NCF Panel Discussion – ‘Role and Responsibility of the Writer in Shaping the Identity of a Developing Society’ as Barbadian Poet calls for Censorship
According to Esther Phillips, the launch of an edition of Bim Magazine in November ’08 was covered by the Nation exclusive to its launch. Her Stone Gatherer book had CBC’s Eye On The Arts cameraman present but I only recall seeing small mentions in Advocate & Nation way AFTER the launch. I did this mainly to please both Esther’s & Adrian ‘Amenyama‘ Green’s almost OCD-like desire to deal with… Each. And. Every. Single. Solitary. Point. As. It. Appears.
Sigh, ok – break’s over now! Happy? In future read my sidebars on the front page, thank you!
It seems my treatise on what happened at Tyrol Cot in July really ruffled feathers both in & out of NCF, however cooler heads prevailed and reasoned any publicity is good publicity – wait for Kadooment and NIFCA to pass and hold a Panel Discussion on how words can mould thoughts!
This is what happened…
That night at the Grand Salle these were who braved the arena… Trevor Marshall – Historian; Rob Leyshon – UWI; Adrian Green – Award Winning Poet; John Sealy – Nation Newspaper’s ; Esther Phillips – Author & Moderated by Wayne “Kool” Simmons of the NCF.
‘The Role and Responsibility of the Writer in Shaping the Identity of a Developing Society’
In the salvos I witnessed when I arrived, Adrian Green sees Poetry and Activism as inseparable. He’s also of the view that a time is coming in Barbados when people must choose sides. This is a rather cryptic enigma cloaked in a conundrum, so rather than pussyfoot like Mr Green, here’s my view on that remark…
I believe he’s referring in part to the land & housing shortage which he possibly feels may create another disturbance similar to 1937 and you better not sit on the fence racially if there is an escalation into a race war – either you are black or white. What happens if rich blacks and whites decide to gang up on poorer counterparts, what side do you choose then?
This is a different perspective when compared with Esther who thinks if Barbadians took the time to inculcate literature in their lives once more then many events and situations which can be deemed coarse would be significantly reduced. She also wants to see more Bajan poetry with self-reflection.
Whereas Rob Leyshon feels that poetry is everything and nothing, that not all of it could be construed as ‘Lotus Eating’ especially when one bears in mind that there are politically charged poets such as Martin Carter, Pablo Neruda and even Paul McCartney. Rob admitted the last was added mischievously to goad Trevor Marshall.
He went on to add that poetry should just exist, and readers or critics will politicise them whether they have an agenda or not. Using art as a means of Outrage is one of the oldest gimmicks in the world, according to Leyshon, in his view it is the great artists who choose to disturb their audiences – he cited Russian author Dostoevsky.
Dostoevsky stated that an author who’s worthy must present truth in a manner which cannot be evaded.
AUDIENCE AS CATALYST
Brent Shuffler was one of the first to address the panel and he wanted to know why News tended to be either too much or too little? John Sealy stated that in a newspaper one has to be very careful in delivering an opinion or presenting facts and indeed what are those facts, can they be used? This was immediately countered by Rob Leyshon who sees blogs as integral in tracing the genuine underpinnings of a society, which is probably why so many frown on their existence.
Adrian Green got very annoyed at this point and made it clear that he was not there to discuss blogs, yet he stated that words are as powerful as weapons and care should be exercised when using them.
Uh, bub, you realise what you say goes for you too? Or are you in the “All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others” section of Orwell’s mythic farm?
Green added that writers should be trained how to write as it is a dangerous tool when released openly without control. While opinion and critical thinking are indeed necessary it should be directed. For my part, this means if he had his way then all I could do is just praise ol’ Amenyama’s poetry and never dare disagree with it – but suppose there are people who feel that way about his work too? Mia Mottley in the past has suggested either Bajan internet or even the blogs themselves should be regulated.
As far as I know, Green has no political aspirations, or this could be deemed potentially lethal. Johnny Tudor after leaving the DLP and seeking favour with the BLP stated that Barbados should be a one-party state! Owen himself sought a four-term mandate which was very likely shattered by the blogs he and Mia so feared… Now, just a few days ago, David Thompson says when elections are called again he wants to go after all 30 seats, is that not a dictatorship? Is that not plotting to decide how people think, act and do? Watch out Mr Green!
There was also another valid question from the small gathering. The lady asked why weren’t winners of Literary contests not given automatic publishing as an incentive to compete apart from a cash prize.
Trevor Marshall sought to answer this question but he meandered throughout the whole Caribbean before really getting anywhere near the issue. He says Barbados has no Mills & Boon nor any publishing house for that matter. you cannot find any Bajan book on a 100 Great calypsos. And he dismissed blogs as pablum! In his view, not internet journals, but Literature is a must. He’s tired of Jamaicans teasing him that Bajans have no books since Lamming.
Then a gal in the audience sought from John Sealy why was “Girl Next Door” a featured part of the Saturday Sun? While there is much to be desired in massive room for improvement in the dead-tree editions of the media, this is one concept I approve of and have touched on before, so I stated again what I said in my old blog and pushed the fact my website is coming, now true and here in front of you!
I reminded them that Risee Chaderton’s feature takes an ‘ordinary‘ gal – be she skinny or not – and makes her feel and look like a billion Euros, showing how EVERYONE has the right to walk the runways and catwalks and not be a certain size or race to qualify!
In the end, the most compelling summation came from John Sealy, he sees there’s too much squabbling between all genres of Barbados’ Literary Fraternity and there needs to be more cohesion so as to create a ‘surge’ in schools for appreciating the beauty of Language.