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.


  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


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.

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.

Rescued from hate and mindlessness

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.

The never-ending gift

I have far exceeded the Biblical span of three score years and ten, so I realize clearly that this overtime gifted by the Gods must be most carefully husbanded.

From Persian Parables

Perhaps there has never been any time in history when terror, horror, cruelty and brutal suffering, much of it inflicted by men themselves, have set their curse upon so many lands.

The truth about the Pharisees

History often saddles people with reputations that are undeserved. Take Florence Nightingale. The biographical facts show conclusively that she was pushy, domineering, and bitchy to an appalling degree.

Treasure the gift of life

One might have thought that as time passes the heart might harden as arteries harden and the sense of loss grow less acute as the five familiar senses most certainly tend to do.

The extraordinary claims of poetry

Intermittently through the year, and especially during memorable times up the immense and soul-redeeming Essequibo, I like to read Shelley – as we all should do from time to time since he is pre-eminently the poet of hope.


This too shall pass. The utter shambles into which the administration of Guyana’s cricket has fallen will one day end.

Climate change – the latest scream for help

Do you remember one of the world’s great exercises in futility? In 2007 as many as 20,000 politicians, officials, international functionaries, journalists and activists attended the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, better known as the Bali Conference.

A fateful and historic mistake

I think there must be a majority of Guyanese deeply worried that the festering animosity between the political parties and the incessant jockeying for position and narrow-spirited search for partisan advantage is greatly harming Guyana’s progress as a nation.

Reflections on another birthday

A few weeks, it seems, since the last one, a new birthday has come along – the 81st no less, hardly believable when one thinks how not so long ago one could joyfully spring up stairs three at a time if the occasion demanded it or party until dawn (very possibly celebrating another West Indies victory as No.

When losing is a kind of death

The fatal flaw in the Duckworth/Lewis formula for deciding unfinished cricket matches is that it makes no allowance for genius, flair and sheer, joyous inspiration.

Selfishness rules

Democracies came to be based on a balanced view of human nature; people are by nature selfish but self-government is possible because we are wise enough to restrain and control that selfishness.

Making progress not just in pure statistics

Like nurses anxiously watching the pulse rate and temperature of patients in an emergency ward, for a long time we were schooled to observe movements in Gross Domestic Product as the indication of whether a country is healthy or ailing.


At 80 years old I do not think I can be criticised for writing about ageing. 

Preserving our literary heritage

Emeritus Professor Ken Ramchand of the University of the West Indies at St Augustine, eminent scholar and literary critic, the other day sent me the address he gave as Chairman of the Project Committee at the opening of The Naipaul House in St James, Port-of-Spain, on 10th February.

Growing inequality in the world

It is being noticed more and more – President Obama and Pope Francis are currently making it a theme in their speeches – that inequality is growing and that the already rich and powerful are becoming even more obscenely rich (the President and Pope are too diplomatic to use the word obscene but it is the right one) and even more unchallengeably powerful.


The feeling of joy is a strange emotion. It can derive from momentous events – winning the great championship, realising a long-nourished ambition, owning one’s own home at last.