Reading

Even in the worst of times – and who can doubt that the daily, brutal, unstoppable exploits of uncaught criminals have made this time one of widening and deepening fear and frustration – reading comes to the rescue by revealing other worlds of experience where cruelty and mindlessness and man’s inhumanity to man do not continually have the upper hand.

Rectify the names

It is described how Confucius when asked by one of his disciples what he would do if he were given his own territory to govern the Master replied that he would first and above all “rectify the names” ‒ that is, make words correspond to reality.

Life and work

At the ripe old age of eighty-two, when one is fully aware that it is time to make sense of what has happened in one’s life, I am convinced about two major things.

A 4000 year old poem

Good poetry holds its truth and relevance throughout the ages. It may retail the facts and thinking of its own era, but part if it will always express what is eternally true and recognizable.

A generalised anxiety

In Guyana, there is a pervasive anxiety about the state of things in general which currently focuses on the seemingly unstoppable spread of criminal activity and violent crime in society.

Debt and its extinguishment

The burden of debt is overwhelming country after country. Greece is in the headlines now but there are scores of others teetering on the precipice.

What matters by far the most

“The writer must teach himself that the basest of all things is to be afraid and, teaching himself that, forget it forever, leaving no room in his workshop for anything but the old verities and truths of the heart, the old universal truths lacking which any story is ephemeral and doomed – love and honour and pity and pride and compassion and sacrifice.” -William Faulkner: Nobel Prize Speech, 1950 Once, immersed in the hectic daily round of mostly trivial happenings, hurrahs and harassments which make up life.

How to govern sensibly

Isaiah Berlin, who died a few years ago at the age of 89, was in my view the most distinguished political philosopher and historian of ideas of the 20th century.

The end of solitude

There are, you may be surprised to read this Sunday, more important things than constitutions, the results of elections, the making and unmaking of presidents and the first steps, and missteps, of a brand new government.

Doing jobs properly

The new government is going to need to plan wisely and execute efficiently, but of the two I think the actual doing is where the nation has lately been falling way short and is where a huge improvement is essential.

What is needed now

We have emerged from a very fraught period. The 2015 election was beautifully run until the time came to convey the results to a tensely waiting world.

Our trust justified: a well-run, transparent, credible and fair election

We will be completely justified in trusting the outcome of this election. A month ago I wrote a column pointing out that in a volatile, vitriolic and divisive campaign the nation was blessed in having a well run, unmanipulatable electoral process in which we could all depend to produce a free, fair and accurate result.

A personal manifesto

Ian on Sunday

I am reissuing the personal manifesto I have issued in previous general election campaigns and will no doubt continue to issue until time runs out on me.

The neglect of children tears the heart

I urge all those who can afford it – many thousands of you if you consult your heart first and only then your bank book – to make a gift of a new life for a destitute or homeless Guyanese child.

Bedrock

I have written often enough, and fervently believe, that cricket is an important element in our lives binding us closely together as West Indian nation – though I have to admit that recent West Indies cricket has displayed hardly any resemblance at all in the skill, camaraderie, spirit, pride and commitment to the game which once, win or lose, filled me with joyful anticipation, exhilaration and a sense of heightened patriotism.

Keeping the winner in check

When one thinks about it, the concept of ‘government’ is a strange one for it assumes as its fundamental premise that certain men and women – human beings like you and me – can and should be allowed to take upon themselves the right to direct the rest of us what to do, presumably for our own good.

Viv Richards

I note with much pleasure that Viv Richards has been named by a very distinguished panel of 50 outstanding cricketers and writers about the game as the greatest ODI player of all time.

An end to over-long ceremonies

There was a famous occasion in Trinidad a few years ago when an audience, bored out of their minds by an interminable function, decided to take matters into their own hands and exited the seemingly endless and agonizingly dull proceedings.

They vanish without trace

Recently I was sorting through old files and papers in my library in the process of sending them for deposit at the Special Collections Division of the UWI Library in St Augustine.

Christmas

  So many Christmas poems from which to choose. E U Fanthrope’s lines:   And this was the moment When a few farm workers and three Members of an obscure Persian sect

Mentors

So much begins with parents. So much continues in the training grounds. The teachers who taught and inspired us.

Parents

So much begins with parents. Their daily, persevering, unending love and interest and example teach lessons which reach deep into us; we are nurtured and our minds and souls are formed into shapes and disciplines that last all our lives.

What room is there for God?

The title I gave to one of my collections of poems is ‘Between Silence and Silence.’ I have always thought it sad, and occasionally a matter of momentary despair, that each of us emerges from oblivion into life, without permission given, and after a really very brief period of existence is hustled back into oblivion.

Indefinable truths

The great unabridged Oxford English Dictionary contains half a million words. Among all these one of the two most difficult to define is ‘happiness.’ It is easy enough to find a purely verbal definition such as ‘a feeling of pleasure or contentment’ but that is superficial.

Against the grain

In the aftermath of the 9/11 Al Qaeda attack I remember writing that America should take care not to over-react to that singular act of terror.

End Poems

Some of the best poetry has been written by people on the verge of death.