arts is a freeco thing, only to laugh for an evening comedy show, not to use to make education and law and social reengineering and to mean something to we in we own image. Nah.  We have to hide it and practice it in secret – like drinking babash.
Is not just the education system, nah, is how they stomp out we homemade rum and make it illegal – the same way they make we marriage traditions and drum beating traditions illegal, and plenty plenty thing that good for the grass roots – if yuh catch me drift – everything grass roots illegal here, even grass. Dat’s why nobody take on the law. It illegal to get married, it illegal to have sex, it illegal to smoke weed and still everybody doing it. Just like we have laws against murders, laws against incest, laws against violence and child abuse, laws against thiefing, and laws against all kinds ah thing – and that eh stop nobody! Ah drinking babash, ‘cause dey…
Maybe they think that as a daughter I shudda be tie up and tie de knot not realizing that is one old law – and who take on the law here anyway eh – get married at 12, 14, 16 - not me. I keep my focus on the instructions to go forth and multiply which I really thought mean go fly off on this trip and dat trip and multiply intelligence, with this idea and that idea, and follow this dream and that dream to teach people about creativity and cultural industries and how to reengineer education for self-esteem and to think for themselves and to value what they know and what they have and appreciate they multiple their intelligences – I really thought that is what that meant yes: go forth and multiply.  Ah drinking babash, ‘cause dey…
I fly out because I didn’t want to be stripped of me self-respect, left wandering in the street like the lil ex-Mayor of Chaguanas, nah. We filling them lil girls head with ambition that a Woman’s Place is in the House of Parliament and some of the women we put in the top there only want your head cause they head filled with being part of the old boys’ club. Sisterhood dead dead. That is what happen when you put yourself up for public office here. You could turn into a raving lunatic if you don’t have a stash ah babash, yes arkse ex-Mayor Natasha.
Ah drinking babash, ‘cause dey…
As she find out too, it turns out, I was wrong and I should ah stay home and mind baby and leave them ambitions to the boys, like you, who they importing through the creative cultural foreign stock exchange and stick with me home made backyard country brew.
Ah drinking babash, ‘cause dey…
Although I not from the Caroni, like everybody else who come here by boat my ancestors get rum before they get pay, so this fo-rum thing in meh blood and I still could knock back a good few like any of the boys at any fo-rum, mano-y-mano, shatter the glass bottles if not the glass ceiling – you want a list ah the fo-rums in which I scored fo-rum after fo-rum: Newcastle, South Africa, India, Malaysia, France, Costa Rica, Brazil, Argentina, Belize, Jamaica, Colombia, Mexico, Barcelona, Scotland, Montreal … It reading like the World Cup qualifying list eh? 
Ah qualify for sure, drinking babash, ‘cause dey…
When you come ah go show you, Sir Ken, here at home we know where to find the real stuff. Is a small island, nah. Everybody know where to find babash or guns or drugs, or who kidnapping who for ransom and who planning to do for who, who doing prayers on who head, who is the boys dealing, and trading and stacking organs and orange juice in freezers – everybody and they lawyer know, but not the law – we call it creative blindness because if you know yuh could get you light out, just so just so. Ah drinking babash, ‘cause dey…
Sir Ken, you will find out for yourself, eh. Here, everybody done know everything ahready. All we want is a lil laugh and that’s why they invite you, so they could laugh a lil bit. They done know that culture is a song and a dance and a comedy show so everybody with a lil bit a creativity try to get into comedy because they have to eat. Plain and simple. Culture is not about intelligences and policy and curriculum development and conscience building, and social stability and inclusion and management, and business. You mad or what? And is best they hear it from you who doh really know dem so it could sound nice and distant and theoretical and academic. You would be fine. Dey wouldn’t cut the mike on you because you from foreign, as they do to me for talking the naked truth. Ah drinking Babash cause dey…

Sir Ken, you would have a great time. You go come; you go go back home and say what a nice people, who laugh plenty at all you jokes and make some ah they own jokes too, and the rum flow like water and the babash hiding in the back room and you get a nice bit a foreign exchange people here cyar even get to send they children who away to school. Ah drinking babash ‘cause dey
When you leave we could go back to blaming the old Brits for the mess we in although the Brits using we creativity to teach creativity, and we with we own independent institutions in we own self-determining nation – well is not we is dem to blame. Ah drinking babash, cause they…
If you want some fresh material, for Port of Spain or even for them TED Talks you know where to find me, eh Sir Ken, boy, and say how-do-you-do-to-me girl Lizzie eh, and me famalee, the royalings, and if you have luggage space take these letters I have for she, please 'cause ah cyar afford the postage stamps.
 Ah drinking babash, cause they…
If you want to know the rest of the refrain, arkse that Rumbunctious Rumraj.

World Summit repositions arts & culture
Clear role in governance and sustainability defined 
By Dr Kris Rampersad

football and well-played alcohol
will break down every social wall.
From WM Herbert, Handmade
(For the World Summit of Arts and Culture, June 2006)

If culture is to be defined as the product of human interactions,
the place of the human in a world traumatised by diminishing social, environmental, political and equitable economic relations was at the core of the World Summit on Arts and Culture.
Held in Newcastle/Gateshead, England from June 14 to 18, 2006 through sponsorship by the International Federation of Arts Councils and Culture Agencies, the Arts Council of England and the Commonwealth Foundation, the Summit saw arts and culture practitioners and activists in dialogue with policy makers, planners and supporters.
In keeping with the theme “transforming people, transforming lives,” some 500 Summit participants grappled with challenges of helping Governments and decision makers to recognise the position of culture and the arts in regenerating societies’ physical and social environments and economies. Effectively, they invited revision in conceptualisation, approaches, and methods that have so far dominated decision-making, which, in the general division of labour functions and responsibilities, have left regeneration and sustenance to the sciences, economics, politics and the hard-core world of doers - not dreamers.
Skepticism that the arts has a place in this isn’t altogether unfounded, given that artistic development has traditionally leaned on philanthropy, the generosity of supporters, donors, endowments, and other the like - polar opposites, surely, to, notions of sustainability.
But some 30 presenters outlined working examples of how, when well-directed, the cultural industries can sustain societies: from use of architecture to reduce delinquency in a district in Houston, to development of a district in Ethiopia by indigenous craft, to how the Carnival festival from Trinidad and Tobago has evolved to global proportions represented in some 150 countries around the world and involving a range of artistic talents and skills.  Participants were also exposed to the UK’s Creative Partnerships that effected regeneration through art, architecture, music, design, theatre and film. In Kielder, for example, art and architecture such as the Belvedere and Skyspace combine with the local landscape, riverscape and skyscape to bring the natural environment into sharper human focus, while encouraging environmental protection and reviving the district’s tourist economy.
From an unchallenged premise that more people participate in culture, than vote, the Summit asserted the potential of culture and the arts in providing for basic human needs of food, shelter and clothing, while retaining its traditional role in nourishing minds. In its easy capacity to support co-existence and accommodate divergent views, polar opposites, diversity and difference through its metaphors and similes, borrowings and samplings, and general artistry, arts and culture were seen to hold key solutions to minimizing the negative impact of the conflicts between economic development and sustainability, technological advancement and traditional practices, nature and nurture that result in social and economic inequalities, disempowerment, and ethnic strife.
The exchange of project and ideas for processes of execution, as well as methods of quantifying input and outputs from arts and culture-based projects were stimulating and inspiring. NewcastleGateshead proved the ideal incubator for this global mishmash of thinkers and doers.  De-hyphenated and brought together to create one of the world’s most successful stories of the potential of arts and culture for not only economic regeneration but social cohesion of “rival districts”, these districts are now joined by the hip, as it were, in the Sage Centre where the Summit was located. In all of this, participants found time to create a World Choir and a Summit Song, A Poem - an extract from which is cited above - a drama; share nail-biting moments of the FIFA World Cup, and take a sneak peak into Hollywood’s Hogsworth, through the hospitality of the Duchess of Northumberland at Alnwick Castle where parts of the JK Rowling’s Harry Potter movies were filmed.

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Friday, March 17, 2017

Nobel Tears of and for a Nobel Bard now Sower in the Skies Derek Walcott RIP

A Literary Life
I saw tears pouring down the cheeks of Derek Walcott. Twice. That is apart from the tears he evidently sheds digging into his personal and historical trauma to articulate our vision and aspirations for our society, our world.

On the first occasion, he is in immense distress and anguish. On the other occasion his are tears of immeasurable pleasure, joy and sense of accomplishment. Both times were in relation to his art. He was not acting: Private, personal emotion pouring out uncontrollably about his passion for his work, his art, the society that inspires, nurtures and receives it with disdain or with pride. Antithetical emotions conveyed in seemingly like expression, portrayed in the face of the same individual.
The two moments may well sum up the range and scope of the man, the artist, the playwright, the poet, the essayist, the dramatist, the human. They also sum up the pain and pleasure of piloting art in a society like ours.
“What does this society want, Kris, tell me”, Derek’s anguish had burst out. Tears brim in his eyes and over flow down his cheek. It is the year of our collaboration on the staging of Steel, the play he wrote and directed to celebrate the creative impulse of the region which manifests in the creation of the signatory percussion instrument birthed in the 20th century, the steelpan. It is also to celebrate the communities and people and socio-economic-political and cultural realities that spawned its birth and growth and the dreams and ambitions of those who created it. The play reflected the yearning for acceptance and appreciation for its emergence; acknowledgement of the impulses from which it springs, to provide the music it does: to seduce, charm, excite, admonish, cajole and the range of emotions and experiences music can provoke in us. 
A run and rerun of sold-out highly appreciative and applauding audiences had translated into an onslaught of deflating media reviews that Walcott. The emerging media tone was that not even the globally lauded Nobel Laureate Walcott, could capture and convey the Steelpan and steelband; that what he presented was farcical and a shadow of what the steelpan was and meant to the people who spawned it and the society that claimed it.
The weeks and months of careful auditioning the right talents for the right roles; the highly-temperamental rehearsals, flowing over with energy, buoyed by optimism, and the nightly audiences of packed Queen’s Hall and standing ovations evoked the tears that stuck in memory as what one may and should expect of our society despite the enormous passion and self-sacrifice to excel and help other's excel for one’s art. The moment would resonate over the years. 
That could have been my lament. But like Derek, I chose instead to turn the sigh into a song. Because there there is the flip side, to which I had front row seats to witness another tearful moment. This was the tears on the night of the awards ceremony held in his name and in tribute. Derek cried uncontrollably as he recognized a seven year-old who had entered our competition to attract writers.
I was asked by Albert Laveau, the Trinidad Theatre Workshop’s Creative Director, to manage the public and media outreach and engagement and publicity for the Workshop which Derek and Albert among others had founded in the 1950s. As the TTW was then working on the production of Steel, my role morphed into handling the full outreach and engagement portfolio for the play and related activities. The play had initially been launched some quarter century earlier in New York. This was its coming home. Derek, who took full control of the production, insisted on a meeting. Within minutes, the formalities and his acceptance of my role aside, our conversation turned to the literary arts and the common lament on the declining quality and quantity of new works.
 I am an optimist. The inhibiting factors that made quality writers and artist reticent in surfacing their work were many and I believed with encouragement and incentive some of those sitting on creditable work would surface. Perhaps an offer of prizes?
Derek immediately sparked. He pulled out his cheque book, wrote a cheque and said, “There. Let’s begin.” I was surprised at the immediate, enthusiastic and generous response. He set no conditions on how I may use his contribution. The next day I told him that it would go towards a literary prize.
Within days of public release of this, and a few strategic calls, I had a call from the General Manager of the Trinidad Hilton, Mr Ali Khan. He would match the contribution of Walcott with a similar sum, also to be used as I saw fit. In meeting again with Laveau and Walcott we decided it would be called the Trinidad Theatre Workshop's Fund for Literature and Drama. As word got around, First Citizen’s Bank also offered to match Derek's contribution which went towards the prize for Children's Fiction. The momentum built, and Business magnate Derek Chin of MovieTowne offered to pitch in a prize for film and we were able to satisfy Albert who pointed out that void in drama and script writing. By and by, after some cajoling, the University of the West Indies, later came in, which funds went towards a prize for poetry. The Hilton prize went to Children's fiction.
Within the month we had five prizes, that became known as the Trinidad Theatre Workshop Prizes for Literature, Drama and Film.
Recognising that the region had not in any significant way acknowledged Derek Walcott’s win of the Nobel Prize for Literature some thirteen years earlier, I proposed A Year of Derek Walcott. After all we were in the year of the Laureate's 75th birthday which alone merited celebration. The proposal was accepted. Derek, of course, was modestly reticent, but the enthusiasm of Laveau and myself made his doubts insignificant. The Year of Celebrations would begin with the activities around Steel and culminate in the awards ceremony of the TTW Prizes for Literature, Drama and Film. I was now conceptualising, managing and executing the outreach on Steel, the TTW Competition for Literature, Drama and Film (including long fiction, short fiction, poetry, drama and short film script) and its Prizes and Awards Ceremony and A Year of Derek Walcott when he would celebrate his 75th Birthday - burning the candle on both ends. 
The literary world was abuzz. It created ripples across the region and beyond. Calls were coming in for Derek's Steel to tour other parts of the world; potential movie offers. The short script award became the precursor to MovieTowne's short film competition and festival and our activities inspired literary and other like festivals. Derek's fellow citizens of St Lucia, his birth country, were quick to point out that Trinidad and Tobago, Walcott’s adopted country, was staging A Year of Derek Walcott - a year! What was his birthplace St Lucia doing? It inspired St Lucia’s now annual staging of a Nobel Laureate Week - a week of Derek Walcott during the week of his birthday in January. Incidentally, he was born a month before my mom, of which I often jokingly reminded him, and proffered that she was single/widowed.  
Immersed in directing Steel, Derek would enquire about how we the competition was progressing. I kept him apprised of development and the pace of submissions. He was visibly touched by the interest and responses it had garnered from writers in all spheres and especially when I told him that one of the contenders was a seven year old who was making a bid for the short story prize.
Derek, Albert and I worked together on the programme for the night of the awards ceremony that will be called Evening Epic. I came up with the name, drawing from the title of his Nobel Lecture, "The Antilles  Fragments of Epic Memory."  Following Steel, the Laureate joined in preparing the programme, recommending pieces of his works that would be dramatized and sung.
Walcott held as a principle that actors and artistes should be paid for their work in a society that expects artists to live on air while giving souls to service. To return the favour, many with whom he had worked were willing to give of their time, skills and talent to pay tribute to an artist whose work spans two centuries. They included members of the cast and crew of Steel with pieces from various of his musicals: The enormously popular satirical The Joker of Seville; among them, which music was composed by the US phenomenal. The Joker was produced from Walcott's legendary association with  the US Walt MacDermot who had revolutionised american musicals in the rocking 60s.
At Evening Epic, the night of the awards ceremony of the TTW Prizes for Literature, Drama and Film, touched by the tributes, and the event which is also one his legacies, Derek cried. They were tears of joy. The tears unbridled when we asked that he present a special prize to the seven year old who was brave enough to make his submission to the competition.
Those tears were the counterpoint to many of his own laments about the region and our societies inertia and stagnation, the corruption, the narcissistic institutions crumbling at the seems the power mongering, the fraudsters and proponents of bogus festivals, and the neglect of the arts – "Hell is a place much like Port of Spain" (The Spoiler's Return); a place which he nevertheless unhesitatingly celebrates.

...Port of Spain, the sum of history, ,,,A downtown babel of shop signs and streets, mongrelized, polyglot, a ferment without a history, like heaven. Because that is what such a city is, in the New World, a writer's heaven.
...I was entitled to the feast of Husein, to the mirrors and crepe-paper temples of the Muslim epic, to the Chinese Dragon Dance, to the rites of that Sephardic Jewish synagogue that was once on Something Street. I am only one-eighth the writer I might have been had I contained all the fragmented languages of Trinidad.... This is Port of Spain to me, a city ideal in its commercial and human proportions, where a citizen is a walker and not a pedestrian, and this is how Athens may have been before it became a cultural echo. (Derek Walcott, Nobel Lecture, 1992)

If one believes in the potential of literature and its related arts to transform us and societies, one would have to conclude that there must be insufficient reading, understanding and internalization that could impact our individual and human condition.
Our lives become immersed in trying to resist the forces that threaten to have us degenerate into a mere 'cultural echo', even in the face of superlatively incisive vision and artistry of the likes of Derek Walcott and the enormous creative capacity we embody.
In his Nobel Lecture as Nobel Laureate for Literature in 1992, Walcott would turn to the most festering chasms of Caribbean society – the divisions that keep us from celebrating and revering ourselves and the peoples who make our society, pinning it on his experience as the outside ‘other’ at the celebrations of Ramleela, brought to Trinidad and Tobago by indentured immigrant labourers from India – an experience, he chastises himself, that was as much his to own, as any other of the identities he claims:
They believed in what they were playing, in the sacredness of the text, the validity of India, while I, out of the writer's habit, searched for some sense of elegy, of loss, even of degenerative mimicry in the happy faces of the boy-warriors or the heraldic profiles of the village princes. I was polluting the afternoon with doubt and with the patronage of admiration. I misread the event through a visual echo of History - the cane fields, indenture, the evocation of vanished armies, temples, and trumpeting elephants - when all around me there was quite the opposite: elation, delight in the boys' screams, in the sweets-stalls, in more and more costumed characters appearing; a delight of conviction, not loss. The name Felicity made sense…

Wind the clock back, to 1962 and the dawning of ours as nations newly independent of colonial rule. His search inwards takes him through the colonial journey from Africa, via Eurasia to the Caribbean., and as relevant then as it is in today's world of irrationalism, violent extremism, racism and terrorism. He writes in A Far Cry from Africa:
Statistics justify and scholars seize
The salients of colonial policy.
What is that to the white child hacked in bed?
To savages, expendable as Jews?
Threshed out by beaters, the long rushes break
In a white dust of ibises whose cries
Have wheeled since civilizations dawn
From the parched river or beast-teeming plain.
The violence of beast on beast is read
As natural law, but upright man
Seeks his divinity by inflicting pain.
I who am poisoned with the blood of both,
Where shall I turn, divided to the vein?
I who have cursed
The drunken officer of British rule, how choose
Between this Africa and the English tongue I love?
Betray them both, or give back what they give?
How can I face such slaughter and be cool?

These experiences would inspire and buoy my own drive to grow, nurture, encourage and sustain literary appreciation through  the Leaves of Life initiative and the publication of LiTTscapes – Landscapes of Fiction from Trinidad and Tobago - which deviated in its presentation of prose fiction to also represent some of Walcott’s insights through poetry on our ‘scapes’ - and its associated activities of LiTTours – Journeys Through the Landscapes of Fiction; and LiTTributes – events that celebrate the literary artistic impulse in itsrelation to other arts in song, music, drama, costuming, cuisine, art and design, architecture, landscape, culture, festival and celebration, forging connections among us, and with other societies too - with LiTTribute to the Mainland - staged in Guyana, to LiTTribute to LondonTTown, and elsewhere.  LiTTribute to the Antilles that we staged in Antigua in fact sprang from Walcott's Nobel Lecture, The Antilles: Fragments of Epic Memory which had also inspired our Evening Epic, the award ceremony for literary prizes. His Nobel lecture I use to encourage comparative discourse to broaden our appreciation of ourselves, outlooks and perspectives on Caribbean society, with the Nobel Lecture of Sir Vidia Naipaul, Two Worlds our Trinidadian son who took the prized Nobel Laureate almost a decade after Walcott in 2001.
Derek would often cheekily ask after "the other guy" - ie the other Caribbean Nobel Laureate for Literature about whom he is known to have had some not too flattering pronouncements, especially as I have encouraged discussions on Literature and Caribbean Society comparing the two laureates in contexts of oral and literary development. This I had began exploring in my first book Finding A Place  the evolution of the multicultural milieu of migration and adaptation in a society and contexts of writers as Naipaul, who not unlike Walcott, has had his fair share of barbs and rejections and traumas from Caribbean society.  The 'alien' Felicity which Walcott describes in his Nobel Lecture is, I believe, not coincidentally, the home and birth landscape of VS Naipaul - elements of co-relationships that we are yet to explore with intellectual maturity and objectivity.         
To have shared in the depths of anguish and the heights of joy of one of the individuals who have labored  to help shape the global conscience of the previous and this centuries to be sensitive to small island realities were pivotal experiences in my awakening, awareness and appreciation of the place of my art, my life, my work, in a society like ours.  
Surrounded by paraphernalia from the productions, with the tears of anguish and of celebration, thank you Derek Walcott (January 23, 1930 to March 17, 2017)
Rest in Peace, Nobel Bard.
There are no more fitting words for an epitaph than what you have written yourself, with my most recent visitation from the sower:
There is a sower in the sky
That sows the seeds of stars
That sowers name is death my love
Who sows that we shall die
And if I die before you love
The harvest that I reap
Will be the memory of our love
Through everlasting sleep
In everlasting sleep, my love, in everlasting sleep
 Derek Walcott, The Joker of Seville

After several years of delay, the Trinidad Theatre Workshop’s long-awaited musical Steel is finally raring to go.
Written and directed by Nobel laureate Derek Walcott, Steel details the birth of pan.
In an interview, TTW publicist Dr Kris Rampersad said the show is scheduled to premiere on September 13 at Queen’s Hall.
She said repairs at Queen’s Hall and the venue being overbooked over the past few years were reasons for the delay.
Despite the hold-up, Rampersad sees Steel as the definitive musical on the rise of pan.
“A story on steelpan has never been done before on this scale, from the directing to the music to the stage,” she said.
Rampersad said she believed this musical was going to end the debate on pan in Trinidad by documenting everything from its birth and development to the clashes in the 1940s.
Rampersad’s confidence stems from the quality of the cast and the musical stewardship.
Besides Walcott’s directing, composer Galt MacDermot wrote the music for Steel and Gene Lawrence will serve as musical director.
MacDermot won a Tony Award for scoring Two Gentlemen of Verona.
He has written the music for other Walcott plays, such as The Charlatan, O Babylon and The Joker of Seville.
Leon Morenzie, TTW artistic director Albert Laveau, Conrad Parris, TTW veteran Nigel Scott, and singer Mavis John will all play roles in the musical.
Morenzie received a nomination by the US National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People (NAACP) for his role as Sam in Athol Fugard’s Master Harold and the Boys.
Born in Trinidad, Morenzie now lives in California and has worked on Broadway as the lead actor in The Leaf People.
Aside from appearing on sitcoms such as Martin and the Steve Harvey Show, he also served as a dialect coach for Don Cheadle and Sophie Okonedo in the movie Hotel Rwanda.
Baritone Brian Green is also carded to perform.
Green, who performed in Carnival Messiah, sang in 1999 with the National Opera of Wellington, New Zealand.
Artist Jackie Hinkson is responsible for designing the set.
Set in the Laventille-Belmont area, most of the action in Steel takes place in panyards.
Rampersad said pannists from Witco Desperadoes and Pandemonium would play as members of the fictional band “the Bandidos” during the show.
She also said Steel would help serve as a marketing tool for T&T’s culture.
With a current thrust towards cultural tourism, Rampersad said the idea was for T&T to serve as the launching pad for the musical, as Steel would be also performed internationally by the local ensemble.
She also reiterated that the show’s quality could never be in question.
“Derek Walcott settles for nothing but the best and he brooks no compromise. Steel can’t be anything less than perfect.”

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Saturday, December 31, 2016

Beyond Despair The awakening with a sigh a song laughter lament tear thrill visioning the New Year

Through Sigh and song
Earthquake and earthsonng
Post truths and  premonitions
It remains a prophetic song, Sixteen Going on Seventeen as moving on from 2016 we begin to write on the empty page of 2017.
Though I am not sure it is anyone's wish to remain forever 2016 - a year many of us would like to put behind us as and the Sound of Music actress Charmian Carr did, saying So Long Farewell as we have all sung with her in the 1965 Rodgers and Hammerstein’s fidid on September 18 2016 exiting our life's stage this year leaving us to Climb Every Mountain into Two Thousand and Seventeen.
Does any expression more adequately describe or entrance into this New Year as the lines from that song for our world: 
 Baby, it's time to think
Better beware, be canny and careful
Baby, you're on the brink
It may be well that we would wish to take some more lines off that  movie, Sound of Music, Let's start at the very beginning with the power that is within us all to be the change we want to be... and that emerging from the despair and darkness of a year that offered no hope, to one that seems to offer even less.
 Reviewing the old and welcoming the new, the end of one world order and the beginning of the new indeed it is let only on us we to make the new one sigh or a song, filled with lament or laughter, tears or  thrill - the answer can move us beyond despair with which the last year began and ended and offer hope in pitching for the new,in the evident awakening that is occurring.

While many face the prospects of diminishing prospects, job opportunities, one can summon up challenging circumstances, whether at personal, national or international levels, hope springs eternal if one can summon the strength within.
And who better to signal that, than one whose year began in despair and ends on a similar note at the sad state of affairs around us on very many levels....Yet, it seems to me that it is from such despair that hope springs.
Reviewing the posts of this year: the loss of close friends, and some, not so close and the celebration of new inscriptions, music, song dance, between the steupsing at the chupidty, 2017 is poised to be a year of awakening for not only teenage nations as ours which nevertheless still have the soundest lessons on addressing the thrills, trials and traumas of diversity and multiculturalism, as articulated here and elsewhere that older societies are only now rediscovering, as articulated in this post MultiKulti is Dead Long Live MultiKulti.
So to say so long farewell to the old and in with the new and wishing all peace, prosperity and progress,  I leave you with the inspirational lyrics for all times to face the challenges, and there will be many, I am sure, of 2017:
Climb every mountain
Search, high and low
Follow every byway
Every path you know

Climb every mountain
Ford every stream
Follow every rainbow
'Till you find your dream

A dream that will need
All the love you can give
Every day of your life
For as long as you live

Climb every mountain
Ford every stream
Follow every rainbow
'Till you find your dream

A dream that will need
All the love you can give
Every day of your life
For as long as you live

Climb every mountain
Ford every stream
Follow every rainbow
'Till you find, your dream!

Here's a review of Demokrissy despair and dances of 2016:

Welcome the inscription of transposed traditions celebrating wedding rites of passage to the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage lists
the crowing crowning or clowning over the anointment and trump and trumpeteers of power and change
see links and phtos to some highlights from this year in Demokrissy


Dec 24

Nov 26
Nov 24
Nov 18
Nov 13
Oct 20
Aug 17
July 27
July 25
July 20
July 2
May 2
April 9
April 3
Mar 26
Feb 26
Feb 14
Feb 13
Feb 12
Feb 12
Jan 27 2016

@krsramp @lolleaves @KrisRampersadTT @JustinTrudeau @POTUS @FLOTUS @ JohnKerry @ForestWhitaker @gerardbutler @ShahRukhKhan @NarendraModi