I have been looking at a great deal of cricket lately from across the world: Test cricket ‒ the Ashes, India versus Sri Lanka ‒ and ODIs and Twenty/20 cricket from all over.
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.
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.
I have been re-reading, slowly and with renewed love and admiration, all of Martin Carter’s poems.
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.
We are richer by far in having a varied media as part of the life of the community.
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.
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.
The end of the world as some of us know and love it is here.
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.
There is an entry in my father’s diary which moved me deeply when I read it after he died.
In Guyana getting a good education is defined as getting good exam results.
We are fortunate in Guyana that even in the worst times of party paramountcy the full ruthlessness of power was never exercised wholesale.
“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.
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.
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.
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.
The recent wave of lethal crime will have heightened the sense of life’s fragility in all of us.
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.
An excellent thing about America is that no one dissects America better than Americans.
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.
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.
When I was a schoolboy we had a games-master named Mr. Wilkinson who had served the College for all eternity.
There is nothing more valuable in man than an ability to write well.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Are women, here at home and in our larger home, the West Indies, quietly but definitely taking over?
Politically, Guyana is not so much a divided as a completely sundered country from end to end and from year to year it seems for evermore.
A friend asked me how important a part poetry plays in my life.
We are too obsessed by success, by deeds of glory and heroic feats.
Manifestos – by which we are shortly to be seriously afflicted – are viewed with grave scepticism by mostly everyone except those who painstakingly compile them.
And I am not referring to the menace of al Qaeda, IS and assorted deranged constituencies which cast a pall of horror around the world.
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.
Not the mindless killers they employ and brainwash but the brutal masterminds themselves know exactly what they are trying to achieve.
Gradually over the years keeping a diary has become a ritual in my life.
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.
I was speaking not long ago to an old, dear friend, the Canadian Philip O’Meara.
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
In a long life I have become accustomed to the usefulness of reading.
So much begins with parents. So much continues in the training grounds. The teachers who taught and inspired us.
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.
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.
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.
In my home, a step down off the dining room, overlooking the beautiful garden my wife has created, I have my studiolo.
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.
Some of the best poetry has been written by people on the verge of death.
I consider myself reasonably well read and passably well-informed. I try to keep up with what is going on.
If you do not read poetry you miss much. You miss star showers around your head and arrows near your heart.