Citation
Kyk-over-Al

Material Information

Title:
Kyk-over-Al
Uniform Title:
Bim
Portion of title:
Kyk over Al
Portion of title:
Kyk
Portion of title:
Kykoveral
Creator:
British Guiana Writers' Association
Kykoveral (Guyana)
Place of Publication:
Georgetown Guyana
Publisher:
s.n.
Publication Date:
Frequency:
Two no. a year
semiannual
regular
Language:
English
Physical Description:
v. : ; 23 cm.

Subjects

Subjects / Keywords:
Guyanese literature -- Periodicals ( lcsh )
Caribbean literature (English) -- Periodicals ( lcsh )
Genre:
review ( marcgt )
periodical ( marcgt )
serial ( sobekcm )
Spatial Coverage:
Guyana

Notes

Dates or Sequential Designation:
Began in 1945?
Dates or Sequential Designation:
-49/50 (June 2000).
Numbering Peculiarities:
Publication suspended, 19 -1983.
Issuing Body:
Issued by: British Guiana Writers' Association, 1945-19 ; Kykoveral, 1985-
General Note:
Vol. for Apr. 1986 called also golden edition that includes anthology of selections from nos. 1-28 (1945-1961).
General Note:
Description based on: No. 30 (Dec. 1984); title from cover.

Record Information

Source Institution:
University of Florida
Rights Management:
All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier:
12755014 ( OCLC )
86649830 ( LCCN )
1012-5094 ( ISSN )

UFDC Membership

Aggregations:
Digital Library of the Caribbean

Downloads

This item has the following downloads:


Full Text



No. 35







OV *


OCTOBER 1986


Poetry Cyril Dabydeen, McDonald Dash, Jacqueline de Weever, lan
McDonald, Pamela Mordecai, A. J. Seymour.
Fiction Excerpt from novel APATA Harold Bascom
Miss Lizzie the Herb Woman Jacqueline de Weever
Culture Man Ras Michael Jeune
Articles The Practice of Biography A. J. Seymour
A Report from Curacao Elaine Campbell
"Has now Brown Cow" (English Exam
Results for Guyana 1960-1984) David Cox
"A Dumb God Buried in your Granfather's
Copper Trunk" (Indo Guyanese Poetry) Jeremy Poynting
Reviews Penguin Book of (Eng.) Caribbean Verse (Pamela Burnett)
Tales of the Wide Caribbean (Jean Rhys)
Woodskin (Joy Bland)
Early Childhood Education in Guyana (Elma Seymour)







CONTRIBUTORS


Harold Bascom Guyanese novelist and short story writer; Hei-
nemann is publishing his first novel Apata this
year; lives in Guyana where he is also a well-
known illustrator.
Dr. Elaine Campbell Former lecturer in English at Boston Univer-
sity, she gained her Ph. D with a study of West
Indian fiction with particular reference to Jean
Rhys, V. S. Naipaul, Wilson Harris and George
Lamming; her present interest is women writers
in the Caribbean and she recently presented
in Chicago to the Modern Language Associa-
tion a paper on Dutch Antillean literature,
which Kyk has great pleasure in publishing.
David Cox M.ED. Birmingham; lecturer in the Depart-
ment of Languages and Social Studies, Faculty
of Education, University of Guyana; has re-
cently completed a study of CXC English Ex-
amination results in Caricom countries over
the period 1960-1984.
Cyril Dabydeen Guyanese poet who was appointed Poet Lau-
reate by the City of Ottawa in Canada for the
period 1984-1986; his book of poetry, Islands
Lovelier than a Vision will shortly be published
by the Peepal Tree Press, United Kingdom.
McDonald Dash Prominent Guyanese journalist; playwright and
producer; contributed to New Writing in the
Caribbean, 1972.
Dr. Jacqueline de Weever Professor of English, Brooklyn College, New
York University; has published poems and a
book of fairy tales.
Janice Forte Research Fellow, Amerindian Research Unit
of the University of Guyana.
Ras Michael Jeune Guyanese performance poet; has published
small collections of his work including Black
Chant.
Pamela Mordecai Jamaican poet; radio and TV producer, editor
of Caribbean Journal of Education: has written
many books for children.
Dr. Jeremy Poynting Specialist in studies of East Indian writing in
the Caribbean; he is the founder of the Peepal
Tree Press, United Kingdom.
Jan Shinebourne Guyanese writer resident in the U.K.; her novel
"Timepiece" is shortly to be published by the
Peepal Tree Press.






Kyk 35 EDITED BY A. J. SEYMOUR AND IAN McDONALD -


-I--
. TABLE OF CONTENTS


SThe One Essential Investment

Across The Editors' Desk


Page

2
3


Poetry


fl


Lives; After Romance-for Derek
Wallcott
Gaiety; Process
Sunset To Moonset
To. No Music
In The Final Analysis; Nevado
Del Ruiz
Essequibo Sequence: Caiman Fever
The Poisonmaker; Last Of Her
Race; Carib Bones

action
Excerpt from "Apata"
Miss Lizzie, The Herb Woman -
"Culture Man"


Cyril Dabydeen
A. J. Seymour
Jacqueline de Weever
Pamela C. Mordecai

McDonald Dash


lan McDonald


Harold A. Bascom
Jacqueline de Weever
Ras Michael Jeune


Articles


A Report From Curacao
How Now Brown Cow
A Dumb God Buried In Your
Grandfather's Copper Trunk
The Practice of Biography

Reviews
The Penguin Book Of Caribbean
Verse In English
"He And She"

Woodskin
Early Childhood Education in
Guyana


- Elaine Campbell
- David Cox

- Jeremy Poynting
- A. J. Seymour


- Paula Burnett
- Marc Mathews and
Zena Puddy
- Joy Bland

- Elma E. Seymour






THE ONE ESSENTIAL INVESTMENT


In this issue we carry an article by David Cox of the Department of
Languages and Social Studies in the Faculty of Education at the University of
Guyana on his research into English examination results in Caricom in the
period 1960- 1984. In summary, the results have been appalling, nowhere more
so than in Guyana. The implications for the future are horrifying in view of our
basic development needs, to say nothing of our literary and cultural needs.
In an article which appeared locally we expressed our views as follows :-

"The widespread ability to communicate clearly and concisely
and to comprehend clear and concise communication is vital not for the
sake of great literature or cultural sophistication, but because it is essen-
tial in the daily working lives of the farmer, the businessman, the en-
gineer, the administrator, the chemist, the accountant, the agronomist,
the banker and the thousand and one other movers and doers in society.
In addition, the ordinary citi: en simply functions better as a citizen if
he has ingrained in him the fundamentals of good language. All men
and women without exception benefit in the ordinary course of their
lives from the ability to understand a logical argument, comprehend the
exact meaning of words, and use language clearly in explaining
things, describing events and discussing his or her or the nation's affairs.
It is therefore dismaying to sense the decay in the proper use and com-
prehension of the English Language in the nation. This is not just a
feeling one has, derived from everyday business and social experience
over the past few years. We have recently seen the draft of a deeply re-
searched study by David Cox of the University of Guyana on English
Examination results in 7 Caricom countries, including Guyana, in the
period 1960 to 1984. This study spells out the decline in devastating and
scholarly detail. David Cox's study should be published as soon as
possible and debated as widely as possible. Let us be clear what we are
talking about. The inability to use and understand language properly
handicaps a person for life. This is not exaggeration. Such a disability
is far more serious than a deformed hand or leg or spine for instance.
Hundreds of thousands of crippled, blind, and deaf people have made
outstanding contributions to mankind. Not one person unable to com-
prehend clearly what is communicated or use language forcefully has
ever made his or her mark in the world. In Guyana today we do not
believe anything is more important than that this should be appreciated
and acted upon. Greater emphasis is now being placed on the teaching
of English in the schools. Much, much more should be done. Emergency
Programmes to increase the number of trained teachers of English and
double, tripled and quadrupled. The establishment of a publishing
to improve English teaching standards in schools should be hugely
stepped up. The National Library should have its budget for new books
centre should go to the top of our list of priorities. There should also
be greatly increased allocations for our bookstores to permit at least
the purchase of the rapidly increasing number of excellent books pub-







lished abroad by Guyanese living here or in other countries. Mark our
words, all such investment, including its element of scarce and infinitely
precious foreign exchange, would be repaid to the nation and our so-
ciety a thousand times in the coming generation."



ACROSS THE EDITORS' DESK

CONFERENCE ON CARIBBEAN WRITING IN
U.K. OCTOBER 23rd 25th, 1986

The Commonwealth Institute, with the support of the Commonwealth
Foundation and the British Council, is organising a Conference on Caribbean
Writing to take place on October 23rd to 25th in London.

This is a part of the programme Caribbean Focus '86 running from March
to November, which opened with a Steel Band, Caribbean Food and launch of a
magazine on March 22nd in association with British Airways. Following months
presented Film and Video Festivals, a Bob Marley Day, a Cricket Festival with
teams from Jamaica, Barbados, Antigua and Eastern Caribbean, a Queen show,
a Calypso King and a Poem Competitions, Carnival Day Parade, Evening of
Dance and Spotlight on Sports.
Part of the purpose of Caribbean Focus '86 is to provide teachers of West
Indian children in London schools with an impressive body of material on the
cultural background of West Indian peoples.


WILSON HARRIS

Wilson Harris has written to us about the selections of his work from the
old Kyk series which we included in the Golden Kyk No. 33/34:

"I must be honest with you, Ian and Arthur, I am not sure I
want anything I wrote for Kyk-over-Al anthologised in such special
Kyk-over-Al numbers.
Certainly I would like to be consulted. There are creative/intuitive
links running through an imaginative writer's work and anthologies may
at times help to illumine these links. I hasten to say I cannot, in all
fairness expect you to take such complex matters into consideration.
The business of editing the magazine is sufficiently arduous. But, as you
know, Troy, Agamemnon and Charcoal have all been subtly revised in
the New Beacon re-issue. There are important reasons for this. I have
no narcissistic attachment to the work I have written and certain intui-
tive clues arising in the fabric of the work necessitate certain altera-
tions.







I am so glad you omitted the pieces you so generously referred
to in Assaying for a Golden Kyk. I would have been happy to had you
left out Fences Upon the Earth."



BIM No. 69 December 1985, edited by John Wickham, Colin Hope
Dennis Sardinha Christ Church, Barbados.

So the first thing to notice is that John Wickham has gained two joint
editors in this ninety-two page issue. Fourteen poems are here, including work
by Edward Brathwaite, Ian McDonald, Tony Kellman, Cornelia Frettloh and
Travers Phillips. Two old-time contributors, Geoffrey Drayton, the novelist, and
Harold Marshall, the short-story writer, are back with significant and welcome
stories.

We give pride of place to Dr. Richard Allsopp's article "A European
Leader in Caribbean Culture" in which le tells the story of Dr. Douglas McRae
Taylor, a Cambridge Scotsman, who lived in the mountains of Dominica for
nearly fifty years, wrote two books, 31 previews and 108 articles for learned
journals in America and Europe, and so became a world authority on Caribbean
creoles and the world authority on the Linguistic anthropology of the Amer-
indian peoples of the Caribbean basin. For this achievement, the University of
the West Indies conferred on him a most well-deserved Hon. D. Litt, at Cave Hill
in January, 1979.


RHYTHM and RHYME Anthology of poems from New Zealand -
April, 1986, edited by Barbara Whvte and
Hilda Phillips.

Another valuable collection of the work of 102 poets from New Zealand
and twenty-five other countries. Most noteworthy are two poems by Leopold
Sedar Senghor of Senegal, a poem on kite-flying in Jamaica by R. L. C. Mac Far-
lane, and modem translations from a new anthology of Chinese poetry.

In previous issues there have been introductions to the poetry and the
value of this issue would have been enhanced had that practice been followed.
We regret that, on going to press, news reached us of the death of Barbara
Whyte.


THE NEW VOICES No. 27, March, 1980 edited by Anson Gonzalez
P.O. Box 3254, Diego Martin, Trinidad.

The highlight of this issue is the Poetry Day celebrations of October, 15,
1985 at the Trinidad Hilton Hotel, when :-






1) the winner of the grand Poetry Prize Competition 1985, Joseph Cummings
of Trinidad and Tobago, received the first prize of $2,000 (T. & T.) and the TNV
certificate of merit. Thirty-one entries had been received from seven countries.
2) eleven poets were present and read their poems to a distinguished gathering.
The issue also carries twenty-two poems, one story and an important book
review by Anson Gonzalez on Movement of the People by S. R. Cudjoe, the
Poetry Day Address, and Letters from Barbados and Saint Lucia setting out
the cultural and literary activities in those two islands. In his review, Gonzalez
points to the crucial role the intellectuals have to play in thinking and formulat-
ing a comprehensive philosophy for Trinidad and Tobago.



DICTIONARY OF GUYANESE BIOGRAPHY (VOLUME TWO)
by Arthur and Elma Seymour GEORGETOWN 1986

Elma and Arthur Seymour have produced a companion volume to the
1984 Dictionary of Guyanese Biography. Running to 95 pages, it contains 280
biographical sketches of additional women and men who have helped to mould
modern Guyana. They range over the immediate past, like Rupert Dowden the
Coops Giant, to the wealthiest or "most landed resident in the West Indies",
Wolfart Katz, who received more than 63,000 as compensation when Emancipa-
tion took place. Dorothy Rice, the Ruimveldt estate field worker who gave heroic
evidence in 1905 Riots is there as well as Dr. J. E. A. Ferguson who cut down
the malaria rate in Peter's Hall by the use of quinine in 1908 and gained the
Davson Research Gold Medal.

This book helps to make the Guyanese cultural identity a valued posses-
sion.



ARTHUR GOODLAND OBITUARY
In issue No. 32, December 1985, we noted with great pleasure Arthur
Goodland's fine translation of "Macunaima" by Mario de Andrade (Quartet
Books). Shorty afterwards we received the translation made by Arthur Goodland
of Darcy Ribeiro's "Maira" (Picador). This book gives us a sharp sense of won-
der and makes us realise the sheer difference between the world of Amazonian
Indian and our "Western" world. In his plot, which recounts the return of an
Indian trained to be a priest to his native village, Ribeiro asks the question : once
one has stopped being an Indian in other words, once one has come into pro-
longed contact with a technologically superior culture can one ever return to
one's place of origin? Around the central plot, Ribeiro shows us the real world of
the Amazon with its powerless or corrupt Indian Protection Service, its greedy
and ambitious tradesmen and politicians, "pacified" and "unpacified" Indians,
missionaries Protestant and Catholic, its grandiose (and threatened) natural set-






ting. Maira is worthy of the larger tradition of which it forms a part, and, what
is no less important, it is an effective plea for the few remaining Brazilian Indians
to be left in peace.

Both translations by Arthur Goodland, of Macunaima and Maira, have
been widely noticed and praised. Sadly, we have now received news that Arthur
Goodland died on May 24th this year. Although he left Guyana as long ago as
1971 his memory is treasured by many friends here. Ian McDonald writes :
"Arthur Goodland was one of the most remarkable men I have ever
known. In his time in Guyana as Technical Director of Bookers Sugar
Estates (1958 1971) he was celebrated as a great, enlivening, colourful
and creative personality. Not only did he direct with vigour and imagina-
tion technical development in the main body of sugar factories in the coun-
try in a particular dynamic era for the Guyana sugar industry, but he also
became the foremost amateur archaeologist in the country and developed
his talents as a sculptor to the point where he was honoured among Guy-
ana's greatest artists. His massive carving of the slave princess Imoinda,
which now stands in the main lecture hall of the University of Guyana, is
perhaps the greatest piece of sculpture in the nation. In Guyana also his
interest in Amazonian mythology grew and he begun the arduous work
of translation which was to bear fruit in his years of retirement near Recife
in Brazil and then in Canada.

His two great translations of Macunaima by Mario de Andrade and
of Maira by Darcy Ribeiro were finally published in 1985 to the delight
of himself and his many friends. He was a man with a tremendous appetite
for life. His joy in living to the full and feasting on the great range of won-
ders that the world offers warmed and invigorated everyone he met. Shortly
before he died, in his last letter to me, in his 75th year, he wrote about the
old bell he had once found in Guyana and donated to St. Catherine's
College in Cambridge, about WaTter Roth's translation of Thedor Koch-
Grunberg's Myths & Legends of the Arakuna & Taulipang Indians, about
his memories of the performance of the sugar factory at Albion in Guyana,
about the potential use of Guyana's letterwood for making cellos in Can-
ada, about Salvador Dali's masterpiece Santiago el Grande which he had
just seen in the Beaverbrook Gallery, and about the errors he had found
in the successive translations of Aeschylus's Agamemnon. He also wrote,
"I think I notice unusual beauty more than when I was younger" and al-
most the last words of his letter were about a cruise of the Aegean he was
planning : "I have numberless loose ends to deal with before departure".
If he had lived a thousand years Arthur Goodland would have always left
numberless and wonderful loose ends still to tie up before departure".


PHYLLIS SHAND ALLFREY IS DEAD
We regret to let literary West Inndians know that Phyllis Shand Allfrey
died recently in Dominica at the age of 86.







Born and brought up in Dominica in a white upper-class and financially
comfortable family, she was a family friend of Jean Rhys and she was active in
politics and became Minister in the ill-fated West Indian Federation of the late
1950's. She is important to us for her novel The Orchid House Constable (1953)
and her poetry Palm and Oak. These last are twenty-two poems, self-published
in 1973, of which she gave a copy to AJS when they met in June 1978 in rural
Dominica, where she lived. He recalls how they talked to the rustling of the
leaves on the towering hill cliff behind them and the continuous sound of run-
ning water by their side.
The Orchid House is a historically accurate tale of the disintegration
and decline of a white family, related by an elderly family retainer, as a new
political order emerges in the island with the hope for a positive future for all.
Fear and hope make the novel significant.
Palm and Oak has given AJS great pleasure with its strong supple vision.
The name means that she has tropical and Nordic strands in her ancestry, but
the palm comes first since she chose to live in Dominica. The poems fall into
three groups those with Caribbean interest, those with a main interest in the
U.K., and those relating to her personal and domestic life.
In one poem she wrote:
Love for an island is the sternest passion
Lovers of islands dig, plant, they
build and they aspire
To the eternal landmark when they die
The forest covers up their set desire
They blend their flesh with their beloved clay.
There is a special feeling
Pulsing beyond the blood through roots and loam
It overflows the boundary of bedrooms
and courses past the fragile walls of home.
These poems are a testament of her life and a guide into the thinking of
a generation and class now passed away.



GUYANA HERITAGE SOCIETY ACTIVITIES

(1) A GUIDED TOUR OF HISTORIC GEORGETOWN:
is the name of a well written account of the more important buildings in
the capital city of Guyana seen on a tour which starts from the Pegasus Hotel.
runs south to Brickdam, then east along Brickdam itself to Vlissengen Road
north to Kitty foreshore and returns to the Pegasus through Carifesta Avenue.
These are the broad outlines of the tour but it bends here and there to take in
St. Georges Cathedral, the Promenade Gardens, the public hospital and a well
known Sharpies House. David Ford is to be congratulated on the thorough re-






search and the orderliness of the twelve pages with map and pictures which re-
create the significance of the city's buildings.

(2) CULTURAL INVENTORY OF GUYANA PHASE 1:
Two joint Project Officers have been appointed to complete Phase 1 of the
Cultural Inventory of Guyana by the Guyana Heritage Society, one to compile
the material Immovable Heritage and the other to identify and list the Non-
Material Heritage. Broadly speaking, the first embraces structures and buildings
of historical and/or architectural consequence, from Dutch, British and Amer-
indian sources, sea walls, monumenst and archaeological sites; the second com-
prises the folk tradition, social forms and expressions, eg. festivals, ceremonies
and traditional foods and religious forms.



TOO BRIEFLY NOTED

S race is far too limited to review in any detail the great variety of interest-
ing publications about Guyana and the wider Caribbean that come our way.
This is frustrating because each of these publications deserve is more than just a
mentiin to do them justice. For lack of being able to do better, however, and in
case any reader may have a special interest, we would like at least to notice
receipt of the following publications:

Guyana National Library 75th Anniversary Booklet.
1985 Guyana Chronicle Christmas Annual, including results of the
literary competitions.
1985 West Indies Cricket Annual, edited by Tony Cozier.
Proceedings of the International Round Table held in Georgetown,
Guyana, to commemorate the 150th Anniversary of the Aboli-
tion of Slavery.
Journal of Caribbean Studies, Volume 5, Nos. 1 and 2.
"Caribbean Aspirations and Achievements" 7th Annual Confer-
ence of the Association of Caribbean Studies, edited by O. R.
Dathorne.







POETRY
LIVES
A beginning storm sets my blood racing
I imagine the past with drum-beats-
Atavistic again.
I am memory of the tropics
I listen to hoof-beats
In the careering clouds
I am watchful as always,
Meandering with each spell of rain,
Each set-back to the ground
I wait my turn
Stepping out with ritual;
I build canoes from the heat
Of my insides, skin bark-
Blood coursing round a cambium-heart
I am now Raleigh making up for lost time
I bend and turn through the winding thickets
My veins reek of silver and gold-
I am at the Orinoco
My eyes meet at the limit of ground and sky
I am history in the making
I am topsy-turvy once more


AFTER ROMANCE
for Derek Walcott
I
Plagued into becoming more of myself
I travel along this dreamer's path
Take the world as it is in me,
It is the only real place -
I am unable to conquer more of myself:
This too is epistemology, the ways
Of becoming ingrown like one's toenails
And being reminded of the burnt-brick heap,
The bird alighting -
Remnant of a lost paradise
II
With a realist's touch I consider
My father becoming grey, shaking







At his ramshackle bone; a brother next -
News of an imprisonment; another night
Without sleep; oh the ways of keeping vigil,
The imagination's fugitive now
I scatter grains of rice while cockroaches
Scurry across a bed how a nephew slept
The night through; and, trying to hang the moon
From a pillow in a trade wind's rhythm,
I burn from all sides, feet and brain first;
Later, making amends, I become a somnambulist
Meandering through the thicknesses -
I mythologize as much as you
CYRIL DABYDEEN

GAIETY
Gaiety's good for the heart
The turn of the jest and the smile
The veiled look, saying "ah here
Is the place to rest a while"
Even the call of a tune
Will gladden the ear, to gleam
In the souvenirs of delight
And pluck from time a dream
For nothing will sicken and die
But the heart that has no zest
And for recipe, sad lone lover
Oh, laughter and smile are best.


PROCESS

Love at the lips was touch
As sweet as I could bear
And always at lips' brush
The fastness of her hair
Fades deep within my breath
My soul inhales her own
And faintly in the kiss
I hear her spirit moan.
Fingers are pillars now
That stand within her hair
Rigid as love & cupping
The chaliced lips as near







As flesh to flesh can crush.
Contact is made & soon
Spirits electric whirl
All passionate in tune.
My ecstasy forbids
Tale to be clearer told
Suffice it in her arms
The gates of heaven unfold.
Bodies give up their breath
In aromatic moan
And limbs have uttered now
What touch at the lips begun.
A. J. SEYMOUR

SUNSET TO MOONSET
A turned-down red cup, the sun
slides off the kitchen table
of the horizon;
and night, a soaking coffee stain
spreads as the black
coffee-grounds rain
pelts down through the air.
The sky is soon clear;
the moon, a large plate
of chinese blanc de blanc,
hangs on the shelf of night,
high over the roof tank;
the chinoiserie, white white,
drenches the street
in its light,
and cars and people meet
and move like bugs
bereft of sight.
The night
dissolves into morning;
westward the white
plate dims
as the sun turns
up its rim;
and the clouds are wrappings
of tissue paper
for the chinese plate
as it slips, slips
down to the river.
JACQUELINE de WEEVER







TO NO MUSIC

That is my quarrel with this country.
You hear them say "April?
Spring's on its way, come April"-
and, poor things, believe it too,
see them outside, toes blue,
in some skemps little cotton sk rt
well set on making what don't go so, go so.
And this big April morning
it make as if to snow serious!
That is something that must
make a man consider: if you can't trust
the way the world turn,
winter, spring, summer, autumn,
who you can trust?
When it reach April and you been bus-
sing your shirt for eight straight month, just
to keep warm, you in no mood to wait
one degge-degge day more-
not when you poor
and cold in the subway,
cold in the street,
cold where you work
where you eat
where you sleep ...

But you don't get a peep
out of these people;
"Well, spring is late this year,"
they say, toes blue
peeping out the open-toe shoe
and hug the little skemps skirt
tight round them, shivering
for all they worth.
Dem don't agree wi:h the coldness
and dem doan disagree:
dem walk to no music
and dat is misery.
PAMELA C. MORDECAI


IN THE FINAL ANALYSIS
In the final analysis
When the chill
clutches your bones
in an almost






everlasting lock
You want to come home
More than badly
to the sundrenched streets
Wind
Hard wind
cutting through the
wintry armaments
And the thought
tortures you
Of a pleasant promenade
on the old dutch wall
Cold
Forever cold
counting off the
calendar days
to blushing spring
And memories return
of the fire
In the hibiscus
On your hedge of dreams
White days, white nights
On the wide boulevards
Of winter infinite
And musing of sunset's
scarlet splash
Beyond the lowering river
Rains
Lead-heavy with
interminable stones
of depression
straying back to a pleasant
picnic in the deep woods
of Kayuka
I am Tropic's child
lost and away
in an iceberg cloister
slipping betimes
on the icy underfoot
Looking at the bagladies
selecting their
midnight ration
From a breadheap on the sidewalk
And then sequester
themselves in a nook
subterranean






And then I think
Of the freedom the sun
has offered me
to stand polestraight
And use my handkerchief
In the final analysis
When the chill clutches
your bones
The sun always gets
in your eyes
There are still so
many days
to gushing spring
with its promise
of greens and blues
Yellows and rainbows
I am Tropic's child
in the final analysis
It is time to go home
to my sundrenched streets

NEVADO DEL RUIZ
Grey is the valley of death
Grey the metal men
under the viscous
Grey the instant graveyard
Grey the final hand
In the surrender
Grey the rumbling, gorging
Lagunilla
Of flood of fire
Ash Wednesday in Armero
Grey the death
in the eternal dusk
Grey the sky of tears
Aiee! Santa Maria!
Nevado is blown!
Grey is the weeping
Grey the souls
Twenty-thousand
And some
O toll the bells
in the high haciendas






In the long green hills in Manzinales
Far from the graveyard
Of grey Armero
Village of Dead

O toll the bells
Far away in the wide paseos
In the long avenidas
far away
Where the skies are blue

Where was I when Nevado
blew?
Should I weep some?

But men must die
if their death was not
in the diary of doom

And the children
happy with laughter
And the old men grey
with age
Now grey is the colour
of their eternal shroud

Omaira Sanchez, just thirteen
dead in the grip of love
For the shield of parents
protecting their unbloomed

For little Corazon
sparkling cherub
For little Felipe
Fleeing from the thunder
on ratchet legs

For the old lady
who was going to visit
the priest
down the broken street
To make confession
Should I still weep
a grey weeping?
I must weep
For each must some time
fear his own Nevado
I weep for myself






Grey is my weeping
Grey is my death to come
And toll the bells for twenty thousand
And some
When Nevado blew
I too went under
the viscous
In the flood of the fire.
McDONALD DASH

ESSEQUIBO SEQUENCE
I
CAIMAN FEVER
Cold wind creeping on the skin,
A shaking-ague deep in bone,
All night in and out of sleep,
Fitful skin-damp wakings every hour
And a restless dream recurring:
Huge caimars thrashing in the river
Tails beating the water egg-froth white
Eyes blazing as they struggle,
Musky odour rising in the night.
I smelled and feared the grappling beasts.
Shivering in a misty river dawn
I meet Majesta who minds this house,
Ancient-slow but cooks a perfect pot.
She gives a look and knows the whole thing true.
"You have the caiman fever bad".
(How can she know my deep-down dream?)
Her old bright eyes turn full on me:
"Caiman fever shake the bone".
She has the cure for me she says.
Cold water from a baked earth jar,
A pinch of golden powdering.
A dip of lemon grass put in:
Drink it off in one great gulp.
Taste of woodsmoke
And old nights
Moon in cloud-scud
Red jasper round the throat.
The powder like a golden dust
She pinches carefully from a stone box
With sacred ointments and white spider cloth :
Caiman's penis dried golden in the sun






Scraped to powder on a fish's spine
It's chased the fever
Down a thousand years
I will not dream the great beasts anymore.

THE POISON-MAKER
Travelled miles that day
Gold savanna sun to shadows of darkest green.
A day of such beauty
I have not seen before,
The air gleaming like the start of the world.
On the edge of forest
Hawks hanging in the blue heaven:
Black wings beat once
And they are aloft forever.
They have always been in this great sky
Eyes scanning the long horizons
Where suns have burnt to black the short-grass valley-fields.
Amidst orchid-covered granite blocks of white
Gold and scarlet cocks-of-the-rock sport and fight.
Then the dense-dark forest green :
In the cold creek canopied with branches
The bright, dark-red water runs like wine.
Mora-trees, breaking into new leaf everywhere,
White, liver-coloued, green, and deepest red
Stand like huge chandeliers in ancient rooms.



II

Flashing messengers of light and swiftness,
Grey-blue kingfishers lead downstream to a village.
Well-kept habitations in a green glade:
Bustle with life, women bake and cut,
Children play with rolling balls of silverballi wood,
Hunting dogs snooze amidst the cooking smoke.
Red-stained hammocks swing in evening air,
Strings of red beads are heaped for market day
Making mounds of brilliance on the brown earth floor.


Relaxed, at ease, on mats of yellow cloth,
Chewing Indian corn parched white as jasmine buds,
The men extend an unsuspicious welcome,
Offer pepper-hot iguana eggs and wild red cherries,
Cool, week-old paiwari spiced with sugar-gum.






Their eyes are black and impenetrably bright.
It looks a place well-settled in good routines.


Alone, outside the evening light,
Alone with black arrows,
Who is that man, wrapped in black,
Squatting in twin-circles of dropped black pods,
Crouched like a crow, stirring a black pot
Sizzling on red embers like a black cat spitting?
A chant of mourning comes from this figure of the night.
Why does no one approach him? Why so far removed?
Why will he never join the hum of life and light?
They shrug and smile like children who are happy:
"The poison-maker", they murmur, "he is the poison-maker".

III

LAST OF HER RACE
A walk in the morning:
Sun burning off the early mist,
River-bank ablaze with Lady Slippers.
Old hut in a green clearing:
No sign of fire-side or children.
Friends who know the forest:
"Come and see this wonder,
Maybe she's a hundred years.
Talk to her, see if you can get her story".
Room is misty with strong tobacco smoke,
Old woman in a corner croons and drools,
Lifts up her terrible blue-stone eyes.
Miaha, "last of her race",
Frail, desolate, decayed,
Greets no one in the mornings,
Relates no heroic deeds to anyone :
Children, children's 'children, not there anymore.
All gone, all gone.
She wears one green stone of Amazon,
Amulet against the snake-bite threat,
The gaze of Spirits that accuse.
A trembling voice saying nothing:
Deer have grazed for long
Over the rain-worn tribal mounds.
Her cloudy eyes skim past
Missing mine by centuries
Seeking something deep, eternal, lost.







I am shy, I am ashamed,
Edge out into the sunlight,
Saying nothing to the picnicers,
Breathe in the green deep forest air.
Old toothless woman comes and goes
In this forgotten place smelling of orchids :
Past and gone, the wind whispers,
Past and gone, the forest hardly stirs.

IV
CARIB BONES
Ten miles along a logger's trail,
Greenheart in flower smelling rich and sweet
A camp abandoned long ago
Has nowadays a few huts rotted by the rain.
Enter the chief hut by a slack-nail ladder:
Three old men squatting down like stones
Convey a welcome with their shrunken eyes.
We squat and take small gourds of drink
Brewed wild cashew and sapodilla skins.
The ramblings of the old men grow wild
Soon others leave to hunt the angry pigs
And fish the clear, old, black as satin streams.
The old men begin a chorused chant :
Memories of remembering their father's father's tales.


The old men squat scratching withered genitals
Sucking pipes of scented, strong tobacco
Black tongues lick across half-blackened gums
The chant rises, falls, whispers, shouts
And ends
Where it begins ,
And they are stone again.



The Caribs were the great ones,
Greater than the tall trees,
No forest men could conquer them.
Out of the arm-bones of their enemies
They made flutes to sing their triumphs.
Courage was dear to them as life
Their war-songs sang of bravery alone:
No word for cruelty except for "love of pain".
Before they chose a warrior







They sliced his skin and rubbed in pepper bush
Tied him in a hammock filled with tiger ants
And if he made a sound he failed.
Fear they did not know,
Death they despised, a puny thing.
Battle was good :
To feel the heart beat fast
Was life itself,
The sweetness and the song of life.
The hearts of men they killed,
Dried in fires made of wood and jaguar bone,
They pounded into "chieftain's" dust
To drink with shining eyes like blood.
And when great warriors died
Their bodies wrapped in snake-skin shrouds
Washed and watched by chosen women
Rotted slowly under suns and moons
Until the flesh was ready to shred off
Then women cleaned the bones as bright as dawn
Painted the clean bones gold of sun and earthen black
And placed them in honoured virgin-woven baskets
Carried everywhere, more treasured than a home,
Such great bones last longer than gold or settlements.


Kept forever, the old men chant,
Forever kept, forever and forever,
Forever to match their courage against foes
To guard the people against defeat
To guard the people against all ill
To guard against the giants of the dark
Forever guard, these strongest of the strong,
For however long forever ever lasts.
IAN McDONALD






FICTION
EXCERPT FROM "APATA"
A NOVEL

by HAROLD A. BASCOM

1954
Chapter Twelve:
Mrs. Bailey folds-in her lips and bites in on them everytime she comes
down with the pressing iron to begin a smoothing run on Michael's short pants
on the board. There's a hymn on her breath : "What a friend we have in Jesus,"
she sings lightly, "O what sins and griefs to bear".
"Beverley!"
"Yes Mommy?"
"Don't put wares on that window sill you know!"
"A'right Mommy."
Grumbles Mrs. Bailey, "Like you like to hear that man fret!"
Having made a smooth run to complete a neat seam she places the iron
on the little coal pot. She picks up a shirt and shakes it out. In the background
Beverley is bent over the sink and from below the smell of the seedy glue being
boiled comes up to them. Mrs. Bailey wrinkles her nostrils. God, she whispers to
herself, I don't like how that thing does smell ..
"MIKE!" she hears her husband call below.
"Coming Uncle Joel."
"Calculate this thing for me man you fast."
Mrs. Bailey shakes her head.
"But why Michael had to hit the red boy in the people place for?" she
says aloud to herself.
"Why you like to talk to yourself so, Mommy?"
"Is only when you answer yo'self, you gone mad! So leave me alone.
Plenty o' we does talk to we self. And don't fo'get that you have to go for that
milk."
"No, Mommy."
Tomorrow, Monday, Michael goes to school. Mrs. Bailey sucks her teeth.
This week would have been the last week in Jagnauth's school. Next term he
should have started going to King's College. Should have. Not any more.
Why Mike had to strike the damn red-man son? She sucks her teeth.






"Mommy I'm going now for the milk," says Beverley.
"Take the enamel mug !"
"Man Mommy -", she begins fretfully.
"I SAY TAKE THE ENAMEL MUG! WHAT HAPPEN TO IT? WE
BLACK PEOPLE GOT TOO MUCH STUPID PRIDE FOR ANY THING
GOOD!"
Beverley sulks away to the bedroom, but Mrs. Bailey hasn't seen her.
"Mike?" she hears Beverley calling from the bedroom window.
"Girl what you calling Mike for? Mike doing something for yo' father!"
"He finish."
Mrs. Bailey wishes he had not said it. She knows that there's a tenderness
between her daughter and Michael, but she doesn't like it. She's grateful to his
grandmother Jane for bringing her up, but she still doesn't like it. She's a mother
now. She's her own woman now and no form of indebtedness should foil her
judgement in something concerning her own daughter. She doesn't like it. Likes
Michael, yes; but this deep attachment between Beverley and Michael she doesn't.
She had told Joel about it, but Joel saw nothing to it, sees nothing to it and
would do nothing about it. The most he agreed on was that, at those times when
they both would be out, Beverley would stay with his sister who lives in Albouys-
town.
But Beverley and Michael are aware of why this arrangement was thought
necessary. Between them they have agreed not to attempt love making at this
time. On that score, a few boys have tried to scare Michael, "Boy you stupit
boy! You saving up duh girl fuh somebody else to knock out before you!" But
such taunts never did and do not now perturb young Michael Apata. He loves
Beverley and Beverley loves him. He's sure of that.
There's a boy who Mrs. Bailey hopes Beverley would take to. He is the
son of Mr Bernard the milk man. "Girl?" The milk man's wife had said one
time to Mrs. Bailey, "Like my Dennis liking Beverley!" The milkman's wife
had laughed at this point. "But that girl don't even voonks on he. That Dennis
liking Beverley is something strange. Even he father end up wondering if the
girl got something special. Dennis is a boy who used to show no interest in girls.
All Dennis friends got girl friends some lil girl they saying they like but
that Dennis Let me give you this joke.
"One day he father say to he, 'Boy, when me dead you getting all them
cow you see grazing on dat dam, you getting the butcher shop downstairs and
the two in the market. And what? You ent going to get marry?' Well Dennis tell
he father that is not that he don't like girls, but is just that he didn' see no girl
that he like!" She laughed. "But now is a different story. When Beverley come he
does hussle to sell she milk and to give she extras too."
"Well, if Beverley don't like he, what we going do girl?" Mrs. Bailey had
said lightly.






Mr. Bernard is part Indian part Portuguese part Chinese and a whole lot
of Negro. His wife is a brown-skinned woman mixed also, who was a runner-
up some years ago. in a popular beauty contest. Having come together they pro-
duced quite a handsome boy by European standards. Dennis's skin is creamy.
The pupils of his eyes are hazel. His hair is like an Ethiopian's and his manner is
tender as his voice is tender. To Beverley, there's something about him that is
effeminate. She doesn't like him for whatever it happens to be. She loves Michael
for everything even though if she's asked to detail those specific things that make
up everything, she would be stumped.

But her mother likes Dennis Bernard and wishes her daughter, who'd soon
be grown enough, could see him as a future husband. Inheritance is lined up for
him. The procreation of children with opportune skin hues seems lined up too.
And those are the things, the main things, Negro mothers can find themselves
hoping to happen to their daughters in this time.

Mrs. Bailey watches Michael and Beverley as they walk out to the road.
She feels the happiness they support between them. Mr. Bailey watches too from
where he works, and also feels the happiness they support between them. Twist
it turn it, he tells himself, King's College or King's College not, that boy will
make a name for himself in this place, in this Colony.
The gimlet bites deeper into the mortise joint.
Mr. Bailey thinks of his daughter, "She like Michael ... I thought they'd
see each other as brother and sister, but .."
The gimlet bites deeper into the joint -
". .things don't go the way we see things. Pearl would' accept it. If
Beverley like Mike and Mike like Bevy ." He scratches behind an ear. ". .. we
can't put him out or send him back to Bartica because of that."

The bit of the miniature hand drill comes through. He pulls it out, makes
a hole neat then blows through it.
The thing that baffles Mr. Bailey is Michael's calm settling to his fate
after being denied the K.C. opportunity. To the man it just isn't natural. After
it happened Michael was visibly upset and twisted about it. But now, three days
later, the boy seems to be his old self again. Laughing and not at all reluctant
to continue at the same school come the new term when he should have started
going to King's College.
Mr. Bailey takes up the thin saw that can cut around corners. He brushes
the silverballi wood shavings from the worn and ready work-bench then clamps
the panel of wood on it, he will now cut into the shape of a shamrock. "If I said
I understand that boy" he mumbles, "I'd be lying".

The footsteps of his wife recede from that part of the house that faces
the road and he knows that, like him, she had been watching.







MISS LIZZIE, THE HERB WOMAN

by JACQUELINE de WEEVER

She seemed ancient, when I was twelve, but she may have been in the
prime of her life. She lived alone in the bottom-house of the house we lived in in
Vreed-en-Hoop. a woman of average height and square, chunky build. Her feet
fascinated me, so unlike any feet I knew at the time flat, broad, hard, and
callused, covered with the red dust of the Vreed-en-Hoop public road when she
returned from her journeys. She sold herbs, you see, throughout the surround-
ing villages, and would be gone for days at a time, walking, her feet said, from
village to village.

Her bundle of herbs was a matter of endless curiosity to me. Dried sticks.
Leaves in bunches, also dried. Small bouquets tied together. Whole small
branches dried and tied together. All made a large, neat bundle she carried on
her headcloth wrapped in a tight circle on her head. It was not a heavy bundle
since it was all dried leaves. I did not know the names of the various plants and
leaves, but I could see from their shapes and the different shades of green and
brown when they were dried that they were of great variety. When she returned,
days later, the bundle was almost non-existent, very much reduced, shrunken.

Sometimes she returned during the day, and I would watch her coming
up the road, sauntering, sauntering, probably greatly fatigued. But some morn-
ings, as I fetched water from the vat, she would suddenly open the door, her form
filling up the small doorway.

"Morning, Miss Lizzie," I would say.

"Morning," was her reply as she set about lighting her coal pot.

I wondered if she made tea with any of her dried leaves. Most times I
knew she made coffee because I could smell it as I prepared for school. Were her
leaves only for illnesses? This intrigued me because I was a bit of a herb woman
myself.

As a child I constantly caught colds, so much so that my mother always
took me to the doctor. When we lived in Vreed-en-Hoop, near the Best Hospital
for Tuberculosis, my mother's constant fear was that I would get TB. And I
hated doctors and their stethescopes, sometimes their X-rays. I found, in the
long backyard overgrown with bushes, a balsam plant. I think someone told
Aunt Carr that it was good for colds. Whenever I caught a cold, I plucked a leaf
or two, held them over a low flame until they were swollen with their juices,
squeezed the juices into a teaspoon, and drank it. In two days, the cold and the
coughing were gone. I have often thought that if I could have packaged it, I
wou'd have become a millionaire. I was p;oud that I could get rid of the colds
without a visit to the doctor.






So I was sure that Miss Lizzie's bundle held cures for all sort of things,
illnesses I had never heard about, and wondered exactly what. I dared not
ask, so locked up in her own thoughts she was, except when she was singing
hymns.
Miss Lizzie was a Jordanite. She would take her place, at the streetcorner,
at a table with a kerosene lamp, dressed in sparkling white with two women and
a man with a shepherd's crook. Miss Lizzie would read from the Bible and the
man would preach. Miss Lizzie and the sisters sang between segments of the
preaching. One night there were two men. The newcomer was very tall and
imposing, and that night he carried the shepherd's crook. He preached all night.
We could not sleep because his voice boomed through the silent night, and
Aunt Inez sat in the dark in the front gallery, singing the hymns, agreeing with the
message, approving the message, saying every now and then -- "An eloquent
preacher, yes, an eloquent preacher." It was impossible to sleep. When the service
ended, the Jordanites came to Miss Lizzie's room downstairs, but they were very
quiet, and finally we slept.

Miss Lizzie sang her hymns in the early evening when she lit her lamp
and read her Bible. I could see her from her open door as I went up and down
the back steps doing my housework, or coming back from climbing the trees in
the backyard. Our backyard was really wonderful, long and deep, full of fruit
trees which became my refuge from adults saying do this and do that when I
opted to read. I could sit in the top of the trees and no one could find me unless
they knew where I was. I became an adept climber, even of shaky sapodilla trees.
When the sun began to go down, I had to climb down and go back to the house,
and as I came through the dusk I could see Miss Lizzie at her table before her
lamp, reading. I knew it was the Bible because she read aloud, and I could hear
her when I was near the backsteps.

I did not at that time connect the two images of Miss Lizzie with myself
the independent herb woman, owning her own life, answering to no one, mak-
ing a living selling herbs, discovering the villages on her two hard feet, held
some connection with the would-be herb woman curing herself of colds; or the
woman reading by the lamp-light with the young girl reading in the trees. Only
about two years ago I began to think about Miss Lizzie, who is surely dead by
now. I began to wonder what kind of life she really had. Whom did she meet in
the villages she walked through? Was she ever loved, this woman with the hard
callused feet? All of a sudden, I began thinking about Miss Lizzie, as realistically
as if she still lived. Slowly the two images seemed to move out of the mist, a
heavy mist that sometimes comes up out of the Demerara. Clearly Miss Lizzie
seemed to be moving up the Vreed-en-Hoop public road. Was it because, in my
own way, I also wanted to possess and to own my life? Was it because I sensed
Miss Lizzie loved her Book as I loved my books? Gradually, Miss Lizzie assumed
weight and substance in my mind, and I wonder at the strange ways of human
influence, how silently a woman who walked barefoot through the villages im-
pressed her value and her strength on an unthinking twelve-year-old girl.







"CULTURE MAN"


by RAS MICHAEL JEUNE

Eh eh, look how meh pardna hustling down the road. Like he late foh
something or the odder. Ah wonder whey he going? Hi wha' happening dey
Pardna like you late foh some function or odder? Oh yuh going to the cinema!
Nah I ent care to go, today is rest day foh me duh is why I jus' sid down hey,
plus the fact that I really tired going in Astor an' Globe an' dem odder cinema
to learn 'bout European culture. Wait yuh don't knew duh is wha' all dem
cinemas does show. Yuh don't know all dem dress styles, hair styles an' be-
haviour styles is straight out from house, pit an' balcony deh does come wid
every movie. Yuh ent believe? Well look five years ago, a cinema show a movie
call 'Saturday Night Fever'; since den the who!e country vibrating wid disco
every school child is a yankee dancer. Dat movie was a major breakthrough foh
American culture. Oh! you ent going tc see nothing like dat. You going an' see
a Chinee picture. Yes, dat popular now. Chinee is in style. In Campbelville an'
Newtown alone deh done gat eighteen Chinee restaurant. All dem farmers now
planting pac-choy, cucumber an' bora. Yes is Chinese in style now.
How yuh mean whey dey come from? Dey come from China wid Wang
Yu, Chen Sing an' Shoji Karada. Dey come wid all dem thunderkick an' snake-
fist picture. Is a new ting dey got now name Third World Culture. How yuh
mean I don't like nothing from overseas. I like enoughh ting from overseas: I like
Brazil bus dat does carry dem children to school and dem workers to work.
I like the boats, cause dis land got enoughh river. 1 like tractors cause 83,000
square miles lil difficult foh plow wid just cutlass an' fork. Wha? Of course 1
been overseas. Overseas nice, but I love hey wid all de hard time an' black-
market; de housing problem and de water problem. I prefer unemployment ova
hey, dan foh live pon welfare anyway else. Man, I tell yuh, after travelling over-
seas, I really get foh love this country. An' hear, yuh eva tek a good look at
Bourda, Bourda Market is a rainbow a colours, Purple balanja, red pepper,
pumpkin so yellow yuh mouth got fuh water.
Bone dry coconut an' sweet banana.
"Calaloo, four bundle foh dollar".
"Bora, get yuh nice young bora".
Is poetry how dem hucksters does holler.
Man ah tell yuh deh ent got no odder market like Bourda.

Watch, I prefer to buy me greens off a bag pon North Road dan in one a
dem germ-free anti-septic overseas supermarkets, wid dey cash registers an'
white-skinned sales girls. I prefer a plastic bag to a rubber-wheel trolley. Wha'
is duh? Yuh think I got a point. Man I got 83,000 square points in tropical
green. Man look yuh see I love hey, because hey is home. Is hey yuh an' I born
an' is hey I got to meck living betta, but it getting late yuh betta hurry if yuh
want to ketch de Chinee picture. Yuh ent worrying? Yuh going by Bourda an'
ketch a two dollar mango Yes man I in dub.






ARTICLES

A REPORT FROM CURACAO

by ELAINE CAMPBELL

Significant attention is being paid in the United States to Caribbean
Literatures in English, French, and Spanish, but very little attention is accorded
writing from the Dutch Antilles. Although considerable writing is being done in
Suriname (but relatively little in the smaller Dutch Windward islands St.
Maarten, St. Eustatius, and Saba), any focus will be on contemporary writing from
tht Dutch Leeward islands known popularly as the ABC islands: Aruba, Bonaire,
and Curacao.

While collecting materials by Caribbean women writers for a contracted
anthology, I found in Curacao a highly active group of women writing in Eng-
lish, in Dutch, and in Papiamentu. Sonia Garmers, Nydia Ecury, Carla van
Leeuwen, Diana Lebacs, and Adriana Kleinmoedig-Eustatia, among others,
unabashedly produce such popular genres as folktales, children's novels, tele-
vision scripts, cookbooks, and journalism. But they also write excellent poetry,
social critiques, and political commentary.

The women writers of Curacao take advantage of the three languages
spoken in the Netherlands Antilles; they write largely in Dutch and Papiamentu,
but are becoming comfortable in English as well. They espouse genres spurned by
ma!e writers and they exploit genres neglected by women in other Caribbean
settings. However, the most interesting aspect of their writing, in my opinion,
is their refusal to separate writing into high art and low art, and then subs2-
quently type themselves as creators of one form or the other.

Another interesting characteristic of the women writers of Curacao is
their relatively high visibility. For example, Sonia Garmers, the author of such
novels as Orkaan (1977) and Orkaan en Mayra (1980) both written in Dutch
and published in the Haag is a popular radio personality who conducts cook-
ing classes twice weekly for her listeners. On the literary side, Orkaan en Mayra
received in 1981 the Mienke van Hichtum prize in the Haag and in 1983 the
Cola Debrot prize for literature in Curacao. Garmers' output includes seven
books for children in Papiamentu, six cookbooks in Papiamentu, two books
about black magic in Papiamentu, and Tree Rosea (Three Breaths of Air), a
book of thirty-six poems with Nydia Ecury and Mi a Palm, also in Papiamcntu.
Her Papiamentu classic, known throughout the Netherlands Antilles and recalled
with affection by a generation of expatriated Antilleans in this country and in
Holland, is Lieve Koningin Hier By Struik Ik U Myn Docht (My Dear Queen, I'm
Hereby Sending You My Daughter, the Haag, Leopold, 1976).

Diana Domacasse-Lebacs, who has published six books in Dutch and
five books in Papiamentu for children, has also produced educational programs
for television as well as television productions of folktales for all age groups.
Among Lebacs' Dutch novels written for young women is Sherry, the Beginning






of a Beginning which is about a girl's search for identity during the post-colonial
period of her island. Sherry has been translated into Finnish and German. An-
other novel for young adults is Lebacs' Suikerriet Rosy (Sugarcane Rosy) whose
protagonist is a Caribbean girl who comes from the countryside to work in
Curacao as a live-in maid.

Of special interest is Lebacs' Dutch television series "Hartelijke Groeten"
or "Fond Regards." Produced by the Dutch Humanist League, the series of six
television programs presents a dramatised correspondence between Bea, a school-
teacher in Curacao, and Emma, a housewife in Holland. Both women are in their
fifties and have daughters who have studied together in Holland. The daughters
have very different ideas from those of their parents and the mothers write to
each other about their reactions to these ideas and about the feelings that these
ideas arouse. Bea and Emma correspond about other situations as well, and a
picture is formed of how the actions and reactions of the two women are in-
fluenced by their different cultural backgrounds. Some of the subjects treated are
marriage, financial dependence, the empty nest syndrome, discrimination, and
growing old. Jetshe Mijs is the author of the letters from Holland and Diana
Lebacs wrote the letters from Curacao. The originality of the series attests to
Lebacs' versatility as a creative artist.

Note should we made of Adriana Kleinmoedig-Eustatia who, unlike
Garmers and Lebacs, maintains a low literary profile in Curacao, restricting
herself to the traditional role of folklore teller. Kleinmoedig-Eustatia writes only
in Papiamentu and she avoids radio and television exposure. Her three softcover
books are published locally by the Ministry of Culture and all three volumes
carry the Papiamentu title Mi Koto di Kuenta (My Bag of Tales). Published in
1981 and 1982, the volumes display the universal characteristics of folklore,
peopled as they are by peasants and kings (no middle-class characters need apply),
and by the personified animal characters of fable. Brother Goat, Brother Lizard,
and Brother Turtle singularly Caribbean animal characters make their
appearance, as does Kompa Nanzi, known in the English-speaking Caribbean as
Anancy, the West Indian descendant of West African spider lore. With their
inset chants and verses, their heavy reliance upon dialogue, their dissolution of
the line between human and animal characters, the stories of Mi Kota di Kuenta,
volumes 1, 2, and 3, are important contributions to the collected folklore of the
Antilles. By enacting her folktelling role in print, appropriately in the indigenous
language of the Netherlands Antilles, Kleinmoedig-Eustatia dignifies the role of
the woman teller of tales while at the same time helping to preserve part of the
oral tradition of the ABC islands.
Of an entirely different cast is the delicate poetry of Carla van Leeuwen,
gathered into the collection entitled Because. Van Leeuwen writes in English and
in Dutch. Because is evenly balanced in the two languages : seven poems are in
Dutch, eight are in English. Titles like "If I Could," "I Remember," "If You
Only Knew," "Introspection," "Choice and "Silver Dreams" express the con-
templative nature of the poems that generally convey a mood of gentle sadness.
The poet's awareness of an ambiguous world is displayed in such lines as "At
times/ you can/ and may/ choose/ which/ two/ wells to/ drink from/ well of






happiness/ well of sadness." In a voice of greater disenchantment she explains
"I had a dream/ and saw/ Mankind,/ Loving/ Living/ Sharing/ Caring/ Giving/
I went out/ and saw/ Materialism/ Money/ Egoism/ Jealousy/ Pride/ So I re-
treated/ ... I went on dreaming/ of Mankind/ Loving/ Living/ Sharing/ Caring/
Giving." Because is especially precious because it represents the only published
collection we have of Carla's verse written before she ended her life from the
great span of Willemstad's Queen Juliana bridge.
The most active and highly visible of the women writers of Curacao is
Nydia Ecury. Aruban by birth, Ecury, like most of her sister-Curacaon writers,
works in various genres. Her poetry collections, written in Papiamentu, include
Tres Rosea with Garmers and Lebacs, Bos di Sanger (Voice of my Blood) 1976,
Na Mi Kurason Mara' (Bound to My Heart) 1978, and most recently Kantika Pa
Mama Tera (Song for Mother Earth) 1984. Her children's stories include Di kon
anasa tin korona (Why the pineapple has a crown) and E Fruta di Abrakazor
(The Fruit of Abrakazor) 1981 as well as "Un Mosa Balente" ("A Courageous
Lady") in Nos Isla, 1982.
Ecury's theatrical involvement dates back to 1960 when she played in the
Papiamentu version of Shaw's "Pygmalion." She has translated into Papiamentu
Tennessee Williams' "The Rose Tattoo," John Peacock's "The Children of the
Wolf," Jean Genet's "The Maids," and Carlo Goldoni's "The Liar" and his
"Servant of Two Masters." One of Ecury's more recent theatrical ventures was
a one-woman show entitled "Luna di Papel" ("Paper Moon"). The multi-media,
multi-language production with sections in English, in Dutch, and in Papiamentu
combined Ecury's acting and singing with musical interludes by a jazz trio. The
production offered a curious medley of serious commentary on Antillean post-
colonial situations with rather light social farce.
More uniform is Ecury's essay written in English for a 1976 presentation
at the Toastmaster's Club Contest in Maracaibo, Venezuela. The prize-winning
essay, entitled "My Native Language" opens with a Papiamentu poem by the
late Antillean poet Laureate Pierre Lauffer a poem full of drumbeat rhythm.
The poem translations into an English prose text which opens with the line "Did
you hear the African drum?" Ecury identifies the African drumbeat's importance
to the rhythm of Papiamentu and goes on to explain the legendary birth of the
language. The word "Papiamentu," based on an old-Spanish verb, paperar"
meaning "to speak," indicates a language that remained exclusively spoken for
many decades. The nasalization that is characteristic of the language is traceable
to Portuguese, while Dutch contributed words with nordic sounds like zuur,
huur, brug. Some English and much Spanish also figure in Papiamentu, as well
as an occasional word with an African root.
Ecury's explanation of the historical background of Papiamentu grows
in "My Native Language" into a highly personal ecomium of the language,
pitting it, as it were, against Dutch the language of Antillean colonisation.
"Op school moet ik te allen tijde Hollands spreken." "At school I must at all
times speak Dutch." Arguing that proficiency in foreign languages is a necessity
for the inhabitants of very small islands, Ecury nevertheless bursts into Papia-
mentu as her essay reaches its apex:






"Papiamentu .
The language that I heard as I was being rocked to sleep.
Do do do mana su yuchi."

"Papiamentu .
The language that I heard as I stood at my father's knee, looking up for
guidance and advice.
Bibi segun lei, mi yu, i un dia, lei lo pretehe' bo."

"Papiamentu .
The language in which I said my first prayer.
Papa dios, hasi Nichi bon mucha"

The collected poetry in Kantika Pa Mama Tera represents a new effort by
Ecury to overcome the language barriers among the islands of the Caribbean.
The retreat from Dutch that she documents in "My Native Language" is fully
accomplished in Kantika. At the same time, in a gesture of outreach, she trans-
lates her own Papiamentu poetry into English while preserving the Papiamentu.

Simultaneous to Ecury's concern for the cultural and political implica-
tions of the language in which her poetry is written is her attempt to achieve re-
conciliation on a more personal level. The ninth child of thirteen, Ecury is in-
tensely interested in both identifying and resolving her familial relationships. She
takes pains to explain that her great grandmother Francisca was a slave in Venc.
zuela who migrated to Aruba. (Ecury=groom, her great grandmother's name be-
came the family name.) Francisca's son by a Jewish shoemaker was Ecury's
grandfather who married a woman half-German and half-Venezuelan. Ecury's
mother, Juliao, was Portuguese and Ecury's husband a Dutchman. Embracing
all these racial and national strains with ease, Ecury turns in the poetry of
Kantika to a very individual reconciliation : that of acceptance of her mother
with whom she had a difficult relationship. The Mama Tera of Kantika's title is
both universal and specific. On the universal level, Ecury says in the title poem,

Mama Tera, k'a parimi,
Hesu' bo yu su alma,
tin di krusa
un desierto largu
anto desola',
su so.

In dwelling on your face,
Old Mother Earth,
my soul must cross
a desert vast
and desolate
alone.

Later, she makes her gesture of homage:





Ma at 'awe'
mi yu chiki'
a karisia' mi kurason
ku un kantika dushi
k'el a kanta
pa mi so.

And yet,
I bow my tired head
to kiss
your weary womb
because
I am a Mother, too.
On the specific and personal level, Ecury opens her collection with "Habai"
("Old Lady"). After verses beginning "Machi bieu" (Li'l old lady), Machi leu"
(Silly old lady), "Machi kens" (Daft old lady), Ecury concludes with "Machi
prenda" (Sweet old lady) saying,
Sweet old lady
with your clogged up veins,
your widow's hump,
your eyes opaque,
I'll have you for my baby
for a single night, at least,
to hug you-kiss you-love you
before you cease the movements,
before you turn into an object,
cold and still.
The collection ends with "My Mother-My Child." In a narrative mode,
Ecury relates her mother's jealousy of the father's best-loved daughter. Describ-
ing the widowed mother, Ecury says,
He's dead
and left with us
his grey
and pampered bride.
But, finally, the poem achieves reconciliation:
Love is love is love
its direction matters none
Peace, Mother-my Child.
Peace unto you, my dear.
On the subject of love, I wish to conclude with fragments from "Amor
den Silensio."

Den silensio
di nos sekretu
bo poesianan muda
ta kantami un crescendo ...






Within the silence
of our secret
your wordless poems
sing to me
a crescendo ...


Den silensio
di nos sekretu
mi kurason ta boltu
habri paso
pa shen palomba
shen palomba blanku

Within the silence
of our secret
my heart moves aside
to make way
for a hundred doves,
a hundred white doves ...

Den silensio
di nos sekretu
mi sanger ta bira riu,
riu ki ta desborda',
ku ta inunda'
doloman di tur dia
di tur ana,
di tur siglo,
i siglonan, amen.

Within the silence
of our secret
my blood becomes a river.
a river that overflows
to inundate the pains
of all the days
all the years
all the centuries
and centuries, amen.






'HOW NOW BROWN COW?'
Mordant reflections on English examination results for Guyana, 1960-'84
by DAVID COX


LITTORAL
Their faces seem to speak of passion,
A passion sensed but never felt.
Embers without conflagration -
Tabulae rassed up ...
INTRODUCTION
The attempt at poetry that appears above was written in 1972 or there-
abouts. It is probably a little Romantic, but it should also be seen as ironic, since
it hints at a positive alternative. At any rate, there seems little reason to change it
in the light of developments since then and I would recommend its brevity and
compression. The initial stimulus came from my perceptions of the responses
of the secondary school students to whom I taught English Language and Litera-
ture, but I came to see it as a reflection of much of Guyanese society.

At the time of writing the poem, the mood in Guyana was optimistic and
there seemed a possibility of changing things. Those with doubts had left, and
those that remained were willing to accept some incongruities so that they could
begin (or continue) to repay the debt to their nation in the only manner that has
meaning the provision for future generations. Nowadays, there is some
pressure to change the second line to :
.. .'A passion neither sensed nor felt'
In a way, this article is concerned with that change of feeling. Guyana
was on a crest of optimism in the early seventies. Art, Literature and Music
flourished (Carifesta was its symbol). Education was repaying earlier invest-
ment, dedication and interest. The Nation was literate. But, even then, there were
undercurrents in the wave. It seems to me that we are now at the bottom of a
complementary trough of equally intense pessimism. However, once again, there
is choice. Within another ten or twenty years it seems possible to be on the crest
of another, equally positive but necessarily different wave if we recognize and
accept the failures of the past and present (and their origins) and aim for that
distant time now.
Some may consider that what I will write about below is impolitic. Such
a view is regrettable and I think short-sighted in the context of Guyana at this
time. Governments come and go, but the Nation endures and the well-
informed decisions that are made today will not be regretted at the millennium.
Besides, to remain silent or comment obliquely on a matter that I believe to be
of crucial importance to my nation, my profession and myself would be both
immoral and unethical. (I hope that you will not also consider being candid as
being 'old-fashioned .')






SOME 'GIVENS OF THE NOW'
Recently, I conducted research into the English examination results in
seven CARICOM territories over the period 1960-1984. While the results are
disconcerting in all the territories surveyed to some extent especially as far
as socio-political and socio-educational considerations are concerned my
immediate concern here is with my nation, Guyana.

Space does not permit a discussion of methodology, assumptions, limita-
tions or analysis of the data, and I must ask you to take what I will outline
below on trust for the moment.
Over the twenty-five year period, about 212,000 students entered for the
G.C.E.'O' Level/CXC (16+) English Language examinations in Guyana. Slightly
less than 45,000 were successful, such that the percentage pass was 21% (approx.).
Roughly speaking then, for the last twenty-five years (i.e. to July, 1984) four
out of five candidates have consistently failed to obtain universally-accepted
evidence of their competence in the official language of their country and one
of the most important languages of the world.
Next, we should note that the numbers entering in 1960 and those enter-
ing in 1984 were virtually the same, (1960 : 4,622; 1984 : 4,579) as were those
passing in the same years (1960 : 917; 1984: 908). These data are particularly
interesting when one considers that numbers entering in 1971 (the high point)
were about 12,000 and passes about 3,000. There was a gentle decline to 1979
(10,697 entrants and 2,000 passes) after which there is a rapid decline to 1984
levels.
English Literature results at the 16+ exam level are as bad. About
119,000 entered over the twenty-five year period, and of these slightly less than
27,000 passed. The period percentage pass was thus about 22% or, that is, four
out of five also failed. While more difficult to evaluate than the situation in lan-
guage, this result does not indicate problems in reading, higher-order comprehen-
sion, awareness of values/feeling and, generally, the level of culture of the popu-
lation over the period. (Alternatively, I suppose, this result may be seen as positive
from a 'grass-roots' angle of vision .).

Numbers over the period dropped by nearly 50%. (Entrants 1960 : 2,420;
1984 1,287. Passes 1960 : 473; 1984 : 270). The high point was 1969 (entrants :
9,700 (approx.); passes : 3,300 (approx.)), and the decline from that point was
roughly in a straight line to 1984 levels.
Advanced Level (18+) English Literature is somewhat better. About 2,200
entered for the 18+ exam over the period and of these 800 were successful-nearly
a 36% pass rate. The peak year for entrants was 1973 (146 sat), but the peak year
for passes was 1968 (53 passes) five years earlier. However, it should be noted
that there has been a marked reduction from 1960 (entrants : 69; passes 26) to
1984 (entrants: 26; passes 10). These figures have particular relevance to the
numbers and quality of potential English teachers available to the system over
the period and the overall fall in numbers entering and passing at the 16+
exams of later years.





SFinally, (at this time the research-is progressing) a look at some of the
population figures (as given by the Population Census of the Commonwealth
Caribbean: 1960, 1970 and 1980) alongside numbers involved, is of more than
passing interest. The tables below encapsulate the relevant data:

Table 1: Guyana : Total population, 15-19 yr. cohort; numbers entering
for and passing at the 16+ and 18+ English examinations
1960, 1970 and 1980.
Year Tot.pop. 15-19 yr. 16+ Lang. 16+ Lit. 18 + Lit
cohort No. ent. No. pass No. ent. No. pass No. ent. No. pass
1960 560,330 51,884 4,622 917 2,420 473 69 26
1970 700,000 47,600 11,800 2,800 8,850 1,800 118 43
1980 758,619 96,554 7,960 1,800 2,848 496 45 25
If the 'A' level figures (18+ yr. exams) are omitted (the numbers in-
volved are infinitesimal and not central to the thrust of this essay) then the
following picture emerges:
Table 2 : Percentages of 15-10 yr. cohort entering for and passing at
the 16+ English Exams 1960, 1970 and 1980.
Year E. Lang. E. Lit.*
% ent %pass % ent. % pass

1960 8.9 1.8 1014 2.0
1970 24.8 5.9 41.3* 8.4
1980 8.2 1.8 6.6 1.1

[*Approx. figures based upon the finding that about 45% of the cohort
entered for E. Language also entered for E. Literature in the seven territories
over the period.] ,
What has been outlined above is, however, merely the tip of the iceberg.
There are further 'givens' that are common knowledge (though perhaps less
well documented) and these too must be considered in order to deepen an appre-
ciation of the situation as it exists.

There has been a population explosion over the last twenty-five years
and a consequent surge in demand for Education. There has also been large-
scale emigration from Guyana over the same period. The first wave took place
after the 1962-4 turbulence and prior to independence (1966). The second wave
began in 1970 with the Arab oil crisis and probably accelerated after 1980.
Many of the legal emigrants were skilled workers (technicians or pro-
fessionals). There is a high unemployment rate especially amongst the
school-leavers.

Because of currency restrictions and production shortfalls, there has been
a shortage of books, magazines, newspapers, journals and indeed of com-
munication aids in general.






Fora variety of reasons, there has been a contraction in intake levels at
teacher training institutions and hence a drop in the output of graduates at all
levels. (Besides, these graduates frequently feed the emigration torrent). Finally
there is the high tax bill and the concepts of responsibility and accountability to
the citizens and, value for money.

SOME PROBABLES OF TOMORROW
It is impossible to do more than touch very lightly upon some of the more
obvious implications of what has been outlined above. Suffice it to say that the
results to date are very unsatisfactory if not horrifying in view of our develop-
mental needs and the fact that we have been 'masters of our own fate' for at
least twenty of the twenty-five years surveyed.
First of all, it would appear that there is a crying need for scrutiny of
what is going on (or is not going on) in schools in Guyana. Thus both the teach-
ing profession and the Ministry of Education (at least) will need to do a great
deal of explaining in the first instance as to how we came to be in this sorry
mess. Perhaps the first question is one of the degree of trust that should exist.
The second is one of the high taxes extant in Guyana. However, questions
must also be asked about methodology, curriculum and administration/manage-
ment both in the schools and in the Ministry as a whole. There are also the
questions of overall policy and responsibilities (white, brown or other coloured
papers on educational policy), ancillary staff, resource allocation (including
books and furniture), finance, appointments, transfers, salary selection, the
Teacher Service Commission, etc. There is also the question of Adult Education
and distance learning, since neither tax-payers' children nor tax-paying pros-
pective past-secondary students are always near secondary schools or other
educational institutions.

Secondly, there is the area of Teacher Education and Training. Questions
will again have to be answered about curricula, methodology, administration,
staffing, salaries, training of staff, physical plant, finance and resources at both
the University and the teacher training institutions.

These, then, are some of the immediate or short-term areas of account-
ability. But, there are the wider and long-term implications. If the normal re-
placement of generations is considered in the light of the need for literacy and
language-based skills in an increasingly more complex society and world where
the official language is English, then it can be perceived that the results and other
developments over the last twenty-five years do not augur well for the immediate
or the more distant future.

English Language is necessary for employment, promotion and further
study. Since the number of satisfactorily-trained youth is small, then the
de facto retirement age will rise and/or there will be mismanagement/incompe-
tence. Hence the days of the 'well-earned retirement' are probably over. The
large number of training courses and workshops, unfilled posts and temporary
appointments after retirement that have been taking place over the last decade






or so in Guyana and the number of foreign consultants that regularly visit, lend
support to such a view.

Another, and at least equally important aspect of English, is that of
expression and creativity. Bread and butter issues aside, there is the whole
question of mental and spiritual health that is bound up in the appreciation of
Literature and its expression. Materialism and 'enlightened self-interest' can
only serve to an extent. The areas of the feelings, trust and values in general,
understanding of self and other, self in relationship to nation like the value
of Education cannot be reduced merely to dollars and cents (US or otherwise)
or slogans. Indeed, it is precisely now after we have tried various experiments
(and, perhaps, found the 'bottom line' in terms of survival) that there is a burning
need for revisions and new visions.

The new entrepreneurial class is in existence. Racial and cultural in-
tegration are well under way thanks to economic pressure, demographic factors,
the education system and the rural-urban shift. These will continue. But, now
that the tool has been formed, it must be tempered and magiced/imbued with pur-
pose and vision or it will once again fragment when diversity ebbs. The tempering
and incantations fall within the realm of the Arts and especially literature.
But, that is the 'brighter' side of the coin-the 20+% passes. Assuming
a sufficiency of jobs, these people can be inducted into the system. However, there
is also the question of the 60-80% who do not pass (or whose results are well be-
low 'barely fail') and, those who are not even given a chance to fail. If we posit a
link between expression and the ability to think constructively, then failure in
English indicates weakness or worse in the ability to comprehend, apply,
analyze, synthesize, assess as well as communicate easily and cogently. It can
even indicate, a growing illiteracy. In effect, then, we are talking about of the
unemployables created by the system (or lack of it .). This in turn implies
dependency on the same age group that is working towards the 'well-earned'
retirement and ease ..

Out of this dependency will come various attitudes. Thus there could be/
is a growing resentment and a contempt for the meritocraticc' system that made
them into 'rejects'. Alternatively there may come a sort of lassitude/giving up,
or a growing violence born of the frustration of an inability to communicate.
These attitudes could in turn lead to an increase in leisure or youth -
associated misdemeanours and crimes (littering, vandalism, robbery, rape, drugs)
or teenage pregnancy and a greater dependency. There could also be an in-
crease in cults or the uncritical acceptance of different local or foreign life-styles
out of their original contexts.
But perhaps it is time to call a halt to the horror stories. I was not seriously
suggesting that the passing or failing of English Language or Literature is the
sole factor responsible for a decaying society, merely to attempt to indicate (or
underline) the importance of English in an english-speaking society insofar as
personal development, employment and the quality of life are concerned both
now and in the future.






Nor am I attempting to single out any group or organisation for more
blame than they deserve. Education be it in English or any other discipline
or area, is the collective responsibility of the society and can only be delegated
temporarily. The situation that has developed here is no one's fault if it is not
ours for letting it happen. If the youth are an investment in tomorrow, then we
(and/or our stewards) have scandalously mis-spent both the capital and the in-
terest, and bankruptcy looms near like another Haiti. It remains to be seen, now
that more information is to hand, what we will do ... I, at any rate, would like
to be able to write a companion piece (to the first poem) entitled 'Los Dorados' in
about ten years or thereabouts. Help me.






'A DUMB GOD BURIED IN YOUR GRANDFATHER'S
COPPER TRUNK':
Indian Religious Sensibility in Indo-Guyanese Poetry
by JEREMY POINTING
There has been a significant but not surprising gap between the attach-
ments of a large majority of Indians in the Caribbean to their ancestral Hindu
and Muslim faiths and the detached, ironic and sometimes highly derogatory
portrayals of the practice of Hinduism and, to a lesser extent, Islam in Indo-
Caribbean fiction. V. S. Naipaul's Mystic Masseur (1957) and H. S. Ladoo's No
Pain Like This Body (1972) and Yesterdays (1974) are but the most obvious
examples of novels written out of the fear that the gods were dead and the cer-
tainty that Hinduism had become absurd in the Caribbean.
It is not the purpose of this article to explore the reasons for this division
between popular attachment and the detachment of these novelists. One may
take as exemplary V. S. Naipaul's moving account of how his westernising edu-
cation in Trinidad and England made him incapable of living within his ancestral
world view.1 Yet even in Naipaul, with his self-confessed distaste for Hindu
ritual, the process of separation is by no means complete. Novels such as Mr.
Stone and The Knight's Companion (1963) and The Mimic Men (1967) show
Naipaul wrestling with the stubborn vestiges of Hindu belief.
That tension in Naipaul's work is but a part of a much wider range of
literary responses to the religious experiences of Indians in the Caribbean. How-
ever, because that quite sizeable body of work raises issues which are impossible
to deal with in an article of this brevity, its focus is limited to a review of the
way a number of Indo-Guyanese poets have expressed a religious sensibility
which has been shaped by the transformation of Hinduism in the crucible of
Guyanese experience.
In narrowing the focus in this way, two things must be borne in mind.
Firstly, poetry is the form which has gone furthest in expressing the possibility,
at a personal level, of fusing the ancestral and the Caribbean. By contrast, most
fiction, including that by Indo-Guyanese writers, has focused on the social incom-
patibility of Hinduism and Caribbean secularism. Cyril Dabydeen's recent novel,
The Wizard Swami (1985),2 for instance, deals with the uncomfortable and
corrupting experiences of a young, pious country Indian who tries to be an
ascetic holy man in profane Georgetown. Secondly, although there is much in
common, there are significant differences between both the experiences and its
literary treatment of Indians in Trinidad and Guyana.
The Guyanese experience includes the fracturing, by time and distance,
of an intimate relationship with India, the transformation of a caste peasantry
into proletarians on the estates, the impact of Christian proselytization, mission-
ary education and incorporation into the institutions of colonial and post colonial
Guyana. The Hinduism and Islam brought to Guyana came in the main as
village faiths, and though they remain meaningful to many, it was impossible
that they should stay the same for all Indians.






The most blatant challenge to Hinduism and Islam came from Christianity
and missionary education. In the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, con-
version, a condition of entry to the missionary-run secondary schools, provided
the main route away from agricultural labour into professional occupations. The
earliest members of the Indo-Guyanese elite families such as the Ruhomons
and the Luckhoos, for instance were almost all Christians, as were the very
first Indo-Guyanese to produce literary works in English. Yet even in the work
of the earliest, most missionary influenced writers, one can observe an incom-
plete detachment from an ancestral sensibility. For some it was no more than the
assertion of ethnic pride, but for others it was the urge to bring the Hinduism
they had abandoned into contact with the Christianity they had embraced. In
the work of Joseph Ruhomon, for instance, there are both the pious Miltonic
poems on such themes as 'Easter' and 'Nosce Te Ipsum',3 which give no clue
that they were written by an Indian or a Guyanese, and there are the curious
idealist treaties such as Good and Evil (1916,)4 Signs and Portents (1921)5 and
The Transitory and The Permanent (1925),6 each of which aims at some fusion
of the 'discoveries and speculations of Western philosophies' with the mysticism
of 'occult and oriental philosophies based on the revelations of the Yogi
Fathers many centuries ago'. In particular, Ruhomon infuses his Christian specu-
lations with a continuing adherence to the concept of maya, the illusory nature
of the temporal material world. Similarly, a somewhat later writer, R. N. Per-
saud, in his Scraps of Prose and Poetry (1933)7 wrote both turgid Christian verses
on 'Creation' and tear-soaked contemplations of hell, and also Tagorean influ-
enced prose pieces such as 'East and West' where he defends Hindu India from
attack by Western scholars. However, writers such as Joseph Ruhomon and
R. N. Persaud were unable to translate the sensibility expressed in their prose
speculations into any kind of poetry. The dominant tendency in their verse, and
that of the Christian authors of The Local Anthology of Indian Verse (1934)8
was to write in an anglicised style on anglicised subject matter, leavened only by
a discrete acknowledgement of the influences of Tagore and Mrs. Naidu.
That tradition of Christian-Indian verse, marked in its diction by the
shaping influences of Victorian and Georgian English verse and the Presbyterian
hymnody, has been continued by more recent Indo-Guyanese writers such as
Leela Sukhu (Scattered Leaves, 1968)9, Randolph Butisingh (Love's Light, 1972:
and Wild Flowers and Other Poems, 1972)10 and in the work of younger writers
such as Krishna Prasad (Born To Die, 1977)11 and Nadeer Bacchus (The Golden
Arrowhead, 1978).12 Butisingh's verse perhaps stands out for its greater technical
facility and its gently reflective generosity of spirit, but as a whole this Christian-
Indian verse presents its feelings in the borrowed language of rugged paths and
ways strewn with tears, parched sinners and living waters, shepherds and lost
sheep. If these writers deal with a specifically Indian-Christian experience, it is
the expression of a sense of isolation, spiritual loneliness and despair. In 'I Want
For Death', Bacchus writes:
I grow aweary
Of this sad life
I beg you spectre
raise your scythe.






and in his Life and Living (1980), Prasad hears an African woman and an Indian
man cursing each other and :
.silently wept
And wished that
I was not.13

However, the work of three other Indo-Guyanese poets, Cyril Kanhai,
Churaumanie Bissundyal and B. Ramsarran, indicates that the limiting effects
of the Christian influence on the writer's mode of expression were by no means
inevitable. Kanhai escapes from the missionary straight-jacket through the
toughness of his sensibility and the original vigour of his language. In the poems
in My New Guyana (1969) he roots his Christian message of hope that love,
divine and human, may purge the racial hatreds of the early 1960s in images
which are drawn from the Indian experience of Guyana:
Deep Love and Hate
Together vie
In Heart Estate .14
and reinvigorates the idea of spiritual regeneration by avoiding the hymnody
cliches of crystal streams and using metaphors drawn from the rice farmer's
world :
May there yet spring
In the light of the day
From the scorched soil of the heart of man,
The torrents of love
Strangling every strange weed
and flooding the new land .15

Kanhai writes with great intensity, to the extent of verbal excess at times,
but even within the eclectic freedom of his diction, one notes the familiar influence
of the Presbyterian hymnody, in his taste for words such as "fulminate', 'satanic'
and phrases such as 'honest toiler' and 'life's stormy waters'.
The other escape from the alienating anglicanism of the Presbyterian
tradition was to return to the Hindu tradition from a Christian perspective,
though some European missionaries feared that the process was more a case of
the hinduisation of Christianity. One of the most interesting expressions of this
process can be found in the work of B. Ramsarran in his Glossary Of The Soul
(1967). As A. J. Seymour has remarked,'6 Ramsarran's work is primitive in
the best artistic sense of the word, both in terms of the idiosyncracies of his vision
and the forms and language he uses to express it. One sees in his work the same
flight from external reality ('the naked disdainful nature of the world') which has
driven several Indo-Guyanese poets either towards mysticism ('the exalted hemis-
phere of supersensuousness') or inner searching, as an all too understandable
response to contemporary Guyanese reality: a 'world of falsehood and down-
right shallowness on all sides a world of poverty, miserable old age .'17 The
themes of Ramsarran's poems are narrow : the illusory nature of the world and
the deceits of the senses, the divine and the diabolic as human qualities, moments







of revelation and the frustrations of being condemned to live within the earthly
body. Frequently Ramsarran fuses Christian and Hindu approaches to these
themes. In 'Freedom' he recognizes :

Like as my God is called by different names -
Jehovah, Allah, Brahman, and many more .
and in 'God's Comment' he describes the wish for Christian bliss in terms of
freedom from samsara, the cycle of rebirth in material, temporal form:
Passion binds one to desires for attachment to action
which is born of lust and hate
Purity elevates one to blissfulness and knowledge frees
from evil
Again, in 'A Magnificent Absurdity', the idea of a 'Transcendental Sanc-
tuary' of oneness with existence owes much more to the Hindu concept of atma
than Christian images of heaven. The syncretic approach works in both directions.
In 'Maha Kali', Ramsarran tries to rescue the goddess's role as 'Mother of the
Universe' from her association (and local Indo-Guyanese practice) with the sacri-
ficial cult of Kali-Mai, arguing that the supreme creator and destroyer of all
matter is demeaned by being idolised. Speaking in the voice of the Goddess, he
writes:
Why should I disclose myself to you?
Perhaps I shouldn't be a lifeles image
Shrouded with terrifying esoteric misunderstandings
For all time.18

At his best, Ramsarran reminds of Blake or D. H. Lawrence in the argu-
mentative freedom of his thought and the energy of his expression. In 'The Mag-
nificent Absurdity', he attacks as simplistic the Christian notion of God and
Satan as opposites and external to man:
What a magnificent absurdity
to tell man of Satan and God
as if they exist at opposite extremes-
One in celestial command to reign over high heavens,
the other in preposterous lordliness
to lure the sinless away to perish mercilessly in hell.
What appears to be satanic at one end
Is virtue vibrating at its lowest ebb,
What appears to be Godly at the other end
Is this very property with the print
of evil colouring apparently erased.
In other poems Ramsarran quarrels with his conception of God in the
manner of George Herbert or Manley Hopkins, but though he shares something
of those poets' colloquial vigour, he is a primitive without craftsmanship or dis-
crimination. Too many of the poems are full of such mind-numbing abstractions






as 'miraculous infinitude', clotted with latinisms such as God's fondantt power',
man's'oscitant course' 'flagitious thorns' and morbificc muddiness', and larded with
archaisms and the familiar Presbyterianisms of 'eternal mansions' and 'celestial
cities'. Nevertheless, Ramsarran's verse is in the best sense curious and original,
the product of a wrestling with a diverse religious heritage.
Churaumanie Bissundyal, writing under the name of Omartelle Blenesse-
qui, goes even further in his long narrative poem Glorianna (1976)19 in describing
a syncretic religious experience. At first glance, Glorianna might seem wholly
sui generis as the account of a young man's vision of a goddess who comes to
rescue him from 'the web of material glamours'. However, as the work of Joseph
Ruhomon and Ramsarran shows, it has its roots in the contact in Guyanese
culture of English verse, Biblical apocalypticism, Hindu speculation and the
folk-culture of spirits and spiritual possession. The poem, like so much Indo-
Christian poetry, expresses an isolated existence on a Hindu estate ('I was the
treasure/ of no-one/ but my lonely self/ I was but a lonely observer/ looking on')
and of flight from the external world of Guyanese reality.
It seems to me central to the significance of Bissundyal's work that the
goddess should appear to the narrator in a form and name which are explicitly
European, whilst those who are trying to destroy his faith in her employ distinc-
tively local Indo-Guyanese means. Yet, if Glorianna comes apparelledd in dazzling
white':
in the midst
of a host of angels
skimming over the river
and dancing in the sky ...
she, as 'a great spark/ of this UNIVERSAL POWER', who is part of a female
trinity which also includes mother nature and the 'Great Power', clearly also be-
longs to the Hindu tradition of female divinities, in particular Lakshmi. So, when
the narrator's devoutly Christian father discovers his son's vision, he is convinced
that he is in the grip of 'some pagan goddess/ come down to earth/ to pollute
the world of Christ'. Anxious over his son, and his prayers failing, the father
takes him to a mystic healer, a Hindu ojha whose appearance contrasts sharply
with Glorianna's whiteness:
He was robed in red
with a yellow turban
on his head
and rosaries
smelling of sandal wood
hanging down his neck
as if they belonged to the dead.
However, the mystic healer fails to cast out the vision, and the estate
people take the young man to the seashore and make him 'the centre/ of a
CIRCLE FIRE'. This time rains come in answer to the young man's prayer to
Glorianna and the Hindu sacrificial fire is extinguished. However, the message
the goddess brings the young man is far more compatible with Hinduism than
with Christianity. She tells him that good and evil are not opposites :






S. for evil is just a part of life
serving the purpose
of telling man
that he's far away
from his functions in this land.
Similarly, her teaching on the nature of reality falls back on the kind of
pantheism found in the Upanishads. Things in nature are to be seen as aspects
of the self, all part of the same formless unity:
The soft twittering of the birds
and the lonely calls
from the cows
were voices
coming from the horizons
of my awakened self.
They were voices
living millions and millions of years
within my soul ..
There is much that is impressive about the poem : it has structure and
coherence and communicates an esoteric experience very clearly. Its weaknesses
are equally plain. The language is rarely inspired, the images emblematic rather
than vivid and sometimes merely trite, and the goddess herself delivers her
message in the tones of a platitudinous maiden aunt and occasionally like a
pantomime fairy-godmother. Nevertheless, Glorianna remains a fascinating and
always interesting attempt to explore a uniquely Indo-Guyanese experience.
But Bissundyal is very clearly not a reflective artist who is able to examine
his own response to his experience and find a language and form which expresses
its uniqueness. Rooplall Monar, by contrast, is highly conscious of his perspec-
tive. It is, indeed, the subject of his religious poetry, and though he does not
always achieve a perfect mastery of a form which is equal to the complexity of
his vision, he is very clearly striving for it.
Unlike the writers so far discussed, Monar writes from a Hindu perspec-
tive uninvolved with Christianity. However, no less than the writing of those
discussed above, Monar's exploration of what Hinduism means to him is pro-
foundly affected by his Guyanese perspective.
Monar's religious poetry is the extension of a search for an authentic Indo-
Guyanese identity contained in a remarkable series of poems published in Mean-
ings (1972) and in the journal, Kaie in the 1970's. They move between the hope
that such an identity might have been forged on the sugar estates and fear that
the history of oppression which has shaped that culture makes it impossible to
embrace, and between a yearning for the ancestral mother and the cold con-
sciousness that the umbilical contact has for ever been broken. 'Going For
Lawah' expresses the fear that the ancestral gods are dead and are now no more
than sentimental salves for the pain of separation. As the haggard old drummers
beat for the marriage ceremony, they sense that their rhythms fail to vibrate the
celebrants into any promise of fertility, and suspect that:






their gods are polluted
poor souls of sugar's ointment.20
'Ishwar', expresses a dreadful sense of abandonment, and the god is called on to
explain his silence and the meaning of the historical process which threatens the
poet's cultural extinction :
Save me before I am lost
Let my children know
The purpose of my death
If not my birth
My Ishwar.21
In Meanings and the other poems of this period, Monar mainly explores
the issue of identity in cultural and historical terms; in the poems of Darling
Of The Rising Sun (c. 1975),22 it is taken up both in more intimately personal
ways and in terms of a deeper religious questioning. The search for inner religious
truth itself occurs at two levels. At the social level, he draws on a local tradition
of spiritual resistance to what he sees as the ossifications of brahminical Hindu-
ism. He finds this spirit of resistance in the mixing of South Indian traditions and
the proletarian ideology of the sugar estate worker. At the cosmic level, Monar
relates his own oscillations between hope and despair to the polarised impulses
contained within Hinduism, between the image of energy and regenerative crea-
tion contained in the vision of Shiva's cyclic dance, and the yearning for escape
from the cycles of rebirth contained in the idea of samsara.

In 'Darling Of The Rising Sun', Monar contrasts the hollow illusions of
ritual piety with the living sacrament of sexual union, another image of Shiva's
dance. He warns the brahmin girl to whom the poem is addressed that she gives
herself :

To a god far away
A dumb god once buried in your
grandfather's copper trunk
A god whose potency reigns
in red bamboo flags flying in our yards ...
I long to sacrifice that clay god
kissing your night sleep
and shape you in the likeness
of my own
God of the canefields.23
The same spirit of resistance within Hinduism is even more extensively
explored in 'Coming Of The Rain'. Here the ritualistic, venal and ethnically
chauvinistic pundits are not only powerless to end the spiritual drought, but are
in part responsible for its creation:
Once you know
pride transformed these frescoes greater than gods
as white-clad pundits searched the altars






for devotees' offerings.
How they smiled that smile of deceit
misinterpreting text from the Ramayan.24
But the drought is also linked to the people's failure of vision because
of their experience of servitude and their dependence on the hope of divine
rescue. In the second part of the poem, the 'boom' is not only the thunder which
ends the drought, but the sound of the iconoclastic overturning of the brahminical
idols by men who look inwardly, and who by acting become gods themselves:
Boom!
mortal peasants tear the temple gods to pieces
bony hands challenge the omnipotence of the sky
Boom Boooom .
Look!
closed, undisturbed eyes ...
Men become gods.
However, this faith in the democratic human spirit is only one impulse in
Monar's work. For he also expresses a tormented sense of division between the
urge to be part of the cycle of creation and the urge to escape from it. In 'Birth',
he sees in sexual union a replacement for the lost hope of finding cultural rebirth
through social action. Here Shiva is invoked in his manifestation as the ithyphallic
god:
Paralysed hands grasp for music
in the sanctum of sorrow
as Shiv's dances neared patterns
in confusions with penis and clitoris
until original
original birth appears.25
However, in 'Metamorphosis', cursed by a sense of futility ('how many stars have
poisoned my lineage') he looks for escape and considers:
Once I drowned between sea-beds -
who could wish a better death
than live with a curse in the forehead
of your Universe.
Here the sexual dance of Shiva, the snake-armed god, becomes a burden from
which he wants release (moksha):
.. must I resurrect for a second birth
the wicked serpent again
for Shiv's dances enchant the cobra?
are we victims of this ..
this timeless symphony?
Can our death beget our birth?26
Monar brings these ambivalences together in what is to date his most pro.
found and complex poem, 'Koker', in which he uses the landscape of the sugar





estate as a deeply though-out image for his spiritual state. In the poem, the
koker, the sluice-gate which, at the front of the polder, keeps out the sea water,
and at the back of the polder controls the amount of fresh water let in from
the savannah, is a symbolic boundary point between dry land and flood. The
poem, which speaks in the voice of the koker, expresses the ambiguous antagon-
ism and attraction between the two.
The poem begins by identifying the ocean, which the koker must keep
out because its salinity will poison the soil, both with the attraction to the aban-
donment of sexual orgasm and, as in earlier poems, with the call of the ances-
tral voices:
Belly waves roll upon waves
climbing on top the other
as unfulfilled lovers do
tumbling in whirlpools
at the end of desire,
then come plashing me in the face
drunk with the power of temporal grace.2"
That freedom and grace is contrasted with the land within the polder, tor-
mented by the sun, and the 'dual agony' the koker speaks of must be seen as both
the endurance of the 'sun-cracked weather' and its separation from the sea,
apparent but false source of fertility. The spirit is drawn to life (the koker is
what makes cultivation possible) but is also frustrated by its captivity within
material boundaries:
But who knows
who ever knows the beginning of this dual agony?
I still wonder at the endurance
of sun-cracked weather:
silent carrion-crow clouds;
white unending unending distance .
In the next stanza, Monar appears to allude to the Creation Hymn (Nasa-
diya) of the Rig Veda which begins :
There was neither non-existence nor existence then; there was
neither the realm of space nor the sky which is beyond. What
stirred? Where? In whose protection? Was there water, bottom-
lessly deep?28
In this hymn and others celebrating the creation in the Vedas, it is the
waters of unconscious matter which exist prior to the imposition of form through
the generative heat of the sun, a metaphor which suggests that it is the heat
of desire which keeps the phenomenal world of form in existence. Since this
desire is the force that stands in the way of goal of release from samsara, the
koker wonders:
Sometimes I question the futility of my birth
and the riddle of the proverbs -






(who first saw the maker of this life
or heard the first cry of this Creation?)

The koker thus comes both to long for the fresh water which brings life
and to feel the burden that the cycle of fertility brings :

I forever bear like pregnant paddy sheaves
everlasting burden of three month's rain;
savannah surging waters.

In its boundary position the koker is set between the world of man (the
land) and the gods (the sea). Sought out by people as a source of life and wisdom,
the koker is tempted to see itself as elemental and divine, but has to recognize
that it is man-made and can only be aware of but is always in some measure re-
moved from the mysteries (the 'unseeming tapestries') of the infinite:

They come
lost little children
seeking my age-old counsel.
I turn to myself and ponder:
'Perhaps I am life-and-death ..
yet I am neither
for unseeming tapestries continue to weave
and weave .'

Yet the koker is, though separated from the ocean, still intensely drawn
by its summons. Here Monar uses the images of sea and land to stand both for
spirit and matter and for the ancestral Indian call cf the ocean and the parched
difficult identity of the Indo-Guyanese. The ambivalence of the koker's response
to the ocean's call is beautifully caught in the image of 'the wink of my eyes',
suggesting not only the glint of the sun on the kicker's water and the idea of the
koker's relationship to the sea, but also the idea that the koker's understanding
of the ocean's message is both momentary and enlivening :

Out there in the ocean
Something silently speaks with me
and only the wink of my eyes understand
Am I sun or rain?
Am I 'fairy-godmother'
to crabs...... shrubs ............courida............?

Monar's poetry does not always match the profundity of his exploration
of the split sensibility of the Indo-Guyanese with a corresponding technical ex-
pertise. Yet whatever these poems may lack in terms of structural coherence,
rhythmical certainty or verbal polish, they are unmatched as highly self-con-
scious expressions of a transformed Hindu sensibility in the Caribbean. Through
Monar's poetry, the dumb god buried in the copper trunk is given voice.





FOOTNOTES
1. See An Area of Darkness, London, 1964; and Finding The Centre: Two Narratives
London, 1984.
2. Calcutta Writer's Workshop, 1985.
3. In the Anthology of Local Indian Verse, Georgetown, 1934.
4. Georgetown, Demerara Daily Chronicle, 1916.
5. Guyana, Berbice Gazette, 1921.
6. Georgetown, Daily Chronicle, 1922.
7. New Amsterdam, Lutheran Press, 1933.
8. Georgetown, Argosy, 1934.
9. Kitty, Sheik Sadeek, 1968.
10. Georgetown, Advance Press, 1972.
11. Wales, W.B.D., 1977. See also Dawning Days, 1976 and Horizons of Life, 1977.
12. Corriverton, 1978. See also Shattered Dreams, 1979.
13. 'The Row', Life And Living, Wales, 1980.
14. 'Love and Hate', My New Guyana, Kitty, Sheik Sadeek, 1969, p. 12.
15. 'The New Land', ibid. p. 17.
16. The Making Of Guyanese Literature, Georgetown, 1978, p. 55.
17. Forward, Glossary Of The Soul, Georgetown, c. 1968.
18. 'Maha Kali', ibid.
19. Enmore, 1976.
20. 'Going For Lawah', Meanings, 1972.
21. 'Ishwar', Kaie no. 10, p. 29. (written under the pseudonym of Bramdeo Persaud.)
22. Typescript, c. 1974.
23. 'Darling of the Rising Sun', Patterns, Georgetown, 1983.
24. 'Coming of the Rain', Darling Of The Rising Sun.
25. 'Birth', ibid.
26. 'Metamorphosis', Patterns.
27. 'Echoes of Memory Koker', Kaie, no. 12, 1975, pp. 72-76. (Published under the pseu-
donym of V.D.B.).
28. W. O'Flaherty, The Rig Veda: An Anthology, Penguin Books, 1981. pp. 25-26.






THE PRACTICE OF BIOGRAPHY

A. J. SEYMOUR

A biography is the written account of the life or an individual. And
what is an individual? Each man, says Archbishop Wm. Temple, is the
Universe coming to self-consciousness in a particular focus, the self-awareness
of the Universe finds a tower of reference of all creation in one observing eye.
And, of course, an autobiography is the story of a person's life written by
himself. There you have three definitions, two taken from the dictionary
and one from the Archbishop of Canterbury which lifts the other two into
the dimensions of philosophy and religion.
In 1978, when I was publishing the second part of my autobiography, I
asked the question "why does one write an autobiography" and then I pro-
ceeded to answer it. I put down four or five reasons first, to bear witness
to the events of his life and show how the history of the nation is written
although smaller in his own life, this is to say that social history both influences
and is influenced by the observing eye. Second, to record his self-education,
how his books and his wife and his friends and his job all conspired to create
his personality with one particular viewpoint of selection from a seething mass
of ideas and attitudes; what is important here is the element of unconscious
selectivity that we exercise. Thirdly, to help the younger generation to know
the facts and lessons of one's life, depicting the past now vanished for the
people now alive the truths and insights extracted from social forces to be
submitted to the judgment of time. Since the cinema lens of history is always
passing on to new frames of reference, young people are given a depth of
cultural meaning of their own environment in this way.
In the fourth place, autobiography is an equation. He sees how the
purposive and the accidental come together, if you like, the causal and the
casual, how the chance arrival of a personality or an accident, can make
a great difference in a man's life. Here we see how the playing by ear of the
melody of one's life changes resonances and even direction depending on one's
unconscious selectivity and chance. Here too you find the tension between a
surface-event and the deep symbolic value of the episode which emerges with
the years. Other reasons also present themselves the yearning for dignity in
one's own right, each of us wants to be important in our generation in some
way, the reaching for a base of unquestioned personal authority. For a poet,
there is the body of his poetry written and published as part of his life-writing,
along with reflective memoirs. So we focus into the story of one personality
all of these and other streams of invisible income and tribute, and you let
judgment work upon memory in perceptions of creative change.
This is the unconscious and vague theory behind the practice. My own
practice of biography began very simply. It was in 1965, I had an efficient
shorthand secretary who never knew what she would be asked to put down -
a sermon, a letter to the newspaper, or to the Prime Minister, a lecture or some
draft of a book review. One day after she had typed a letter in which I made





certain remarks she suggested that perhaps I might like to put down some
part of my life story and she would be happy to do it after working hours.
So there was I with an offer which I was happy to take up and I dedicated the
first book Growing up in Guyana in this way. Some time elapsed then I wrote
by longhand part 2, Pilgrim Memories on lectures and visits to U.K., U.S.A.
West Germany and Brazil in 1977. Part 3 came by chance. We were preparing
for a family reunion on our 40th Wedding Anniversary to be held in Toronto
and it occurred to me that since I was the tame writer in the family, I should
mark the event, by writing out how I met my wife, how the children were born
and how we grew up as a family, based on some of my memories, especially
the cementing ones! My printer said he would do 100 copies, but I must give
him four clear weeks before I left. So there was I, trying to write it all down,
sometimes at 2 a.m., in order to finish in time. Then typing was the problem,
but when the typist assistance ended, the printer said he would be able to
read my hand writing and set it from that. I was very happy. The printer was
as good as his word. The day before we left for Toronto I got 100 precious
copies of Family Impromtu to take with us. This is a private publication in
every sense of the words in short a privication.

And then there is part four, Thirty Years a Civil Servant which came
out in 1982. In 1983, I was fortunate to bring out another section,
The years in Puerto Rico and Mackenzie, which follows on from the career
I had as a national civil servant and from which I went on to work with
an international organization and then with a multi-national corporation.
I continue to write and I'm now drafting my travels as a cultural emissary
for Guyana inviting Cuba, Puerto Rico, Venezuela, Colombia, Dominican
Republic and Haiti and Suriname to participate in the 1972 Carifesta cele-
brations.
Of course, there are deeper aspects of autobiography. A psychotherapist
Chas Ryecroft points out that the person writing an autobiography is engaged
on a quest back into memory in which he encounters his past selves in a
multiple and slowly-changing personality corridor, like walking down a long
corridor of mirrors in which he sees himself at different stages. The writer
selects memories in the light of his present conception of himself. Sometimes
the memories press for expression, sometimes they resist and elude his
imaginative recollection. So when the present "I" records the events in the
life of the past "me", a dialectic is taking place in which both experience a
certain amount of change almost imperceptibly, and at the event the I-me
dialectic can be said to be "I wrote it" or "It wrote me". I mention this because
it is important to realise that there are elements of self-justification, self-
aggrandizement, confession and the desire to amuse among others all operating
in the mind of the writer who is recounting his life.
One man suggests that all this special question of autobiography can be
traced back to the 15th century in Europe when modern man took the place of
medieval man. Medieval man considered himself as a member of society, but mod-
ern man came to conceive himself as having a self, an identity, which was defined
in terms of itself and in opposition to, not its membership of, society. Jacob






Burckhardt in The Civilisation of the Renaissance in Italy mentions the great
part played by Dante in this movement of history. Suddenly the individual is
important and the famous person even more so, and he tells us how all local
celebrities were noticed and their lives set down and there are two names,
Bartolemew Facius and Pado Cortese, persons who collected facts and published
books about famous men of the present and of the past, treating them as if
they were members of one illustrious family. They lived in the 15th century which
is a century of explosion of the concept of the personality, and the development
of the individual.

Facius wrote The Book of Famous Men in 1445, only Italians, but by
category,-poets, orators, jurists, physicians, painters, sculptors, generals, emi-
nent citizens, princes and Kings. These were all contemporaries. Cortese in
1490 in A Dialogue of Learned Men dealt only with the dead, often the long
dead, and by way of discussion with two scholars, and he concentrates on the
eloquence of these Italians. What we have here is a Who's Who by Facius and
a Dictionary of Italian Biography of the Renaissance by Cortese. We should
notice that both books seemed necessary to satisfy public demand and curi-
ousity, at that time of explosion of interest in the human personality. The
thought therefore arises, there is a parallel between the sudden eruption of
interest in the individual at the time of the Renaissance when modern man
was growing up, and the explosion of interest in Biography in Third World
peoples, as they pass from colonial dependence to independence of political
action. Third World peoples partake of the same pride in knowing about the
personalities who helped to form the modern nation.
One other contribution to autobiography comes from psychoanalysis.
Autobiography deals with the conscious, but there is also the unconscious, and
we are told that repression and resistance are the forces which block the way
to our unconsciousness, because what is alarming, disagreeable or shameful,
or in any way painful, has been forgotten as a defence.
This leads us to the biological drives covered by the ID, the conscious
mental activities covered by the term the Ego, and the conscience of culture
which carries the name of the Super-ego. There is a fascinating and subtle
relationship among these during all stages of our normal development, and
so what the life of a person has meant and what it deeply means at the present
moment are part of the value of autobiography.

What has been the practice of biography in Guyana? The Reference
Department of the National Library prepared for me seven pages of listings
of books by Guyanese and yet that was incomplete. Looking at the record
in analysis, I could see that teachers pre-dominated. The lives of Cyril Potter,
Norman Cameron and remember the book which became a film To Sir With
Love, that is autobiography made into fiction. Then G. H. A. Bunyan had put
down a 60-year history of the Teachers Association in 220 pages, 1884-1944.
There were two portraits of Hubert Nathaniel Critchlow one in 1949 and another
in 1976. You would expect that, a life-story of a man who made an interna-
tional and regional impact on working-peoples' lives. The life story of a lawyer






Hon. A. B. Brown was told by his widow Edith Brown -, "Mamee" Brown as
we called her. Denis Williams had devised a careful study of George Giglioli.
Norman Cameron was there twice in his own account of his adventures
in the field of Culture and Joycelyne Loncke had done a booklet on Norman
Cameron, the man and his work. Writers were well represented, we may say
Edgar Mittelholzer, Walter McLawrence, A. J. Seymour, and Arnold Apple
P. H. Daly was outstanding. He published three collections of biographies
in Stories of the Heroes. These contain valuable data representing considerable
research in newspapers, and this information is little-known although one may
disagree with some value-judgements.
What is the reason behind these and other books not chronicled here?
The history of the lives of individual men and women is intended to give an
artistic and truthful presentation of the individual with a sympathetic under-
standing of his character. We are talking here of the value of existence, about
the worth of an individual and how to measure that worth, the intrinsic good-
ness or value, the excellence and usefulness of the years of living.
In the Guyana situation, we quickly became conscious of the colonial
setting in which many lived their lives. Now that we have attained what we
called political freedom, we give value to the cultural Guyana ground.
Take examples. In 1966, Cheddi Jagan in The West on Trial, devotes
scores of pages to the conditions of his early life and how his father and mother
lived, and then analyses the political and social forces at work as he sees
them. He was searching for political freedom. Edgar Mittelholzer in A Swarthy
Boy sets out his instinctive protest against the social conditions that surrounded
him at home in New Amsterdam, just as he later protested living social con-
ditions in the U.K., and many of his novels depict the determination of charac-
ters who by will-power carve out the framework of their own lives in improved
quality.
The lesson behind the biography of Dr. Giglioli by Denis Williams is
that a scientifically trained personality based on European norms had to
investigate the scourge of malaria in his tropical environment, and so Guyana
gains with the eradication of disease by DDT. Take Ayube Edun. He wrote
London's Heart Probe and Britain's Destiny 1928 as the expression of his personal
philosophy and so criticised social life in London the Royal Family, the
Stock Exchange and the British working class. He used the selfless services
rendered in India as a base and a hope and condemned the rottenness of the
whole British structure. You see here the will-power with which he fought
for the improvement of East Indian estate workers as a trade unionist.
Or just take the accidents of immigration, Richard D. Nurse was born in
Barbados as the youngest of a family of eighteen children. Apprenticed as a
carpenter to his father, he came to Br. Guiana in 1880, served under the
most able and efficient contractors and went on to become a contractor in his
own right. He built the B.G. Mutual Fire Insurance Buildings in 1894, Bourda
Market in 1903, the National Liby in 1909 and Wieting and Richter Ice
Factory in the same year.







E. Rupert Burrowes was born in Barbados in 1903 but spent his whole
life in B.G. and became the father of the modern art movement in this country.
We talk about Barbados. From Antigua now. In 1878 a N.C.O. of
Police named George Potter came to Demerara with his three young sons from
the island of Antigua. One became a Minister of religion, Rev. George Potter,
and in the second generation, we find those stalwarts of Guyanese intellectual
and educational life J. C. La T. Potter, E. A. Q. Potter and R. C. G.
Potter as the N.C.O.'s grandsons. There is a cultural ground to all this. The
heroes of Guianese society have been up to now the Colonial masters, Governor
this and Chief Secretary or Chief Justice that. Then there have been some
12 to 20 English families, which have dominated Guianese life in the 19th
century the Austins, the Bayleys, the Campbells, the Davsons, the Kings,
the Langs, the Macnies, the Seafords, the Smeliies and others.

What we must remember here is that a first generation Englishman comes
out to Guiana. He settles down, sends his son to school in England and then
brings him back to live and work here, but at a high Executive level. Some of
these 2nd generation sons may consider themselves Guianese; they make a con-
tribution to our country's future. We have to consider them. Against that group
are the up-to-now unmentioned and forgotten contributions of black and col-
oured Guianese who did not start high up the executive ladder, who did not
have the education or the opportunities, but who by sheer persistence and will-
power sometimes learning the language of the white contemporaries have in-
deed made a contribution to the present national heritage.

It is well to be conscious of this trend. Sometimes there is no record,
or little record, of the contributions of what would have been considered
as the important Guianese who was born black and often lower class. The editors
of the day would have ignored them, so the faceless and unknown are many.
In fact it is only in these more recent generations that the black Guyanese
themselves begin to record their contributions. Many worthies of the past
suffered in this way and are unknown today.
Take Alyce Fraser Denny. Legend says she possessed a remarkable
voice. Quite by accident, I read that in 1929/1930, or 1931/2 when in England
there was a coming together of all the Wesleyan and Methodist religious so-
cieties, Madame Alyce Fraser Denny was invited to sing as a Guianese in the
Albert Hall at a concert to mark the occasion. This would be a great honour.
What did she sing? Where else is this recorded?

There is another problem which has arisen. In the colonial days, what-
ever the Establishment did was right. When you thought of Cuffee as a rebel
fighting against Baron Von Huggenheim, the Governor of Berbice, in 1763.
you said the Governor automatically was right and the slave was wrong. This
is how the historybooks have been written. Today with independence, and
the desire to catalogue all the native and indigenous movements towards free-
dom as good, Cuffy was declared the hero Von Huggenheim is considered the
villain. Do we revise the history books to show the new attitude? This is done







in some countries, e.g. Japan. With the Enmore Martyrs, you see the trend.
The names of the five Martyrs are recorded with pride and the colonial police
are said to have committed murder, and annually marches and speeches
celebrate the deaths of these sugar workers.
Does this mean that the history books have to be rewritten for today's
children? We speak in a small local environment, but UNESCO has had to
consider the re-writing of the history books of the world in places like Ger-
many England and France, and in Japan. How does one minimize the dropping
of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima dropped by European people on Asiatic
peoples? The issue here is that every national culture is to be considered as
important as every other, say Guyana as compared with the United Kingdom,
and it is the duty of the state or national conscience to provide the material for
this pride.
It will be very evident that the practice of biography, and therefore of
autobiography, becomes very important as a means of creating the material
on which the national pride of Guyana may be built and to redress the neglect
of decades and even centuries. Take our contemporary world of the Caribbean.
In giving lectures to some groups of teachers, I have got the impression that
for some of them life began only in 1966. They have no appreciation of the
social forces at work in Guyana in the 1930s and the 1940s; the suspension of
the Guyana Constitution in 1953 is not clearly understood and the trends and
direction of the constitutions under which life in Guyana has been lived are
not perceived.
One difference between a developed country and a developing country is
that in the developed country anyone will have access to the memoirs of the
leaders of the previous generation and therefore form in his mind slowly-
shaping criteria of judgment by which to evaluate what is being done and
said by the leaders of today. They tell us that every man, every woman, has
in him or her at least one book, the story of the individual life.
What I'm saying is that more and more Guyanese should write the
story of their lives to provide the web of social memory upon which the real
identity of the young developing nation may be built. There is a surprising
interest in the writing of memoirs today, and many persons say they are thinking
of doing so. I give you an example. Arthur Davis of Sash Window fame, had
lost his wife after many years of married life happily together. We met in
one of the corridors of Bourda Market and we talked, and partly as a result
he began to write his life story. Now that his autobiography has been com-
pleted, everyone who reads it is strengthened in a mental way. Walter Rodney
in his two books on Guyana, Sugar Plantations in the 1989's and the
History of the Guyanese working Class 1880-1995 has shed a torch light of
great illumination on the last twenty years of the 19th century and the begin-
nings of the Ninteen hundreds. These give us our history which we didn't know
and build our national pride. We are intensely interested in learning more
and more of our past nation builders.
I've talked to you about the practice of biography, told you how it
happened in my case, and some of the reasons why a life story is written. Lightly







I've touched upon the psychological difficulties, the way this type of writing
suddenly flowered with the Renaissance when modern man evolved from medie-
val man, lingered on the edge of the unconscious and looked at some of the
examples from the Guyana scene. Of course, biography is social history as
well as self memorising and in Guyana and the Caribbean our social history
is rather thin. One question is who have built the nation? and what insights
have they passed on to us?

There is a project being planned and executed, A Dictionary of Guyanese
National Biography.

Every Fifth Former in a Secondary School in Guyana should be able to
pick up a small reference book with the biographies in brief of 200 persons
who are safely dead and who have made a notable contribution and helped
to build the modern Guyana. For example, when you hear the name Edgar
Duke as a model of scholastic excellence, or Robert Victor Evan Wong, as a
promoter of wood pulp or Hubert Nathaniel Critchlow, you should be able to
check this Dictionary and find in two or three paragraphs what is the worth
of the individual's contribution to the national scene. Where have the spiritual
and intellectual forces of creativity been most at work in the Guyana national
scene the creativity that was responsible for the B.G. Union of Cultural
Clubs 1943-1950, creating a vision of the intellectual capital of Georgetown
life, the B.G. Dramatic Society for 18 years stressing the valuable in Indian
Cultural heritage in the man, the Macusi Bichiwung who was responsible for
starting the Hallelujah religion for James McFarlane Corry who, from
1904-1924 as President of the Village Chairman's Conference, and year after
year led innovative and forward-looking debates on the future of rural
dwellers, for the ingenuity of John Bradshaw Sharples who built all the rail-
way stations and bridges between Georgetown and Rosignal and Vreed-en-hoop
and Greenwich Park for $85,000 in 3 years.

What we're talking about here is the angle of vision, the need for this
particular age to gain whatever facts are available of the faceless anonymous
of the past, and to interpret them and their record into a basis of hope and
discernment of the future emerging from the past. It is to some extent an
impossible task. James Rodway went through the newspapers available for
more than ten years to write his The Story of Georgetown. Those newspapers
have gone up in accidental flames or perished by culpable neglect. All we have
now is Rodway's Story. A. R. F. Webber wrote a newspaper history of British
Guiana in 1931, writing the text almost year by year. Now the newspapers have
gone and his History remains. What is important always is that we in Guyana
should concentrate our attention on this aspect of our social history. We need
to do two things to read the network of biography in Guyana more con-
sciously and make an attempt of possession of it, and also, those of us who can,
should consider writing the book that lies within each one of us and so
add to the national biographical heritage.






REVIEWS)
THE PENGUIN BOOK OF CARIBBEAN VERSE IN ENGLISH
edited by PAULA BURNETT
To say it right away and briefly, this is a marvellous book. No one inter-
ested in West Indian writing, and I go so far as to say that no West Indian with
any feeling for our literature and culture, should be without this book in his or
her library. There are many lovely anthologies the recent "Caribbean Poetry
Now" edited by Stewart Brown, and "Facing the Sea", edited by Anne Walmsley,
spring to mind but surely this is the most comprehensive and best anthology
of Caribbean poetry in English there has yet been. Not the least of its merits are
the excellent, mind-nourishing Introduction by Paula Burnett and the succinct, in-
teresting, useful biographical notes. The Introduction by itself is a pleasure to
read, written with great lucidity, full of invaluable historical information and
analysis, and spurring one continually into new and fascinating avenues of ideas.
Of course there must be quibbles. What anthology in history has not been
quibbled over? Every single person who gets an anthology, the first thing he does
is lament what has been left out. It will be so with this anthology too. Personally
I am sad that there is nothing here of Cecil Herbert or Owen Campbell or H. A.
Vaughn or Harold Telemaque or Milton Williams. I would have liked to see more
of Pamela Mordecai. I missed Eric Roach's "Homestead" and "To My Mother"
without which, for me, any Caribbean anthology lacks something. In the case of
the major poets Derek Walcott, Eddie Brathwaite, Martin Carter, Mervyn
Morris you always think of pieces that you would have dearly wished to see
included. I think Wordsworth McAndrew deserved a place his "01' Higue",
especially as performed, is a wonderful example of the oral tradition in Carib-
bean poetry. Guyanese poets like Mahadai Das, Shana Yardan, and Rooplall
Monar would have been worthy of places and would have strengthened represen-
tation of the East Indian strain in our poetry, as indeed would the inclusion of
one or two East Indian folk songs in the oral tradition section.
But when all is said and done, these really are quibbles. If Paula Burnett had
had twice the 370 pages she had at her disposal still she could not have got in
more than an inkling of what is valuable, such is the richness that belongs to
Caribbean poetry now. And, to more than offset any personal quibbles, there
were any number of discoveries, new to me. Horatia Nelson Huggins's "Hiroona"
was a completely unexpected revelation. James Berry's poems, to my shame, I
did not know before this anthology. Individual poems like Frederick D'Aguiar's
"Letter from Mama Dot" and Dennis Scott's "Grampa" and "Epitaph" and Louis
Simpson's "Jamaica" and John Agard's "Pan Recipe" and many others I had not
seen before and already love. And, above all, the whole section with the oral
poets, and Paula Burnett's examination of the oral tradition in our poetry, gave
at least this reader invaluable new insights into what is and what is not Carib-
bean poetry.
Blurbs, of course, are not to be trusted but it may have a special signifi-
cance that the one on the back cover of this anthology highlights the vigour of oral






tradition in Caribbean poetry "performance poets, dub and newspaper poets,
singer-songwriters Louise Bennett, Michael Smith or Bob Marley (w-P)
have created a genuinely popular art form, a poetry heard by audiences all over
the world." Even Edward Brathwaite and Derek Walcott are mentioned in the
context of their "exploring ways of capturing the vitality of the spoken word on
the page." I think this advertisement for understandable commercial reasons
- does some injustice to the book which remains at its heart a marvellous an-
thology of the rich "literary tradition" in Caribbean poetry. Yet I do not doubt
that the emphasis on the oral says something valid about this collection. I do not
know of any other anthology that brings in "oral" poetry as comprehensively and
as such an essential part of the tradition of poetry composition. This is surely an
important departure and it will be difficult for future anthologists Caribbean
certainly but perhaps others too to abandon the idea. "In the last 15 years",
Paula Burnett writes "a whole new cultural phenomenon has developed in re-
sponse to modern technology, which has finally broken the old association of
the vernacular with comedy, and is, in fact, a remarkable re-invention of an
ancient tradition". Her analysis of the emergence and blossoming of this "new"
kind of poetry is fascinating and vital.
Of course, the danger is that one may go overboard in describing all kinds
of calypsoes, performance songs, and acted words as "poetry". How much of Bob
Dylan is poetry? The Beatles? Neil Diamond? Kitch and the Mighty Sparrow?
Yellow Man? Folk songs? Work chants? All or none? Presumably some, but
how to decide the some? Is it a purely subjective feeling "this is poetry"? Or
can there be more objective criteria? I for one in this anthology, for instance,
accept without any misgivings at all that the Dancing Songs recorded by J. B.
Moreton in Jamaica in 1973, "My Deery Honey", Louise Bennett's work, "Get
To Hell Out of Here" by Sparrow, "Guyana Not Ghana" by Marc Matthews,
"Wukhand" by Paul Keens-Douglas, to name a few, are all poetry by any defini-
tion you may care to use and can never again, therefore, be left out of considera-
tion when such anthologies are being compiled in future. Some other oral pieces
I am not so sure about but then is one so sure that all the thousand and one
"poems" that jostle for inclusion in the literary tradition are themselves true
poems? All in all the reading of this anthology has set me off on a search for
poetry in the work of song composers, calypsonians, and dubpoets in Guyana -
in the folk songs of which country I already know there is so much of the feel
and music of real poetry.
Before concluding I cannot resist a small diversion which may be worth
a footnote in any future edition of this wonder-full and valuable anthology. In it
three poems by a Donald McDonald appear. The biographical note on Donald
McDonald states simply: "Born Antigua. All that is known of McDonald is his
volume of First World War verse, for which the proceeds were to go to the West
India Committee Contingent Fund. Verse, rather than poetry, it is none the less
competent, and typical of the period." Donald McDonald was my great-uncle,
the eldest of 5 brothers prominent in Antiguan life at the time, one of whom was
my grandfather, Dr. William McDonald, still to this day affectionately remem-
bered as "the children's doctor" by many Antiguans. For years I had heard from
my father of Donald McDonald's "Songs of an Islander" but no one in the family






had a copy. Now, through Paula Burnett, I have been able to trace a copy in the
library of the Royal Commonwealth Society to my great delight.

Donald Mc Donald's story is a sad one. His only son, Ian, in his teen became
air hero of the First World War with 22 victories fighting in the fledgling Royal
Air Force. After the War was over he came back to Antigua but grew restless and
soon returned to service in the R.A.F. He was killed in action during an operation
in Mesopotamia, still aged only 21. His death completely broke my great-uncle's
McDonald's story is a sad one. His only son, Ian, in his teens became an air hero
of the First World War with 22 victories fighting in the fledgling Royal Air Force.
After the War was over he came back to Antigua but grew restless and soon re-
turned to service in the R.A.F. He was killed in action during an operation in
Mesopotamia, still aged only 21. His death completely broke my great -uncle's
life. His business, McDonald and Company in St. John's, collapsed and he had
to sell out for a song. Soon after he died. Donald McDonald's young brother, my
grandfather, married Hilda Edwards who also by coincidence wrote poetry. In her
life she published three short volumes of poems, some of which, I am certain,
will find a place whenever early West Indian writing is being considered. Both
sides of my father's family, therefore, contributed in a new generation to my own
sprig of poetry. One of the side pleasures for me in reading Paula Burnett's lovely,
stimulating book was to find my great-uncle's poems, which I had never seen,
and to be reminded of the ancestral roots of my own great love of poetry.
IAN McDONALD



"HE AND SHE"
MARC MATTHEWS and ZENA PUDDY.

Here in London we often hear Caribbean language used in drama and
performance to stereotype or caricature Caribbean people, even with the best
intentions. A rare exception to this was He and She with Marc Matthews and
Zena Puddy as the principal performers.

Their choice of material was exciting. It gave full scope to both per-
formers with their obvious love for the material. These were pieces which
plunged us uncompromisingly into harsh settings. These were Roger Mais'
Yard Chorus, Zena Puddy's Rape, Frank Collymore's Ballad of an Old Wo-
man, Bruce St. John's Letter to England, and a long extract from Earl Love-
lace's The Dragon Can't Dance. Then there were pieces which portrayed
the kinds of response which Caribbean people make to this reality: defiance
and revolt in Bob Marley's Redemption Song and Martin Carter's I Come
From The Nigger Yard and Letter I; longing for escape into spiritual consola-
tion in Zena Puddy's hymnal songs; grief at suffering in Paul Keens-Douglas's
Coconut and Frank Collymore's Ballad Of An Old Woman; affirmative and
positive embracing of innocence as symbolised by the landscape in Kamal
Matthews' Six O'Clock Feeling and as symbolised by childhood in Marc






Matthews' Jumbie Picnic; and a sarddonic note decrying ignorance of Carib-
bean history in Andrew Salkey's Into History Now. Mighty Spoiler's Medley
was a sparkling comment on Caribbean word language dexterity as anarchy
against the English language.

Both performers gave all this material passionate interpretation as well
as controlled structure. The first came from inspired acting underlined in the
case of Marc Matthews by the depth and quality of his experience. His acting
history is tied up with the genesis of the Dem Two and Me One shows which he
and Ken Corsbie initiated in Guyana in the 70's. It was a historic moment when
Caribbean theatre and literature were united. Much of Caribbean literature owes
a debt to its oral roots in creolese but flowered as a phenomenon of printing.

The appearance of the literature on the Dem Two and Me One stage put
it in its proper context Both Ken Corsbie and Marc Matthews worked hard at
these shows, touring the Caribbean and developing their skill at using regional
accents which was unprecedented in Caribbean theatre. Through their work, the
work of Caribbean writers, the Caribbean language itself, was carried to the
people and opened up the possibilities for using it in schools through to univer-
sity.

I could not help but see He and She as the latest stage in the genesis of
the first Dem Two shows so many years ago. It bore the stamp of innovations
of that time, innovations now matured into mastery and control.

So much expense usually goes into creating Caribbean settings of poverty
here a contradiction which usually defeats the performance. A minimal set
and imaginative use of space, slides and shadow-acting backed up the performers.
Wooden panels used for entrances and exits conveyed movement, passing of time
and interiors and exteriors. The effect of having the audience listen to creolese
emanate from behind the panels (and the screen) created the sense of over-
hearing the Caribbean at a great distance. It provided an extra charge of realism.
Hillside villages, market scenes, tenement yards, interior domestic scenes, wide
open spaces in various hues of natural light and dark, back yards with fruit
trees, verandahs and landings all these unfolded vividly with only the help
of an empty crate or two, chairs, and a clothes line which could be taken down
or put up as required. Overall, these simple but imaginative techniques framed
He and She with a sense of space as historical (for focusing the political and
social realities) as well as timeless (for expressing emotions and spirit).

A special mention has to be made of Zena Puddy's interpretation of I Come
From the Nigger Yard. It is usually taken as written for a male voice. Marc
Matthews has given a very original musical interpretation to it, turning it into
a passionate male/female duet with musical backing. Zena gave a fine woman's
solo interpretation of it. Continuing experiments with oral interpretations of
Caribbean poetry, prose, plays and calypsoes give endless scope for individual
expression.
JANICE SHINEBOURNE






WOODSKIN
by JOY BLAND

With the 500th anniversary of Columbus' making contact with the New
World a mere 4 years away, there is a general resurgence of interest in the
indigenous peoples and cultures of the Americas. Ms. Bland's WOODSKIN,
an illustrated story for children, is a welcome addition to the literature avail-
able.

In the book, the focus of the historic contact shifts to the Arawaks and
the action which is described is filtered through the perception of two young
protagonists, Wakuyando and her brother, Tandie. The author adds the element
of reincarnation, suggesting that Wakuyando and Tandie have been reborn in
the persons of Yolande and Andy, contemporary Barbadian children, whose
story forms the beginning and ending of the book. This is a clever device since
it helps to link the story to the present as well as sustain the interest of young
readers.

In the course of the narration a tale of the shock and disbelief ex-
perienced by a small Arawak community on first hearing the news and having
to come to terms with the coming of Europeans to their island world many
items and customs of aboriginal culture are introduced and described : Wakuy-
ando is named after the red-breast bird, cassava is carried home from the farm
in woven backpacks called warishis and later made into cassava bread, Tandie
uses a siba to make his first rock painting, and so on.

The author casually introduces the concept of the sexual division of
labour which still holds true for surviving indigenous peoples. It is Wakuyando
who collects firewood and helps with the cooking and serving of food while her
mother goes to the farm and tends the fires that burn all night beneath her
family's hammocks. A boy's responsibilities, on the other hand, are less mono-
tonous: Tandie goes on hunting trips with the men, he gets to talk to the
stranger who comes to their shores and can learn from him the art of making
rock pictures. "Picture making is not for girls", Tandie retorts when his sister
offers to help.

The confusion of these first inhabitants when they learn of the marauding
expeditions of the Europeans is eloquently mirrored in Yando's reaction to her
brother's warning : "But we do not hide from visitors ... we welcome them and
offer them food and drink". The old leader of the village, the cacique Semchedi,
correctly predicts that things will never be the same again : "I see trouble ..
I see changes. This is the end of our peaceful life here".

WOODSKIN is a very evocative title for a book of this kind though it is
doubtful whether Arawakan tribes ever made these fragile craft. Fashioned from
the bark of the purpleheart tree, they are only suitable for travel in calm waters.
In Guyana woodskins are only made by the Akawaio tribe of the Upper Maza-






runi area though some will find their way into other native communities as a
result of inter-tribe trade. So that when Ms. Bland puts the following words in
the mouths of her characters, she seems to be indulging in a bit of poetic licence:

"They must have made boats", objected Andy. "How would they have
got to these islands?"

"Right again," his father agreed. "They became expert makers of small
boats called woodskins. They made them from he bark of tall, straight trees.
They also made larger ones sometimes, but knew nothing of engines, and not
much about sails." (p. 4)

That caveat aside, WOODSKIN is nicely illustrated and contains many
elements that will appeal to youthful readers. In common with many stories for
children, it also tells of a journey into the unknown which the children, along
with some members of the tribe, will have to embark on in defiance of the
cacique, Semchedi, in order to save their lives.

Ms. Bland is to be congratulated for having written a story which manages
to be both didactic and enjoyable and in which the first inhabitants of the
Caribbean take pride of place.
JANICE FORTE




EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION IN GUYANA
Georgetown, 1982
by ELMA E. SEYMOUR

In 1947 Elma Seymour resigned from the staff of St. James-the-Less School
in Kitty and turned the living room of her home into The Kindergarten which
she then ran successfully for 15 years. Her account of her experiences as pri-
mary school teacher first and then head of her own school as well as the re-
collections of her own early schooling during the first two decades of this cen-
tury make her book a charming reading experience. But EARLY CHILDHOOD
EDUCATION IN GUYANA is not merely anecdotal. Slim though this booklet
is, it relates a small but important part of the history of education during a time
when private, denominational and government schools co-existed in Guyana.
Elma Seymour's book also chronicles the role played by "coloured Guy-
anese women teachers and to the nuns, often foreign-born, who devoted years of
their lives to the task of educating young minds. There is Sister Teresa of Santa
Rosa Mission in the North West District who worked among Amerindian child-
ren, the Sisters of Mercy at Carmel R.C. School in Charlestown and Sister Emma
and her co-workers who set up and ran the prestigious Convent of the Good
Shepherd School in Queenstown. In Mrs. Seymour's words:





It is sad to record that after almost 30 years of successful leadership in the
field of primary education the Sisters had to hand over the school to the Gov-
ernment without any word of commendation from them for the work in teach-
ing and the building of standards educatioaally, spiritually and morally in the
lives of the children they served so lovingly and faithfully.

Elma Seymour's book also chronicles the role played "coloured Guy-
anese young ladies (light skinned people)" in setting up private Kindergartens
for upper middle class children in the 1940's. At the same time she names many
of their poorer sisters, often "uncertificated", who built up the denominational
primary schools which catered to working class children of all races. Elma
Seymour also documents the work of Mrs. Josephine Selman-Fraser and the
Guyana Voluntary Workers Association:

Mrs. Fraser saw the need, and very often the plight of mothers in the lower
income group with children and no one to care for them, so in the interest
of helping these mothers, most of them working mothers and very often
unmarried, she spear-headed the committee of the Guyana Voluntary Workers,
and founded in 1942 the Nursery School attached to the Creche.
Certainly there seemed to exist a strong civic sense, one might even say a
moral force, operating in Guyanese society in the post World War II period.
Elma Seymour talks of "the advent of Dz. Giglioli", a phrase certainly not too
dramatic to describe his impact on the malaria-infested coastlands and interior
of Guyana. Elsewhere she describes the Government's Breakfast Centre on St.
Philip's Green where hot meals were served to school children for 2 cents daily
or free "for those so recommended" by the nuns. Later when she was trans-
ferred to St. James-the-Less, Elma Seymour herself was instrumental in organis-
ing a similar soup kitchen for malnourished children. Even later at The Kinder-
garten, the one annual feature of her school was to have a Children's Concert
to raise funds to help needy children.

The vignettes presented of children from the poorest homes are memor-
able. In teaching the concept of subtraction, at St. James-the-Less school ". we
found that some of the brighter East Indian boys and girls who attended school
barefoot, had developed the habits of using their toes as well as their fingers, for
arriving at the answers, and this actually gave them an advantage over pupils
who wore shoes" or again at this school:

"The children who came from the nearby rural areas, were very often
suffering from malaria, especially the East Indians. They brought their lunch
to school in saucepans and would eat it at the lunch break, wash their sauce-
pans and await the afternoon session. Sometimes many of these children would
be taken with fever and ague and there would be quinine to be administered
to them; and they often had only a bare bench and desk to lie on until they
felt better to return home. There was no transportation for these children;
they had to walk to school and back home again in the afternoon; but be-
cause they were early risers they were generally on time for school."

As Elma Seymour feelingly declares two paragraphs later: "It was a
blessing for these children when the School's Medical Service came into being






and the school was visited regularly by a team of nurses headed by Dr. C. C.
Nicholson, Schools Medical Officer. Their teeth were also examined for cavities
and their general health assessed".

Were this book to be widely read in Guyana, I am sure it would evoke
many nostalgic memories from old and young alike. It is a pity that Elma Sey-
mour does not often bother to put in the dates of her own schooling and so
on but one can generally work such details out. Again, an insertion of little
details would have helped those readers who are not Guyanese and who may
not know the distance Father Salmon covered when he rode his bicycle from
Plaisance on his inspection visits at the Kitty School.

The dedication and discipline of school marms and masters alike which
Elma Seymour describes in this bcok have all but disappeared from Guyana.
So, too, have her charges. Her book closes with a Directory of 29 former pupils
of the Kindergarten : of these only 6 were resident in Guyana in 1982. The
others have joined the Guyanese diaspora. As Elma Seymour says of her
charges : "These children are filling today very responsible positions in higher
echelons of the Society in the countries in which they find themselves."
JANICE FORTE






FRIENDS OF KYK-OVER-AL

A great many individuals and organizations have contributed to the
successful re-launching of Kyk-Over-AI. We owe a special debt of gratitude to
the following for their support of this issue of the magazine :


Banks D.I.H.
Guyana Refrigerators Limited
Guyana Stores Limited
Bauxite Industry Development Com-
pany.
Guyana Rice Milling and Marketing


Authority
Shell Antilles and Guianas Limited
G.N.C.B.
G.N.T.C:
Friendship Industries
G.T.M.


SUBSCRIPTIONS AND CONTRIBUTIONS

The cost of printing and distributing a literary magazine is very heavy.
Please help us to keep Kyk-over-Al going by sending your annual subscriptions
(two issues) to either of the Joint Editors as follows :


A. J. Seymour,
23 North Road,
Bourda,
Georgetown,
Guyana.
Tel. No. 63170


OR Ian McDonald,
c/o Guysuco,
22, Church Street,
Georgetown,
Guyana.
Tel. No. 67329


In England please apply to:
F. H. Thomasson,
Harrow Farmhouse,
Deeping St. Nicholas,
Lincolnshire PE11 3ET.
Tel. No. (0775 88) 404


Annual subscription rates: G$40 (including
postage), 10 (including postage).


postage), EC$32 (including


The Editors of Kyk-over-Al would welcome the submission of poems, short
stories, articles and reviews to consider for publication. Publication of course
cannot be guaranteed and because of expense it will not be possible to return
manuscripts.





















































Printed by Autoprint Ltd




Full Text

PAGE 1

, Poetry Fiction OCTOBER 1986 Cyril Dabydeen, McDonald Dash, Jacqueline de Weever, Ian McDonald, Pamela Mordecai, A. J. Seymour. Excerpt from novel APATA Harold Bascom Miss Lizzie the Herb Woman Culture Man Jacqueline de Weever Ras Michael Jeune Articles The Practice of Biography -A. J. Seymour Reviews A Report from Curacao "Has now Brown Cow" (English Exam Results for Guyana 1960-1984) "A Dumb God Buried in your Granfather's Copper Trunk" (Indo Guyanese Poetry) Penguin Book of (Eng.) Caribbean Verse Tales of the Wide Caribbean Woodskin Early Childhood Education in Guyana Elaine Campbell David Cox Jeremy Poynting (Pamela Burnett) (Jean Rhys) (Joy Bland) (Elma Seymour)

PAGE 2

Harold Bascom Dr. Elaine Campbell David Cox Cyril Dabydeen McDonald Dash CONTRmUTORS Guyanese novelist and short story writer; Hei nemann is publishing his first novel Apsta this year; lives in Guyana where he is also a well known illustrator. Former lecturer in English at Boston Univer sity, she gained her Ph. D with a study of West Indian fiction with particular reference to Jean Rhys, V. S. Naipaul, Wilson Harris and George Lamming; her present interest is women writers in the Caribbean and she recently presented in Chicago to the Modern Language Associa tion a paper on Dutch Antillean literature, which Kyk has great pleasure in publishing. M.Eo. Birmingham; lecturer in the Department of Languages and Social Studies, Faculty of Education, University of Guyana; has re cently completed a study of CXC English Ex amination results in Caricom countries over the period 1960-1984. Guyanese poet whO' was appointed Poet Laureate by the City of Ottawa in Canada for the period 1984-1986; his book of poetry, Islands Lovelier than a Vision will shortly be published by the Peepal Tree Press, United Kingdom. Prominent Guyanese journalist; playwright and producer; contributed to New Writing in the 1972. Dr. Jacqueline de Weever Professor Df English, Brooklyn College, New York University; has published poems and a Janice Forte Ras Michael Jeune Pamela Mordecai Dr. Jeremy Poynting Jan Shinebourne book of fairy tales. Research Fellow, Amerindian Research Unit of the University of Guyana. Guyanese perfprmance poet; has published small collections of his work including Black Chant. Jamaican poet; r a dio and TV producer, edit o r of Caribbean Journal of Education: has written many books for children. Specialist in studies of East Indian writing in the Caribbean; he is the founder of the Peepal Tree Press, United Kingdom. Guyanese writer resident in the u.K.; her novel "Timepiece" is shortly to be published by the Peepal Tree Press.

PAGE 3

Kyk 35 -EDITED BY A. J. SEYMOUR AND IAN McDONALD ::::r 0.-\1 TABLE OF CONTENTS or The One Essential Investment Across The Editors' Desk Poetry Lives; After Romance for Derek Wallcott Gaiety; Process Sunset To Moonset To. No Music In The Final Analysis; Nevado Del Ruiz Essequibo Sequence: Caiman F e ver The Poisonmaker; Last Of Her Race; Carib Bones Fiction Excerpt from "Apata" Miss Lizzie, The Herb Woman "Culture Man" Articles A Report From Curacao How Now Brown Cow A Dumb God Buried In Your Grandfather's Copper Trunk The Practice of Biography Reviews The Penguin Book Of Caribbean Verse In English "He And She Woodskin Early Childhood Education in Guyana Cyril Dabydeen A. J. Seymour Jacqueline de Weever Pamela C. Mordecai McDonald Dash Ian McDonald Harold A. Bascom Jacqueline de Weever Ras Michael Jeune Elaine Campbell David Cox Jeremy Poynting A. J Seymour Paula Burnett Marc Mathews and Zena Puddy Joy Bland Elma E Seymour Page 2 3 9 10 11 12 12 16 21 24 26 27 33 39 SO 57 S9 61 62

PAGE 4

'IRE ONE ESSEN'I1AL INVESI'MENT In this issue we carry an article by David Cox of the Department of Languages and Social Studles in the Faculty of Education at the University of Guyana on his research into English examination Tesults in Caricom in the period 1960 1984. In summary, the results have been appalling, nowhere more so than in Guyana. The implications for the future are horrifying in view of our basic development needs, to say nothing of our literary and cultural needs. , - .. - ."1. , - . " \.: . 'I .. .. -1 t .. 1 In an article which appeared locally we expressed our views as follows :"The widespread ability to communicate clea.rJy and concisely and to comprehend clear and concise communication is vital not for the sake of great Hterature or cultural sophistication, but because it is essen tial in the daily working lives of the farmer, the businessman, the en gineer, the administratQlr, the chemist, the accountant, the agronomist, the banker and the thousand and one other movers and doers in society. In addition, the ordinary citi : e n simply functions better as a citizen if he has ingrained in him the fundamentals of good language. All men and women without exceptio'll bene fit in the ordinary course of their lives from the ability to understand a logical argument, comprehend the exact meaning of w o rds, and use language clearly in explaining things, describing events and discussing his or her Q1r the nation's affairs. lrt is therefore dismaying to sense the decay in the proper use and comprehension of the English Language in the nation. This is not just a feeling one has, derived from everyday business and social experience over: the past few years. We have recently seen the draft of a deeply re sea rched study by David Cox of the University of Guyana on English Examination results in 7 Caricom countries, including Guyana, in the period 1960 to 1984. This study spells out the decline in devastating and scholarly detail. David Cox's study should be published as soon as possible and debated as widely as possible. Let us be clear what we are talking about. The in ability to use and understand language properly handicaps a person for life. This is not exaggeratiOin. Such a disability is far more serious than a deformed hand Q1r leg or spine for instance. Hundreds of thousands of crippled, blind, and deaf people have made outstanding contributions to Not one person unable to com prehend clearly what is communicafed or use language forcefully has ever made his or her mark in the world. In Guyana today we do not believe anything i s more important than that this should be appreciated and acted upon. Greater emphasis is now being placed on the teaching of English in the schools. Much, much more should be done. Emergency Programmes to increase the number of trained teachers of English and double., tripled and quadrupled. The establishment of a publishing to iiliproveEnglish teaching standards in schools should be hugely up. The National Library should have its budget for new books centre should go 'to the top Q1f our list of prioTities. There should also be greatly increased allocations fOr our bookstores to permit at least the purchase of the rapidlY increasing number of excellent books pub-2

PAGE 5

lished abroad by Guyanese living here or in other countries. Mark our words, all such investment, i n cluding its element of scarce and infin i tely precious foreign exchange, would be repaid to the na tion and our so ciety a thousand times in the coming generation." ACROSS THE EDITORS' DESK CONFERENCE ON CARIBBEAN WRITING IN U.K. OcrOBER 23rd 25th, 1986 The Commonwealth Institute, with the support of the Commonwealth Foundation and the British Council, is organising a Conference on Caribbean Writing to take place on October 23rd to 25th in London. This is a part of the programme Caribbean Focus '86 runn:ng from March to November. which opened with a Steel Band. Caribbean Food and launch of a magazine on March 22nd in association with British Airways. Following months presented Film and Video Festivals. a Bob Marley Day. a Cricket Fes tival with teams from Jamaica, Barbados, Antigua and Eastern Caribbean. a Queen show, a Calypso King and a Poem Competitions. Carnival Day Parade, Evening of Dance and Spotlight on Sports. Part of the purpose of Caribbean Focus '86 is to provide teachers of West Indian children in London schools with an impressive body oj' material on the cultural background of West Indian peoples. WILSON HARRIS Wilson Harris has written to us about the selections of his work from the old Kyk series which we included in the Golden Kyk No. 33/34 : "I must be honest with you, Ian and Arthur. I am not sure I want anything I wrote for Kyk-over-Al anthologised in such special Kyk-over-A1 numbers. Certainly I would like to be consulted. There are creative/intuitive links running through an imaginative writer's work and antholog ies may at times help to illumine these links. I has l ten to say I cannot. in all fairness expect you to take such complex matters into cons i deration. The business of editing the magazine is sufficiently arduous. But, as you know. Troy, Agamemnon and Charcoal have all be e n subtly revised in the New Beacon re-issue There are important reasons for this. I have no narcissistic attachment to the work I have written and certain intui tive clues arising in the fabric of the work necessitate certain altera lions 3

PAGE 6

I am so glad you omitted the pieces you so generously referred to in Assaying for a Golden Kyk. I would have been happy to had you left out Fences Upon the E:a. th." BIM No. 69 December 1985, edited by John Colin Hope Dennis Sardinha Christ Church, Barbados. So the first thing to notice is that J abo Wickham has gained two joint editors in this ninety-two page issue. Fourteen poems are here, including work by Edward Brathwaite, Ian McDonald, Tony Kellman, Come I l ia Frettloh and Travers Phillips. Two old-time contributors, Geoffrey Drayton, the novelist, and Harold Marshall. the short-story writer, are back with significant and welcome stones. We give pride of place to Dr. P.ichard Allsopp's article "A European I .eader in Caribbean Culture" in whi c h h e tells the story of Dr. Douglas McRae Taylor, a Cambridge Scotsman, who lived in the mountains of Dominica for nearly fifty years, wrote two books, 31 previews and 108 articles for learned journals in America and Europe, and so became a world authority on Caribbean creoles and the world authority on the Linguistic anthropology of the Amer indian peoples of the Caribbean basin. For this achievement, the University of the West Indies conferred an him a most well-deserved Hon. D. Litt, a.t Cave Hill in January, 1979. RHYTHM -and -RHYME-Anthology o f poems from New Zealand April, 1986, edited by Barbara Whyte and Hilda Phillips. Another valuable collection of the work of 102 poets from New Zealand and twenty-five other countries. Most noteworthy are two poems by Leopold Sedar Senghor of Senegal, a poem on kite-flying in Jamaica by R. L. C. Mac Farlane, and modern translations from a new anthology of Chinese poetry. In previous issues there have been introductions to .the poetry and the value of this issue would have been enhanced had that practice been followed. We regret that, on going to press, news reached us of the death of Barbara Whyte. IDE NEW VOICES No. 27, March, 1980 edited by Anson Gonzalez P.O. Box 3254, Diego Martin, Trinidad. The highlight of this issue is the Poetry Day celebrations of October, 15, 1985 at the Trinidad Hilton Hotel, when:-4 -----

PAGE 7

1) the winner of the grand Poetry Prize Competition 1985, Joseph Cummings of Trinidad and Tobago, received the first prize of $2,000 (T. & T.) and the 1NV certificate of merit. Thirty-one entries had been received from seven countries. 2) eleven poets were present and read their poems to a distinguished gathering. The issue also oarries twenty-two poems, one story and an important book review by Anson Gonzalez on Movement of the People by S. R. Cudjoe, the Poetry Day Address, and Letters from Barbados and Saint Lucia setting out the cultural and literary activit ie s in those two islands. In his review, Gonzalez points to the crucial role the intellectuals have to play in thinking and formulat ing a comprehensive philosophy for Trinidad and Tobago. DICl10NARY OF GUYANESE BIOGRAPHY (VOLUME 'IWO) by Arthur and Elma Seymour GEORGETOWN 1986 Elma and Arthur Se y m our have produced a companion volume to the 1984 Dictionary of Guyanese Biography. Running to 95 pages, it contains 280 biographical sketches of additional women and men who have helped to mould modern Guyana. They range over the immediate past, like Rupert Dowden the Coops Giant, to the wealthiest or "most landed resident in the West Indies", Wolfart Katz, who received more than ,000 as c o mpensation when Emancipa tion took place. Dorothy Rice, the Ruimveldt estate field worker who gave heroic evidence in 1905 Riots is there as well as Dr. J. E. A. Ferguson who cut down the malaria rate in Peter's Hall by the use of quinine in 1908 and gained the Davson Research Gold Medal. This book helps to make the Guyanese cultural identity a valued posses Slon. ARTHUR GOODLAND OBI'I'UARY In issue No. 32, December 1985, we noted with great pleasure Arthur Goodland's fine translation of ''Macllnaima'' by Mario de Andrade (Quartet Books). Shorty afterwards we received the translation made by Arthur Goodland of Darcy Ribeiro's "Maira" (Picador). This book gives us a sharp sense of won der and makes us realise the sheer difference between the world of Amazonian Indian and our "Western" world. In his plot, which recounts the return of an Indian trained to be a priest to his n3Jtive village, Ribeiro asks the question; once one has stopped being an Indian in other words, once one has come into pro longed contact with a technolo gica lly superior culture can one ever return to one's place of origin? Around the central plot, Ribeiro shows us the real world of the Amazon with its powerless 01[ corrupt Indian Protection Service, its greedy and ambitious tradesmen and politicians, "pacified" and "un pacified" Indians, missionaries Protestant and Catholic, its grandiose (and threatened) natural set-5

PAGE 8

ting. Maira is worthy of the larger tradition of which it forms a part, and, what is no less important, it is an effective plea for the few remaining Brazilian Indians to be left in peace. Both translations by Arthur Goodland, of Macunaima and Maira, have been widely noticed and praised. Sadly, we have now received news that Arthur Goodland died on May 24th this year. Although he left Guyana as long ago as 1971 his memory is treasured by many friends here. Ian McDonald writes: "Arthur Goodland was one of the m ost remarkable men I have ever known. In his time in Guyana as 'Technical Director of Bookers Sugar Estates (1958 1971) he was celebrated as a great, enlivening, colourful and creative personality. Not only did he direct with vigour and imagina tion technical development in the main body of sugar factori e s in the coun try in a particulary dynamic era for the Guyana sugar industry, but he also became the foremost amateur archae o logist in the country and developed his talents as a SCUlptor to the point where he was honoured among Guy ana's greatest arti sts. His mas s ive carving of the slave princess Imoinda, which now stands in the main lecture hall of the University of Guyana, is perhaps the greatest piece of sculpture in the nation. In Guyana also his interest in Amazonian mythology grew and he begun the arduous work of translation which was to bear fruit in his yeaTS of retirement near Recife in Brazil and then in Canada. His two great translations of Macunaima by Mario de Andrade and of Maira by Darcy Ribeiro were finally published in 1985 to the delight of himself and his many friends. He was a man with a tremendous appetite for life. His joy in living to the full and feasting on the great range of won ders that the world offers warmed and invigorated everyone he met. Shortly before he died, in his last letter to me, in his 75th year, he wrote about the old bell he had once found in Guyana and donated to St Catherine's College in Cambridge, about Waner Roth's translation of Thedor Koch Grunberg's Myths & Legends of the Arakuna & TauIipang Indians, about his memories of the p e rformance of the sugar factory at Albion in Guyana, about the potential use of Guyana's letterwood for making cellos in Can ada, about Salvador Dali's masterpiece Santiago el Grande which he had just seen in the Beaverbrook Gallery, and about the errors he had found in the succes s ive translations of Aeschylus's Agamemnon. He also wrote, "I think I notice unusual beauty more than when I was younger" and al most the last words of his letter were about a cruise of the Aegean he was planning: "I have numberless loose ends to deal with before departure". If he had lived a thou s and years Arthur Goodland would have always left numberless and wonderful loose ends still to tie up before departure". PHYLLIS SHAND ALLFREY IS DEAD We regret to l e t literary West Inndi ans know that Phy]Jis Shand AIlfrey died recently in Dominica at the ag e of 86. 6

PAGE 9

. -. . . -, Born and brought up in Dominica in a white upper-class and financially comfortable family, she was a family friend of Jean Rhys and she was active in politics and became Minister in the ill-fated West Indian Federation of the late 1950's. She is important to us for her novel The Orchid House Constable (1953) and her poetry Palm and Oak. These last are twenty-two poems, self-published in 1973, of which she gave a copy to AJS when they met in June 1978 in rural Dominica, where she lived. He recalls how they talked to the rustling of the leaves on the towering hill cliff behind them and the continuous sound of nin ning water by their side. The Orchid House is a historically accurate tale of the disintegration and decline of a white family, related by an elderly family 'retainer, as a new political order emerges in the island with the hope for a positive future for all. Fear and hope make the novel significant. Palm aud Oak has given AJS great pleasure with its strong supple vision. The name means that she has tropical and Nordic strands in her ancestry, but the palm comes first since she ohose to live in Dominica. The poems fall into three groups those with Caribbean interest, those with a main interest in the U.K., and those relating to her personal and domestic life. In one poem she wrote: Love for an i s land is the sternest passion Lovers of islands dig, plant, they build and they aspire To the eternal landmark when they die The forest covers up their set desire They blend their flesh with their beloved clay. There is a special feeling Pulsing beyond the blood through roots and loam It overflows the boundary of bedrooms and courses past the fragile walls of home. -These poems are a testament of her life and a guide into the thinking of a generation and class now passed away. GUYANA HERITAGE SOCIETY AC'I1VII'IIi:S (1) A GUIDED TOUR OF mSTORIC GEORGETOWN : is the name of a well written account of the more important buildings in the capital city of Guyana seen on a tour which starts from the Pegasus Hotel, runs south to Brickdam, then east along Brickdam itself to Vlissengen Road north to Kitty foreshore and returns to the Pegasus through Carifesta A venue. These are the broad outlines of the tour but it bends here and there to take in St. Georges Cathedral, the Promenade Gardens, the public hospital and a well known Sharples House. David Ford is to be congratulated on the thorough re-7

PAGE 10

search and the orderliness of the twelve pages with map and pictures which re create the significance of the city's buildings. (2) CULTURAL INVENTORY OF GUYANA -PHASE 1 : Two joint Project Officers have been appointed to complete Phase 1 of the Cultural Inventory of Guyana by the Guyana Heritage Society, one to compile the material Immovable Heritage and the other to identify and list the Non Material Heritage. Broadly speaJ<1ing, the first embraces structures and buildings of historical and/or architectural consequence, from Dutch, British and Amer indian sources, sea walls, monumenst and archaeological sites; the second com prises the folk tradition, social forms and expressions, ego festivals, ceremonies and traditional foods and religious forms. TOO BRIEFLY NOTED Sllace is far too limited to review in any detan the great variety of interest ing publications about Guyana and the wider Caribbean that come our way. This is frustrating because each of these publications deserve is more than just a mentiin to do them justice. For lack of being able to do better, however, and in case any reader may have a special interest, we would like at least to notice receipt of the following publications: Guyana National Library 75th Anniversary Booklet. 1985 Guyana Chronicle Christmas Annual, including results of the literary competitions. 1985 West Indies Cricket Annual, edited by Tony Cozier. Proceedings of the International Round Table held in Georgetown, Guyana, to commemorate the 150th Anniversary of the Aboli tion of Slavery. Journal of Caribbean Studies, Volume 5, Nos. 1 and 2. "Caribbean Aspirations and Achievements" 7th Annual Confer ence of the Association of Caribbean Studies, edited by O. R. Dathorne. 8

PAGE 11

POETRY LIVES A beginning storm sets my blood racing I imagine the past with drum-bea.ts, Atavistic again. I am memory of the tropics I listen to hoof-beats In the careering clouds I am watchful as always, Meandering with each spell of rain. Each set-back to the ground I wait my turn Stepping out with ritual; I build canoes from the heat Of my insides. skin bark-Blood coursing r o und a cambium-heart I am now Raleigh making up for lost time I bend and turn through the winding thickets My veins reek of silver and gold-I am at the Orinoco My eyes meet at the limit of ground and sky I am history in the making I am topsy-turvy once more AFTER ROMANCE for Derek Walcott I Plagued into becoming more of myself I travel along this dreamer's path Take the world as it is in me, lt is the only real place I am unable to conquer more of myself: This too is epistemology, the ways Of becoming ingrown li!c e one's toenails And being reminded o f the burnt-brick heap. The bird alighting Remnant of a lost paradise II With a realist's touch I consider My father becoming grey, 9

PAGE 12

At his ramshackle bone; a brother next -News of an imprisonment; another night Without sleep; oh the ways of keeping vigil, The imagination's fugitive now I scatter grains of rice while cockroaches Scurry across a bed how a nephew slept The night through; and, trying to hang the moon From a pillow in a trade wind's rhythm, I burn from all sides, feet and brain first; Later, making amends, I become a somnambulist Meandering through the thicknesses I mythologize as much as you GAmTY Gaiety's good for the heart The tum of the jest and the smile The veiled look, saying "ah here Is the place to rest a while" Even the call of a tune Will gladden the ear, to gleam In the souvenirs of delight And pluck from time a dream For nothing wifl sicken and die But the heart that has no zest And for recipe, sad lone lover Oh, laughter and smile are best. PROCESS Love at the lips was touch As sweet as I could bear And always at lips' brush The fastness of her hair CYRIL DABYDEEN Fades deep within my breath My soul inhales her own And faintly in the kiss I hear her spirit moan. Fingers are pillars now That stand within her hair Rigid as love & cupping The chaliced lips as near 10

PAGE 13

As flesh to flesh can crush. Contact is made & soon Spirits electric whirl All passionate in tune. My ecstasy forbids Tale to be clearer told Suffice it in her arms The gates of heaven unfold. Bodies give up their breath In aromatic moan And limbs have uttered now What touch at the lips begun. SUNSET TO MOONSET A turned-down red cup the sun slides off the kitchen table of the horizon; and night, a soaking coffee stain spreads as the black coffee-grounds rain pelts down through the air. The sky is soon clear; the moon, a large plate of chinese blanc de blanc, hangs on the shelf of night, high over the roof tank; the chinoiserie, white white drenches the street in its light, and cars and people meet and move like bugs bereft of sight. The night dissolves into m o rning; westward the white plate dims as the sun turns up its rim; and the clo uds are wrappings of tissue paper for the chinese plate as it slips, slips down to the river A. J. SEYMOUR JACQUELINE de WEEVER 11

PAGE 14

TO NO MUSIC That is my quarrel with this country. You hear them say "April? Spring's on its way, come April"and, poor thing s believe it too, see them outside, toes blue, in some skemps little c o tton skirt well set on making what don't go so, go so, And this big April morning it make as if to snow serious! That is s omething that must make a man consider: if you can't trust the way the world turn, winter, spring, summer, autumn, who you can trust? When it reach Apri l and you been bus:sing your shirt for e;ght straight month, just to keep warm, you in no mood to wait one degge-degge day more-not when you poor and cold in the subway, cold in the street, cold where you work where you eat where you sleep . But you don't get a peep out of these people; "Well, spring is late this year," they say, toes blue peeping out the open-toe shoe and hug the skemps skirt tight round them, shivering for all they worth. D e m don't a g ree the coldness and dem doan disagree: dem walk to no music and dat is misery. PAMELA C. MORDECAI IN THE FINAL ANALYSIS In the final analysis When the chill clutches your bones in an almost 12

PAGE 15

everlasting lock You want to come home More than badly to the sundrenched streets Wind Hard wind cutting through the wintry armaments And the thought tortures you Of a pleasant promenade on the old dutch waH Cold Forever cold counting off the calendar days to blushing spring And memori e s return of the fire In the hibiscus On your hedge of dreams White days, white nights On the wide boulevards Of winter infinite And musing of sunset's scarlet splash Beyond the lowering river Rains Lead-heavy with interminable stones of depression straying back to a pleasant picnic in the deep woods of Kayuka I am Tropic's child lost and away m an iceberg cloister slipping betimes on the icy underfoot Looking at the bagladies selecting their midnight ration From a breadbeap on the sidewalk And then sequester themselves in a nook subterranean 13

PAGE 16

And then I think Of the freedom the sun has offered me to stand polestraight And use my handkerchief In the final analysis When the chHl clutches your bones The sun always gets 10 your eyes There are still so many days to gushing spring with its promise of greens and blues Yellows and rainbows I am Tropic's child in the final analysis It is time to go home to my sundrenched streets NEV ADO DEL RUIZ Grey is the valley of death Grey the metal men under the viscous Grey the instant graveyard Grey the final hand In the surrender Grey the rumbling, gorging Lagunilla Of flood of fire Ash Wednesday in Armero Grey the death in the eternal dusk Grey the sky of tears Aiee! Santa Maria! Nevado is blown! Grey is the weeping Grey the souls Twentythousand And some o toll the bells in the high haciendas 14

PAGE 17

In the long green hills in Manzinales Far from the graveyard Of grey Armero Village of Dead o toll the bells Far away in the wide paseos In the long a venidas far away Where the skies are blue Where was I when Nevado blew? Should I weep some? But men must die if their death was not in the diary of doom And the children happy with laughter And the old men grey with age Now grey is the colour of their eternal shroud Omaira Sanchez, just thirteen dead in the grip of love For the shield of parents protecting their unbloomed For little Corazon sparkling cherub For little Felipe Fleeing from the thunder on ratchet legs For the old lady who was going to visit the priest down the broken street To make confession Should I still weep a grey weeping? I must weep For each must some time fear his own Nevado I weep for myself 15

PAGE 18

Grey is my weeping Grey is my death to come And toll the be1'ls for twenty thousand And some When Nevado blew I too went under the viscous In the flood of the fire. ESSEQumo SEQUENCE I CAIMAN FEVER Cold wind creeping on the skin, A shaking-ague deep in bone, All night in and out of sleep, Fitful skin -damp wakings every hour And a restless dream recurring: McDONALD DASH Huge caimans thrashing in the river Tails beating the water egg-froth white Eyes blazing as they struggle, Musky odour rising in the night. J smelled and feared the grappling beasts. Shivering in a misty river dawn I meet Majesta who minds this house, Ancient-slow but cooks a perfect pot. She gives a look and knows the whole thing true. "You have the caiman fever bad". (H o w can she know my deep-down dream?) Her old bright eyes turn full on me : "Caiman fever shake the bone". She has the cure for me she says. Cold water from a baked earth jar, A pinch of golden powdering. A dip of lem o n grass put in : Drink it off in one great gulp. Taste of woodsmoke And old nights Moon in cloud-scud Red jasper round the throat. The powder like a golden dust She pinches carefully from a stO'Ile box With sacred ointments and white s pider cloth: Caiman's penis dried golden in the sun 16

PAGE 19

Scraped to powder on a fish's spine It's chased the fever Down a thousand years I will not dre am the great beasts anymore THE POISON-MAKER Travelled miles that day Gold savanna sun to shadows of darkest green. A day of such beauty I have not seen before, The air gleaming like the start of the world. On the edge o f forest Hawks hang i ng in the blue heaven: Black wings beat once And they are aloft forever. They have always been in this great sky Eyes scanning the long horizons Where suns have burnt to b J ack the short-grass vaHey-fields Amidst orchid-covered granite blocks of white G o ld and scarlet cocks-of-the-rock sport and fight. Then the dense-dark forest green: In the cold creek canopied with branches The bright, dark-red water runs like wine. Mora-trees, breaking into n ew leaf eve rywhere, White, liver-coloued green, and deepest red Stand like huge chandeliers in ancient rooms. II Flashing messengers of light and swiftness, Grey-blue kingfishers lead downstream to a village. WeH-kept habitations in a green glade: Bustle with life, women bake and cut, Children play with rolling balIs of silverbaHi wood, Hunting dogs sno oz e amid s t the cooking smoke. Red-stained hammocks swing in evening air, Strings of red beads are heaped for market day Making mounds of briliiance on the brown earth floor. Relaxed, at ease, on mats of yellow cloth, Chewing Indian corn parched white as jasmine buds. The men extend an unsu sp icious welcome, Offer pepper-hot iguana eggs and wild red cherries, Cool. week-old paiwari spiced with sugar-gum 17

PAGE 20

Their eyes are black and impenetrably bright. It looks a place weII-settled in good routines. Alone, outside the evening light, Alone with black arrows, Who is that man, wrapped in black, Squatting in twin-circles of dropped black pods. Crouched like a crow, stirring a black pot Sizzling on red embers like a black cat spitting? A chant of mourning comes from this figure of the night. Why does no one ar,proach him? Why so far removed? Why will he never join the hum of life and light? They shrug and smile like children who are happy: "The poison-maker", they murmur. "he is the poison-maker". m LAST OF HER RACE A walk in the morning: Sun burning off the early mist. River-bank ablaze with Lady Slippers. Old hut in a green clearing: No sign of fire-side or children. Friends who know the forest: "Come and see this wonder. Maybe she's a hundred years. Talk to her. see if you can get her story". Room is misty with strong tobacco smoke. Old woman in a corner croons and drools. Lifts up her terrible blue-stone eyes. Miaha. "last of her race". Frail. desolate. decayed. Greets no one in the mornings, Relates no heroic deeds to anyone: Children, children's children. not there anymore. All gone. all gone. She wears one green stone of Amazon, Amulet against the snake-bite threat. The gaze of Spirits that accuse. A trembling voice saying nothing: Deer have grazed for long Over the rain-worn tribal mounds. Her cloudy eyes skim past Missing mine by centuries Seeking something deep. eternal. lost. 18

PAGE 21

I am shy, I am ashamed, Edge out into the sunlight, Saying nothing to the picnicers, Breathe in the green deep forest air. Old toothless woman comes and goes In this forgotten p l ace smelling of orchids: Past and gone, the wind whispers, Past and gone, the forest hardly stirs. IV CARIB BONES Ten miles along a logger's trail, Greenheart in flower smelling rich and sweet A camp abandoned long ago Has nowadays a few huts rotted by the rain. Enter the chief hut by a slack-nail ladder : Three old men squatting d o wn like stones Convey a welcom e with their shrunken eyes. We squat and take s mall g ourds of drink Brewed wild cashew and sapodilIa skins. The ramblings of the old men grow wild Soon others leave to hunt the angry pigs And fish the clear, old, black as satin streams. The old men begin a chorused chant: Memories of remembering their father's father's tales The old men squat s cratching withered genitals Sucking pipes of scented, strong tobacco Black tongues lick acr oss half-blackened gums The chant rises, falls, whispers, shouts And ends Where it And they are stone again. . . . . The Caribs were the great ones, Greater than the tall trees, No forest men could conquer them. Out of the arm-bones o f their enemies They made flutes to sing their triumphs. Courage was dear to them as life Their war-songs san g of b r avery alone: No word f o r cruelty e xcept for "love of pain". Before they chose a warrior 19

PAGE 22

They sliced his skin and rubbed in pepper bush Tied him in a hammock filled with tiger ants And if he made a sound he failed. Fear they did not know, Death they despised, a puny thing. Battle was good : To feel the heart beat fast Was life itself, The sweetness and the song of life. The hearts of men they killed, Dried in fires made of wood and jaguar bone, They pounded into "chieftain's" dust To drink with shining eyes like blood. And when great warriors died Their b o die s wrapped in snake-skin shrouds Washed and watched by chosen women Rotted slowly under suns and moons Until the flesh was ready to shred off Then women cleaned the bones as bright as dawn Painted the clean bones gold of sun and earthen black And placed them in honoured virgin-woven baskets Carried evei ywhere, more treasured than a home, Such great bones last lon ge r than gold or settlements. Kept forever, the old men chant, Forever kept, forever and forever, Forever to match their courage against foes To guard the people against defeat To guard the people against all ill To guard against the giants of the dark Forever guard, these strongest of the strong, For however long forever ever lasts. tAN McDONALD 20

PAGE 23

FICTION 1954 EXCERPT FROM "APATA" A NOVEL by HAROLD A. BASCOM Chapter Twelve: Mrs. Bailey folds-in her lips and bites in on them every time she comes down with the pres s ing iron to begin a smoothing run on Michael's short pants on the board. There's a hymn on her breath: "What a friend we have in Jesus," she sings lightly, "0 what sins and gri efs to bear". "Beverley!" "Yes Mommy?" "Don't put wares on that window sill you know!" "A'right Mommy." Grumbles Mrs. Bailey, "Like you like to hear that man fret!" Having made a smooth run to complete a neat seam she places the iron on the little coal pot. She picks up a shirt and shakes it out. In the background Beverley is bent over the sink and from below the smen of the seedy glue being boiled comes up to them. Mrs. Bailey wrinkles her nostrils. God she whispers to herself, I don't like how that thing does smell ... "MIKE!" she hears her husband call below. "Coming Uncle JoeL" "Calculate this thing fOir me man ... you fast." Mrs. Bailey shakes her head. "But why Michael had to hit the red boy in the people place for?" she says aloud to herself. "Why you like to talk to yourself so, Mommy?" "Is only when you answer yo'self you gone mad! So leave me alone. Plenty 0' we does talk to we self. And don't fo'get that you have to go for that milk." "No Mommy." Tomorrow, Monday, Michael goes to school. Mrs. Bailey sucks her teeth. This week would have been the last week in Jagnauth's school. Next term he should have started going to King's College. Should have. Not any more. Why Mike had to strike the damn red-man son? She sucks her teeth. 21

PAGE 24

"Mommy I'm going now for the milk," says Beve1'ley. "Take the enamel mug !" "Man Mommy", she begins fretfully. "I SAY TAKE THE ENAMEL MUG! WHAT HAPPEN TO' IT? WE BLACK PEOPLE GOT TOO' MUCH STUPID PRIDE FO'R ANY THING GOOD!" Beverley sulks away to the bedroom, but Mrs. Bailey hasn't seen her. "Mike?" she hears Beverley calling from the bedroom window. "Girl what you calling Mike for? Mike doing something for yo' father!" "He finish." Mrs Bailey wishes he had not said it. She knows that there's a tenderness between her daughter and Michael. but she doe s n' t like it. She's grateful to his grandmother Jane fo r bringing her up but she still doesn't like it. She's a mother now. She's her own woman now and no form of indebtedness should foil her judgement in something concern i ng her own daughter. She doesn't it. Likes Michael, yes; but this deep attachment between Beverley and Michael she doesn't. She had told Joel about it, but Joel saw nothing to it, sees nothing to it and would do nothing about it. The most he agreed on was that, at those times when they both would be out, Beverley would stay with his sister who lives in Albouys town. But Beverley and Michael are aware of why this arrangement was thought necessary. Between them they have agreed not to attempt love making at this time. On that score, a few boys have tried to scare Michael, "Boy you stu pit boy! You saving up duh girl fuh s omebody else to knock out before you!" But such taunts never did and do not now perturb y oung Michael Apata. He loves Beverley and Beverley loves him. He's sure of that. There's a boy who Mrs. Bailey hopes Beverley would take to. He is the son of Mr Bernard the milk man. "Girl?" The milk man's wife had said one time to Mrs. Bailey, "Like my Dennis liking Beverley!,' The milkman's wife had laughed at this point. "But that girl don't even voonks on he. That Dennis liking Beverley is something strange. Even he father end up wondering if the girl got something special. Dennis is a boy who used to show no interest in girls. All Dennis friends got girl friends some Iil girl t hey saying they like ... but that Dennis Let me give you this joke. "One day he father say to he, 'Boy, when me dead you gett i ng an them cow you see grazing on dat dam you getting the butcher shop downstairs and the two in the ma-rket. And what? You ent going to get marry?' Well Dennis ten he father that is not that he don t like girls but is jus t that he didn' see no girl that he like!" She laughed. "But now i s a different st o ry. When Beverley come he does hussle to sell she milk and to give she extras too." "Wen, if Beverley don't l ike he, what we going do girl?" Mrs. Bailey had said lightly. 2 2

PAGE 25

Mr. Bernard is part Indian part Portuguese part Chinese and a whole lot of Negro. His wife is a brown-skinned woman ntixed also. who was a runner up some years ago. in a popular beauty contest. Having come together they pro duced quite a handsome boy by European standards. Dennis's skin is creamy. The pupils of his eyes are hazel. His hair is like an Ethiopian's and his manner is tender as his voi ce is tender. To Beverley, there's something about him that is effeminate. She doesn't like him for whatever it happens to be. She loves Michael for everything even though if she's asked to detail those specific things that make up everything she would be stumped. But her mother likes Dennis Bernard and wishes her daughter, who'd sooo be grown enough, could see him as a future husband. Inheritance is lined up for him. The procreation of children with opportune skin hues seems lined up too. And those are the things, the main things, Negro mothers can find themselves hoping to happen to their daughters in this time. Mrs. Bailey watches Michael and Beverley as they walk out to the road. She feels :the happiness they support between them. Mr. Bailey watches too from where he works, and also feels the happiness they support between them. Twist it turn it, he tells himself, King's College or King's College not, that boy will make a name for himself in this place, in this Colony. The gimlet bites deeper into the mortise joint. Mr. Bailey thinks of his daughter, "She like Michael ... I thought they'd see each other as brother and sister, but ... The gimlet bites deeper into the joint ... things don't go the way we see things. Pearl wouldn' accept it. H Beverley like Mike and Mike like Bevy ... He scratches behind an ear. ... We can't put him out or send him back to Bartica because of that." The bit of the miniature hand drill comes through. He pulls it out, makes a hole neat then blows through it. The thing that baffles Mr. Bailey is Michael's calm settling to his fate after being denied the K.c. opportunity. To the man it just isn't natural. After it happened Michael was visibly upset and twisted about it. But now, three days later, the boy seems to be his old self again Laughing and not at all reluctant to continue at the same school come the new term when he should have going to King's College. Mr. Bailey takes up the thin saw that can cut around comers. He brushes the silverballi wood shavings from the worn and ready work-bench then clamps the panel of wood on it, he will now cut into the shape of a shamrock. "If I said I understand that boy" he mumbles, "I'd be lying" The footsteps of his wife recede from that part of the house that faces the road and he knows that, like him, she had been watching. 23

PAGE 26

MISS LIZZIE, THE HERB WOMAN by JACQUELINE de WEEVER She seemed ancient, when I was twelve, but she may have been in tbe prime of her life She lived alone in the bottam-house of tbe bouse we lived in in Vreed -en-Haop. a waman of average heigbt and square, chunky build. Her feet fascinated me so unlike any feet I knew at tbe time flat, braad, bard, and callm : ed, covered with the red dust of the Vreed-en-Hoap public road when she returned from her journeys. She saId herbs, yau see, thraughout the surround ing villages, and would be gane far days at a time, walking, her feet said, from village to' village. Her bundle af herbs was a matter of endless curiasity tame. Dried sticks. Leaves in bunches, also dried. SmaIl bouquets tied together. Whale small branches dried and tied together. All made a large, neat bundle she carried an her headcloth wrapped in a tight circle on her head. It was not a heavy bundle since it was all dried leaves I did n o t knaw the names of the various plants and l eaves, but I could see from their shapes and the different shades of green and brown when they were dried that they were of great variety. When she returned, days later, the bundle was almast nan-existent, very much reduced, shrunken. Sametimes she returned during the day, and I would watch her caming up the road, sauntering, sauntering probably g reatly fatigued. But some morn in gs, as I fetched water fram the vat, she would suddenly apen the door, her form filling up the small daorway. "Morning, Miss Lizzie," I would say. "Morning," was her reply as she set about lighting her caal pot. I wandered if she made tea with any af her dried leaves. Mast Mmes J knew she made coffee because I cauld smell it a s I prepared for schaol. Were her leaves only for illnesses? This intrigued me because I was a bit of a herb waman myself. As a child I constantly caught colds, so much so that my mother always taok me to the dactar. When we lived in Vreed-en-Hoop, near the Best Haspital far Tuberculosis, my mather's canstant fear was that I would get TH. And I hated doctars and their stethescopes, sametimes their X-rays. I faund, in the long backyard overgrawn with bushes, a balsam plant. I think someone told Aunt Carr that it was gaad far calds. Whenever I caught a cold, I plucked a leaf or two, held them ave r a low flame until they were swollen with their juic es, squeezed the into a teaspoan, and drank it. In two days, the cald and the caughing wer e gane. I have ofte n thaught that if I could have package d it, I wou"d have b e c o me a millionaire. I was pwud that I cauld get rid of the calds w i thou t a visit to the dactor. 24

PAGE 27

So I was sure that Miss Lizzie's bundle held cures for all sort of things, i11nesses I had never heard about, and wondered exactly what. I dared not ask, so locked up in her own thoughts she was, except when she was singing hymns. Miss Lizzie was a Jordanite. She would take her place, at the streetcorner, at a table with a kerosene lamp, dressed in sparkling white with two women and a man with a shepherd's crook. Miss Lizzie would read from the Bible and the man would preach. Miss Lizzie and the sisters sang between segments of the preaching. One night there were two men. The newcomer was very tall and imposing, and that night he carried the shepherd's crook. He preached all night. We could not sleep because his voice boomed through the silent night, and Aunt Inez sat in the dark in the front gallery, singing the hymns, agreeing with the message, approving the message, saying every now and then -'An eloquent preacher, yes, an eloquent preacher It was impossible to sleep When the service ended', the Jordanites came to Miss Lizzie's room downstairs, but they were very quiet, and finally we slept. Miss Lizzie sang her hymns in the early evening when she lit her lamp and read her Bible. I could see her from her open door as I went up and down the back steps doing my housework, or coming back from climbing the trees in the backyard. Our backyard was really wonderful, long and deep, fuB of fruit trees which became my refuge from adults saying do this and do that when 1 opted to read. I could sit in the t o p of the trees and no one could find me unle s s they knew where I was. I became an adept climber, even of shaky sapodilla trees. When the sun began to go down, I had to climb down and go back to the house, and as I came through the dusk I could see Miss Lizzie at her table before her lamp, reading. I knew it was the Bible because she read aloud, and I could hear her when I was near the backsteps. I did not at that time connect the two images of Miss Lizzie with myself the independent herb woman, owning her own life, answering to no one, mak ing a living selling herbs, discovering the villages on her two hard feet, held some connection with the would-be herb woman curing herself of colds; or the woman reading by the lamp-light with the young girl reading in the trees. Only about two years ago I began to think about Miss Lizzie, who is surely dead by now. I began to wonder what kind of life she really had. Whom did she meet in the villages she walked through? Was she ever loved, this woman with the hard callused feet? All of a sudden, I began thinking about Miss Lizzie, as realistically as if she still lived. Slowly the two images seemed to move out of the mist, a heavy mist that sometimes comes up out of the Demerara. Clearly Miss Lizzie seemed to be moving up the Vreed-en-Hoop public road. Was it because, in my own way, I also wanted to possess and to own my life? Was it because I sensed Miss Lizzie loved her Book as I loved my books? Gradually, Miss Lizzie assumed weight and substance in my mind, and I wonder at the strange ways of human influence, how silently a woman who walked barefoot through the villages im pressed her value and her strength on an unthinking twelve-year-old girl. 2S

PAGE 28

"CULTURE MAN by RAS MICHAEL JEUNE Eh eh, look how meh pardna hustl in g down th e road. Like he late foh something or the odder. Ah wonder whey he going ? H i wha' happening dey Pardna like yo u late foh s ome f u nction or o dd er? O h yuh going to th e cinema! Nah I ent care to g o t o day i s r est d ay foh me duh i s why I jus' sid down hey, plus the fact that I really tir ed g oing in Asto r an' Globe a n dem odder cinema to learn bout Europe an culture. Wait yuh don't kn o w duh i s wha' all dem cinemas does show. Yuh don't know all d e m dress styles, ha ir st yle s an' be ha viour styles is straight out fr o m house p i t an' ba lco ny deh does co me wid every movie. Yuh e n t bel i eve? Well look five years a go, a c i nem a s how a movie call 'Saturday N i g ht Fever'; s i nce den the who l e country vibrating wid disco every school ch ild is a yankee dancer. Dat mo v ie was a majo r bre akthrough foh American culture. Oh! y ou e n t going t o see no thing like dat You going an' see a Chinee picture Yes, dat popular now. Ch i nee is in sty le. In Campbelv ille an' Newtown alon e deh d o ne gat eighteen Chinee restaura nt. Al l d e m farmers now planti ng pac-choy, cucumber an' bora. Yes i s Ch in ese in style n ow. How yuh mean whey dey come from? Dey come from China w id Wang Yu, Chen Sing an' Shoji Karada. D ey come wid all d e m t hunde r kick an' snake fist picture. Is a n ew ting dey got n e w name Thi r d Wor l d Cultu re. How yuh m ean I don't like nothin g from o ver s eas. I like 'no ugh ting from ove r seas: I like Bra z il bus d a t does carry dem children to s choo l and dem walkers t o work. I like the boats, cause dis l a nd got 'no ugh river. I like tractors cau s e 83,000 s quare miles IiI difficult foh plow wid just cutlass an f o rk. Wha? Of cours e I b een overse as. O ver s e as n ice, but I lo v e hey wid all de hard time an' b l ack--market; d e housing problem and de water problem. I prefer un e mployment ova h ey, dan foh live p a n welfare anywa y else. Man, I tell yuh, after t r a velling over seas, I r e all y get foh love this country. An' hear, yuh eva t ek a good look at Bourda, B ourda Market is a rainbow a colours, Purple balanja, red pepper. pumpkin so yellow y uh mouth go t fuh water. B o ne dry co co nut an' sweet banana. "Cal a l oo, f ou r bundle foh dollar". "Bora, get yuh nice youn g bora". Is poetry how d e m h u ckster s d o es holler. Man ah t ell yuh deh ent got no odder market like Bourda. W a tch I p r efe r to buy me greens off a bag pan North Road dan in one a dem ger mfree antisept ic overse as sup e rmark ets, wid dey c a sh registers an white-skinn e d sales g i rls I prefer a pla s tic b a g to a rubber-wheel trolley. Wha' is duh? Yuh think I got a point. Man I got 83,000 square points in tropical green. Man look yuh see I love hey, because h ey i s home. Is hey y uh an' I born an' is hey I got to meck liv ing betta, but it g e tting late y uh bet ta hurry if yuh want to ketch de Chinee picture. Yuh ent worrying? Yuh going by Bourda an' ketch a two dollar mango Yes man I in duh.

PAGE 29

ARTICLES A REPORT FROM CURACAO b y ELAINE CAMPBELL Significant attention is being paid in the United States to Caribbea n Literatures in English, French, and Spanish, but very l ittle attention is accorded writing from the Dutch Antilles. Although considerable writing is being done i n Suriname (but relat ively little in the smaller Dutch Windwa r d isla nds St. Maarten St. Eustatius, and Saba), any focus will be on c c ntemporary writing from tht Dutch Leeward isla nds known p o pu l arly a s the ABC islands: Aruba, Bonaire. and Curacao. While collecting m aterials by Caribbean women writers for a contracted anthology, I found in Curacao a highly active group of women writing in Eng lish, in Dutch, and in Papiamentu. Sonia Garmers, Nydia Ecury, Carla van Leeuwen, Diana Lebacs, and Kleinmoedi g-Eustatia, among others, unabashedly produce such popular genres as foiktales, children's tele vision scripts, cookbo o ks, and journalism. But they also write excellent poetry, social critiques, and political commentary. The women writers of Curacao take advantage of the three languages spoken in the N e the rlands Antilles; they write largely in Dutch and Papiamentu, but are b eco min g comfortable in English as well. They esp ouse genres spurned by male writers and they exploit genres neg lec ted by women in other Caribbean settings. However the m os t interesting aspect of their writing, in my op:ni cn, is their refusal to separate writing into high art and low art, and then subse quently type themselves as creators of one form or the other. Another interesting character i stic of the women writ ers of Clliacao is their relatively high visibility. For examp le, Soni a G a rmers, th e autho, of such novels as Orkaan (1977) and Orkaan en Mayra (1980) both written in Dutch and published in the Haag is a popular radio personality who conducts cook ing classes twice w ee kly for h e r list e n ers. On the literar y side, Orkaan en Mayra received in 1981 the Mienke van Hichtum prize in the Haag and in 1983 the Cola Debrot prize for literature in Curac ao Garmers' output includes seven books for children in Papi amentu, six cookbooks in Papi ame ntu, two bO::Jks about black magic in Papiam e ntu and Tree Rosea (Three Breath s of Air), a book of thirty-six poems with N y dia Ecury and Mi i a Palm also in Papiam c ntu. Her Papiamentu classic, known throughout the Nethe rla nds Antilles and recalled with affection by a generation of expatriated AntiIleans in ths country and in Holland, is Lieve Koningin Hier By S troik Ik U Myn Doeht (My Dear Queen, I'm Hereby Sending You My Daughter, the Haag, Leopold, 1976). Diana Domacasse-Lebacs who bas published six books in Dutch and five books in Papiamentu for children, has also produced educational programs for television as well as television productions of f olktales for all age groups Among Lebacs' Dutch novels written for young women is Sherry, the Beginn ing 27

PAGE 30

of a Beginning which is about a girl's search for identity during the post-colonial period of her island. Sherry has been translated into Finnish and German. An other novel for young adults is Lebacs Suik e rriet Rosy (Sugarcane Rosy) whose protagonist is a Caribbean girl who comes from the countryside to work in Curacao as a live-in maid Of special interest is Lebacs' Dutch t e levision series "HarteJijke Groeten" or "Fond Regards." Produced by the Dutch Humanist League, the series of six television programs presents a dramatised correspondence between Bea. a school teacher in Curacao, and Emma, a housewife in Holland. Both women are in their fifties and have daughters who have studied together in H o lland. The daug hters have very different ideas from tho s e o f their pare nts and the m o th ers write to each other about their reactions to these ideas and about the feelings that these ideas arouse. Bea and Emma correspond about other s ituations as weB. and a picture is formed of how the actions and reactions of the t wo women are in fluenced by their different cultural backgrounds. Some of the subjects treated are marriage, financial dependence, the empty nest s yndrome, discrimination, and growing old. Jetshe Mijs i s the author of the letters from H olland a nd D iana Lebacs wrote the letters from Curacao The o riginality of the s e ri e s atte sts to Lebacs' versatility as a creative artist. Note should we made of Adriana Kleinmoedig-Eustatia who, unlike Galmers and Lebacs, maintains a low literary profile in Curacao, restricting herself to the traditional r o le of folklore teller. KleinmoedigE ustatia writes only in Papiamentu and she avoids radio and television exp o sure. Her three softc o v e r books are published locally by the Ministry of Cultur e and al] three volumes carry the Papiamentu title Mi Koto di Kuenta (My Bag of Tales). Publi s hed in 1981 and 1982, the volumes display the universal characteristics of folklore, peopled as they are by peasants and kin g s (no middle-class characters n e ed appl y ), and by the personified animal characters of fable. Brother Goat, Brother Lizard, and Brother Turtle s ingularly Caribbean animal characters make their appearance, as does Kampa Nanzi, known in the English-speaking Caribbean as Anancy, the West Indian descendant of West African s pider lore. With their inset chants and ver s es, their heavy reliance upon dialogue, their dissolution of the line between human and animal cha:racters, the stories of Mi Kota di Kuenta, volumes 1, 2, and 3, are important c o ntributions to the collected folklore of the Antilles. By enacting her folktelling r o le in print, appropriately in the indigenous language of the Netherlands Antilles Kleinmoedig-Eustatia dignifies the role of the woman teller of tales while at the same time helping to preserve part of the oral tradition of the ABC islands. Of an entirely different cast is the delicate poetry of Carla van Leeuwen, gathered into the collection entitl e d Because. Van Leeuwen writes in English and in Dutch. Because is evenly balanced in the two languages: seven poems are in Dutch, eight are in English. Titles like "If I Could," "I Remember," "If You Only Knew," "Introspection," "Choice" and "Silver Dreams" express the con templative nature of the poems that generally convey a mood of gentle sadness. The poet s awareness of an ambiguous world is displayed in such lines as "At times / you can / and may / choose / which/ two/ wells to/ drink froml 28

PAGE 31

happiness/ well of sadness." In a voice of greater disenchantment she explains "I had a dream/ and saw/ Mankind.! Loving/ Living/ Sharing/ Caring/ Giving! I went out/ and saw/ Materialism/ Money/ Egoism/ Jealousy/ Pride/ So I re treated/ ... I went on dreaming/ of Mankind/ Loving/ Living/ Sharing/ Caring/ Giving." Because is especially precious because it represents the only published collection we have of Carla's verse written before she ended her life from the great span of Willemstad's Queen Juliana bl'idge The most active and highly visible of the women writers of Curacao is Nydia Ecury. Aruban by birth, Ecury, like most of her sister-Curacaon writers, works in various genres. Her poetry collections, written in Papiamentu, include Tres Rosea w i th Garmers and Lebacs, Bos d:i Sanger (Voice of my Blood) 1976. Na Mi Kurason Mara' (Bound t o My Heart) 1978, and most recently Kantika Pa Mama Tera (Song for Mother Earth) 1984. Her children's stories include Di kOD anasa tin korona (Why the pineapple has a crown) and E Fmta di Abrakazor (The Fruit of Abrakazor) 1981 as well as "Un Mosa Balente" ("A Courageous Lady") in Nos Isla, 1982. Ecury's theatrical involvement dates back to 1960 when she played in the Papiamentu version of Shaw's "Pygmalion." She has translated into Papiamentu Tenness e e Williams' "The Rose Tattoo," John Peacock's "The Children of the Wolf," Jean Genet's "The Maids and Carlo Goldoni's "The Liar" and his "Servant of Two Masters." One of Ecury's more recent theatrical ventures was a one-woman show entitled "Luna di Papel" ("Paper Moon"). The multi-media. multi-language production with sections in English, in Dutch. and in Papiamentu combined Ecury's acting and singing with musical interludes by a jazz trio. The production offered a curious medley of serious commentary on Antillean post colonial situations with rather light social farce. More uniform is Ecury's essay written in English for a 1976 presentation at the Toastmaster's Club Contest in Maracaibo, Venezuela. The prize-winning essay, entitled "My Native Language" opens with a Papiamentu poem by the late Antillean poet Laureate Pierre Lauffer a poem full of drumbeat rhythm. The poem translations in t o an English prose text which opens with the line "Did you hear the African drum?" Ecury identifies the African drumbeat's importance to the rhythm of Papiamentu and goes on to explaiIi the legendary birth of the language. The word "Papiamentu," based on an old-Spanish verb, "papear." meaning "to speak." indicates a language that 'l'emained exclusively spoken for many decades. The nasalization that is characteristic of the language is traceable to Portuguese. while Dutch contributed words with nordic sounds like zuur. huur, brug. Some English and much Spanish also figure in Papiamentu. as well as an occasional word with an African root. Ecury's explanation of the historical background of Papiamentu grows in "My Native Language" into a highly personal ecomium of the language, pitting it, as it were, against Dutch the language of Antillean colonisation. "Op school moet ik te allen tijde Hollands spreken." "At school I must at all times speak Dutch." Arguing that proficiency in foreign languages is a necessity for the inhabi.tants of very small islands Ecury nevertheless bursts into Papia mentu as her essay reaches its apex: 29.

PAGE 32

"P aplamentu ... The language that I heard as I was being rocked to sleep Do do do mana s u yuchi." "Papi amentu ... The language that I heard as I stood at my f ather's knee, looking up for guida nce and advice. Bibi segun lei, mi yu, i un dia, lei 10 pretehe' bo." "Papi am e ntu . The language in which I said m y first prayer Papa dios? has i Nichi bon mucha." The collected poetry in Kantika Pa Mama Tera represents a new effort by Ecury to overcome the language barriers among the islands of the Caribbean. The retreat from Dutch that she d oc ument s in "My Native Language" is fully accomplished in Kantika. At the s am e time, in a gesture of outreach, she trans lates her own Papiamentu poetry into English while preserving the Papiamentu. Simultaneou s to Ecury's concern for the cultural and politicaJ implica tions o f the l anguage in which her p oet ry is written is her attempt to achieve re. conciliation on a more personal level. The ninth child of thirteen, Ecury is in ten s ely int e re s ted in both identifying and r eso lving her familial relationships. She takes pains to explain that her gre at gra ndmother Franoisca was a slave in Vene zuela who migrated to Aruba. (Ec ury=groom, her great grandmother's name be came the family n ame.) Francisca's son by a Jewi s h shoemaker was Ecury's grandfather who married a woman half-German and half-Venezuelan. Ecury's mother, Juliao, was Portuguese and Ecury's husband a Dutchman. Embracing all these racial and natio n a l strains with ease, Ecury turns in the poetry of Kantika to a very indi vidu al reconciliation: that of acceptance of her mother with whom she had a difficult r elati on s hip. The Mama Tera of Kantika's title is both unive r sal and specific. On the universal level, Ec ury says in the title poem. Mama Tera, k'a parimi Hesu' bo yu su alma, tin di krusa un desierto largu anto desola', su so. In dwelling on your face Old Mother Earth, my soul must cross a desert v ast and desolate alone. Later, she makes her gesture of homage: 30 I i

PAGE 33

Ma at 'awe' mi yu chiki' a karisia' mi kurason ku un kantika dushi k'el a kanta pa ml so. And yet, I bow my tired head to kiss your weary womb because I am a Mother, too. On the specific and personal level, Ecury opens her collection with "Habai" ("Old Lady"). After vers e s beginning "Machi bieu" (Li'l old lady), Machi leu" (Silly old lady), "Machi kens" (Daft old lady), Ecury concludes with "Machi prenda" (Sweet old lady) saying, Sweet old lady with your clogged up veins. your widow's hump, your eyes opaque, I'll have you for my baby for a single night, at least, to hug you kiss you love you before you cease the movements, bef ore you turn into an object, cold and still. The collection ends with "My Mother My Child." In a narrative mode. Ecury relates her mother's jealousy of the father's best-loved daughter. Describ ing the widowed mother, Ecury says. He's dead and left with us his grey and pampered bride. But, finally, the poem achieves reconciliation: Love is love is love its direction matters none Peace, Mother-my Child. Peace unto you, my dear. On the subject of love, I wish to conclude with fragments from "Amor den Silensio." Den silensio di nos sekretu bo poesianan muda ta kantami un crescendo 31

PAGE 34

Within the silence of our secret your wordless poems sing to me a crescendo . .............................. 7 a Den siIensio eli nos sekretu mi kurason ta boltu habri paso pa shen palomba shen palomba blanku ... Within the silence of our secret my heart moves aside to make way for a hundred doves. a hundred white doves ... ........................... ....... .... .. Den silensio di nos sekretu mi sanger ta bira riu. riu ki ta desborda'. ku ta inunda' doloman di tur dia di tur ana. di tur siglo. i siglonan. amen. Within the silence of our secret my blood becomes a river, a river that overflows to inundate the pains of all the days all the years all the centuries and centuries. amen 32

PAGE 35

. 'HOW NOW BROWN COW?' Mordant reflections on English examination results for Guyana, 1960-'84 by DAVID COX LITTORAL . Their faces seem to sp2ak of passion, A passsion sensed but never felt. Embers without conflagration -Tabulae rassed up . INTRODUCI'ION The attempt at poetry that appears above was written in 1972 or there abouts. It is probably a little Romantic, but it should also be seen as ironic, since it hints at a positive alternative. At a ny rate, there seems little reason to change it in the light of developments since then and I would recommend its brevity and compression. The initial stimulus came from my perceptions of the responses 9f the secondary school students to whom I taught English Language and Litera ture, but I came to see it as a reflection of much of Guyanese society. At the time of writing the poem, the mood in Guyana was optimistic and there seemed a possibility of changing things. Those with doubts had left, and those that remained were willing to accept some incongruities so that they could begin (or continue) to repay the debt to their nation in the only manner that has meaning the provision for future generations. Nowadays. there is some pressure to change the second line to : ... 'A passion neither sensed nor felt' In a way this article is concerned with that change of feeling. Guyana was on a crest of optimism in the early seventies. Art, Literature and Music flourished (Carifesta was its symbol). Education was repaying earlier invest ment, dedication and interest. The Nation was literate. But, even then, there were undercurrents in the wave. It seems to me that we are now at the bottom of a complementary trough of equally intense pessimism. However, once again, there is choice. Within another ten or twenty years it seems possible to be on the crest of another, equally positive but necessarily different wave if we recognise and accept the failures of the past and present (and their origins) and aim for that distant time now. Some may consider that what I will write about below is impolitic. Such a: view is regrettable and I think short-sighted in the context of Guyana at this time. Governments come and go, but the Nation end ures and the well informed decisions that are made today will not be regretted at the millenium. Besides, to remain silent or comment ob l iquely on a matter that I believe to be of crucial importance to my nation, my profe s sion and myself would be both immoral and unethical. (I hope that you will not also consider being candid as being 'old-fashioned .. .') 33

PAGE 36

SOME 'GIVENS OF THE NOW' Recently, I conducted research into the English examination results in seven CARICOM territories over the period 1960-1984. While the results are disconcerting in all the territories surveyed to some extent especially as far as socio-political and socio-educational considerations are concerned my immediate concern here is with my nation, Guyana. Space does not permit a discussion of methodology, assumptions, limita tions or analysis of the data, and I must ask you to take what I will outline below on trust for the moment. Over the twenty-five year period, about 212,000 students entered for the G.C.E. '0' Level /CXC (16 + ) English Lang!lage examinations in Guyana. Slightly less than 45 000 w e re succes s ful, such that the percentage pass was 21 % (approx.). Roughly speaking then, for the last twenty-five years (i.e. to July, 1984) four out of five candjdates have consistently failed to obtain universally-accepted evidence of their competence in the official language of their country and one of the most important languages of the world. Next, we should note that the numbers entering in 1960 and tbose enter ing in 1984 were virtually the same, (1960 : 4,622; 1984: 4,579) as were those passing in the same years (1960: 917; 1984: 908). These data are particularly interesting when one considers that numbers entering in 197] (the high point) were about 12 000 and passes about 3,000. There was a gentle decline to 1979 (10 697 entrants and 2 000 pas s es) after which there is a rapid decline to 1984 levels. English Literature results at the 16 + exam level are as bad. About 119,000 entei"ed over the twenty-five year period and of these slightly less than 27,000 passed. The period percentage pas s was thus about 22% or, that is, four out of five also failed. While more difficult to evaluate than the situation in lan guage, this result does n o t indicate problems in reading, higher-order comprehen sion, a ware ness of values / feeling and, ge nerally, the level of culture of the popu lation over the p e riod. (Alternatively, I suppose, this result may be seen as positive from a 'gras s-roots' angle of vision ... ). Numbers over the period dropped by nearly 50%. (Entrants 1960: 2,420; 1984 1,287. Passes 1960: 473; 1984: 270). The high point was 1969 (entrants: 9,700 (approx.); pas se s : 3,300 (approx., and the decline from that point was roughly in a straight line to 1984 levels. Advanced Level (18+) English Literature is somewhat better. About 2,200 entered for the 18 + exam over the period and of these 800 were successful nearly a 36 % pass rate. The peak year for entrants was 1973 (146 sat), but the peak year for passes was 1968 (53 passes) five years earlier. However, it should be noted that there has been a marked reduction from 1960 (entrants: 69; passes 26) to 1984 (entrants: 26; passes 10). These figures have particular relevance to the numbers and quality of potential English teachers available to the system over the period and the overall fall in numbers entering and passing at the 16 + exams of later years. 34

PAGE 37

. Final1y. (at this time the research 'is progressing) a look at some of the population figures (as given by the Population Census of the Commonwealth Caribbean: 1960. 1970 and 1980) alongside numbers involved. is of more than passing interest. The tables below encapSUlate the relevant data: Table 1: Guyana: Total population. 15-19 yr. cohort; numbers entering for and passing at the 16 + and 18 + English examinations 1960. 1970 and 1980. Year Tot.pop. 15-19 yr. 16+ Lang. 16 + Lit. 18 + Lit cohort No. ent. No. pass No. ent. No. pass No. ent. No. pass 1960 560,330 51.884 4.622 917 2.420 473 69 26 1970 700.000 47.600 11.800 2.800 8.850 1.800 118 43 1980 758.619 96.554 7.960 1.800 2.848 496 45 25 If the 'A' level figures (18+ yr. exams) are omitted (the numbers in volved are infinitesimal and not central to the thrust of this essay) then the following picture emerges: Table 2: Percentages of 15-10 yr. cohort entering for and passing at the 16+ English Exams 1960. 1970 and 1980. Year 1960 197Q 1980 E. Lang. % ent %pass 8.9 24.8 8.2 1.8 5.9 1.8 E. Lit.* % ent. % pass 10L4 41.3* 6.6 2.0 8.4 1.1 [*Approx. figures based upon the finding that about 45% of the cohort entered for E. Language also entered for E. Literature in the seven territories over the period.] What has been outlined above is. however. merely the tip of the iceberg. There are further 'givens' that are common knowledge (though perhaps less well documented) and these too must be considered in order to deepen an appre ciation of the situation as it exists. There has been a population explosion over the last twenty-five years and a consequent surge in demand for Education. There has also been large scale emigration from Guyana over the same period. The first wave took place after the 1962-4 turbulence and prior to independence (1966). The second wave began in 1970 with the Arab oil crisis and probably acceJerated after 1980. Many of the legal emigrants were skilled workers (technicians or pro fessionals). There is a high unemployment rate especially amongst the school-Ieavers. Because of currency restrictions and production shortfalls. there has been a shortage of books. magazines. newspapers. journals and indeed of com munication aids in general. 35

PAGE 38

Fora variety of reasons. there has been a contraction in intake levels a\ teacher training institutions and hence a drop in the output of graduates at all levels. (B;:sides, these graduates frequently feed the emigration torrent). Finally there is the high tax bill and the concepts of responsibility and accountability to the citizens and, value for money. -SOME PROBABLES OF TOMORROW It is impossible to do more than touch very lightly upon some of the more qbvious implications of what has been outlined above. Suffice it to say that the results to date are very unsatisfactory if not horrifying in view of our develop mental needs and the fact that we have been 'masters of our own fate' for at least twenty of the twenty-five years surveyed. First of all, it would appear that there is a crying need for scrutiny of what is going on (or is not going on) in scho ols in Guyana. Thus both the teach ing profession and the Ministry of Education (at least) will need to do a great deal of explaining in the first in s tan ce as t o how we came to be in this sorry mess. Perhaps the first que sti on is one o f the degree of trust that s hould exist. The s e cond i s one of the high taxes ex tant in Gu y ana. However questions must also be asked about methodology curriculum and administration/manage ment b o th in the schools and in the Mini s try as a whole. There are also the questions of overall policy and responsibilities (white brown or other coloured papers on educational policy), ancillary s taff resource alIocation (including boo k s and furniture) finance, appointm e nts, transfers, salary sel e ction, the Teacher Service Commission, etc. There is a lso the question of Adult Education and di s tance l e arning since neither tax-pa y ers' children nor tax-paying pros pective past-secondary studen t s are always near secondary schools or other educational institutions. Secondly, th ere is the area of Teach e r Education and Trai ning. Questions wiIJ again have -to be answered about curricula, methodology, administration, s t affin g salarie.s, training of staff, physical plant, finance and resources at both the University and the teacher tr a ining institutions. These then, are some of the immediate or short-term areas o f account ability. But, there are the wider and long-term implications. If the normal re p l ac em e nt of generations is consid e red in the light of the need for lit eracy and language-based skiJIs in an increasingl y more complex s o ciety and world where the official language is English, then it can be perceived that the results and other de v elopments over the la s t twent y-five years do n ot au g ur well for the immediate or the more distant future Engli s h Language is nec e ssary for e mpl o yment, promotion and further s tudy. Since the number of s atis f a ct or il y -trained youth is small, then the de facto retirement age will rise and /or there will be mismanagement / incompe tence : Hence the days of the 'well-earned retirement' are probably over. The large number of training courses and workshops, unfilled posts and temporary appointments after retirement that have been taking place over the last decade 36

PAGE 39

or so in Guyana and the number of foreign consultants that regularly visit, lend support to such a view. : Another, and at least equally important aspect of Englis h, is that of expre s sion and creativity. and butter issues aside, there is the whole question of mental and spiritual health that is bound up in the appreciation of Literature and its expression. Materialism and 'enlightened self-interest' can only serve to an extent. The areas of the feelings, trust and values in general, understandin g of self and other, self in relationship to n ation like the value of Education cannot be reduced merely to dollars and cents (US or otherwise) or slogans. Indeed, it is preci s ely now after we have tried various experiments (and, perhaps, found the 'bottom line' in terms of survival) that there is a burning need for revisions and new visions. The new entrepreneurial class is in existence. Racial and cultural in tegration are well under way thanks to economic pressure, demographic factors, the education system and the rural-urban shift. These will continue. But, now that the tool has been formed, it must be tempered and magiced/imbued with pur pose and vision or it wiIl once again fragment when diversity ebbs. The tempering and incantations fall within the realm of the Arts and especially literature. But, that is the 'brighter' side of the coin the 20+% passes. Assuming a suffici
PAGE 40

Nor am I attempting to single out any group or organi s ation for more blame than they deserve. Education be it in English or any other discipline or area, is the collective responsibility of the society and can only be delegated temporarily. The situation that has developed here is no one's fault if it is not ours for letting it happen. If the youth are an investment in tomorrow, then we (and /or our stewards) have scandalously mis-spent both the capital and the interest, and bankruptcy looms near like another Haiti. It remains to be seen, now that more information is to hand, what we will do ... I. at any rate, would like to be able to write a companion piece (to the first poem) entitled 'Los Dorados' in about ten years or thereabouts. Help me 31

PAGE 41

'A DUMB GOD BURIED IN YOUR GRANDFATHER'S COPPER TRUNK' : Indian ReJigious Sensibility in Indo-Guyanese Poetry by JEREMY POYNTING There has been a significant but not surprising gap between the attach ments of a large majority of Indians in the Caribbean to their ancestral Hindu and Muslim faiths and the detached, ironic and sometim e s highly derogatory portrayals of the practice of Hinduism and t o a l e s s er ext e nt, Islam in Indo Caribbean fiction. V. S. Naipaul's Mystic Masseur (1957) and H. S. Ladoo's No Pain Like This Body (1972) and Yesterdays (1974) are but the most obvious examples of novels written out of the fear that the gods were dead and the cer tainty that Hinduism had become absurd in the Caribbean. It is not the purpose of this article to explore the reasons for this division between popular attachment and the detachmeut of these n o velists. One may take as exemplary V. S. Naipaul's moving account of how his westernising edu cation in Trinidad and England made him incapable of liv ing within his ancestral world view.l Yet even in Naipaul, with his self-confessed distaste for Hindu ritual, the process of separation is by no means complete. Nove l s such as Mr_ Stone and The Knight's Companion (1963) and Mimic Men (1967) show Naipaul wrestling with the stubborn vestiges of Hindu belief. That tension in Naipaul's work is but a part of a much wider range of literary responses to the religious experiences of Indi ans in the Caribbean. How ever, because that quite sizeable body of work raises issues which are impossible to deal with in an article of this brevity, its focus is limited to a review of the way a number of Indo-Guyanese poets have expressed a religious sensibility which has been shaped by the transformation of Hinduism in the crucible of Guyanese experience. In narrowing the focus in this way, two things must be borne in mind. Firstly, poetry is the form which has gone furthest in expressing the possibility. at a personal level, of fusing the ancestral and the Caribbean. By contrast, most fiction including that by Indo-Guyanese writers, has focused on the social incom patibility of Hinduism and Caribbean secularism. Cyril Dabydeen's recent novel. The Wizard Swami (1985),2 for instance, deals with the uncomfortable and corrupting experiences of a young, pious country Indian who tries to be an ascetic holy man in profane Georgetown. Secondly although there is much in common, there are significant differences between both the experiences and its literary treatment of Indians in Trinidad and Guyana. The Guyanese experience includes the fracturing, by time and distance, of an intimate relationship with India, the transformation of a caste peasantry into proletarians on the estates, the impact of Christian proselytization, mission ary education and incorporation into the institutions of colonial and post colonial Guyana. The Hinduism and Islam brought to Guyana came in the main as village faiths, and though they remain meaningful to many. it was impossible that they should stay the same for all Indians. 3'

PAGE 42

The most blatant challenge to Hinduism and Islam came from Christianity and missionary education. In the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, con version, a condition of entry to the missionary-run secondary schools. provided the main route away from agricultural labour into professional occupations. The earliest members of the Indo-Guyanese elite families such as the Ruhomons and the Luckhoos, for instance were almost all Christians, as were the very first Indo-Guyanese to produce literary works in English. Yet even in the work of the earliest, most missi o nary influenced writers, one can observe an incom p.lete detachment from an ances t r a l s en s ibility. For some it was no more than the assertion of ethnic pride, but for others it was the urge to bring the Hinduism they had abando ned into contact with the Chri s tianity they had embraced. In the work of Joseph Ruhomon, for in s tance there are both the pious Miltonic poems on such themes as 'Easter' and 'No s ee Te Ipsum',3 which g ive no clue that they were written by an Indian or a Guyanese, and there are the curious idealist treaties such a s Good and Evil (1916 ,)4 Signs and Portents (1921)5 and The Transitory and The Permanent (1925),6 each of which aims at some fusion of the 'discoveries and speculati o n s of Western philosophies' with the mysticism of 'occult and oriental phil o sophies ... based on the reve l ations of the Yogi Fathers many centuries ago'. In particu l ar, Ruhomo n infuses his Christian specu lations with a continuing adh e r e nce to the concept of maya, the illusory nature of the temporal material w o rld. Similarly, a somewhat later writer, R. N. Per saud, in his Scraps of Prose and Poetry (1933)7 wrote both turgid Christian verses on 'Creation' and tear-soaked contemplations of hell, and also Tagorean influ enced prose pieces such as 'East and West' where he defends Hindu India from attack by Western scholars. However, writers such as Joseph Ruhomon and R. N. Persaud were unable t o translate the sensibility expressed in their prose speCUlations into any kind of poetry. The dominant tendency in their verse, and that of the Christian authors of The Local Anthology of Indian Verse (1934)8 was to write in an anglicised style on anglicised subject matter, leavened only by a discrete acknowledgement of the influences of Tagore and Mrs. Naidu. That tradition of Chri s t i an-Indian verse, marked in its diction by the shaping influences of Victorian and Georgian English verse and the Presbyterian hymnody, has been continued by more recent Indo-Guyanese writers such as Leela Sukhu (Scattered Leaves 1968)9, Randolph Butisingh (Love's Light, 1972: and Wild Flowers and Other Poems, 1972)10 and in the work of younger writers such as Krishna Prasad (Born To Die, 1977)11 and Nadeer Bacchus (The Golden Arrowhead, 1978).12 Butis i n g h's verse perhaps stands out for its greater technical facility and its gently reflective generosity of spirit, but as a whole this Christian Indian verse presents its feelings in the borrowed language of rugged paths and ways strewn with tears, parched sinners and living waters, shepherds and lost sheep. If these writers deal with a specifically Indian-Chri s tian experience, it is the expression of a sense of isolation, spiritual loneliness and despair. In 'I Want For Death', Bacchus writes: I grow aweary Of this sad life I beg you spectre raise your scythe 40

PAGE 43

and in his Life and Living (1980), Prasad hears an African woman and an Indian man cursing each other and: ... silently wept And wished that I was not.13 However the wo r k of three o ther Indo-Guyanese poets, Cyril Kanhai, Churaumanie Bis s undy a l and B. Rams arran, indicates that the limiting effects of the Christian influence on the writer's mode of express i on were by no means ine vitab le Kanhai esca pes from t h e missionary strai g ht-jacket through the toughness of his sensibility and th e original vig our of his language. In the poems in My New Guyana (1969) he r o ots his Christian mes s age of hope that love, divine and human, may purge the racial hatreds of the early 1960s in images which are drawn from the Indian exp e rience of Guyana: Deep Love and Hate Tog ether vie In Heart Estate ,14 and reinvigorates the idea of sp iritual re g enerati o n b y avoiding the hymnody cliches of crystal s treams and using m e taphors drawn from the rice farmer's world: May there yet spring In the light of the day From th e s c orched soil of the heart of man, The torrents o f lo v e Stran g ling every strange weed and flooding the new land ... 1 5 Kanhai writes with great intensity to the extent of verbal excess at times, but even within the ecl e ctic freedom of h i s diction, one notes th e familiar influence of the Presbyterian hymnody, in his t a ste for words such as "fulminate', 'satanic' and phrases such as 'honest toiler' and 'life's stormy waters The other es c ape from the alienating anglicanism of the Presbyterian tradition was to return to the Hindu tradition from a Christian perspective, though some European miss io nari e s f e ared that the process was more a case of the hinduisation of Christianity. One of the most interesting expressions of this process can be found in the work of B. Ramsarran in his Glossary Of The Soul (1967). A s A. J. Seymour has r emarked,16 Ramsarran's work is primitive in the best artistic sense of the word b o th in terms of the idiosyncracies of his vision and the forms and lan g uage he uses to express it. One sees in his work the same flig ht from external reality ('the naked disdainful nature of the world') which has driven several Indo-Guyane s e poet s either towards mysticism ('the exalted hemis phere of supersensuousness') or inner sea rchings, as an all too understandable response to contemporary Guyanese reality: a 'world of falsehood and down right sh a llownes s on all sides a w o rld of povert y miserable o ld age .. .'17 The themes of Ramsarran's poems are narrow: the illusory nature of the world and the deceits of the senses, the divine and the diabolic as human qualities, moments 41

PAGE 44

of revelation and the frustrations of being condemned to Jive within the earthly body. Frequently Rammrran fuses Christian and Hindu approaches to these themes. In 'Freedom' he recognises: Like as my God is called by different names Jehovah, Allah, Brahman, and many more ... and in 'God's Comment' he describes the wish for Christian bliss in terms of freedom from sam sara, the cycle of rebirth in material, temporal form: Passion binds one to desires for attachment to action which is born of lust and hate Purity elevates one to blissfulness and knowledge frees from evil Again, in 'A Magnificent Absurdity', the idea of a 'Transcendental Sanc tuary' of oneness with existence owes much m o re to the Hindu concept of atma than Christian images of heaven. The syncretic approach works in both directions. In 'Maha Kali', Ramsarran tries to rescue the goddess's role as 'Mother of the Universe' from her association (and local Indo-Guyanese practice) with the sacri ficial cult of Kali-Mai, arguing that the supreme creator and destroyer of all matter is demeaned by being idolised. Speaking in the voice of the Goddess, he writes : Why should I disclose myself to you? Perhaps I shOUldn't be a lifeles image Shrouded with terrifying esoteric misunderstandings For all time.tS At his best, Ramsarran reminds of Blake or D. H. Lawrence in the argu mentative freedom of his thought and the energy of his expression. In 'The Mag nificent Absurdity', he attacks as simplistic the Christian notion of God and Satan as opposites and external to man: What a magnificent absurdity to tell man of Satan and God as if they exist at opposite extremes : One in celestial command to reign over high heavens, the other in preposterous lordliness to lure the sinless away to perish mercilessly in hell. What appears to be satanic at one end Is virtue vibrating at its lowest ebb, What appears to be Godly at the other end Is this very property with the print of evil colouring apparently erased. In other poems Ramsarran quarrels wJth his conception of God in the manner of George Herbert or Manley Hopkins, but though he shares something of those poets' colloquial vigour, he is a primitive without craftsmanship or dis crimination. Too many of the poems are full of such mind-numbing abstractions 42

PAGE 45

as 'miraculous infinitude', clotted with latinisms such as God's 'fondant power', man's 'oscitant course' 'flagitious thorns' and 'morbific muddiness', and larded with archaisms and the familiar Presbyterianisms of 'eternal mansions' and 'celestial cities'. Nevertheless, Ramsarran's verse is in the best sense curious and original, the product of a wrestling with a diverse religious heritage. Churaumanie Bissundyal, writing under the name of Omartelle Blenesse qui, goes even further in his long narrative poem Glorianna (1976)19 in describing a syncretic religious exper ie nce. At first glance, Gloriam r a might seem whoIly sui generis as the account of a young man's vision of a goddess who comes to rescue him from 'the web of material glamours'. However, as the work of Joseph Ruho mon and Ramsarran shows, it has its root s in the contact in Guyanese culture of English verse, Biblical apocalypticism, Hindu speculation and the folk-culture of spi r its and s piritual possession. The p oem, like so much Indo Christian poetry, expresses an i s o lated existence on a Hindu estate (,I was the treasure of no-one but my lonely s elf/ I was but a lonely observer! looking on') and of flight from external world of Guyanese reality. It s e ems to me central to the significance of Bissund ya l's work that the goddess should appear to the narrator in a form and name which are explicitly European, whilst tho s e who are trying to destroy his faith in her employ distinc tively local Indo-Guyanese means. Yet, if Glorianna comes 'apparelJed in dazzling white' : in the midst of a host of angels skimming over the river and dancing in the sky ... she, as 'a great spark/ of this UNIVERSAL POWER', who is part of a female trinity which also includes mother nature and the 'Great Power', clearly also be longs to the Hindu tradition of female divinities, in particular Lakshmi. So, when the narrator's devoutly Christian father discovers his son's vision, he is convinced that he is in the grip of 'some pagan goddess! come down to earth! to pollute the world of Christ'. Anxious over his son and his prayers failing, the father takes him to a mystic healer, a Hindu ojha whose appearance contrasts sharply with GIorianna'S whiteness: He was robed in red with a yellow turban on his head and rosaries smelling of sandal wood hanging down his neck as if they belonged to .the dead. However, the mystic healer fails to cast out the vision, and the estate people take the young man to the seashore and make him 'the centre! of a CIRCLE FIRE'. This time rains come in answer to the young man's prayer to Glorianna and the Hindu sacrificial fire is extinguished. However, the message the goddess brings the young man is far more compatible with Hinduism than with Christianity. She teUs him that good and evil are not opposites: 43

PAGE 46

... for evil is just a part of life serving the purpose of telling man that he's far away from his functions in this land. Similarly. her teaching on the nature of reality falls back on the kind of pantheism found in the Upanishads. Things in nature are to be seen as aspects of the self. all par, t of the same formless unity: The soft twittering of the birds and the lonely calls from the cows were VOIces coming from the horizons of my awakened self. They were voices living millions and millions of years within my soul ... There is much that is impressive about the poem: it has structure and coherence and communicates an esoteric experience very clearly. Its weaknesses are equally plain. The language is rarely inspired. the images emblematic rather than vivid and sometimes merely trite, and the goddess herself delivers her message in the tones of a platitudinous maiden aunt and occasionally like a pantomime fairy-godmother. Nevertheless. Glorianna remains a fascinating and always interesting attempt to explore a uniquely Indo-Guyanese experience. But BiEsundyal is very clearly not a reflective artist who is able to examine his own response to his experience and find a language and form which expresses its uniqueness. Rooplall Monar. by contrast. is highly conscious of his perspec tive. It is. indeed, the subject of his religious poetry, and though he does not always achieve a perfect mastery of a form which is equal to the complexity of his vision, he is very clearly striving for it. Unlike the writers so far discussed, Monar writes from a Hindu perspec tive uninvolved with Christianity. However, no less than the writing of those discussed above, Monar's exploration of what Hinduism means to him is pro foundly affected by his Guyanese perspective. Monar's religious poetry is the extension of a search for an authentic Indo Guyanese identity contained in a remarkable series of p o ems published in Meanings (1972) and in the journal, Kaie in the 1970's. They move between the hope that such an identity might have been forged on the sugar estates and fear that the history of oppression which has shaped that culture makes it impossible to embrace, and between a yearning for the ancestral mother and the cold con sciousness that the umbilical contact has for ever been broken. 'Going For Lawah' expresses the fear that the ancestral gods are dead and are now no more than sentimental salves for the pain of sep a ration. As the haggard old drummers beat for the marriage ceremony, they sense that their rhythms fail to vibrate the celebrants into any promise of fertility. and suspect that: 44

PAGE 47

their gods are polluted poor souls of sugar's ointment.2o 'Ishwar', expresses a dreadful sense of abandonment. and the god is called on to explain his silence and the meaning of the historical process which threatens the poet's cultural extinction: Save me before I am lost Let my children know The purpose of my death If not my birth My Ishwar.21 In Meanings and the other poems o f this period, Monar mainly explores the issue of identity in cultural and historical terms; in the poems of Darling Of The Risir.g Sun (c. 1975),22 it is taken up both in more intimately personal ways and in terms of a deeper religious questioning. The search for inner religious truth itself occurs at two levels. At the social level, he draws on a local tradition of spiritual resistance to what he sees as the o ssifications of brahminical Hinduism. He finds this spirit of resistance in the mixing of South Indian traditions and the proletarian ideology of the sugar estate worker. At the cosmic level, Monar relates his own o s cillations between hope and despair to the polarised impulses contained within Hinduism, between the image of energ y and regenerative crea tion contained in the vision of Shiva's cyclic dance, and the yearning for escape from the cycles of rebirth contained in the idea of samsara. In 'Darling Of The Rising Sun', Monar contrasts the hollow illusions of ritual piety with the living sacrament of sexual union, another image of Shiva's dance. He warns the brahmin girl to whom the poem is addressed that she gives herself : To a god far away A dumb god once buried in your grandfather's copper trunk A god whose potency reigns in red bamboo flags flying in our yards ... I long to sacrifice that clay god kissing your night sleep and shape you in the likeness of my own God of the canefields.23 The same spirit of resistance within Hinduism is even more extensively explored in 'Coming Of The Rain'. Here the ritualistic, venal and ethnically chauvinistic pundits are not only powerless to end the spiritual drought, but are in part responsible for its creation: Once you know pride transformed these frescoes greater than gods as white-clad pundits searched the altars 45

PAGE 48

for devotees' offerings. How they sm i led that smile of deceit misinterpreting text from the Ramayan.24 But the drought is also linked to the peop l e's failure of vision because of their experience of servitude and their dependence on the hope of divine rescue. In the second part of the poem, the 'boom' is not only the thunder which ends the drought, but the sound of the iconoclastic overturning of the brahminical idols by men who look inwardly, and who by acting become gods themselves: Boom! mortal peasants tear the temple gods to pieces bony hands challenge the omnipotence of the sky Boom Boooom . Look! closed. undisturbed eyes ... Men become gods. However. this faith in the democratic human spirit is only one impulse in Monar's work. For he also expresses a t o rmented sense of divi s ion between the urge to be part of the cycle of creation and the urge to escape from it. In 'Birth', he sees in sexual union a replacement for the lost hope of finding cultural rebirth through social action. Here Shiva is invoked in his manifestation as the ithyphallic god: Paralysed hands grasp for music in the sanctum of sorrow as Shiv's dances neared patterns in confusions with penis and cWoris until original original birth appears.25 However. in 'Metamorphosis', cursed by a sense of futility ('how many stars have poisoned my lineage') he looks for escape and considers: Once I drowned between sea-beds who could wish a better death than live with a curse in the forehead of your Universe. Here the sexual dance of Shiva, the snake-armed god, becomes a burden from which he wants release (moksba) : .. must I resurrect for a second bir t h the wicked serpent again for Shiv's dances enchant the cobra? are we victims of this ... this timeless symphony? Can our death beget our birth?26 Monar brings these ambivalences together in what is to date his most pro. found and complex poem, 'Koker', in which he uses the landscape of the sugar 46

PAGE 49

estate as a deeply though-out image for his spiritual state. In the poem, the koker. the sluice-gate which. at the front of the polder. keeps out the sea water. and at the back of the polder controls the amount of fresh water let in from the savannah. is a symbolic bound a r y p oint between dry land and flood. The poem, which speaks in the voice o f the koker. expresses the ambiguous antagonism and attraction between the two The poem begins by identifying the ocean, which the koker must keep out because its salinity will poison the soil, both with the attraction to the aban donment of sexual orgasm and. as in earlier poems. with the call of the ances tral voices : Belly waves roll upon waves climbing on top the other as unfulfilled lovers do tumbling in whirlpools at the end of desire. then come plashing me in the face drunk with the power of temporal grace.27 That freedom and grace is contrasted with the land within the polder, tor mented by the sun and the 'dual agony' the koker speaks of must be seen as both the endurance of the 'sun-cracked weather' and its s eparation from the sea, apparent but false source of fertility. The spirit is drawn to life (the koker is what makes cultivation possible) but is also frustrated by its captivity within material boundaries: But who knows who ever knows the beginning of this dual agony ? I still wonder at the endurance of sun-cracked silent carrion-crow clouds; white unending unending distance . In the next stanza, Monar appears to allude to the Creation Hymn (Nasa diya) of the Rig Veda which begins: There was neither non-existence nor existence then; there was neither the realm of space nor the sky which is beyond. What stirred? Where? In whose protection? Was there water, bottom lessly deep?28 In this hymn and others celebrating the creation in the Vedas. it is the waters of unconscious matter which exist prior to the imposition of form through the generative heat of the sun, a metaphor which suggests that it is the heat of desire which keeps the phenomenal world of form in existence. Since this desire is the force that stands in the way of goal of release from samsara, the koker wonders: Sometimes I question the futility of my birth and the riddle of the proverbs -47

PAGE 50

(who first saw the maker of this life or heard the first cry of this Creation?) The koker thus comes both to long for the fresh water which brings life and to feel the burden that the cycle of fertility brings: I forever bear like pregnant paddy sheaves everlasting burden of three month's rain; savannah surging waters. In its boundary position the koker is set between the world of man (the land) and the gods (the sea). S u ught out by people as a source of life and wisdom, the koker is tempted to see itself as elemental and divine, but has to recognise that it is man-made and can only be aware of but is always in some measure re moved from the mysteries (the 'unseeming tapestries') of the infinite: They come lost Ii ttIe children seeking my age-old counsel. I turn to myself and ponder: 'Perhaps I am life-and-death ... yet I am neither for unseeming tapestries continue to weave and weave .. .' Yet the koker is, though separated from the ocean, still intensely drawn by its summons. Here Monar uses the images of sea and land to stand both for spirit and matter and for the ancest ra l Ind i an call cf the oc e an and the parched difficult identity of the Indo-Guyanese. The ambivalence of the koker's response to the ocean's call is beautifully caught in the image of 'the wink of my eyes', suggesting not only the glint of the sun on the k oker'S water and the idea of the koker's relationship to the sea, but also the idea that the koker's understanding of the ocean's message is both momentary and enlivening: Out there in the ocean Something silently speaks with me and only the wink of my eyes understand Am I sun or rain? Am I 'fairy-godmother' to crabs ...... shrubs ............ courida ............ ? Monar's poetry does not always match the profundity of his exploration of the split sensibility of the with a corresponding technical ex pertise. Yet whatever these poems may lack in terms of structural coherence, rhythmical certainty or verbal polish, they are unmatched as highly self-con scious expressions of a transformed Hindu sensibility in the Caribbean. Through Monar's poetry, the dumb god buried in the copper trunk is given voice 48

PAGE 51

FOOtNOTES 1. See An Area of Darkness, London, 1964; and Finding The Centre: Two Narratives London, 1984. 2. Calcutta Writer's Workshop, 1985. 3. In the Anthology of Local Indian Verse, Georgetown, 1934. 4. Georgetown, Demerara Daily Chronicle, 1916. 5. Guyana, Berbice Gazette, 1921. 6. Georgetown, Daily Chronicle, 1922. 7. New Amsterdam, Lutheran Press, 1933. 8. Georgetown, Argosy, 1934. 9. Kitty, Sheik Sadeek, 1968. 10. Georgetown, Advance Press, 1972. 11. Wales, W.B.D., 1977. See also Dawning Days, 1976 and Horizons of Life, 1977. 12. Corriverton, 1978. See also Shattered Dreams, 1979. 13. 'The Row', Life And Living, Wales, 1980. 14. 'Love and Hate', My New Guyana, Kitty, Sheik Sadeek, 1969, p. 12. 15. 'The New Land', ibid. p. 17. 16. The Making Of Guyanese Literature, Georgetown, 1978, p. 55. 17. Foreward, Glossary Of The Soul, Georgetown, c. 1968. 18. 'Maha Kali', ibid. 19. Enmore, 1976. 20. 'Going For Lawah', Meanings, 1972. 21. 'Ishwar', Kaie no. 10, p. 29. (written under the pseudonym of Bramdeo Persaud.) 22. Typescript, c. 1974. 23. 'Darling of the Rising Sun', Patt'!rns, Georgetown, 1983. 24. 'Coming of the Rain', Darling Of The Rising Sun. 25. 'Birth', ibid. 26. 'Metamorphosis', Patterns. 27. 'Echoes of Memory Koker', Kaie, no. 12, 1975, pp. 72-76. (Published under the pseu_ donym of V.D.B.). 28. W. O'Flaherty, The Rig Veda: An Anthology, Penguin Books, 1981. pp. 25-26. 49

PAGE 52

THE PRACTICE OF BIOGRAPHY A. J. SEYMOUR A biography is the written account of the life or an individual. And what is an individual? Each man says Archbishop Wm. Temple, is the Universe coming to self-consciousness in a particular focus, the self-awareness of the Universe finds a tower of referellce of all creation in one observing eye. And, of course, an autobiography is the story of a person's life written by himself. There you h ave three definitions, two taken from the dictionary and one from the Archbishop of Canterbury which lifts the other two into the dimensi o ns of philosophy and religion. In 1978, when I was publishing the second part of my autobiography, I asked the que st ion "why doe s one write an autobiography" and then I pro ceeded to answer it. I put down four or five reason:; first, to bear witness to the events of his life and show how the history of the nation is written although smaller in his own life, thi s is to say that s o ciai history both influences and is influenced by the observing eye. Second, to record his self-education, how his books and his wife and his friends and his job all conspired to create his personality with one particular viewpoint of selection from a seething mass of ideas and attitudes; what is important here is the element of unconscious selectivity that we exercise. Thirdly, to help the younger generation to know the facts and lessons of one's life depicting the past now vanished for the people now alive the truths and insights extracted from social forces to be submitted to the judgment of time. Since the cinema lens of history is always passing on to new frames of reference, young people are given a depth of cultural meaning of their own environment in this way. In the fourth place, autobiography is an equation. He sees how the purposive and the accidental come together, if you like, the causal and the casual, how the chance arrival of a personality or an accident, can make a great difference in a man's life. Here we see how the playing by ear of the mel o dy of one's life changes resonances and even direction depending on one's unc onsci ous selectivity and chance. Here too you find the tension between a surface-event and the deep symbolic value of the episode which emerges with the years. Other r e asons also present themselves the yearning for dignity in one's own right, each of us wants to be important in our generation in some way, the reaching for a base of unquestioned personal authority. For a poet, there is the body of his poetry written and published as part of his life-writing, along with reflective memoirs. So we focus into the story of one personality all of these and other streams of invisible income and tribute, and you let judgment work upon memory in perceptions of creative change. This is the unconscious and vague theory behind the practice. My own practice of biography began very simply. It was in 1965, I had an efficient shorthand secretary who never knew what she would be asked to put down a sermon, a letter to the newspaper, Or to the Prime Minister, a lecture or some draft of a book review. One day after she had typed a letter in which I made 50

PAGE 53

certain remarks she suggested that perhaps I might like to put down some part of my life story and she would be happy to do it after working hours So there was I with an offer which I was happy to take up and I dedicated the first book Growing up in Guyana in this way. Some time elapsed then I wrote by longhand part 2, Pilgrim Memories on lectures and visits to U.K., U.S.A. West Germany and Brazil in 1977. Part 3 came by chance. We were preparing for a family reunion on our 40th Wedding Anniversary to be held in Toronto and it occured to me that since I was the tame writer in the family, I should mark the event, by writing out how I met my wife, how the children were born and how we grew up as a family, based on some of my memories, especially the cementing ones! My printer said he would do 100 copies, but I must give him four clear weeks before I left. So there was I, trying to write it all down, sometimes at 2 a.m. in order to finish in time. Then typing was the problem, but when the typist assistance ended, the printer sa id he would be able to read my hand writing and set it from that. I was very happy. The printer was as good as his word. The day before we left for Toronto I got 100 precious copies of Family Impfomtu to take with us. This is a private publication in every sense of the words in short a privication. And then there is part four, Thirty Years a Civil Servant which came out in 1982. In 198<3, I was fortunate to biing out another section, The years in Puerto Rico and Mackenzie, which follows on from the career I had as a national civil ser vant and from which I went on to work with an international organization and then with a multi-national corporation. I continue to write and I'm now drafting my travels as a cultural emissary for Guyana inviting Cuba, Puerto Rico, Venezuela, Colombia, Dominican Republic and Haiti and Suriname to participate in the 1972 Carifesta cele brations. Of course, there are deeper aspects of autobiography. A psychotherapist Chas Ryecroft points out that the person writing an autobiography is engaged on a quest back into memory in which he encounters his past selves in a multiple and slowly-changing personality corridor, like walking down a long corridor of mirrors in which he sees himself at different stages. The writer selects mem o ries in the li gh t of his present conception of himself. Sometimes the memories press for expression, sometimes they resist and elude his imaginative recollection. So when the present "I" records the events in the life of the past "me", a dialectic is taking place in which both experience a certain amount of change almost imperceptibly, and at the event the I me dialectic can be said to be "I wrote it" or "It wrote me". I mention this because it is important to realise that then" are elements of self-justification, self aggrandizement, confession and the desire to amuse among others all operating in the mind of the writer who is recounting his life. One man suggests that all this special question of autobiography can be traced back to the 15th century in Europe when m o dern man took the place of medieval man. Medieval man considered himself as a member of society, but modern man came to conceive himself as having a self, an identity, wh ich was defined in terms of itself and in oppo sition to, not its membership of, society. Jacob 51

PAGE 54

Burckhardt in The of tbe Renaissance in Italy mentions the great part played by Dante in this movement of history. Suddenly the individual is important and the famous person even more so, and he tells us how all local celebrities were noticed and their lives set down and there are two names, Bartolemew Facius and Pado Cortese, persons who collected facts and published books about famous men of the present and of the past, treating them as if they were members of one iIlustrious family. They lived in the 15th century which is a century of explosion of the concept of the personality, and the development of the individual. Facius wrote The Book of Famous Men in 1445, only' Italians, but by categ o ry, poets, orators, jurists, physicians, painters, sculptors, generals, emi nent citizens princes and Kings. These were all contemporaries. Cortese in 1490 in A Dialogue of Learned Men dealt only with the dead, often the long dead and by way of di s cussion with two scholars, and he concentrates on the eloquence of these Italians. What we have here is a Who's Who by Facius and a Dictionary of Italian Biography of the Renaissanc e by Cortese. We should notice that b oth books seemed necessary to satisfy public demand and curi ousity, at that time of explosion of interest in the human personality. The thought therefore arises, there is a parallel between the sudden eruption of interest in the individual at the time of the when modern man was growing up, and the explosion of interest in Biography in Third World peoples, as they pass from colonial dependence to independence of political action. Third World peoples partake of the same pride in knowing about the personalities who helped to form the modern nation. One other contribution to autobiography comes from psychoanalysis. Autobiography deals with the conscious, but there is also the unconscious, and we are told that repression and resistance are the forces which block the way to our unconsciousness, because what is alarming, disagreeable or shameful, or in any way painful, has been forgotten as a defence. This leads us to the biological drives covered by the ID, the conscious mental activities covered by the term the Ego, and the conscience of culture which carries the name of the Super-ego. There is a fascinating and subtle relati o nship among these during all stages of our normal development, and so what the life of a person has meant and what it deepiy means at the present moment are part of the value of autobiography. What has been the practice of biography in Guyana? The Reference Department of the National Library prepared for me seven pages of listings of books by Guyanese and yet that was incomplete. Looking at the record in analysis, I could see that teachers pre-dominated. The lives of Cyril Potter, Norman Cameron and remember the book which became a film To Sir With Love, that is autobiography made into fiction. Then G. H. A. Bunyan had put down a 60-year history of the Teachers Association in 220 pages, 1884-1944. There were two portraits of Hubert Nathaniel Critchlow one in 1949 and another in 1976. You would expect that, a life-story of a man who made an interna tional and regional impact on working-peoples' lives. The life story of a lawyer 52

PAGE 55

Han. A. B. Brown was told by his widow Edith Brown .. "Mamee" Brown as we called her. Denis Williams had devised a careful study of George Giglioli. Norman Cameron was there twice in his own account of his adventures in the field of Culture and Joycelyne LOilcke had done a booklet on Norman Cameron. the man and his work. Writers were well represented. we may say Edgar Mittelholzer. Walter McLawrence. A. J. Seymour. and Arnold Apple P. H. Daly was outstanding. He published three collections of biographies in Stories of the Heroes. These contain valuable data representing considerable research in newspapers. and this information is little-known although one may disagree with some value-judgements. What is the reason behind these and other books not chronicled here? The history of the lives of individual men and women is intended to give an artistic and truthful presentation of the individual with a sympathetic understanding of his character. We are talking here of the value of existence. about the worth of an individual and how to measure that werth. the intrinsic good ness or value. the excellence and usefulness of the years of living. In the Guyana situation. we quickly became conscious of the colonial setting in which many lived their lives. Now that we have attained what we called political freedom. we give value to the cultural Guyana ground. Take examples. In 1966. Cheddi Jagan in The West on Trial, devotes scores of pages to the conditions of his early life and how his father and mother lived. and then analyses the political and social forces at w ork as he sees them. He was searching for political freedom. Edgar Mittelholzer in A Swarthy Boy sets out his instinctive protest against the social conditions that surrounded him at home in New Amsterdam. just as he later protested living social con ditions in the U.K . and many of his novels depict the determination of charac ters who by will-power carve out the framework of their own lives in improved quality. The lesson behind the biography of Dr. GiglioIi by Denis WiIliams is that a scientifically trained personality based on European norms had to investigate the scourge of malaria in his tropical environment. and so Guyana gains with the eradication of disease by DDT. Take Ayube Edun. He wrote London'S Heart Probe and Britain's Destiny 1928 as the expression of his personal philosophy and so criticised social life in London the Royal Family. the Stock Exchange and the British working class. He used the selfless services rendered in India as a base and a hope and condemned the rottenness of the whole British structure. You see here the will-power with which he fought for the improvement of East Indian estate workers as a trade unionist. Or just take the accidents of immigration. Richard D. Nurse was born in Barbados as the youngest of a family of eighteen children. Apprenticed as a carpenter to his father. he came to Br. Guiana in 1880, served under the most able and efficient contractors and went on to become a contractor in his own right. He built the B.G. Mutual Fire Insurance Buildings in 1894, Bourda Market in 1903. the National Liby in 1909 and Wieting and Richter Ice Factory in the same year. 53

PAGE 56

E. Rupert Burrowes was born in Barbados in 1903 but spent his whole life in B.G. and became the father of the modern art movement in this country. We talk about Barbados. From Antigua now. In 1878 a N C.O. of Police named George Potter came to Demerara with his three young sons from the island of Antigua. One became a Minister of religion, Rev. George Potter, and in the second generation, we find those stalwarts of Guyanese intellectual and educational life J. C. La T. Potter, E. A. Q. Potter and R. C G. Potter as the N.C.O.'s grandsons. There is a cultural ground to all this. The heroes of Guianese society have been up to now the Colonial masters, Governor this and Chief Secretary or Chief Justice that. Then there have been some 12 to 20 Engli s h families, which have dominated Guianese life in the 19th century the Austins, the Bayleys, the Campbells, the Davsons, the Kings, the Langs, the Macnies, the Seafords, the Smellies and others. What we must remember here is that a first generation Englishman comes out to Guiana. He settles d o wn, sends hi& son to school in England and then brings him back to live and work here, but a t a high Executive level. Some of these 2nd generation sons may consider themselves Guianese; they make a con tribution to our country's future. We have to consider them. Against that group are the up-to-now unmenti o ned and forgotten contributions of black and col oured Guianese who did not start high up the executive ladder, who did not have the education or the opportunities, but who by sheer pers!stence and will power sometimes learning the language of the white contemporaries have in deed made a contribution to the present national heritage. It is weIl to be conscious of this trend. Sometimes there is no record, or little record. of the contributions of what would have been considered as the important Guianese who was born black and often lower class. The editors of the day would have ignored them, so the faceless and unknown are many. In fact it is only in these m ore recent generations that the black Guyanese themselves begin to record their contributions. Many worthies of the past suffered in this way and are unknown today. Take Alyce Fraser Denny. Legend says she possessed a remarkable voice. Quite by accident, I read that in 1929 / 1930. or 1931/2 when in England there was a coming together of all the Wesleyan and Methodist religious so cieties. Madame Alyce Fraser Denny was invited to sing as a Guianese in the Albert Hall at a concert to mark the occasion. This would be a great honour. What did she sing? Where else is this recorded? There is another problem which has arisen. In the colonial days, what ever the Establishment did was right. When you thought of Cuffee as a rebel fighting against Baron Von Huggenheim. the Governor of Berbice. in 1763. you said the Governor automatically was right and the slave was wrong. This is how the historybooks have been written. Today with independence. and the desire to catalogue all the native and indigenous movements towards free dom as good. Cuffy was declared the hero Von Huggenheim is considered the villain. Do we revise the history books to show the new attitude? This is done S4

PAGE 57

in some countries, e.g. Japan. With the Enmore Martyrs you see the trend. The names of the five Martyrs are recorded with pride and the colonial police are said to have committ e d murder and annuaily marches and speeches celebrate the deaths of the s e sugar w o rkers. Does this m e an that the history b o oks have to be rewritten for today's children? We speak in a small local environment but UNESCO ha s had to consider the re-writing of the hi s tory book s of the world in places like Ger many England and France, and in Japan. How does one minimize the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiro s hima dropped by European people on A s iatic peoples? The issue here is that eve r y nati o nal culture is t o be considered as important as every other, say Gu y a n a as compared with the United Kingd o m, and it is the duty of the state or national con s cience to provide the material for this pride. It will be very evident that the practice of biography, and therefore of autobiography, becomes very important as a means of creating the material on which the national prid e of Guyana ma y be built and to redre s s the negl ect of decades and even centuri es. Take our con temporary world of the C a ribbean. In giving lectures to some groups of teacher s I have got the impre s s i on that for some of them life began on l y in 1966. They have no appreciation o f the social forces at work in Guyana in the 1930 s and the 1940s; the suspension of the Guyana Constitution in 1953 is no t cle arly understood and the trends and direction of the constitutions under which life in Guyana has been lived are not perceived. One difference between a developed country and a developing country is that in the developed country anyone will have acce s s to the memoirs of the leaders of the previous generation and there f ore form in his mind slowly shaping criteria o f jUdgment by which to evaluate what i s being done and said by the leaders of today. They tell us that every man, every woman, has in him or her at least one book, the story of the individual life. What I'm saying is that more and more Guyanese should write the story of their lives to provide the web of social memory upon which the real identity of the young developing nation may be built. There is a surpri s ing interest in the writing of memoirs today, and many persons say they are thinking of doing so. I give you an e x ample. Arthur Davis of Sa s h Window fame, had lost his wife after many years of married life happily together. We met in one of the corridors of Bourda Market and we talked, and partly as a result he began to write his life story. Now that his autobio g raphy has been com pleted, everyone who reads it is strengthened in a mental way. Walter Rodney in his two books on Guyana, Sugar Plantations in the 1980's and the History of the Guyanese working Class 1880-1905 has shed a torch light of great illumination on the last twenty years of the 19th century and the begin nings of the Ninteen hundreds. These give us our history which we didn't know and build our national pride. We are intensely interested in learning more and more of our past nation builders. I've talked to you about the practice of biography, told you h o w it happened in my case, and some of the re a sons why a life story is written. Lightly 55

PAGE 58

I've touched upon the psychological difficulties, the way this type of writing suddenly flowered with the when modern man evolved from medie val man, lingered on the edge of the unconscious and looked at some of the examples from the Guyana scene. Of course, biography is social history as well as self memorising and in Guyana and the Caribbean our social history is rather thin. One question is who have built the nation? and what insights have they passed on to There is a project being planned and executed, A Dictionary of Guyamse National Biography. Every Fifth Former in a Secondary School in Guyana should be able to pick up a small reference book with the biographies in brief of 200 persons who are safely dead and who have made a notable contribution and helped to build the modern Guyana. For example, when you hear the name Edgar Duke as a model of scholastic excellence, or Robert Victor Evan Wong, as a promoter of wood pulp or Hubert Nathaniel Critchlow, y o u should be able to check this Dictionary and find in two or three paragraphs what is the worth of the individual's contribution to the national scene. Where have the spiritual and intellectual forces of creativity been m o st at work in the Guyana national scene the creativity that was responsible for the B.G. Union of Cultural Clubs 1943-1950, creating a vision of the intellectual capital of Georgetown life, the B.G. Dramatic Society for 18 years stressing the valuab l e in Indian Cultural heritage in the man, the Macusi Bichiwung who was responsible for starting the Hallelujah r e ligion for James McFarlane Corry who, from 1904-1924 as President of the Village Chairman s Conference, and year after year led innovative and forward-looking debates on the future of rural dwellers, for the ingenuity of John Bradshaw Sharples who built all the rail way stations and bridges between Georgetown and Rosignal and Vreed-en-hoop and Greenwich Park for $85,000 in 3 years. What we're talking about here is the angle of vision, the need for this particular age to gain whatever facts are available of the faceless anonymous of the past, and to interpret them and their record into a basis of hope and discernment of the future emerg i ng from the past. It is to some extent an imp o ssible task. James Rodway went through the newspapers available for more than ten years to write his The Story of Georgetown. Those newspapers have gone up in accidental flames or perished by culpable neglect. All we have now is Redway's Story. A. R. F. Webber wrote a newspaper history of British Guiana in 1931, writing the text almost year by year. Now the newspapers have gone and his History remains. What is important always is that we in Guyana should concentrate our attention on this aspect of our social history. We need to do two things to read the network of biography in Guyana more con sciously and make an attempt of possession of it, and also, those of us who can, should consider writing the book that lies within each one of us and so add to the national biographical heritage. 56

PAGE 59

REVIEWS) THE PENGUIN BOOK OF CARffiBEAN VERSE IN ENGLISH edited by PAULA BURNETT To say it right away and briefly, this is a marvellous book. No one inter ested in West Indian writing, and I go so far as to say that no West Indian with any feeling for our literature and culture should be without this book in his or her library. There are many lovely anthologies the recent "Caribb e an Poetry Now" edited by Stewart Brown and "Facing the S e a", edited by Anne Walmsley, spring to mind but surely this is the most comprehensive and best anthology of Caribbean poetry in English there has yet been. Not the least of its merits are the excellent, mind-nourishing Introduction by Paula Burnett and the succinct, in teresting. useful biographical notes. The Introduction by itself is a pleasure to read, written with great lucidity, full of in v aluable historical information and analysis, and spurring one continually into new and fascinating avenues of ideas. Of course there must be quibbles. What anthology in history has not been quibbled over? Every single person who gets an anthology, the first thing he does is lament what has been left out. It will be so with this anthology too. Personally I am sad that there is nothing here of Cecil Herbert or Owen Campbell or H. A. Vaughn or Harold Telemaque or Mi l to n Williams. I w o uld have liked to see more of Pamela Mordecai. I missed Eric Roach's "Homestead" and "To My Mother" without which, for me, any Caribbean anthology lacks something. In the case of the major poets Derek Walcott, Eddie Brathwaite, Martin Carter, Mervyn Morris you always think of pieces that you would have dearly wished to see included. I think Wordsworth McAndrew de s erved a place his "01' Higue", especially as performed, is a wonderful example of the oral tradition in Carib bean poetry. Guyane s e poets like Mahadai Das Shana Yardan, anI! Rooplall Monar would have been worthy of places and would have strengthened represen tation of the East Indian strain in our poetry, as indeed would the inclusion of one or two East Indian folk songs in the oral tradition section. But when all is said and done, these really are quibbles. If Paula Burnett had had twice the 370 pages she had at her di s posal still she could not have got in more than an inkling of what is valuable, such is the richness that belongs to Caribbean poetry now. And, to mor e than offset any personal quibbles, there were any number of discoveiies, new to me. Horatia Nelson Huggin s 's "Hiroona" was a completely unexpected revelation. James Berry's poems, to my shame, I did not know before this anthology. Individual poems like Frederick D'Aguiar's "Letter from Mama Dot" and Dennis Scott's "Grampa" and "Epitaph" and Louis Simpson's "Jamaica" and John Agard's "Pan Recipe" and many others I had not seen before and already love. And, above all, the whole section with the oral poets, and Paula Burnett's examination of the oral tradition in our poetry, gave at least this reader in v aluable new insights into what is and what is not Carib bean poetry. Blurbs, of course, are not to be trusted but it may have a special signifi cance that the one on the back cover of this anthology highlights the vigour of oral 57

PAGE 60

tradition in Caribbean poetry "performance poets. dub and newspaper poets. singer-songwriters Louise Bennett. Michael Smith or Bob Marley (wI-f!) have created a genuinely popular art form. a poetry heard by audiences all over the world." Even Edward Brathwaite and Derek Walcott are mentioned in the context of their "exploring ways of capturing the vitality of the word on the page." I think this advertisement for understandable commercial reasons does some injustice to the book which remains at its hea.rt a marvellous an thology of the rich "literary tradition" in Caribbean poetry. Yet I do not doubt that the emphasis on the oral says something valid about this collection. I do not know of any other anthology that brings in "oral" poetry as comprehensively and as such an essential part of the tradition of p o etry composition. This is surely an important departure and it will be difficult for future anthologists Caribbean certainly but perhaps others too to abandon the idea. "In the last 15 years". Paula Burnett writ e s "a whole new cultural phenomenon has developed in re sponse to modern technology. which has finally broken the old association of the vernacular with comedy and is. in fact. a rem?trkable re-invention of an ancient tradition". Her anal y sis of the emergence and blossoming of this "new" kind of poetry is fascinating and vital. Of course. the danger is that o ne may go overboard in describing all kinds of calypsoes. performance songs. and acted words as "poetry". How much of Bob Dylan is poetry? The Beatles? Neil Diamond? Kitch and the Mighty Sparrow? YeIlow Man? Folk son gs ? W ork chants? All or none? Presumably some. but how to decide the some? Is it a purely SUbjective feeling "this is poetry"? Or can there be more objective criteria? I for one in this anthology. for instance. accept without any misgivings at al1 that the Dancing Songs recorded by J. B. Moreton in Jamaica in 1973, "My Deery Honey", Louise Bennett's work, "Get To Hell Out of Here" by Sparrow. "Guyana Not Ghana" by Marc Matthews. "Wukhand" by Paul Keens-Douglas. to name a few, are all poetry by any defini tion you may care to u s e and can n e ver again, therefore, be left out of considera tion when such anthologies are being compiled in future. Some other oral pieces I am not so sure about but then is on e so su' re that all the thousand and one "pcems" that jostle for inclusion in the literary tradition are themselves true poems? All in all the reading of this anthology has set me off on a search for poetry in the work o f song composers, calypsonians. and dubpoets in Guyana -in the folk songs of which country I already know there is so much of the feel and music of real poetry Before conduding I cannot resist a small diversion which may be worth a footnote in any future editi o n of this wonder-full and valuable anthology. In it three poems by a Donald McDonald appear The biographical note on Donald McDonald states simply: "Born Antigua. All that is known of McDonald is his volume of First World War verse, for which the p roceeds were to go to the West India Committee Contingent Fund. Verse. rather than poetry. it is none the less competent. and typical of the period." Donald McDonald was my great-uncle. the eldest of 5 brothers prominent in Antiguan life at the time, one of whom was my grandfather. Dr. William McDonala, sfill to this day affectionately remem bered as "the children's do c t or" by many Antiguans. For years I had heard from my father of Donald McDonald's "Songs of an Islander" but no one in the family 58

PAGE 61

had a copy. Now, through Paula Burnett I have been able to trace a copy in the library of the Royal Commonwealth Society to my great delight. Donald Mc Donald's story is a s ad one. His only son, Ian, in his teen became air hero of the First W o rld War with 22 victories fighting in the fledgling Royal Air Force. After the War was over he came back to Antigua but grew restlefs and soon returned to service in the R.A.F. He was killed in action during an operation in M e sopotamia still aged only 21. His death completely broke my great-uncle's McDonald's story is a sad one. His only son, Ian, in his te e ns became an air hero of the First World War with 22 victories fighting in the fledgling Royal Air Force. After the War was over he came back to Antigua but grew restless and soon re turned to service in the R.A.F. He was killed in action during an operation in Mesopotamia, still aged only 21. His death comp1etely broke my great -uncle's life. His business, McDonald and Company in St. John's, collapsed and he had to sell out for a song. Soon after he died Donaid McDonald's young brother, my grandfather, married Hilda Edwards who also by coi ncidence wrote poetry. In her life she published three short volume s of poems, s o me of which, I am certain, will find a place whenever early West Indian wLiting is being considered. Both sides of my father's family, therefore, contributed in a new generation to my own sprig of poetry. One of the side pleasures for me in reading Paula Burnett's lovely, stimulating book was to find my great-uncle'S poe ms. which I had never seen, and to be reminded of the ancestral roots of my own great love of poetry. IAN McDONALD "HE AND SHE" MARC MATIHEWS and ZENA PUDDY. Here in London we ofte n hear Caribbean language used in drama and performance to stereotype or caricature Caribbean people, even with the best intentions. A rare exception to this was He and She with Marc Matthews and Zen a Puddy as the principal performers. Their choice of material was exciting. It gave full scope to both per formers with their obvious love fOor the material. These were pieces which plunged us uncompromisingly into harsh settings. These were Roger Mais' Yard Chorus, Zena Puddy's Rape, Frank Collymore's BaUad of an Old Wo man, Bruce st. John's Letter to England, and a 100ng extract from Earl Love lace's The Dragon Can't Dance. Then there were pieces which portrayed the kinds of response which Caribbean people make to this reality : defiance and revolt in Bob Marley's Redemption Song and Martin Carter's I Come From The Nigger Yard and Letter I; longing for escape into spiritual consola tion in Zena Puddy's hymnal songs; g rief at suffering in Paul Keens-Douglas's Coconut and Frank Collymore's Ballad Of An Old Woman; affirmative and positive embracing of inno ce nce as symbolised by the landscape in Kamal Matthews' Six O'Clock Feeling and as symbolised by childhood in Marc S9

PAGE 62

Matthews' Jumbie Picnic; and a sarddonic note decrying ignorance of Caribbean history in Andrew Salkey's Into History Now. Mighty Spoiler's Medley was a sparkling comment o n Caribbean word language dexterity as anarchy against the English language. Both performers gave all this material passionate interpretation as well as controlled structure. The first came from inspired acting underlined in the case of Marc Matthews by the depth and quality of his experience. His acting history is tied up with the genesis of the Dem Two and Me One shows which he and Ken Co r sbie initiated in Guvana in the 70' s It was a historic moment when Caribbean theatre and literature were united. Much of Caribbe an literature owes a debt to its oral roots in creolese but flowered a s a phenomenon of printing. The appearance of the literature on the Dem Two and Me One stage put it in its proper context Both Ken Corsbie and Marc Matthews worked hard at the se sh ows, touring the Caribbean and developing their skill at using regional accents which was unprecedented in Caribbean theatre. Through their work, the work of Caribbean writers, the Caribbean language itself, was carried to the people and opened up the pos s ibilities for using it in schools through to univer sity. I could not help but see He and She as the latest stage in the genesis of the first Dem Two s hows so many years ago. It bore the stamp of innovations of that time innovations now matured into mastery and control. So much expense usually goes into creating Caribbean settings of poverty here a c o ntradiction which usually defeats the performance. A minimal set and imaginative use of space, slides and shadow-acting backed up the performers. W o oden panels u s ed for e ntrances and exits conveyed movement, passing of time an d interiors and exteriors. The effect of haVIng the audience listen to creolese emanate fr o m behind the panels (and the screen) created the sense of over hearing the Caribbean at a great distance. It provided an extra charge of realism. Hillside villages, market scenes, tenement yards, interior domestic scenes, wide open spaces in various hues of natural light and dark, back yards with fruit trees. verandahs and landings all the s e unfolded vividly with only the help of an empty crate or two. chairs, and a clothes line which could be taken down or put up as required. OveraII, these simple but imaginative techniques framed He and She with a sense of space as historical (for focusing the political and social realities) as well as timeless (for expressing emotions and spirit). A special menti o n has to be made of Zena Puddy's inter p retation of I Come From the Nigger Yard. It is usually taken as written for a male voice. Marc Matthews has given a very original musical interpretation to it, turning it into a passionate male/female duet with musi c al backing. Zena gave a fine woman's solo interpretation of it. Continuing experiments with oral interpretations of Caribbean poetry, prose, plays and calypsoes give endless scope for individual expreSSIOn. JANICE SHINEBOURNE 60

PAGE 63

WOODSKIN by JOY BLAND With the SOOth anniversary of Columbus' making contact with the New World a mere 4 years away, there is a general resurgence of interest in the indigenous peoples and cultures of the Americas. Ms. Bland's WOODSKIN, an illustrated story for children, is a welcome addition to the literature available. In the book, the focus of the historic contact shifts to the Arawaks and the action which is described is filtered through the perception of two young protagonists, Wakuyando and her brother, Tandie. The author adds the element of reincarnation, suggesting that Wakuyando and Tandie have been reborn in the persons of Yolande a n d Andy, contemporary Barbadian children, whose story forms the beginning and ending of the book. This is a clever device since it helps to link the sto ry to the present as well as sustain the interest of young readers. In the course of the narration a tale of the shock and disbelief experienced by a small Arawak community on first hearing the news and having to come to terms with the coming of Europeans to their island world many items and customs of aboriginal culture are introduced and described: Wakuy ando is named after the red-breast bird, cassava is carried home from the farm in woven backpacks called warishis and later made into cassava bread, Tandie uses a siba to make his first rock painting, and so on The author casually introduces the concept of the sexual division of labour which stilI holds true for surviving indigenous peoples. It is Wakuyando who collects firewood and helps with the cooking and serving of food while her mother goes to the farm and tends the fires that burn alJ night beneath her family's hammocks. A boy's responsibilities, on the other hand, are less mono tonous: Tandie goes on hunting trips with the men, he gets to talk to the stranger who comes to their shores and can learn from him the art of making rock pictures. "Picture making is not for girls", Tandie retorts when his sister offers to help. The confusion of these first inhabitants when they learn of the marauding expeditions of the Europeans is eloquently mirrored in Yando's reaction to her brother's warning: "But we do not hide from visitors ... we welcome them and offer them food and drink". The old leader of the village, the cacique Semchedi, correctly predicts that things will never be the same again: "I see trouble .. I see changes. This is the end of our peaceful life here". WOODS KIN is a very evocative title for a book of this kind though it is doubtful whether Arawakan tribes ever made these fragile craft. Fashioned from the bark of the purpleheart tree, they are only suitable for travel in calm waters. In Guyana woodskins are only made by the Akawaio tribe of the Upper Maza-61

PAGE 64

runi area though some will find their way into other native communities as a result of inter-tribe trade. So that when Ms. Bland puts the following words in the mouths of her characters, she seems to be indulging in a bit of poetic licence: "They must have made boats", objected Andy. "How would they have got to these islands?" "Right again," his father agreed. "They became expert makers of small boats called woodskins. They made them from he bark of tall, straight trees. They also made larger ones sometimes, but knew nothing of engines. and not much about sails." (p. 4) That caveat aside, WOODSKIN is nicely illustrated and contains many elements that will appeal to youthful readers. In common with many stories for children, it aIm teIJs of a journey into the unknown which the children, along with some members of the tribe, will have to embark on in defiance of the cacique, Semchedi, in order to save their lives. Ms. Bland is to be congratulated for having written a story which manages to be both didactic and enjoyable and in which the first inhabitants of the Caribbean take pride of place. JANICE FORTE EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION IN GUYANA Georgetown, 1982 by ELMA E. SEYMOUR In 1947 Elma Seymour resigned from the staff of S1. James-the-Less School in Kitty and turned the living room of her home into The Kindergarten which she then ran successfully for 15 years. Her account of her experiences as pri mary school teacher first and then head of her own school as well as the re coIJections of her own early schooling during the first two decades of this cen tury make her book a charming reading experience. But EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION IN GUYANA is not merely anecdotal. Slim though this booklet is, it relates a small but important part of the hi s tory of education during a time when private, denominational and government schools co-existed in Guyana. Elma Seymour's b ook also chronicles the role played by Guy anese women teachers and to the nuns, often foreign-born, who devoted years of their lives to the task of educating young minds. There is S i ster Teresa of Santa Rosa Mission in the North West District who worked among Amerindian child ren, the Sisters of Mercy at Carmel R.C. School in Charlestown and Sister Emma and her co-workers who set up and ran the prestigious Convent of the Good Shepherd School in Queenstown. In Mrs. Seymour's words: 62

PAGE 65

It is sad to record that after almost 30 years of successful leadership in the field of primary education the Sis ters had to hand over the school to the Gov ernment without any word of ::ommendation from them for the work in teach ing and the building of standards educatioaally, spiritually and morally in the lives of the children they served so lovingly and faithfully Elma Seymour's book also chronicles the role played "coloured Guy anese young ladies (light skinned people)" in setting up private Kindergartens for upper middle class children in the 1940's. At the same time she names many of their p o orer sisters, often "uncertificated", who built up the denominational primary schools which catered to working class children of all races. Elma Seymour also documents the work of Mrs. Josephine Selman-Fraser and the Guyana Voluntary Workers Ass ociation: Mrs. Fraser saw the need and very often the plight of mothers in the lower income group with chiidren and no one to care for them, so in the interest of helping the s e mothers, most of them working mothers and very often unmarried, she spear-headed the committee of the Guyana Voluntary Workers, and founded in 1942 the Nursery School attached to the Creche. Certainly there s eemed to exist a s trong civic sense, one might even say a moral force, operating in Guyanes e society in the post World War II period. Elma Seymour talks of "the advent of Dr. Giglioli", a phrase certainly not too dramatic to describe his impact on the malaria-infested coastlands and interior of Guyana. Elsewhere she describes the Government's Breakfast Centre on St. Philip's Green where hot meals were served to school children for 2 cents daily or free "for those so recommended" by the nuns. Later when she was trans ferred to St. James-the-Le ss, Elma Seymour her self was instrumental in organis ing a similar s o up kitchen for malnourished children. Even later at The Kindergarten, the one annual feature of her school was to have a Concert to raise funds to help needy children. The vignettes presented of children from the poorest homes are memor able. In teaching the concept of subtraction, at St. James-the-Less school ... we found that some of the brighter East Indian b oys and girls who attended school barefoot, had developed the habits of using their toes as well as their fingers, for arriving at the an s wers and this actually gave them an advantage o ver pupils who wore shoes" or again at this school : "The children who came from the nearby rural areas, were very often suffering from malaria, especially the East Indians. They brought their lunch to school in saucepans and would eat it at the lunch break, wash their sauce pans and await the afternoon session Sometimes many of these children would be taken with fever and ague and there would be quinine to be administered to them; and they often had only a bare bench and desk to lie on until they felt better to return home. There was no transportation for these children; they had to walk to school and back home again in the afternoon; but be cause they were early risers they were generally on time for school." As Elma Seymour feelingly declares two paragraphs later: "It was a blessing for these children when the School's Medical Service came into being 63

PAGE 66

and the school was visited regularly by a team of nurses headed by Dr. C. C. Nicholson, Schools Medical Officer. Their teeth were also examined for cavities and their general health assessed". Were this book to be widely read in Guyana, I am sure it would evoke many nostalgic memories from old and young alike. It is a pity that Elma Sey mour does not often bother to put in the dates of her own schooling and so on but one can generaHy work such details out. Again, an insertion of little details would have helped those readers who are not Guyanese and who may not know the distance Father Salmon covered when he rode his bicycle from Plaisance on his inspection visits at the Kitty School. The dedication and discipline of school marms and masters alike which Elma Seymour describes in this b o ok have all but disappeared from Guyana. So, too, have her charges. Her book closes with a Directory of 29 former pupils of the Kindergarten: of these only 6 were resident in Guyana in 1982. The others have joined the Guyanese diaspora. As Elma Seymour says of her charges: "These children are filling today very resp o nsible positions in higher echelons of the Society in the countries in which they find themselves." JANICE FORTE

PAGE 67

FRfENDS OF KYKOVERAL A great many individuals and organisations have contributed to the successful re-launching of Kyk-Over-AI. We owe a special debt of gratitude to the following for their support of this issue of the magazine: Banks D.I.H. Authority Guyana Refrigerators Limited Guyana Stores Limited Shell Antilles and Guianas Limited G.N.C.B. G.N.T.C: Bauxite Industry Development Com pany. Guyana Rice Milling and Marketing Friendship Industries Q.T.M. SUBSCRIP'I10NS AND CONTRIBUTIONS The cost of printing and distributing a literary magazine is very heavy. Please help us to keep Kyk-over-Al going by sending your annual sUbscriptions (two issues) to either of the Joint Editors as follows: A. J. Seymour. 23 North Road, Bourda, Georgetown, Guyana. Tel. No. 63l7Q OR Ian McDonald, c/o Guysuco, 22, Church Street, Georgetown, Guyana. Tel. No. 67329 In England please apply to : F. H. Thomasson, Harrow Farmhouse, Deeping St. Nicholas, Lincolnshire PElt 3ET. Te!. No. (0775 88) 404 Annual subscription rates: Q$40 (including postage), EC$32 (including postage), flO (including postage). ---------------------------------------------------------. The Editors of Kyk-over-Al would welcome the submission of poems, short stories, articles and reviews to consider for publication. Publication of course cannot be guaranteed and because of expense it will not be possible to return manuscripts

PAGE 68

Printed by Autoprint Ltd