Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00072147/00176
 Material Information
Title: Tapia
Physical Description: no. : illus. ; 43 cm.
Language: English
Publisher: Tapia House Pub. Co.
Place of Publication: Tunapuna
Creation Date: August 24, 1975
Frequency: completely irregular
Subjects / Keywords: Politics and government -- Periodicals -- Trinidad and Tobago   ( lcsh )
Genre: periodical   ( marcgt )
serial   ( sobekcm )
Dates or Sequential Designation: no. 1- Sept. 28, 1969-
General Note: Includes supplements.
 Record Information
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: aleph - 000329131
oclc - 03123637
notis - ABV8695
System ID: UF00072147:00176

Full Text

VOL. 5, No 34


si~ ;t



SPEAKING in the House of
Representatives on September
27 last year, the Prime Minister
enumerated what he considered
to be certain "basic facts in the
world at large". He spoke of the
(a) An increase in the world popula-
tion of approximately 2% per year.
(b) The decline in reserve gain
stocks and idle cropland in the
United States of America which
accounts for 90% of the world
export trade in soya beans and has
become the principal exporter of
(c) The emergence of Latin America
as an importer of food on a large
-(d Low yields in_ developing
countries, for example, in Indiaias
compared with Japan in terms of
rice, in Thailand and Brazil as
compared with the United States
in terms of corn.
(e) The steady encroachment on
good crop lands by the Sahara
which is moving south across a
3,500 mile frontier at a rate of up
to 30 miles per year.
(f) The progressive deforestation
in the Himalayas, fof example -
aggravating the threat of floods in
Bangladesh, Fakistan and India.
The Prime Minister went on to
state in the most unambiguous terms.
"The certain prospect facing the world
therefore is of tremendous food short-
Williams was-speaking in the con-
text of the need of expanding our
Fertilizer capacity but his list of "basic
facts" points with undeniable accuracy
to the fact that in the world today
and for the foreseeable future the
development of its agricultural capacity
and resources must become the central
feature of any nation's quest for
economic development.
This applies as much to Trinidad
_ard Tobago as to-any other country.
For one of the basic facts which
Williams forgot to mention is that
the percentage share of Agriculture in
Trinidad and Tobago's Gross Domestic
Product has been falling rapidly ever
since the 1960's even as the nation's
food import bill has every year reached
greater and more astronomical pro-
That this should be so is not
surprising. These facts follow logically
from the type of economic policies
this Government has pursued from the
time it first came to power. The
program of Industrialisation by In-
vitation, touted for so long by the
Government as a panacea for all
economic ills, has left us now with a
whole host of fearsome evils massive
unemployment, distorted tastes,
widening inequality and above all an

under developed and scrunting agri-
cultural sector.
The task of economic recon-
struction, including a more equitable
distribution of national wealth, must
begin with policies which not only
restore to agriculture a foremost role
in the nation's economic concerns but
also compensates for the long years of
malign neglect the whole sector has
suffered at the hands of this govern-
On the evidence of its own state-
ments it cannot be claimed that the
Government now fails to recognize
these "basic facts". Speaking in 1973
at the National Consultation on
Agriculture, the Minister of Agri-
culture, Lionel Robinson, stated in
"In our particular case, agriculture
not only provides some of the basic
raw material inputs required for
industry, but it also provides erh-
ployment for a substantial part of
our population, thereby relieving
industry of a part of this obligation
and enabling it to achieve economies
that may not have been otherwise
The Minister did not -ena there.
He went on to say;
"Modern welfare economists have
argued, quite rightly, that develop-
ment cannot be measured ex-
clusively in terms -of statistical
Other non-quantifiable factors must
be taken into account. For instance,
the degree of local ownership, par-
ticipation and control, the psycho-
logical satisfaction derived from
the pursuit 'of economic activity,
the quality of life experienced,
and the degree of community spirit
fostered, are all important and
desirable goals of a society, but
they do not readily lend themselves
to scientific measurement oi
If, however, we consider develop-
ment in this wider context, it im-
mediately becomes apparent that
agriculture must take pride of place
among the areas of economic
There is no need to remind our-
selves that Ministers of Government
are content to have their speeches
written for them by hard- working
public servants. But it would appear,
as Churchill once said of a Member of
Parliament, that before they speak
they do not know what they will be
saying, while they are speaking they
do not know what they are saying,
and when they are finished speaking
they do not know what they have
For how else one can reconcile the
statements made by the Minister of
Agriculture at the National Consulta-
tion in 1973 with the support he now

extends to the Balandra Beach Resorts
Ltd. in their -efforts to convert 800
acres of Agricultural land into a
pleasure haven for the idle rich.
The whole enterprise is absurd and
unwelcome. And the support it has
received from the Government,
particularly in view of the statements,
documented above made by the Prime
Minister and the Minister of Agri-
culture, is nothing short of criminal
Other voices, notably University
Lecturers Susan Craig and Trevor Far-

rell, the "Catholic News" and not
least the villagers themselves have
already publicly voiced their op-
position to the entire scheme. We wish
to do-so as well.
We have only one thing to add to
the statements made by these citizens.
We wish to point out that if the Gov-
ernment and the promoters are so
foolish as to persist with this scheme
they will leave the next Government
ro alternative but to repudiate the
whole venture lock, stock and artifical





30 cents

pFqr',- .' ,: "7


A Basketful of

Questions for the

Coming Elections

HOW long now? How
far away? General Elec-
tions I mean. They are
coming like a thief in the
night. So much so that
even the / nightstalkers
who bear the news are
being caught with their
pants down.
Such utter confusion
exists, that this time they
are unable to get their
house in order. What I
expect is a few handouts
to satisfy some influential
parts of the populace,
OK an 80% pay out to
Texaco employees. Not that
they do not deserve this or
even more, but I imagine
that General Elections being
so close, you wouldn't use
your power to tailor the
percentages and even their
back-pay to a figure nearer
to what you paid to your
Hurry and settle with
same 80% No big thing.
Pay out COLA to teachers,
Civil Servants etc. a little
later, a little nearer.
We still remember the last
pay out, and look at it as a
gift from you. Not as some-


thing that we should have
had to add it into last year's
tax calculations although it
was paid out this year.
Why? Is it because in-
Screased PAYE allowances
start from this year, and you
had to ensure your taxman
a good bite?
Or did you think that it
would have been too mucn
bread for us? I wouldn't be
surprise since in the first
instance you didn't pay it
when you should have. And
the reason? You said you
were trying to prevent us
from squandering. Well! Well!
Did you know all along
that the people in the La
Brea Constituency were
suffering for water all through
the years?
Did you know that Salgar
STrace in Point Fortin wanted
a stahdpipe?
Shame on you. The whole
country suffers for water.
Yes water to wash, to drink,
to cook. What reminded you
of the six wells that you are
going to reactivate to supply
La Bra with more water?


40 Cents Each

Bll k Poswer & National Reconstruction
(c, c' and Politics of the W. Indies
Prospects for Our Nation
The Political Alternative
Whose Republic?
Freedom and Responsibility
The Afro-American Condition
Honourable Senators
Democracy or Oligarchy
Participatory Democracy
The Machinery of Government
Black Power.in Human Song
We are in a State
A Clear Danger
Your Turn to Choose (Out of print)

- Lloyd Best

- Vernon Gocking
- Denis Solomon
- Syl Lowhar
-Ivan Laughlin
- Michael Harris
- Raffique Shah

Tapia House Statements.

Our Nation at the Crossroads
Tapia Constitution
Tapia's New World
Power to the People
The failure of the 1950's Movement
The High Season of Crisis 1975
Letter to CLR 1964
Benevolent Doctatorship

Krishna Ramrekersingh
Lloyd Best
Allan Harris

The Tapia House, 82-84 St. Vincent Street. Timapnima,

And the 32 hour repairs
which would ensure San
Fernando of more water?
And what did you say!
In the next six months or so
everyone would be having
endless water? How long
beyond election would the
supply you are building up
now last?
It is a real shame, 'in this
day and age' for big men to
come to people; sensible
people with these tired tiny-
mite tricks.
What you are doing about
to disorganisation in Gov-
ernment Departments Road
Workers, Teachers, Nurses,
Civil Servants ALL. Just
sitting back and blaming
them for your bungling.
These people are seeing
through your failures, and
their attitude is a reflection
of you Frightening?
In the second place it is
not hard to find people whom
you have frustrated by your
political placements and dis-
placements; promotions' and
demotions and so on in
every area of your employ.
What is the real food prices
problem? Do you know? Do
you think that you are
locking up the right people
Ask the scrunting shop-
keeper, and if he isn't scared
to death to talk, he would
tell you. He would tell you
why things like cooking-oil
and potatoes do not appear
on his bill.

Then he would explain.
how much he has to buy
before he is 'allowed' to
purchase these items. He
would then tell you about
the price he "has to pay after
all this. Would you believe
that the prices double up on
the scrunting shopkeeper.
Tell me now, how the
hell could this fellow sell at
the controlled price?

No wonder why prices vary
so much from place to place
in Trinidad. Well, Tobago is
something else.
I often wonder what these
people get in exchange for
their taxes. Some body might
be able to explain why their
cost-of-living is so much
higher than ours. Please don't
start with cost of transporta-
tion to Tobago.
I wonder whether your
road fixing business doesn't
coincide with your election
campaign. If so it is showing.
And it looks real bad.
Ihope that our roads come
in for some real repair before
elections. I see you started
before us, jumped over us and
continued after us. Why?
I hope you don't consider
the repairs done by your
twelve foolish people as our
share of the cake. Do you
know the twelve. Iam speak-
ing of the twelve fellows
who hustled into our village

Continued On Page 11

Our coverage of


is unsurpassed anywhere

for focus ."nd point.

Keep abreast of the,

real currents in the

Caribbean Sea.

Trinidad & Tobago $15.00 T.T.
CARICOM Area 25.00 W.I.
Other Caribbean 17.50 U.S.
North America 21.00 U.S.
United Kingdom t11.20 U.K.
Western Europe 14.00 U.K.
Bound Volumes 1973 $20.00 T.T.
Bound Volumes 1974 24.00 T.T.
Back Issues Available
Overseas Deliveries Airmail. Surface Rates on Request
Postage Extra on Bound Volumes.

Tapia, 82,St. Vincent St. Tunapuna,
Trinidad & Tobago, W.I. Telephone 662-5126.

West -Indian Social Sciences Index

* NeW World a Moko Tapia Savacou

Subject and author entries in one.alphabetical sequence
Comprehensive coverage of all articles
Supporting cross references

Professionally prepared by a librarian at the University of the West Indies, St. Augustine,
the Index includes an Introduction by Dr. Gordon Rohlehr, Head of the English Depart-
ment, which places the publications in a social and historical context.

Order your copy by filling out and returning the following form to the Tapia House
Publishing Co.' Ltd., 84 St. Vincent Street, Tunapuna, Trinidad and Tobago (Tel: 662-
Please send me ... copy/copies of the West Indian social Sciences Index.

1 enclose cheque/money order/bank dratt tor ...........


ADDRESS .............................
U.S. $10.00 (Includes postage by surface mail)




THIS week Tapia devotes most of its
pages to the literature of the region. We
have done so on numerous occasions in
-the past and will continue to do so.
We have however within recent
_times observed a very real increase in the
numbers of writers who are submitting
their works of various kinds for publica-
tion in the paper.
While we welcome this it means
that we are no longer able to publish
these efforts with the promptness which
we know that these writers have come
to expect. Moreover we anticipate that
this situation shall not improve as the
developments of the political situation
here would inevitably dictate an even
greater focus on political news and com-
mentary than we have at present.
In an effort to ensure that this
greater political focus does not come
about at the expense of time and space
allotted to the equally important areas
of, art and literature we are prepared to
devote a single issue of our. paper every
three months almost exclusively to the
poets, artists,playwriehts and critics who
may wish to avail themselves of the

SWith my earthen hand still

filmed with soot and blood,
brother, I come for you, to join
hands, I come, to take your pulse,
to see how you have endured
the long passage of welts,
to see how your back has stood up
to the eternal thrashing
and the fanged air of stares
that smart your presence in the cradle
where time will begin anew once more.

And it has been a long long time
since last our faces met,
a long long time since
our footsteps rummaged in the bush
or through the veldt's green hair

my cornea wide as the sky,
by day I watch
through clouds, Frantz,
this school of islands
stretched by undertows
between continents,
large unweildy blobs
of matter
the punity of minute life-
forms seemingly
unable to offer resistance
to eagle-headed powers

0 archipelago of amoebae
strewn carelessly to the Trades
by so e frenzied hand,
I watch you
with my airy, climatic eyes
fugitive as rainbows,
my swarthy skin seasoned
with salt,
I feel you
evolving slowly
through phases and stages,
struggling as tadpoles
to be frogs,
the pupae of your own evolution
in the hot trough
of the inchoate sea,
its muscular waves gesticulating
as rigid cobalt fists
at slippery rocks.

Afloat in a stunned state
of protoplasm


where felines basked as logs, ago.
Meanwhile -
I suffered for the whole tribe.
For each whiplash
on each crusting back I died
a thousand times, fully.
For each wasted death
of each watered life, I died
a thousand generations.
Barth lost the memory of the most



being processed meticulously
toward some manufactured birth,
this one-celled existence,
soaked to the bone
rots slowly
in its saturation of brine,
shedding discarded doctrines
as moulted plumage
or old skin.
0 wading isles
of embryonic suns
and sons who defected
to metal cities
I wonder
from deep in the coral of my bones
how well you can swim
in the fury of gales,
how well your buoyancy rides
the choppy waves
that buck as wild horses
to throw you off
into the oblivion of the Gulf Stream.

My tongue tastes you
from its roots, eddying words
still to be uttered,
but your flavour is still
indefinite as the years



sacred things
as I shared your darkness,
with drums, throbbing as hea
in the thick tangible paste, li
I come now stalking the hun
Make way -
Give my hand a simple flame
a spark to startle the darkness
give my hand a simple flame,
light flimsy words to hatch u{

This does not mean that we shall
cease to publish material at other times
during the course of the year but the
special quarterly focus we feel will be of
benefit both to us and to those writers
who may wish to publish their work
in our pages.
As far as the writers are concerned
it allows them, perhaps, to concentrate
their energies for a given time and to
know precisely when their work will be
published. It also will allow for a more
direct focus of literaty criticism. In
addition, of course, we have never been
averse to vacating our editorial desk for
any individual or individuals who may
wish to work on a particular issue.
This then is our promise. It cannot
be a firm commitment only because no
Editor will ever allow himself to be at
the mercy of writers whose deadlines he
cannot control. But the .invitation has
been issued and it is up to our writers
wherever they may be to accept it. We
hope to produce the first issue in the
series on Sunday 19th October.


tongue: and I will catch the world on fie!
A new syntax combs a new aeon. Amen.
I turn to theshapes that will embrace me
as the Prodigal Son returned
for dessert or a second reaping
to the threshold of his last sin.
Make way -
When I pass that way again
Severe wall will be trampled to dust
rrtbeats or I will die, trying,
ke tar.



pon my


which leap at you
tramping embalmed epochs
your backs would prefer to forget
as a lost life in a past of regrets
and sudden vicissitudes.

bracketed by life and death,
our existence scrambling away
from waves as crabs,
only our own truths can set us free
from ourselves and talons
From this wilderness of water
and rocks swizzling
in the angry tantrums of hurricanes
released from Aeolian bags
some cataclysm
will be sparked off
among these fragmented geographies
which a cruel dehumanizing history
has broken and cast afloat
in tribes of perpetual exodus
without souls,
culture lost in middens
or high winds of ignorance.

Now the sun is lost
or strayed
and the sea is seething cold

I come scouring for my seed,
I come, lookingfor roots,
uprooting, and the sky is empty
of the ritual of clouds
or the poetry of dusk that sets
in its own ageing

with whirlpools.
The archipelago reels
in search of new tangents
Prophecies bent as nails in hard wood,
visionaries martyred
with purple lips
clenched over unuttered promises,
myopia gnawing at beaches
as guilt
or sea water, gesticulating
with waves;
from the shore I watch
the sea-air cough.

0 archipelago,
of wading gossamer fates,
of seasons when the climate prays,
I celebrate your slavery
of sufferings,
your misery of misfortunes,
your elemental evolution
in a New World, a wider sky
awaiting a fateful dawn
under the blotch of sunset
that bleeds
in this embryonic era,
and the sun is lost
or strayed nightwards,
and the sea is cold,
0 archipelago of amoebae,
graveyard of shipwrecked hopes,
littered with corpses
and snapped timber,
Prophecies bent as nails..

but further in
a lightbeam
spotted clothing
on the ground
a shirt
that smelt of the man

along close passages
they picked up
shoes and socks
a vest
his trousers
finally a brief
smelling of the crutch
and arrived at last
in a little room
like a cell
at the centre

where they found him
huddled naked
in the dark
Mervyn Morris


I -

- --



SCORE is a collection of poems
published by two locally based
writers Anson Gonzalez and Vic-
tor Questel. The book first ap-
peared in 1972 and to the best
of my knowledge was never re-
viewed. No doubt it is this lack
of critical response on the part
of the reading public that prom-
pted one of the writers, Victor
Questel. into lamenting the neg-
lect that gnaws at the bone of
creative effort in the society.
SCORE deserves better treatment.
If this review comes three years
too late, it is because the full im-
pact or this slim, unimpressive
looking volume of poetry had not
registered on this reader's mind.
Like- so many of the words
which crop up in the book, the
title score is a pun. Each writer
has published twenty poems and
score qixite clearly spells 'this
out. Its deeper meanings, how-
ever, extend to the worlds of
music and cricket The musical
overtones of the title can hardly
be lost on any reader who takes
even a cursory glance at the titles
of individual poems. Names like
'Prelude', 'Pan Drama', 'Down-
beat', 'Nelson's Islands Blues'
and 'Cadence' are clearly allu-
sions to music. score can also
Sbe interpreted as a poetic reply
to the cricket inspired slang, 'So
wha's the score?' meaning what
is the current state of affairs?
The Bulk of the poetry published
here reflects the awakening social con-
sciousness of the late '60's and early
'70's; At least four poems, three of
Questel's and one by Gonzalez seem
to.have sprung from a direct response
to a specific crisis in the nation's
history the Black Power Protest of
This is something new in the history
of local poetry writing. Social issues
seem to have elicited greater response
from our novelists,.historians and poli-
tical commentators than our poets.
We canr read Selvon's A Brighter Sun
and obtain a clear picture of life in
Trinidad during the war years (1939-
45) Naipaul's A House forMr. Biswas
delineates the society of the thirties,
the years before the Yankee occupa-
There has been no dearth of com-
mentary on the causes and impli-
cations of the mass movements of
1970, officially labelled. small man's
year by a morally bankrupt Govern-
ment; the year other analysts would
have us believe, of the February Revo-
In lieu of such commentary, much
of it was long after the event, we have
in Score a living emotional closeup
of Trinidad then and now. Compressed
within the pages of Score are pain,
self-mockery, spiritual withering and
paradoxical will to survive all fea-
tures of our current national life.
To the question 'wha's the score?'
Score replies in a tight, compressed
language which concretely captures
the realities of our situation. We are all
trapped in the web of absurd politics,
and SCORE probes the various ways
in which we react to this situation;
Questel's poems show a greater
unity of theme, a greater sublety in

the use of language than Gonzalez's.
Most of them seem to have been
written between 1970 and '72. They
bear the stamp of questioning ur-
gency then heard in the voices of
youth. Loss and persistence of faith,
the death of illusion, the search for
commitment are their major themes.
What results is not a hermetic
poetry in the accepted sense of that
term. The writer obviously considers"
the question of his relationship to so-
ciety more important than his private
withering. How, he seems to be asking,
can. I relate meaningfully to the world
around me in the face of this loss,
and given the absurdities I encounter?
What function should my art serve?
A poet like Derek Walcott has al-
ways been concerned with such mat-
ters. In The Gulf, he seems unable
to come to any satisfactory answer.
An inability to bridge the gulf between
self and society is one of the under-
lying themes of this book. In "Hic
Jacet"as in Chapter 19 of Another
Life, he condemns 'the new race of
dung beetles, frock-coated and irri-
descent who crawl over the people,
'all o'dem big boys so, dem, ministers.'
Beyond the wholesale condemnation
of corrupt politicians and visionless
manipulators, the poet does not go.
The underground life of the people
who inhabit this world of entrapment
remains virtually unexplored. What the
reader gets is the poet's private re-

sponse to the encircling malaise.
One would have to turn to Walcott's
players (of Ti Jean and Dream on
Monkey Mountain) for a more varied
range of response to the colonial and
neo-colonial situation. Walcott is
deeply and painfully aware of the
corrupting effects of politics on the
life of the folk. Excerpts from an
unpublished play read at the Town
Hall late last year, showed how
despairing this concern has become.
Deprived of sustenance in this flawed
world, the poet retreats into his
private cell to chronicle his slow
shrinkage. Society and self are polaris-
In Score some attempt is made to
bridge this gap. Questel in particular
has succeeded in demolishing the
barriers between a supposed public
and private poetry. The 1970 'dis-
turbances' seem to have furnished
some grounding inspiration for his
reflections on life and history. Far
from serving us with abstractions,
however, he offers us pointers through
the world of the senses aural and
It is a poetry that lovingly explores
the 'taut surfaces of things' mentioned
by Braithwaite in Rights of Passage.
Starkness of imagery is a common
And here
a skeleton frame of a



A Book of Poems by

Victor Questel&Anson Gonzalez
s^ -

Winston Hackett

the profundity of nothing'(pg. 9).
"Prelude" springs from that point
where the private self interesects with
the public. Intimate thoughts are
mixed with laconic musings on social
issues. People are never distant. The
atmosphere of March and April of
,1970 is preserved in at least two.
poems, 'Tom' and 'The Epileptic Boy
of February'.
The sceptical onlooker in _Tom'
defines himself in relation to the
pain, hopes and desperation of the
multitude of which he forms part. So
compelling is the human presence and
so great his powers of empathy, the
gap between I and thou often dis-
appears and we find the poet becoming
his characters. 'Pan Drama' one of the
finest poems in the book, is a good
example of this. 'Downbeat', another
fine poem is the monologue of a limer
surveying the odds and ends of his
life, 'Small Island Talk' is completely
given up to the voice of the urban
folk in the Laventille area.
The poet's identity is multiple. To
this public/private involvement Questel
brings a ferocious wit and a truly
incredible skill at punning. Our world-
conscious society with its flair for
picong and double meaning is subtly
mirrored in his lines.
The title poem 'Prelude' sets the
tone for much of what follows. 'Pre-
lude' is a portrait of the artist-in-seed,
engaged in setting his first lines on
paper, struggling to come to terms
with self, isolated and a victim of his
own emotions which, compulsively,
he tries to channel into art.
In the poem, Questel seems literally
to be describing a reverie induced by
a taxi ride from South to Port-of-Spain
Hence the poem begins with the plains
of Caroni from which he gleans the
idea of an indentureship some-
which somehow never ends. The in-
dentureship is probably both literary/
cultural and economic. The journey
continues past Shanty Town when
the image of African dispossession
appears. There is a surreal quality
about the opening lines:
'On receiving my indenture
I bit into the'future
and chewed the past-
tajas of crematoriums
skulls sulk at the
extending bones
dancing the moon. '(pg. 9).
The reference to 'tajas' is a self-
conscious attempt to incorporate an
East Indian aspect of our culture into
his poetry. The poet's obsession with
history emerges in his use of the word
'past' and reference to the future into
which he chews. A sense of cyclic
repetition, reminiscent of that
evoked by Brathwaite's 'the wheel
turns and tlfe future returns' is built
up in the reader's mind.
From this semi-interior landscape,
we switch suddenly to a closeup of the
outer world 'the skeleton frame of a
billboard a smouldering dump. Quiet
fluidly, the scene shifts to a portrait
of the .artist, struggling to create,
posed 'at the crosswords of creation',
writing 'doggedly, like a cur'.
It is these roving camera
manoeuvres that lend a quality of
restless urgency to Questel's poetry.
The poems seem to lack a spatial

Continued on Page 5





From' Page 4

centre. The reader finds himseltin
several places at the samltime: He can
sense -as he- read&, the poet's urgeht
question, 'what more is there to life?'
All he has to define him is a medley of
moods. He.,becomes a tiger 'stalking'
his 'stripes of soloured'solitude'.
The world 'coloured' is full.of
connotations. It can referlto the poet's
complexion, define a social attitude,
that of a middle-class youth struggling
to -come to terms witfhisinilieuror,
quite literally, indicate the shifting
nature of his feelings.
The 'I' of 'Fragment of a letter:
Two' is a sceptical, though involved,
onlooker who fears public exposure.
'Outsider, outrider, doubter,' he
watches the leaders of a demonstra-
tion, presumably, whose faith has be-
come public. The exchange of faith for
a face is what he fears. Trapped in
'bullring of solitude', he sees 'the
pitching tour' of their protest 'harden
to marble, gored to a public faith'.
The fear of self-dispersal in words,
a common feature of Third,. World
Societies in which power too often
equated with rhetorical grandcharge,
becomes fear of 'the microphone
betrayal' in a poem entitled 'Words
and Gestures' published in the new
voices, 3 and 4. Like his Epileptic
Boy of February, he too is tempted to
make that crucial leap from the snail's
shell of self, in a bid to communicate
with the stir the people to action.
If one can single out a single per-
sistent feature in the handful of poems
published by Questel to date, it is
the tension between stasis and revolt,
blues and rebellion It is this tension
we find in 'Pan Drama', 'Down beat',
'Epileptic Boy' and the final poem of
the Prelude 'wrecker'.
'Pan Drama' can in part be seen as
condemnation of the Tourist Board
image of the Trinidadian. It is also a
wry comment on the hollow patronage
that wafts the steelbandsman and folk
artist to foreign shores as ambassadors
of 'culture'. The indictment is subtle
since it is filtered through the mind of
an actual performer. The panmen of
this poem, moreover, emerges as the
symbol for a whole society, caught in
mesh of absurdity, knowing it, but
cooly attuned to its enchainment.
Questel's imagination turns the spider
web of the pan into the web of
gimmickry in which the pan is tapped.
But the image is dual. If the pan-
man is victim, he is also able to make,
creative manoeuvres within his situa-
tion. While playing, he quietly re-
pudiates the minstrel role assigned
him by the Tourist Board and the
Ministry of Culture. The tourist image
of the happy-go-luck performer is
grimly undercut in this low-keyed
Perhaps some affinity exists between
the mood of "Pan Drama'-and the
mood out of which a new type of
calypso has arisen. Stalin's 'Ole Talk'
as well as Stalin's 'Steelband Gone',
Relator's attempts to come to terms
with the sickness and frustration of
the seventies. A new dimension -has
been ushered into calypsoes, that of
the blues. Valentino's 'Dis place nice'
somehow comes to mind. The stage is
on the savannah.

Mas man
push on
pan man
a man
attuned, trapped
caught (like me)
subtle inden-
stations -
in his
spider web'
'Caught'here means both trapped and
noticed. The culture tour and Carnival
fever are described with economyamd
iL. Again attention must be drawn to
Questel's skill at wordplay. 'Flying

Pan Am: is a snide frerence to the
foreign sponsorship of our supposedly
indigenous culturee (Pan Am North
Stars) Abruptly it leads to the letter
'A' in the following line; suggesting
that Panama, that Mecca for enter-
_prising migrants between 1889 and,,
1920 in his destination. The West
Indian obsession with flight and escape
is being hinted at. 'Bombing' im-
mediately brings to mind the Bomb
Competition on Jour Ouvert morning.
-. It is counter pointed by 'chippin'five
lines later, suggesting not only the
intricate steps of a aance, but limited
movement that leads nowhere. After
the resonant 'bombing', 'chippin'
cdmes as anti-climax. The sense of
impotence felt by the' panman is
conveyed in a paradoxically' phallic

calypso image ('rubber' --contracep-
'armed only'
with my
rubber-ended sticks
calypso tunes
S chamber pot drama
racial melodrama
for colourless
mocking folk front
far away smog
one of whom is




1 L7ies ,_

Frames cracked by lines
of doubt
hold the cleft note that is blown
as you make that journey across this
knowing that drawing the map is more important
than simply
Stone. A salte that is wet
invokes a child's memory
of magic that vapours the mind;

Jiimbie, jumbie;

because it takes more than hope
to smash an image across these lines,
moving within like retreating rituals
erasing growing tiredness.

Articles of faith are not enough
as the hand thdt writes makes an arcd,
a cave that you long to retreat to;

pure mist,
as you follow the tracks cut,
tracing new lines. Watch at the scrawls
mounted a like any bois-man 's stick
following the craft of the hawk
and the call of the Jumbie
circling. Your head is gathered in cloud.

It bums. It becomes the sun
only the rising finger to Arima
dares point at you. Now

shaping has risen in stature,
and again you ask,

how to be a Moko Jumbie without becoming stilted;

stone the blank with-
stares as
tension rolls beneath the rocks of things
as you track the splitting image ofgtruggle,
the next man's dream in print
but not what
you intended.

Victor D. QuesteL


sausage sandwiches
'mom they steal
the show
how attuned
They are
to their
best terror
SA truth wryly acknowledged
by the pan man;
making subtle
in my
spider web
I wheel away
The rhythms and nuances of steel can
be heard if the poem is-erd aloud.
Analysis of these must be left to more
competent person...What attracts this
reader is the dramatic content of the
We first see the panman through
the eyes of the poet 'making subtle
- indentations in his spider web as the
band wheels offstage. By the close of
the poem, however, the detached tone
of the observer has yielded to the
wryness of the actual performer.
Questel has virtually entered the con-
sciousness of his character. The voice
at the close of the poem is the voice
of a panman-cum-poet.
The overall effect of the work is
that of a-board performer passing
under the myriad stares of a Carnival
crowd, none of whose members really
sees him. It is 'ie poet's eye that
-that captures his truth. To the glass
eyed tourist and smiling bourgeois,
he remains invisible.
'Downbeat' successfully captures
the patch work sensibility of a city
justle. The life of this limer is as
haphazard as the typography used to
describe it. He views it with remarkable
clarity. It is a life of half-measures, of
fleeting emotions and, disconnected
scenes. Weed and self-mockery are his
only release from encroaching lunacy.
This is the way he sees himself as
he walks downtown:
'A pocket
myself an arse
a stick of grass
Pinching all to stay alive (pg. 18)
The paper he distractedly
scans everyday while leaning
on Ma Dolly fence' offers
little more than
HIadlines a sports page.
Hemlines a body line (pg. 18).
Port-of-Spain to his roving
eyes is an endless procession
of' faces, dark glasses and
cases. For psychic release he
heckles. His other diversions
'talking cricket talk (pg. 19).
Living on a sidewalk
Talking shit talk '
To describe his sexual ad-
ventures, he uses the language
of cricket
'with a forward defensive
assertive prod
stroking the beef from the valley
Continually-moving meh backside
more squarer to the offside
near (a) gully.'
He can also be cool entertainer
-'Now an' then
as Mighty Suckeye
serenading some tourists'
Rebutted by the no hands
wantesTghs, bored with the
National Lottery signs, he
'Pulling at meh wood
Smoking out mih need (pg. 20).
cursing them all
forgetting it all' ,.
What it ominous about all this is
t~h realization that he always cal'i
this George. His deepest drives are-
destructive. qn 'denran-stration' we
sense the equation of ths pQlitical-
Continued on Page 9

The slate is dry,
blank. Write.

The lines are not sculptured,
they bridge nothing
the cracks between the syllables,

the mist of collapse,
the need for height
as sprawled to a crab's crawl
you tread the eye.s vision. Dream.

The blank turns to stone.
sounds fall again 4
from your swollen crutch of words
as the cave screams
ensnaring the vision's eye.


I MUST begin b3 stressing that
this is a paper on some poems,
and. not on the poet. There is
nothing personal about serious
literary criticism, as any serious
and' honest reader knows. But,
when the writer who produced
the work is not only alive, but
close, it seems wise to prevent
misunderstanding on the part of
the layman from the outset.
Of course, the critic's job is
made harder by the proximity of
the writer. It would be easy for
criticism to become a form of
flattery to artist or audience. In
avoiding such a loss of integrity,
the critic may be hard on the
work. Nevertheless, he is demon-
strating that he is prepared to
spend time and trouble in con-
sidering the work, and that is,
in fact, worth more than any
amount of careless enthusiasm.
The only honest position for
the critic, even with work written
by someone he knows and likes,
is the same position he would
take up with anyone's work from
an earlier age; careful scrutiny.
In the end, this is the only way
to encourage objective discus-
.sion, even if the work is new.
Moreover, since criticism
should be a dialogue and not an
imposition of views from the
critic to the reader, such careful
analysis should lead to interest-
ing individual analysis on the
part of the reader, leading to
individual conclusions.
This paper began from a brief
';cussion of these poems at a sym-
ium, at which I was invited to
.press my approach to the poems as
non-West Indian. In this, it seemed
to me that I was being asked to limit
mny responses to the work to those
which might clearly be seen as those
of an "Outsider".

Whilst the family is involved in its
emotional reactions to a family dis-
cussion, the cool outside sympathiser
can often see the points at issue more
clearly. This family, is however
highly unlikely to recognize this. It
will probably close ranks and tell him
he knows nothing about it. But that
does not invalidate his observations.
It seems to me that the point of
sympathetic non-West Indian literary
criticism is that it may be in its non-
partisan approach, more generally
valid than local, involved opinion. The
same argument is used to justify
non-British criticism' of British
literature, non-American of American
literature and so on. Indeed, many of
the best literary critics in America
are heavily involved in the criticism
of British literature, and providing new
and most exciting insights into it.
It is, however, most unnatural for
a critic devoted to literature to make
himself consciousy an "outsider"-
when reading the literature of a region
unfamiliar to him. There are two im-
pulses propelling the reader of fiction;
to see his own experience reflected
and to find it challenged.Most
fiction, (and all the best of it), does
Training, too, makes a difference
to understanding. The international.
body of poetry readers is bound to
get more out of a poet's work than a
countryman of his who hates poetry.
The language and form of a poem is
more easily understood, like any
other literary form in an international
context. Whether one starts from
Africa or Europe, both of which
have had such a lot of influence in
Barbados, the poems of Mr. St. John
can be related to familiar traditions.
Both Africa and Europe have oral
traditions which precede the advent of

widespread reading, writing, the pro-
duction of books and the develop-
Waent of later technological inventions
in the art of communication. From
the oral traditions, it is not far to the
development of theatre, with its
marriage of the oral and written
These poems, with their- strongly
dramatic form (dramatic in the sense
of the establishment of conflict and
character in speech rather than in
passages of external description), beg
the question of the poet's lack of
involvement in the writing of plays.
The answer to that question would
seem to be that he has committed
himself to the form of the poem, for
the present at least.
The language of these poems is
also recognisable in a wider context,
in type, if not in the detail of actual
accent and dialect words. Dialect
poetry in English is familiar to anyone
who knows literature written in that
language. It is no more difficult to
read poems written in a literary ver-
sion of the dialect of Barbados than it
is to read those offered in a literary
version of Scots or Irish.

Basically, (Gaelic poems excepted),
the latter, like Barbadian speech, is
English, and there is much less effort
required to read it than to learn, say,
the meaning of an African poem in
Twi or Zulu, if the reader starts with a
mastery of the English language.
Some dialects have a large litera-
ture, simply because writers have
wanted to use those dialects. This, in
turn, makes these dialects more widely
known to the general body of readers.
'he language of Robert Bums, though
stylised Scots, is better known than
the northern Geordie dialect. Thus, one
is aware of learning a new literary
language when mastering a dialect for
the purpose of reading poems.
The eminence of that literary
language depends on the quality of
the writers who use it; the extent of
its influence depends also on the
numbers of writers involved in its
propagation. One would hope that
both quality and quantity of Bar-
badian dialect writers will be sufficient
to ensure that future centuries will
find it profitable to study the then-
archaisms of twentieth century speech
in order to discover the delights of
literary works.
In other words, the social and
political implications for contemporary
users of dialect in everyday life are
irrelevant to the literary critic, or to
the major purpose of any serious
writer. He is concerned with the best
possible expression of experience
through words, not necessarily with a
solution to the pressures of a parti-
cular social situation.

For example, dialect in England
has become so fashionable, because
of the necessary shift in power
between classes, that the insecure
upper-class youth has found it neces-
sary to adopt a strong working-class
accent sometimes in order to find
acceptance with the newly influential
group. The genuine workers, of course,
go on using their language unself-
consciously, as they have always done.
The fact that the upper-class youth
adopts an accent is not proof that that
accent should or could come to
dominate the whole country's literary
Writers are usually very deter-
minedly individualistic about .their
creative work, and cannot be forced
into the use of a certain expression
by anybody's political or social in-
fluence, unless of course they sub-
scribe politics or sociology before
literature. They will use the language
wnich they find fruitful. Mr. St.
John has thus found a poetic language
from the dialect of the island which is









both accessible and enjoyable for the
If style and form are not going to
present problems to the non-West
Indian reader of Mr. St. John's poems,
then what is left? Obviously, if any-
thing will be strange to him it will be
the social world of the work. All
writers 'create a fictitious version of
their environment, and the critic is
wise if he refuses to see this as the
account of the place which sociologists.
historians and other apparently objec-
tive observers would recognize.
But the creative writer may be able
to offer a very important comment on
the underlying nature of his society,
even through his subjective impres-
sions. It might therefore be interesting
to offer the local reader an "outside"
view of the meaning of the social
relations in these poems, in terms of
two large issues.
Class (and its relative, race), and
gender roles in the pomns provide a
most interesting account of resent-
ment,. The poems are filled with good
natured attacks on various aspects of
society, but beneath the good nature
there often lurks a strongly felt anger
against some injustice suffered by the
speaker (who is, of course, a character
in the poem, and categorically not, as
far as I am concerned, an alter ego of
Bruce St. John).
Resentment is an interesting
literary subject because it presents
certain problems for the personality
feeling it. The resentment itself is an
inert response, in the sense of being
able only.to foster destructive attacks
on the real or imagined sources of
injustice. Bitterness, the stronger rela-
tion of resentment, can prevent even a
talented man from developing and
using his talents creatively.
For creativity is the opposite of
resentment, and can only be achieved
in the context of that feeling if some-
thing constructive develops in the
personality, thus making the resent-
ment itself a subject for creative work

and not a driving force. The personae
of the poems are often intelligent,
and yet paralysed by resentment, or
impelled by two conflicting forces;
resentment and creative energy or
involvement with a constructive
In this respect, education-is a most
useful area thematically, and it is
major in this group of poems. It would
seem from the social world of the
work, that education is here much the
same dual threat and advantage as it
seems to the working classes in my
own society.

It is hard for a father, who defines
himself as he.ad of the family, to see
that the succe.:. wanted for his
children through d, ati has sent
them out of his reach. They know
too much,and they no longer recognize
his opinions as being valid. He never
wanted them to continue with the
hard manual labour which 'as been
their life, but in releasing them from
that, he has- sent them out of the
working class. Thus pride in the
children's achievements mingles with
regret that the old situation of the
family has been destroyed.
The temptation for the children is
to learn to confuse learning and train-
ing with intelligence; obviously there
is a lot in that confusion, but for
those who have been. deprived of the
opportunity to sit the examinations in
the first place, it is not a valid assump-
tion. Hence the intelligent but de-
prived father condemns "book4earn-
ing" which has made his child despise
him unjustly.
The poem, Education reflects this
kind of situation. Archie, the speaker,
is independent minded. He finds the
word "education" much less menning-
ful than his Barbadian word "studya-
tion". But the point the poem is
making, by implication, is that it isn't



GUST 24, i975


Elaine Fido

,_ :0.1 i7. 1Gt:' O. ... .. .

1 e ,'t. -_ ,.:' ..?, .." .

the words used which matter so
much as the fact that for Archie too,
much learning and too little thinking
seems to have resulted from the
teaching on the island.
After all, the success of teaching,
in Archie's opinion, lies in the posses-
sion 'studyation" (intelligence) on
the part of the pupil.
Education. then, for Archie, should
be the development of that inner
quality. It is an opinion which is
shared by many people across the
world. But some of Archie's anxieties
are related not only specifically to
Barbados, but to a certain period in
the island's development. There are
too many "experts" around to allow
for complacency aoout the standard of
local educational achievement, he
thinks, and he posits an ideal of
studyation applied to the process of
rote-learning and the passing of
For Archie, present "education"
is debased to the level of mere "book-
learning." But he doesn't try to suggest
that intelligence alone, untrained is a
sufficient intellectual tool. The highest
attainwrt-at, one assumes from the
poem, :; "wisdom", meaning the
greatest :-itllectual capacity as well
as lhe means to use it effectively.


My problem with this poem is
this word "wisdom". In its context
here, it seems to be an active, strong
quality, whereas in common speech,
it would seem to me that the word is
used by the majority of people to
express affection for something to
which they feel slightly superior.
"'..dom" is never used to describe
militant trade union leaders, revolu-
-tionaries of an active and not a
romantic cast, guerilla leaders and
other powerful working-class figures
(before I am corrected I will admit
that Marx and many other revolu-.
tionaries were middle-class anyway).

Those who are "wise" are usually the
old, the poor, the uneducated, and
seen as such by the middle-class, the
young and the strong.
In other words, the concept of
"wisdom", once so complex and
important, seems to me (as "educa-
tion" seems to Archie), to have
become debased, with the destruction
of respect for the older part of
society, the cult of the young and
inexperienced, and other recent social
developments. The poem Education
uses it in its old sense.
Archie wants Barbados to run its
own affairs as a result of national
achievement in the field of education.
The "damn" dictionary which does
not have studyation in it will pre-
sumably look a lot less explicable
when Dr. Allsopp's massive Caribbean
dialect dictionary is published. Even
now, Mr. Collymore's pamphlet of
dialect words fills the gap a little.
Already the poem is settling into a
historical context.
However strongly Archie may feel
that "Seventh Standard education"
is the basis of the country, (this now
replaced by. a later school-leaving
age), he could not, and would not, to
judge from his last remarks, expect
that doctors and such professional
people could practise without some
form of higher education. But this
too, comes in for attack in another
Higher Learning is a more irre-
sponsible comment on education on
the island. But it is most interesting
because it reveals the class aspect of
attitudes towards education amongst
the workers. The father who expresses
his views in the poem is most hostile
to Cave Hill.
Universities are, of course, easy
targets for attacks. They do not seem,
to most of the rest of society, to
produce much practical effect on life.
Many working people are necessarily
totally pragmatic about life, and cannot
understand the place of abstract
thought in future practical method.

'I'AirkA rAk, I

Added to which, this particular
persona in Higher Learning, sees the
University as a middle-class institu-
tion, and seems to be under the
delusion that it might be rather
naughtily shocking to such a place
to refer to the large words his son
has acquired by the mildly scatalogical
term "goat-rolls".
Evidently, whatever this father
expected of Cave Hill and son, neither
has been able to give it to him. He
refuses to accept that economics
could be a more complex matter than
the income and expenditure pattern
of his own small establishment,
thereby being most amusing, (nothing
muses intellectuals more than a joke
about their own learning), but not act-
ually proving that he has a thoughtful
case, such as Archie's.

The reason that the poem should
not be seen simply as a funny attack
on the University, however, is that
underneath it runs a vehement resent-
ment which is based on class. The
father finds it a serious matter that
his son had turned into a total in-
competent at life, in his terms,
"You mek muh cry" Even if his
attack on the dating system B.C.
is that which must have been made
by almost everyone when, as children,
they first learned the system without
comprehending it, it covers a much
more serious failure to appreciate the
point of learning.
This man sees education merely
as the learning of facts, useless in life;
Archie by contrast, invents the opposi-
tion between studyation and education
in order to provide for his ideal to
continue. This man, in Higher Learn-
ing, has no such ideal. .
The resentment emerges clearly as
a long-term confusion. T'he slave-
owner ("an yuh rulin' nough/Slave)
was idle and wicked. The slave,
followed by his free descendent.
worked up with difficulty from total
deprivation ("Buh when yuh poor
like me wid de scraper hitting'
The struggle caused bitterness,
especially as it was implied that the
poor man had to lose his identifying
language in order to be considered
acceptable, "yuh stan tip pon de/San'
and vuh talk proper talk". Now the
descendants of those people go to
University, and the father, presumably
able to resist those earlier implica-
tions, now refuses to talk."proper
talk", or to have anything to do with
the experiences of his son in crossing


What did he want? The weapons
of power and knowledge to help his
son to escape his position, and fight
the middle-class. Somehow he wants
to refuse respect for his son after
achieving University education for
him. More important, the father
wants his son to think for himself.
But, to turn the joke back onto
the father, it does not seem that his
bullying tone could possibly encourage
the young man to learn to defy
apparent authority. The father pro-
poses to buy a rum-shop, if his son
does not stop this nonsense of repeat-
ing theories he has just learnt. The
rum-shop may be seen as constructive
to the life of the nation by the
father, but it hardly entitles him to
feel superior to his son.
From one influence, (the father's)
the son has gone to another, and that
seems, to be the root of the resent-
ment which the father feels. Unlike
Archie, the father is incapable of
inspiring constructive challenging
The emotional tone of Higher
Learning is reflected in Once Upon a
Time, another amusingly abusive poem
about education. This time the middle-
class teacher emerges clearly as the

comic butt. The persona feels that,
"plus ca change, c'est plus la meme
chose", and makes a very ironical
comment on parent-teacher relations
in the past and present.
The poem also brings to the sur-
face an obvious post-colonial resent-
ment. The teacher used to be lower-
middle class, a little above the workers,
and hanging on to his privileges.
He was also the instrument of
preservation of the status in the
colonial society. Now, in the speaker's
view, this status quo is still being
perserved, despite other changes, "We
poor monkey children still fartin
white lime". For the female middle-
class teacher, there is sexual antagonism
too, from the persona of the poem.
This is an attitude which emerges in
other places in the poems, to be later
Bajan Language, for example, ex-
tends this kind of attack. The middle-
class female teacher, who studied in
England, and whose father was a
dentist, makes much of her attach-
ment to English Literature and to
English commonly called "standard",
according to the persona in the poem.
The persona, it is clear, is male. But
even most men,surelycannot take the
absurd sexual boast,
"Evah Ba/an man dat is a real
real man
Got a cannon dat res'in pon 'e
ball bearin'wheel
Steam flyin'back
Million bullet shooting 'out!
Da is wuh she want
Savannah cannon"
to be anything but a joke against the
speaker. The sexual obtuseness of
Ihis as an attempt to impress a
woman is, I am sure, apparent to all

This may seem to be a very serious
way of dealing with an -obviously----
funny poem, butt i is required by the
underlying tone of the attack. The
teacher here is identified as many
things which the speaker evidently
.resents; the middle-class, colonial
attitudes,, the English Language in its
"standard" form, English literature,
(when taught by people who seemed
to imagine it as some sort of national
possession and weapon of colonial
domination). She is also a woman
Serious issues are raised, within
the jokes of the poem. For example,
the poem not only sets out to be
constructively supportive of the local
lingua franca, but attempts to des-
tructively discredit "standard" English,
as a kind of revenge for its having
been seen as superior to dialect.
Thus it is worth making the point
that English, dialect or otherwise, can
be totally inert when used by some-
one who doesn't like it and doesn't
know how to use it sensitively. Much
depends on the person who is speaking;
it is nonsense to claim any language
"inferior"or "dead" whilst someone
is attached to it.
The attack, in the poem, comes
from resentment against the colonial
period. It is unfortunate that such
writers as Keats never intending to
have their works forced down the
throats of unwilling readers, should
have to be reduced to the level of a
music-hall ioke.
"Ode to a Grecian Urn"
Yuh mean Keat cou'n' see
Nutten in Englan' fuh write bout
But a piss-pot?'
Some other observations are rela
tively valid; there is a case for saying
that cane is a more impressively
beautiful sight than a field of daffodils,
lovely as the latter is; "The boy stood
on the burning deck" has long been
turned into an obscene poem in Eng-
land; the Tennyson poem on the
charge of the Light Brigade is seen
dated and hardly read. But the Keats

Continued on Page 8


From Page 7
poem is a great comment on the
nature of truth; it is much more re-
warding than the cheap joke here
The jokes about Shakespeare are
interesting. They reveal that the.
persona identifies "Bajan" with those
of African descent.
"Any Bajan would-a-know
White men is blasted liars".
But Barbados is a multi-racial
society, is it not? Perhaps '"We
masters" are seen as "White ien",
and not the local non-Africy nopula-
tion. In which case, what is the mean-
ing of the term? Does it delineate
behaviour and not complexion? It is
a note of racial stridency, however, in
calling a Bajan suspicious of Whites,
which is out of keeping with com-
ments presented by other persona in
other poems:
"All o'we is Bajan!
_.. aian to de Back bone......
.Baan black, Bajan white,
Ba/an hair curly, Bajan hair
straight........(Who is We?)
In Political Progress, there is regret
because the white Bajans are out of
public office.
"We backra rough but human
De new backra rough and
The nation, then, is implied to be
of more than one race, and one of the
faces which make it up is white.

But to return to the poem Bajan
Language, the positive attitude it brings
to something loved,'in this case the
local dialect is the most valuable
thing about it. Suddenly the implicit
dass and sexual ware with the individual
teacher disappears into a passage of
praise for the creation of a new means
of expression out of the various
cultural strands in the nation.
"B'aan language is a damn funny
Piece of English piece ofAfrican
Mix Carib andArawak to save
An de cook-up is a beautiful
soun'.. "
Bajan Language is about education.
It is the answer to a teacher's view
that Bajan dialect is too limited to be
used as a teaching medium. The
English has to fight much the same
battle to discover English was a per-
fectly useable alternative to Latin,
Greek and French'.
But they also reduced English
dialects to a subordinate position,
since maximum communication was
more important than the full recogni-
tion of the style of speech in a small
part of the country. Baian Language is
intensely polemical, satirical and
funny. It is really worthwhile, how-
ever, because it has positive response
to something.
The question of racial identity is
most evident in Truth, an unattrac-
tively racist poemx which has-a wonder-
fully effective rhythmic life. It en-
courages the view of life which labels
people on the basis of colour and
culture, instead of recognsing in-
dividuals; something which is tragi-
cally widespread. I have a feeling
"_ti the racist elements in the White
world would I te.this, as an indication
that theyife~n ot the only practi-
tioners of racial division.
It is a marvellous poem from the
point o view of movement and sound,
but it seems to me to have little to say
of any constructive use for those who
are trying to get rid of divisiveness in
human'relations. It may be seen as a
less attractive aspect of working class
life; it has long been recoinised that
the workers of any nation are quick to
resent the intrusion of those who
might threaten their jobs and housing.
But at the same time, the poem
* reflects middle-class anxietigp.9ulture


and education are things which the
middle-classes worry about, simply
because they have the time, more
often than the hard-pressed working
In Work-Permit, the English Mr.
Finney seems an effeminate type,
eager to please to the extent of
adopting "Afro-jack". Much is omitted
from the written version of the poem;
but it is clear that there is a power
struggle going on, and that Mr. Finney
Finally ignores Archie, after (pre-
sumably) taking his advice. Archie
and his friend, Boysie, appear in
several places in the poems, and are
most attractive and lively characters.
On the whole, Archie has less violent
opinions than some of the less-
defined persona.
The important ,point about Work
Permit is that it shows clearly that the
hint "a real real man", from Ba/an
Language, is to be noticed as indicat-
ing something about favoured mascu-
line types. Mr. Finney is both white
and effeminate. This is, presumably,
not an accident, since the Bajan
schoolteacher is said to need the sexual
selfishness of a "real man" to sort
out her confusions and colonial de-
Could it be that a division is emerg-
ing in the poems, between those who
are black, machismo masculine, work-
ing class, Bajan, dialect-speaking and
capable of independent thought on
the one hand, and those who are-
"mulatto" or white, English, standard
English speaking,- non-Barbadian,
middle-class, effeminate, possessed of
too muhli respect for received opinion
and authority and theoretical educa-
tion, or female, on the other hand4
If-this is so, then there can be no
doubt as to which group is favoured
Sby the personae in the poems.
With Respect, for example, is a
very bitter, and therefore destructive
poem. It is attacking the mulatto
group, and is a dramatically presented
reply in an argument. Thus is is a
"cussing out" and probably more a
release ..ofLeeling than a permanent
and thoughtful offering of opinion.
The attack is offered in class terms,
and is based on the idea that the
mulatto got preferential treatment
from the white slave-owners.
Anyone, who heard Dr. Arnold

Sio's paper at the, Barbados Historical
Society, on the free Coloureds of
Jamaica will know that sociological
and historical research is establishing
that this was not necessarily true. The
"mulatto" must suffer for his an-
cestors' supposed privilege, and for his
claims to the region. The attack
becomes sexual, too by the end of the
;poem. Strong feeling dominates the
-whole work. The "out" group is
obviously represented here 'by some-
one who is of a certain racial mix-
ture, certain privilege, certain sexual
identity according to the speaker,
these are roughly mulatto, lower and
middle-class privilege, sexual im-
Book-Keeper returns to the prob-
lem of education in Barbados, in an
oblique sense. The business man shows-
his son that "books" (account books
and books in the usual sense) are to
be relied upon for success. But the
education here is in cunning; how to
live well on a deficit income. The
implicationsof the poem are not clear,
in moral terms, but this might well be
another accusation levelled at the
We Country is an obvious example
of class conflict. The two speakers are
each identified by a mode of speech;
dialect or "standard" English is a
very dead and limited foffn of English,
obviously due to the lack of identifica-
tion with it on the part of the speaker.
It would not be true toasay that
most speakers of "standard" English
speak like this man. The dialect
speaker, who is confident about his
mode of expression, frequently domi-
nates the other speaker and makes
him lose his words, and look feeble. In
fact, when the dialect speaker's case is
examined, he looks amusingly capable
of attacking his opponents points
when he practises similar things him-
self. He is aggressive and angry and
yet advises his companion to teck it
cool" He runs down all the amenities
in Barbados, and yet. accuses the
other man of wanting to 'drag down
Bajan". He expresses strong criticism
of anything which he does not see as
useful in a citizen of Barbados; but
he comes close to making the extra-
ordinary assumption that being Bajan
is drinking rum and playing cricket.

Sex and Class

in the Poetry of

Bruce St.John

, 1975

(Does this work for outsiders who do
those things?)
Perhaps this is another class quarrel,
rum being thought less sophisticated
than another drink? The main point of
the poem is that the "standard"
English speaker, who evidently does
Snot find 'it easy to sound alive a&d-
natural in his adopted style of speech,
' is made to look effeminate beside the
dialect speaker, This is a part of the
manifestation of opposing groups as
found in other poems.
Women are largely unfavoured, it
seems. At least, strong women are
attacked. Germaine, in The Other
Woman is a tough person, and the
idealized woman-sea is infinitely
patient, tolerant and undemanding of
her man. The hoity-toity middle-class
schoolteacher partly maddens the
.personae of the poems by her sexual
indifference or aloofnes towards
them. She will not be a sexual
The educated, middle-class woman
in Self-Portrait is baffled by Frankie's
interest .in' "da broad nose/tick black
cavally." She has a possessive attitude
to men; "getting" a man is the first
prerequisite. The poem is hostile to
her, implicity, because she is so
egotistically concerned with herself as
the best available female, and yet the
men prefer another kind of woman.
The balance is righted inNewMaid
Mercy in a sense. The master exploits
the maid who in turn is about to use
her exploitation to control the master.
The poem is mainly an excuse to
simulate the sex act in sound for the
amusement of an audience, and one
fears the serious point of the exploiting
natures of the two people involved
would never come over to the average
listener at all.

Letter to England is very much
about the "getting" which so obsesses
the woman in Self-Portrait. The
mother figure here is an old rogue
who exploits the relationship with
her daughter to get things. She is
most entertaining, if not lovable.
Even Kites is about women to some
extent. This poem, one of the best of
this group, reflects the groups so far
delineated. The "middle-class" kite is
"ugly", bought from a shop and com-
mercially manufactured. The "working-
class" kite is "humble", because
made from simple material, (humble
.in the ironical sense of being low in
the social scale of kites but for anyone
with taste, one of the best sources of
pleasure, and much better than the
middle-class one), "dumb" and
tough". "Dumb" seems to be ironical,
too, -for the "working-class" kite is
certainly said to be as eloquent--a-
will satisfy "poor children heart".
"Tough" conveys the masculinity of
the "in-group".
There are two female kites, both
'approved, in this poem. These are the
kind of females of whom the Bajan
"cannon" would approve; plaint;
flirtatious and sexually provacad)-.
Both are sexually submissive and yt
This is far from a full discussion,
which these poems deserve, but I hope
it will serve to show sonre facts of the
poem to readers who will then go on
and practise this kind of analysis
I could have discussed the poems
which, from my experience, go down
very well with an audience which
neither been to Barbados nor heard
Bajan dialect before. Cricket is one
of these. I am aware that my argument
about women is not relevant to
Friends, but then who would use a
mother's funeral to attack her? This
woman, unlike the woman in Letter to"
England, ,does not present herself di-
rectly to us.
It remains only to say that I have
enjoyed these poems enormously, and
I feel they are worth arguing about.

From Page 5

demonstration with organized mob
frenzy (demon).
SIf 'Downbeat' appeared before
1970, it was an accurate prefiguring
of things to come. The character
portrayed here could have been anyone
of the. faceless window smashers then
on the rampage. Weed, shit-talk,
cricket-talk and subtle rhymes give
shape to this limer's formless life.
They are techniques of survival.
In 'The Poet's Eye', Questel sees
himself engaged in the process of
discovery what he calls a 'poetry of
survival. What kind of poetry is this?
One in which the day-to-day struggles
of the common man to keep body
and soul together form as much a part
of his poetic material as his own
struggle for spiritual survival as poet
in the society.
In 'Hic Jacet' a parody, of a poem
published by Walcott in The Gulf,
Questel, in True Trinidadian style,
converts the Latin verb 'acet'into the
English noun 'jacket', so that the title
becomes 'this Jacket'. In the final
poem of The Gulf, Walcott feels the
need to answer all those who keep
asking "Why did you remain?' Not,
he assures them, for the clamour of
popular approval, the type generated
by corrupt politicians, nor for perusal
by rootless academics who prattle
endlessly about roots. An art, he
argues, is something rooted in the
prepolitical phase of the island's
history. 'Before the people become
popular, he loved them'
Questel's 'Jacket' is much shorter
and the tone of self-justification is
'As the word
falls with ancient trees
the printer's devil
etches my faith
with the words
'Hic Jacket (pg. 36).
This jacket, his first publication,
'covers the isolated fiction of commit-
ment which bums to its own truth'.
He sees his Prelude as a spare affirma-
tion of faith in the face of loss. He
defines in this poem the paradox
implicit in his situation commit-
ment in isolation.Beneath this consoling
coat of words, the withering continues.
'Spare flesh' he ways in conclusion,
'points a situation knotted to theb one,
rooted? Commitment is mystical. All
that sustains the poet in this impossible
situation.is faith. Significantly, one of
Questel's later poems published in
Tapia Literary Supplement Vol. 2. No.
11 is entitled 'Threadbare?
'Creation' and 'When' are t w o
intensely subjective poems which de-



velop the theme of art as an obsessive
search for some ultimate meaning lying
at the nerve centre of things.Despite the
withering of illusions, the quest goes
on. An art of the absurd, mixing the
tragic and comic, a poetry of paradox,
naturally follows:
beyond the
boundary of words
search your soul
for consolable memories -
sold out (pg. 37)
and from 'Creation'
somewhere the tree-of-life
us lax
like our
moral sense
in the vacuum
of letters
the nerve centre'
A paradox neatly summed up in
the title of one of Beckett's dramatic
works 'Imagination dead. Imagine'.


It is really a quest for language. Its
main dynamic is a ceaseless willingness
to reappraise self, its chief requirement
a certain capacity for self-aughter.
It is remarkable that Questel's wit
sharpens with a deepening sense of
breakdown. A poem like 'Wreck' has
to be read and re-read before the full
impact of its vicious wordplay is fully
grasped. Almost every line prickles
with a pun or verbal conceit. It is a
poem about directionlessness and
breakdown but the tone is far from
over solemn:
'Jack. of all spades, mastered by
Steered between old mas' and half
I cursed to my heart's contempt
needledby rhetoric, carded
for the thread mill, I follower
thunder. (pg. 47),
frenzy to the Tradewinds
my beating -
memory to the doldrums
and watch life's storm settle in
a teacup.'
This is dirty blue laughter. Life is end-

less tragicomedy. 'Contempt' has re-
placed the conventional 'content', in-
dicating his disgust with cursing. The
compass image begun with 'steered'
in line 2 is elaborated in line 4 by the
words 'needle and 'carded'. 'Needle'
suggests that he is both stung and
drugged rhetoric and able to gain
some direction and mileage from it,
while 'carded' hints that it does little
to free him from the 'threadmill' of
fate. 'Threadmill', a deliberate mis-
spelling, adds a further twist to the
game. It suggests a game of endless
needle-and-thread, stitching words
together for psychic comfort. The
fear that all this may have amounted
to nothing emerges in 'which life's
storm settle in a tea cup'.
He lists his deficiencies:
'no politician (pg. 47).
I cannot
Harbour hate
take your thorny existence
and bramble with your faith.'
Amoebalike, (a parody of a line in
Braithwaite's 'Eating the Dead'
(Island) 'I will return to the pebble/to
the dumb seed) he will 'return to the
cupped breast'. What will sustain in
this withdrawal from the corrupt
world to which he cannot relate? The
faith that it can be changed. A faith
which progessively withers:
'My vision beached to a stare,
by the fleabite of fear.
Hitting the bottle my faith splinters'.
The last line sums up his attitude
quite nicely. 'Hitting the bottle' can
mean both resorting to liquor as an
escape, or, in an energy of despair,
smashing on illusory world.


The sense of grim attenuation is
movingly conveyed in one of the most
memorable lines of the Prelude, one
occurring in 'Linkages':
'My dreams
I hang
on a nail'(pg. 26).
Dreams can be donned or cast off like
clothing, so detached from them has
the dreamer become.
'Linkages' is an introspective poem
in which Questel raises, important
questions about the relationship of the
writer to society. The movements of a


donkey cart in the street touch off
reflections on love, commitment, faith,
fete and the purpose of art. Questel
impregnates the scene with his musing
so that in the end, a tenuous web of
allusions achieved through a subtle
interplay of sound, image and idea,
holds the broken features of his visual
world together. Hence the name 'Link-


The title and tone of the poem
reflect more the poet's desire to
achieve links with the surrounding
world, a tentative belief that such
links can exist, than a firm conviction
that they already do.
Reading 'Linkages' one gets the
feeling of a young, sensitive individual
reaching out for life. So closely inter-
knit are the public and personal sides
of his makeup, however, he becomes
the voice of a whole society, itself
involved in the process of growth. In
Image and Idea in the Arts of Guyana,
the Guyanese novelist and painter
Denis Williams writes:
'Reality for us hinges in the fact of
the human in infinite catalysis.
And this is to say that we have no
guarantee whatsoever for anything
but our present. It is the minute
nature and definition of this present
viewed in the fluctuating individual
consciousness that seems to me
crucial in assessing our cultural
situation and in realizing this situa-
tion in our work of art'(Emphasis


In 'Linkages', we see both a man
and a society on the make.
The poem opens showing the author
engrossed in the movements of a
donkey cart (driven presumably by an
East Indian) whose slowness he equates
with the slowness of indentured
people. Here we find Ouestel in the
role of 'sophisticated' onlooker,
detached from the pragmatic concerns
of the working class.
In the movement of the cart, he
discerns an ease, a stability born of
'certainties' which he, a metaphysical
quibbler, 'can never feel'. The poetry
of the cart driver is qualitatively dif-
ferent from his. The wheel's 'rounded.
syllables' seem to mock hisliquid
style', one born of his insistent quest
for ultimate truths.

To be Continued


There you sit,
ing slightly forward, a clown
no one can figure
with your life that no one dares figure in

listen with half a will
and an
to the spinning stupidities of
The Good Life.

"Ring in the.new!"
same circle.

It chills
like the over-
draft seeping from the bank vault.

your eye records the slow dying
beauty of air
earth, water
and the fire of determination burning in the
quiet river
-near a spring-bridge.


Bridge or trap
it is sprung now,
growing like life

after the Corpus Christi rains.

It circles you like the
labour day celebrations
of the under -
it takes president
over everything,
like an island's constitution.

the river,
the house across the road,
the absence of nutmegs and
the mountains rising to meet us. Crash;

a coconut
is smashed against the rocks

by its eyes,
and water spreads like anxiety

like the rumours that take
Maxie an'gone;

like Sammy's pose to dive high
from the high tension cables
of commitment. Rooted,

he leaves only padded articles
moving cool like that cat's paw
between tracks of print,
and not even the printer's devil squints
in surprise. While

a poet simply stares glassy eyed
trying to trace his will on paper

as we
settle for the over-exposed print,
the coke instead,
the real thing "The Life-Movie"
walking slip-shod
across each other's vision
shot up completely,
ready for the next slide.


Ne ar

Alourmnnq Ground

Print tightened beneath candle grease like the
drum-head of memory
as uncle swirled suddenly to balance a point on
to the bell's appeal

as his eyes caught the staring, shaking
brown robed whirl of my Spiritual Mother's
to Jordan

She drew her shoulder blades together
rolled her lips,
noised a fit
and cut clean across the night air
of Crepe's oyster vendor,
coconut buyers
and Maracas late-night travellers:

"Remember brethren to render
the tings that are Caesar's
to Caesar

and the tings that are God's... "

A child's hand slowly picked his nose
as he looked at the brass jar of leaves
and flowers planted on the

as the Mother's eyes did not see apocalypse
though Shepherd, my uncle
had seen her private vision,
See Uncle with red sash girdling his loins,
feet concrete hard scraping the cement
as he preahed"
the eyes tired but earnest,

his truth ridingas truth does
between poles of belief, the day's task
at shed five on the wharf still hard upon his back
soft-candle, aloes and water-
cress had done their best to make him
Shed that pain

io preach about the Lord's.

Uncle delivered not a vision or a dream
but a text
mounted from the lost books of the Bible

calmly prepared the night before by the arc
of the kerosene lamp;
and the sisters beneath the street
lamp approved as Shepherd's crook
a few wayward souls

to the song,
"At the cross, at the,cross where I first
saw the light..."

as Unce remembered the private vision
and the public pain.
the heat and fears
the stoning of the brethren.

Though flesh is weak,
persecution and the retreat to the bush
never choked their voices,
they had learnt that here
it was more important to confront
Jordan river than to cross it.

But Shepherd is like any writer
a.lonely pilgrim going to meet himself
a man burning on mourning ground

grounded by a vision of flight and travel
and fears
weekend baptisms,
constantly trying to cross water
eyes covered by, several colours of seeing

returned and returning to the blank
trying to speak the vision clearly
though he cannot
without a text.

Listen Uncle as the sisters hum us home,
what tract yer pull,
man at the cross roads

after your years of aloes,
cutting through the creeping vines of age
hearing your parables of delivery
watching the bell-bottoms bringing out
a truth that leaves you sitting tight
sensing only laughter, heat and fears?
Lord Uncle say the word.

And Uncle preaching since the time the Yankees
leave the base.



As voices lynched to a set summarise
a writer's winter aspirations
in this tropic heat
and an actor flies too closet the sun,
but fires one, border s as he looks at actors
burning to be the actor he has become,

but trapped in their roles;

you realise that they thread the flair
for the thing,
as everyone is arrested; as the flare
is bone hard,

horned as the bed

the island's centre, which is curved
according to your woman's crouch;

while you eat the knot that
has tried you to the ribbed tree reaching
for the sky,
mirroring the director's impulse of yourself
as you
listening to your knotted thoughts
her rock of gibralta,
a stone's throw away from your palms
as you endure,
as the weather cock
your sole witness whirls with the wind struck in
his craw.

Shim rocks!
Pour mih ah shot.
Slosh. It strangles the tongue. You are now
the stuffed fish on the mantle piece,
caught by the gull
like any actor
reflecting with one weather eye
that is not his,
or of his sea -



There he stands. Reading a folded Sunday
Times beneath the street lamp
near Curepe Junction
a stone's throw from Soodoo's roti

oblivious to the Baptist meeting at the corer
near Bata store. Neatly dressed,'he wears leather
shoes, a black suit and tie. His eves ,

shining a welcoming smile behind polished
glasses. Now a gentle nod of amusement takes
his head away briefly from the Times
as small boys mock his polished earnestness

and we speak. I've had my dinners you know.
I see. Marvellous place England, with her Inns
of court.

His accent fishes softly in the dark for a past
he knew darkly. Even the curl of the lip
in contempt at my asking him the time,
is soft
zs he modulates that he only keeps British time.
Time could be mean; for that Grey's Inn
scholar's skull is soft,
on the fringe

as he stands folded on the brink of vision,
quinting ahead of our time,
waiting for the next Empire day celebrations,
as he holds a brief for these times.











Hi ll-Top House

Santa Flora

Saturday 30 August '75





Basketball Clinic to begin Aug. 25







From Page 2.
on a truck oic afternoon
immediately aifer 3 shower.
Hustled some b'Ash broom
from the road-side and started
sweeping water out of the
Equally hurriedly some oil
was thrown into the holes
with whatever water was left,
and on top of this an oil
and gravel mixture. How does
that sound for Tax Payers
bread. I hope that the
representative of-La Brea
didn't send them. It was in
his constituency anyway.
Yes we are on roads. We
complained all along about
the -number of potholes in
our roads. That was before
the rainy season. Now that
the season is here, no more
pothole complaints.
We are asking for drains
now. The waters have taken
to the roads. So no more
potholes because under the
flood waters you can hardly
even find roads. So no roads,
holes, no drains.
One day I hope, sports
generally, would be given a
break. A chance to grow,
ice there would be grounds
to grow on. Tell me, what
are you really doing for our
sportminded people, young
and old?
See if they wouldn't do
better if you give ihem
facilities to play and to even
maintain. (Brushing cutlasses
excluded) for themselves the
things that they like. Bear in
mind the cost of sports
accessories when sport comes
up from the bat.
Beware they are coming
again! Coming with promises.
Empty promises (To fix roads,
put down standpipes with
flowing water, control prices,
provide facilities for sports
etc.) Promise that are worn.
As worn as the people who
make them.

Built-in Air Coni
For offices, apartments, hotels, and mo

.2 " ''".,, " .Z--^ ^ k

SAmana isolates vibration to stop noise
before it starts.
. Amana turbo-bladed blower gently
scoops the air rather than "beating" the air
like conventional blade fans.
I Amana added a muffler to cancel out
pulsation of refrigerant as it is pumped
through the cooling system.
. Amana added new fan motor isolators to
further dampen vibration before it is
transmitted to walls.

1 61 Edw rd St. Port of Sparn Tel 62-54923. 54933, 54396. 53448
193 Southern Man RdI M.Niriell. Tel -65-81910. 81912

IL'Lo-iS SA Cio
30th July 1975

Ills Excellency the Governor General
Sir Ellis Clarke T. C.
Governor General's House
Circular Road
St Ann's

We attach over 4,300 signatures to the following Public Petition for your


,ii I'

Iarold La Roche : President :

Alan Dehere ''. .-....
Goodwill Dehere .*. .* *
Isaac Cedeno .z. w *L ..*-/. *


. fi

- --

TAPIA PAG1:, i i.

Mrs. Andrea Talbutt,
Research Institut for
Study of Man,
162, East 78th Street,
New York, N.Y. 10021,
Ph. Lehigh 5 8448.



August 31








The Tapia Group in
Vessigny will have its
formal launching next
week Thursday August
A meeting held last
week Wednesday 20th
.listened attentively to a
panel of speakers and
went late into the night
discussing the numerous
issues raised.
Local leader Arnold
Hood gave a marathon
address pending the
arrival of speakers visiting
from outside the La Brea
Lloyd Best, Beau
Tewarie, Billy Montagu,
Barthol Selvon, Annan
Singh, John Hernandez
and Ambrose Lewis were
detained at an en-
thusiastic two-hour meet-
ing in Los Bajos.
When at last they
arrived at 10 p.m., the
meeting just catch afire



Hill-top House, Santa
Flora, will host a Tapia
Rally on Saturday August
A full gathering of the
cadres and the clans is
expected at this fund-
raising occasion.
Organiser B i 1 l y
Montagu says that'invita-
tions are open to people
all over the Deep South.
The rap begins at
10 a.m. and will continue
until sunset.
The idea is that people
should come in and out
all day, to meet other
people, eat, rap, dance
and just feel the vibra-
tions of a Movement
that's moving.
Tapia people from all
over the country will be
on hand to trade their
sentiments and ex-

Day of Youth

SUNDAY September 7
has now been named as
the time for the long-
awaited Day of Youth in
Maracas Valley, St.
Livewires Barthol Sel-
von and Ambrose Lewis
have announced that the
plan is to hold a full day
of community grounding
aimed to bring the valley
Sponsors of the
occasion are the Tapia
Groups from up and
down the vale. Full
details of the programme
will be released before
the month is out.

etc, etc.

Best To

Speak At

Rio Claro

Rio Claro will be the
scene of the Annual Con-
vention of the Nariva
Assembly of Youths on
Sunday September 7.
Feature Address will
be delivered by Tapia
Secretary Lloyd Best.
The theme will be "Youth
and Economic Develop-
ment". Proceedings begin
at 10.00 a.m.

Paper Now




A distribution network
is now being established
in Marabella and Vista-
.bella for the Tapia weekly
paper. Julius Clarke is
the man to contact on
Ninth Street, Vistabella.



Eastern Main Rd., Laventille
(Near to Trotman street)
Galvanise, Cement,
Blocks, Tiles,

I buletinI


Don't wait till you have to
apnlv for a benefit to get a birti
certificate, If you don't have one
make sure and get one NOW !

For further information
See your district N/B office*