Front Cover
 Half Title
 Front Matter
 Table of Contents
 Editorial Comment
 Kyk at 50
 From Kyk-Over-Al #1
 Back Cover

Title: Kyk-over-Al
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00080046/00033
 Material Information
Title: Kyk-over-Al
Uniform Title: Bim
Alternate Title: Kyk over Al
Physical Description: v. : ; 23 cm.
Language: English
Creator: British Guiana Writers' Association
Kykoveral (Guyana)
Publisher: s.n.
Place of Publication: Georgetown Guyana
Publication Date: -2000
Frequency: two no. a year
Subject: Guyanese literature -- Periodicals   ( lcsh )
Caribbean literature (English) -- Periodicals   ( lcsh )
Genre: review   ( marcgt )
periodical   ( marcgt )
Spatial Coverage: Guyana
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
Bibliographic ID: UF00080046
Volume ID: VID00033
Source Institution: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: oclc - 12755014
lccn - 86649830
issn - 1012-5094

Table of Contents
    Front Cover
        Front Cover 1
        Front Cover 2
    Half Title
        Half Title 1
        Half Title 2
    Front Matter
        Page 1
        Page 2
    Table of Contents
        Page 3
        Page 4
        Page 5
    Editorial Comment
        Page 6
        Page 7
        Page 8
        Page 9
        Page 10
        Page 11
        Page 12
        Page 13
        Page 14
        Page 15
        Page 16
    Kyk at 50
        Page 17
        Page 18
        Page 19
        Page 20
        Page 21
        Page 22
        Page 23
        Page 24
        Page 25
        Page 26
        Page 27
        Page 28
        Page 29
    From Kyk-Over-Al #1
        Page 30
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    Back Cover
        Page 317
        Page 318
Full Text




iA iS

gao s



(/ \\



___________ ____

Friends of Kyk-Over-Al # 46/47

Many individuals and companies have assisted Kyk-Over-Al
since the magazine was relaunched 10 years ago in December 1984.
Indeed without such help Kyk could not possibly have continued. In
Guyana or the West Indies perhaps, indeed, anywhere a literary
magazine can by no means survive thregh sales alone so we are
dependent on sponsoship provided by people and companies with
the imagination to see that a magazine like Kyk is worth keeping
going for the sake of the contribution it makes to cultural and
intellectual life in the country. In the cse of this Special Anniversary
issue, we owe a paticular and very great debt of gratitude to five
organizations which have greatly assisted usin the publication. We hope
that it will be rewaid enough for them to know that their support has
enabled an important part of our cultural tradition in Guyana and the
West Indies to be preserved now and, we hope, well into the future. We
extend our sincere thanks to the following:

Sheli Antilles & Gulanas Limited
National Bank of Industry & Commerce
Bank of Nova Scotia
Associated Industries
Demeraa Distillers Limited

KYK# 46/47

The cost of printing and distributing literary magazine is very heavy.
Please help us to strengthen Kyk-Over-Al by sending your subscription
IAN McDONALD (Editor), c/o Guysuco, 22 Church Street,
Georgetown, Guyana.
In the U.K. please apply to:
F.H. THOMASSON, 25 Carlton Mews, Wells, Somerset, BA5
In Canada and the United States please apply to:
JENNIFER SINGH, 33 Sunburst Square, Scarborough, Ontario
NIB 2R3.

Subscriptions per issue (including postage)

G$800 EC$20 7 US$10 CAN$12

The Editor would welcome the submission of poems, short stories,
articles and reviews to consider for publication. Publication, of course.
cannot be guaranteed and because of expenses it will not be possible to
return manuscripts.

Copyright 1995.

No reproduction by any means, except for short extracts for review
purposes, may be made without the permission of the Editor.

ISSN 1012-5094

Layout & Typesetting of Kyk-Over-Al # 46/47
Red Thread Women's Press
62 Hadfield Street, Werk-en-rust,

50th Anniversary Issue

Editors: lan McDonald & Vanda Radzik


Editorial Comment 6

S Kyk at 50
Biography of a Magazine 14

Message 23

From Kyk-Over-Al # 1
Editorial Notes 27

The Story of Kykoveral 29

Note on Vere T. Daly 36

The Earth is a Woman 38

Drama in British Guiana 39

Special Contributions
A Literary Friendship 44

On the 50th Anniversary 51

Bill of Rights 53

In the Beginning 57

Mark McWatt
Beloved Rivers A Fictional
Encounter in 10 poems

Art Looking Inland

Kyk at 50

Swimmer 78

Personal Reflection 80

Edgar Mittelholzer
(1909-65) 82

In Advance of the Wave 90

Recollections 94

* Guyana Prize, 1994
Opening Remarks 105

Judges' Report 109

Acceptance Speech

Kyk-Over-Al # 46/47

KYK # 46/47

,- Poetry
A Carib Remembers

Prospero's Island

Massa Day Done

Once a Week with a Wet Rag 137

Concordia Street 138

Spinning Tops 139
Triptych 140
Ole Talk 141
Drums 142

Missing 145

Wellington 147

Generation Trap 149
Measuring 150

Ti-Maru 151

Fires 154
Requiem: The Feast of 155
the Holy Innocents

Postcard to a Sister in
130 South America
132 Dream of Demerara
De Profundis
Uncle John


The Falling Star

ca Stories
The Ugly Child Lives 167
Sea House 170
The Grasp of the Ant-Eater 179
The Dowry 191
The Missionary 197
(from The Magic Mist)
Blackness and the 200
Dreaming Soul

43 Articles
Interview/ Martin Carter 218
Star-World of the 235

KYK # 46/47

Here's Thinking of You,
History as Autobiography

. Criticism
An Appreciation of Austin
John Figueroa, Anthologist
and Poet

/ Reviews
Cosmic Dance
(by Harichandra Khemraj)

Tomorrow is Another Day
(by Narmala Shewcharan)

Walk Good Guyana Boy 292
240 (by Bernard Heydom)
Sometimes Hard 297
250 Stoning the Wind 299
(by Cyril Dabydeen)

Resurrection at Sorrow Hill 302
267 (by Wilson Harris)

273 Estate People
(by Rooplall Monar)

284 Rain Forest Series

Kyk-over-al Cover Sketch

Contributors 313

Note on Illustrations

The four pen and ink Rain Forest drawings featured in
this special edition of Kyk are reproduced from a series
of cards printed with permission from the artist, Martin
Jordan, by Red Thread Press in support of a turtle
conservation project in North West, Guyana. The 'Pine
Cards' awareness initiative was the inspiration of
Trevor Sharples and Julia Liebeschuetz two VSOs who
worked in Guv'ana in 1993.

KYK # 46/47

SEditorial Comment

Kyk-Over-Al's 50th Birthday

We hope this special double issue of Kyk-Over-Al, which
commemorates the 50th anniversary of the magazine's first
appearance in December, 1945, will speak eloquently for itself. It
is a normal, though more ample than usual, issue of the magazine
with a section recalling the first issue of Kyk and including a
number of special contributions for the occasion.
All of us involved in bringing out this issue are grateful to
those who have provided encouragement and made contributions.
For our part we simply feel a sense of satisfaction that fifty years
after the event we are able to celebrate Kyk's birth with another
issue of a magazine which is undeniably an important part of the
literary and cultural history and heritage of Guyana and the wider
West Indies. It must be our endeavour and the endeavour of those
who come after us that this small miracle of continuity is

AJS: A Tribute by lan McDonald

In large part we look upon this special issue as a tribute to the
memory of AJS, father of Kyk and editor of that first, seminal
sequence of 28 issues which he produced between 1945 and 61.
The life A.J Seymour lived you would not have thought that
he would have had the time, the nervous energy, the mental
inclination, or the emotional space to fashion anything more than
the gleaming vestige of a poetic career. Yet he has been prolific
.in his output of poems and he will surely be considered when
cultural historians stand back far enough in time an important
West Indian poet both in terms of what he achieved intrinsically
and in terms of his seminal influence on the region's poetry in the

KYK # 46/47

period of transition from colonial status to independent stature.
His life was so full of other things that the urge to write poetry
must have been extraordinarily powerful to enable him to
achieve so much in this one demanding endeavour out of so
many others.
It is not just that AJS had any number of irons in the cultural
fire. Those alone would have taken up a few worthwhile life-times
for most men. Perhaps even more remarkable to observe, and
wonder how he found the time and energy to write his poems, is
that he was a conscientious, full-time civil servant dutifully
pursuing an arduous career and also a devoted husband and
father and God-fearing man whose life very much revolved
around family, friends, and Church. There never seems to have
been a question of wanting to break the bonds of convention,
kick over the traces, overturn all, escape to the South Seas, in order
to write his poems. Poetry had to take its place among other
activities in a hard-working administrative career and within an
ordered and self-consuming family circle. AJS seems to have
accepted this as a controlling fact of life, a "given", a way of
looking at things that was not to be, and was not, questioned. His
many volumes of autobiography "Growing Up in Guyana",
"Pilgrim Memories", "Family Impromptu". "30 Years a Civil
Servant", "The Years in Puerto Rico and Mackenzie" indicate
this clearly enough. His life in poetry and poetry's deep
significance for him is certainly vividly portrayed. At the age of
22 he writes his first poem and:

...suddenly the discovery of this gift acted as a focusing of
the latent energies of my life, both at that time
and later on in life. I had discovered the central citadel of
my inner life and was to link that gift to the unrolling of
revelation in religion, especially in the phrase 'the image
ofthe likeness of God'.

But poetry does not by any means dominate nor even take

KYK# 46/47

pride of place in the story of his life as AJS tells it. If
anything, family and religion play much the most important part
in his life. At any rate there was never any doubt in his mind that
first and foremost he must apply himself to earning a living so
that he could marry and raise a family and provide worthily for
them. There is perhaps a faint note of regret when he relates at
one point how the writing of poetry retreated into the background
of his life from 1945 for some 25 years:

From 1936 to around 1944 1 had been conscious of a
continuous flow of poetry from my pen and I had
published by 1945 Verse, More Poems, Over Guiana,
Clouds, and Sun's in My Blood...But these three jobs-
Government broadcasting, editing Kyk-Over-Al and being
the executive officer of a cultural union absorbed those
emotional tensions that had previously expressed
themselves in my poetry, and so the main tide of my
creativity was diverted. It was not until 1970 with the
great change in my duties and with the evolution of my
country that I recovered my personal voice in poetry
and my second creative phase emerged

Regret, perhaps, but regret voiced with no doubt at all that
what he was doing with his life was both inevitable and right.
His Muse, though strong and insisting to be heard, never
threatened to be so fierce and jealous as to divert him from that
conscientiously chosen path in life.
What he was doing with his life, apart from working
assiduously at his Government job and helping raise a large
family was of vital importance to the cultural development of
Guyana and, indeed, the Caribbean region. He was turning
himself into a one man cultural task force.
It has to be remembered especially by those who think of
him first as a poet that AJS made an incalculable impact on
life and letters in Guyana simply by his active presence and

KYK # 46/47

leading role in the country's cultural and educational life. Month
by month, through his editing of Kyk-Over-Al, his dedicated
work in broadcasting,his secretaryship of the Union of Cultural
Clubs (until it broke up in the early 1950s), his indefatigable
writing of essays and articles in local magazines and newspaper,
his enthusiastic encouragement of young writers and production
of their publications, his devotion to the vital importance of
literature in the life of an emerging nation which he communicated
to all around him and the society at large, his explanation of the
West Indian dimension to our cultural life through this
multitudinous attention to intellectual and cultural awareness
among all sections of the community, he dramatically advanced
the cause of Guyanese and West Indian literature in a
particularly formative stage in its history. In the book produced in
honour of his 70th birthday, I wrote about his contribution in the
following terms:

His life at one very important level is a record of 50
years of dedicated work in literature. He began in an era
when everything was still to be done. Indeed, it may be that
pioneers have to attempt too much. When young Seymour
in the early 1930s seriously began to think what
contribution he might make to life and letters in his home
land, consider how much needed to be done, how many
moulds required breaking, how many initiatives needed
to be taken. The Empire had not yet begun to fade. The
status of his country was colonial, the mentality
dependent, the heritage imperial, the culture derivative.
Think of the varied challenges that must have faced a
young man's sense and sensibility in those times. It must
have almost seemed too much. There were poems to write
whose themes were Guyanese and Caribbean not
metropolitan and whose imagery was tropical and
experienced, not temperate and second-hand. There was
a whole new world of deeply felt historical experience to

KYK # 46/47

open up. There was new thinking to be done in half a
dozen fields. Critical work had to be informed by
different themes and original perspectives. So many fresh
starts had to be made. A whole new context had to be
prepared for the coming generations. The work that is
done at the beginning of anything, like the foundations of
a great building sunk beneath the earth, is least seen but
is the most important part. Seymour as designer and
architect of post-colonial structures of thought and art
and writing in Guyana and the Caribbean is still to be
filly assessed and properly acclaimed.

And in Kvk-Over-Al, # 39, in a tribute to mark his 75th
birthday, I tried to give some idea of the scope of work he

...his overall contribution to the cultural tradition of
Guyana and the Caribbean is truly astonishing. I do not
think the younger writers and academics grasp it fully.
The AJS bibliography compiled by the National Library
in 1974 was already 100 pages long and since then must
have doubled in length. This amazing man's work
contains poems, historical publications, reviews,
broadcasts, essays, addresses, entries in anthologies,
forewords, lectures, talks, pamphlets, memoirs, sermons,
eulogies, magazine work, and books in such profusion
that one would be excused for thinking this was the
record of a school, not one man alone.

"So much to do, so little time to spare" though when it
came to spreading the word about literature he always made the
time. Yet for me AJS is preeminently AJS the poet. I have a great
regret that more of his life was not devoted to poetry, devoted to
perfecting the craft and art poetry, devoted to expanding the
frontiers of poetry in the West Indies when he was in the full

KYK # 4647

vigour of his most creative years. God knows that in his poetry he
achieved great things. But I simply have the feeling that he had
the capacity, the genius in him, to create and sustain more
complex, more challenging, more innovative, more deeply
searching and questioning poetry than he ever did succeed in
writing. He never quite had the time left over in a very full and
satisfying life to explore the outer limits or the innermost reaches
of language as he himself, I think, would have wished to do.
Nevertheless he is a West Indian poet who will always be
read. The mass of poems he wrote represents a magnificent
achievement. Many of the poems will be remembered as long as
forever ever lasts in the West Indies. Some of the poems -Sun is
a Shapely Fire; Name Poem; For Christopher Columbus;
Tomorrow Belongs to the People; Amalivaca; Legend of
Kaieteur; Over Guiana; Clouds; There Runs a Dream; I Heard
a Rooster Call; to name an essential handful have deservedly
become classics and will be read in the text books generation
after generation.
In this special issue of his brain-child, therefore, I believe
AJS would have wanted us to remember him not only as inspired
founder and editor of what will always in a real sense be "his"
magazine, but also by the simple name of poet. And so we praise
him now for all he did, for the gift of Kyk, and for the poetry he
loved so deeply and wrote so well".

kv. c p

IjL4. -




Photograph of Kykoveral, by Robin Pieters,
courtesy of 'Stabroek News'.

KYK # 46/47

leading role in the country's cultural and educational life. Month
by month, through his editing of Kyk-Over-Al, his dedicated
work in broadcasting,his secretaryship of the Union of Cultural
Clubs (until it broke up in the early 1950s), his indefatigable
writing of essays and articles in local magazines and newspaper,
his enthusiastic encouragement of young writers and production
of their publications, his devotion to the vital importance of
literature in the life of an emerging nation which he communicated
to all around him and the society at large, his explanation of the
West Indian dimension to our cultural life through this
multitudinous attention to intellectual and cultural awareness
among all sections of the community, he dramatically advanced
the cause of Guyanese and West Indian literature in a
particularly formative stage in its history. In the book produced in
honour of his 70th birthday, I wrote about his contribution in the
following terms:

His life at one very important level is a record of 50
years of dedicated work in literature. He began in an era
when everything was still to be done. Indeed, it may be that
pioneers have to attempt too much. When young Seymour
in the early 1930s seriously began to think what
contribution he might make to life and letters in his home
land, consider how much needed to be done, how many
moulds required breaking, how many initiatives needed
to be taken. The Empire had not yet begun to fade. The
status of his country was colonial, the mentality
dependent, the heritage imperial, the culture derivative.
Think of the varied challenges that must have faced a
yowig man's sense and sensibility in those times. It must
have almost seemed too much. There were poems to write
whose themes were Guyanese and Caribbean not
metropolitan and whose imagery was tropical and
experienced, not temperate and second-hand. There was
a whole new world of deeply felt historical experience to

KYK # 4647

open up. There was new thinking to be done in half a
dozen fields. Critical work had to be informed by
different themes and original perspectives. So many fresh
starts had to be made. A whole new context had to be
prepared for the coming generations. The work that is
done at the beginning of anything, like the foundations of
a great building sunk beneath the earth, is least seen but
is the most important part. Seymour as designer and
architect of post-colonial structures of thought and art
and writing in Guyana and the Caribbean is still to be
fidly assessed and properly acclaimed.

And in Kvk-Over-Al, # 39, in a tribute to mark his 75th
birthday, I tried to give some idea of the scope of work he

...his overall contribution to the cultural tradition of
Guyana and the Caribbean is tndy astonishing. I do not
think the younger writers and academics grasp it filly.
The AJS bibliography compiled by the National Library
in 1974 was already 100 pages long and since then must
have doubled in length. This amazing man's work
contains poems, historical publications, reviews,
broadcasts, essays, addresses, entries in anthologies,
forewords, lectures, talks, pamphlets, memoirs, sermons,
eulogies, magazine work, and books in such profusion
that one would be excused for thinking this was the
record of a school, not one man alone.

"So much to do, so little time to spare" though when it
came to spreading the word about literature he always made the
time. Yet for me AJS is preeminently AJS the poet. I have a great
regret that more of his life was not devoted to poetry, devoted to
perfecting the craft and art poetry, devoted to expanding the
frontiers of poetry in the West Indies when he was in the full

KYK # 46/47

vigour of his most creative years. God knows that in his poetry he
achieved great things. But I simply have the feeling that he had
the capacity, the genius in him, to create and sustain more
complex, more challenging, more innovative, more deeply
searching and questioning poetry than he ever did succeed in
writing. He never quite had the time left over in a very full and
satisfying life to explore the outer limits or the innermost reaches
of language as he himself, I think, would have wished to do.
Nevertheless he is a West Indian poet who will always be
read. The mass of poems he wrote represents a magnificent
achievement. Many of the poems will be remembered as long as
forever ever lasts in the West Indies. Some of the poems -Sun is
a Shapely Fire; Name Poem; For Christopher Columbus;
Tomorrow Belongs to the People; Amalivaca; Legend of
Kaieteur; Over Guiana; Clouds; There Runs a Dream; I Heard
a Rooster Call; to name an essential handful have deservedly
become classics and will be read in the text books generation
after generation.
In this special issue of his brain-child, therefore, I believe
AJS would have wanted us to remember him not only as inspired
founder and editor of what will always in a real sense be "his"
magazine, but also by the simple name of poet. And so we praise
him now for all he did, for the gift of Kyk. and for the poetry he
loved so deeply and wrote so well".

. U


Photograph of Kykoverat, by Rabin Pieers,

courtesy of 'Stabroek News'.

c I'Y



.1 : .r


KYK # 46/47

Kyk at 50

KYK # 46/47

g Kykat50


The Biography of a Magazine

In 1956, in introducing The Golden Kyk, an anthology
of selections from Kyks 1 to 28, AJS wrote an article
which can appropriately serve as Preface to this special
section honoring Kyk on the 50th anniversary of its
birth. AJS called his article: "Literature in the Making
The Contribution of Kyk-Over-Al".

The biography of a magazine includes the consideration of the
part it played in the making of a national literature which is still
incomplete although it has some considerable body.
First the basic narrative. Kyk started in 1945 as the organ of
the British Guiana Writers Association, and gradually assumed
the responsibility for printing the more important lectures and
discussions of the British Guiana Union of Cultural Clubs. This
was possible because the editor was also the honorary secretary
of the Union of Clubs. Then the Writers Association ceased to
meet, and later the Union of Cultural of Clubs fell apart, leaving
the editor to pursue the development of the magazine without
clients of any sort. The editor was himself at first staff member and
then the head of the Government Information Services and there-
fore committed to providing facts and information to all. He was
himself a poet and looking back, it appears that without his being
very conscious of it, he was seeking to make a distinction in his
poetry of a public voice and a private voice. So here is the editor
as a primary resource.
A word now about the function of a Little Review or literary
magazine since this type of magazine has a history of its own.
The little review is important in the world of literature and

KYK # 46/47

particular in the English language as a contemporary record of
trends in new writing, that would otherwise receive little
attention. In the 1945 Little Review Anthology, the English poet
Denys Val Barker points out that over the pass two centuries in
England, there is a long story of writers, later to become famous,
making their first appearance in print among small and unknown
magazines. The little review is valuable and important since it can
print new forms of writing which are too revolutionary for the
popular press to notice except in a glancing fashion. For example,
the novel Ulysses by James Joyce had to come out in the little
reviews before conditions for book publications could be created.
A little review is also produced by a writer who finds that he has
something to say of an unorthodox, controversial or visionary
nature. D.H. Lawrence published his own magazine Signature in
this way.
In the regional sense, the Little Review is important, to
express a growing nationalism. Huges MacDiarmid, one of
Scotland's leading national poets, unpopular with other editors
because of his strong nationalistic and socialistic approach,
found it necessary to bring out his own magazine Voice of
Scotland and we have magazines with the names of Wales and
Welsh Review to cater for regional ambitions.
During the 1939/45 war, we also had Little Reviews devoted
to the literature of countries overrun by enemy forces Free
France, Belgian Message, Czech Review, Greek Hellas and so on.
There is also a special type of review which developed -
the book anthology or book magazine. These looked like
magazines but were books. Men and Women in the British
Military Services brought out anthologies Bulge Blast, Khaki
and Blue, and Air Force Poetry. The same was true of short
stories, published in little review collections.
Looking back after many years, the editor was only vaguely
conscious of some of these events, in England, a far away centre
of Empire. The editor was only vaguely conscious also of many
of the social forces operating in Guyana in the 1940's although

KYK# 46/47

looking back, it is evident what has taken place.
In the first place, national health had become much better; it
was in 1946, at the end of the war, that Dr. Giglioli and D.D.T. had
come together to brake the scourge of malaria, and people no
longer had to suffer from crippling fevers. There was new
American money coming into the country from the construction of
the Air Base at Atkinson and at the Naval Base at Makouria.
People were eating more meat so the diet had. improved. Harold
Stannard had come to Guyana and encouraged intellectual
curiosity and had put creative intelligence in touch with one
another in the Caribbean region especially with Trinidad,
Barbados and Jamaica. The Union of Culture Clubs that he had
encouraged was focussing attention on the development of the
arts and discussions of cultural values in a planned deliberate and
sustained fashion. This meant a gathering of interest and support
that unified the native elite in the country, and a possible
leadership in the country was coming into existence to discuss the
intellectual material written by their peers. By chance there were
at least three poets important by national standards who had
begun to write in Guyana and to maintain a fellowship of poetic
and critical imagination in the 1940's.
At the end of the war, there were suddenly available good
inexpensive paperback books in the Penguin Series, making a
revolution at that time in reading in England and America. So
the community was open to influences from abroad in a liberal
way. Linkages with groups in the West Indies began to appear
with the little review Focus in Jamaica edited by Edna Manley.
with Bim in Barbados edited by Frank Collymore and Therold
There were also deeper social forces at work, now that one can
look back and analyse. In the small community of like minded
people, a strong contact was being forged between the magazine
and the society, and a shape, a character of being Guyanese was
being given to the society. The free play of mind upon ideas
helped a blossoming of what we call literature, and the

KYK # 46/47

description of areas of cultural values and an inventory of the
condition of the arts helped the focussing of common concern and
openness to ideas. The symposia ( many of them came later
rather than earlier in the biography of the magazine) encouraged
progressive thinking, even though contributors held diverse views
in social and religious matters. But the very clash was important.
In the creation of literary and intellectual leadership, there
was an unconscious groping towards a position in which the
community wanted to maintain the tradition mediated from
England to the British West Indies by our colonial past and to see
how it could be married to all the cultural elements in the
community that were quickening to birth. We did not have a
name for it then, but it was what is called the process of cultural
pluralism and national unity.
What was this tradition that was inherited? It was part of the
European heritage leading back to the Greeks, the Romans and
the Hebrews, and came as part of our educational patrimony. With
the English language came standards in literature and criticism.
We had laid great store by this legacy and consciousness, and
we wanted it included in the new Guyana to be born, since we
would continue to use the English language. The question in our
minds perhaps unasked, was how we could take this old colonial
world and remake it into our nation. We were conscious also that
many of our members had religions and therefore cultural values
based upon their links with India and others on links with Africa.
We ask the question, what is there in our past as Guyanese to
which we could give common pride? what were the things that
united us rather than the things that divided us? We wanted to
move away from this old world to make a new world. The old
world was still alive and the new world was not yet born.
We were not without some roots. There were the Dutch
historical past, the mythologically valuable Amerindian present,
and in some vague way all of us felt that we could somehow
claim those roots and bring them into literary and cultural
production. Vaguely too, we felt that linkage with the West Indies

KYK # 46/47

and others there thinking like ourselves would help to make this
new world be realized.
Remember that the editor is speaking from a web of reflection
and memory that looks backwards to see the roads travelled by
thinking and articulate people in Guyana over the pass 40 years.
We did not know it then, but we were placing an intellectual
and cultural apex on the traditional colonial pyramid. There was
no university, but the University College of.the West Indies,
especially through its Extra Mural Department, was beginning to
make its influence felt in Guyana. It was the inner necessity and
urge to freedom that we were paying attention to. So we focused
on the human condition in Guyana, the here and now of our world.
The value of a magazine like Kyk lies not in its age, but its
purpose. The responsibility and duty of a third world magazine is
to name the here and now, to summon up the values of the past
that are embedded in the soil and its history, and to point to the future
from today's discernible trends. One aspect of the urge to freedom
is the ability to choose from among several possibilities. An editor
can request the prose writings to put in his pages and they will be the
fruit of the conscious mind, but we must remember that the poetry
he prints is the expression of what is secret and internal, since the
age is about to make its statements and announce its values through
the poets.
Early in its pages in 1945 and 1948, Kyk declared its aims -"an
instrument to help forge a Guyanese people, make them conscious
of their intellectual and spiritual possibilities build some
achievement of common pride in the literary world make an act
oftpossession of our environment ... We so desperately want to
be rooted in the European soil, that is the Caribbean has isolated
us to the impact of a dying civilization so that we can pass on some
flaming torch higher up the line."
L.E Braithwaite reviewing Kyk in 1966 against these aims
felt that the magazine had not been radical or revolutionary
enough, that there had not been disagreement with the editor's
concept and point of view. He notes the magazine moves from a

KYK # 46/47

purely Guyanese to a West Indian position with the setting up of
the University College of the West Indies, and became aware
towards the end, of the importance of African Culture in the
region. He saw as valuable the translated poems of French West
Indian and African poets and the special issues on West Indian
Literature, Pen Portraits of important West Indians, anthologies
of Guyanese and West Indian poetry, the Cities of the
Caribbean, Guyanese Christmas, the Theatre in British Guiana
and the Artist Society. He felt that the poetry of the main
Guyanese poets and the introduction of a radical and critical
element were valuable.
I wish to add certain personal points of view. There were
many problems facing the Editor of Kykoveral. Appointed by
his peers in the Writer's Association to take charge of the
magazine, he had to conduct the business of the publication in
accordance with the agreed aims and with his own standards of
excellence developing these as he went along, following his vision
of the future in the formulation of his plans for successive issues,
weighing the ability and the willingness of his possible
contributors, expressing the spirit of the contents in his leading
articles, gauging the relationship between the periodical and his
developing audiences at home and aboard, moving out from a
limited Guyanese writing core to the wider regional contribution
and discussion of ideas by fellow writers of quality in the West
Indies, making possible the circulation of these ideas while they
were still fresh, articulating always as best he could the spirit of
the times in thought and sensibility, and with growing support and
confidence playing a creative part in the literary, intellectual and
cultural growth of the country and the region.
As this development of editorial philosophy tool place other
problems arose. As noted already, the British Guiana Writers'
Association ceased to exist; then the British Guiana Union of
Cultural Clubs ceased to meet. As I became the editor of a
magazine without bases, my own responsibilities as a Senior Civil
Servant deepened, various difficulties arose in securing

KYK # 46/47

advertisements, the climate of opinion among the ablest minds in
the country changed imperceptibly from tolerance to internal
divisions and to commitments and pre-possessions on the political
scene, in the region the Federation of the West Indies began to
falter and fail in its stride, horizons everywhere began to narrow
and there was a gradual closing of mental frontiers to the
circulation and influence of those ideas of breath and richness of
which I had been a champion. I feel sure that there always exists a
regional fraternity of men of letters within the Caribbean -
indeed I was to experience contact with that fraternity during my
years with the Caribbean Organisation and to sample this
curiosity and openness of mind to new ideas without hostility -
but with the beginning of the 1960's it was clear that national
loyalties and differences of political philosophy were affecting the
existence of periodicals such as Kykoveral.
There is a special relationship between a magazine and an
editor. In Australia, for example, the critic H. M. Green, pointed
out that overthe period 1099-1950 in three instances, The Bookfellow
edited by Stephens, The Lone Hand by Archibald and the little
review The Triad dealing with literary, artistic and musical
matters which migrated from New Zealand to Australia, -
these magazines were kept alive only by the vision and
perserverance of the editors. This would be true also of Kyk.
Contributors had to be coaxed, cajoled, and reminded in many
instances, and they still did not produce the promised
contribution, in which case the editor has to decide whether or not
he will write the piece himself so that the magazine will come
out as planned. The relationship eventually can become that of an
anxious mother and a child.
So in 1962 when the editor moved from Guyana to Puerto
Rico as a political casualty, the magazine went to sleep. Since
1945 there has been a great change in the climate of literary
opinion and in Guyana and the West Indies talents that had been
active in the 1940's had moved into politics. There was that
disillusionment also in the wake of the breakup of the West

KYK # 46/47

Indian Federation.
Who had been the main readers and supporters of Kyk in its
17 years of existence? Writers themselves, the middle class,
middle-brow people in the city like clergymen, teachers, doctors,
musicians, lawyers, merchants and clerks. The contributors had
been involved in a numbers of symposia on themes like the
spirit of man, the responsibility of the artist to the Community,
remembrance of Christmas from the view-points of living in
London, New York, Jamaica; the arts in Guyana, children and their
values, is there a West Indian way of life, greatness and bitterness,
standards of criticism and several on reading meaning into a poem.
These brought readers into involvement and made them into
There was a strong section on book reviews. Books that
could make any contribution to the Guyanese way of life were
made the subject of reviews and there was a wide net of persons
who responded with a personal reaction to the books which found
a place in the magazine.
Some years ago, a German Literature student prepared an
index to Kykoveral over the period 1945-1961 under eight
sections Fiction, Drama, Poetry, articles on literature and
language, articles on history and culture. Miscellaneous articles.
Symposia Colloquia, and editorial notes. It was published in the
magazine World Literature Written in English, Nov. 1977. The
Editor went through the pages, 40 in all and realized that this was
the distillation of several years of creative life. The 16 pages of
the names of poets and poems, eptiomised his relationships with
many men and women, some of whom he had never seen.
For example, it was a letter from Miriam Koshland in
California that brought translations of the poetry of Senghor,
Cesaire, Lero and Rabearivelo. Meeting Philip Sherlock, Clare
McFarlane and his sons in Jamaica brought an imput of
Jamaican poets. The St. Vincent star soloists. Kean, Campbell and
Williams, Telemaque of Trinidad, E. M. Roach from Tobago,
Derek Walcott from St Lucia, Frank Collymore and H. A. Vaughn

* 22 KYK # 46/47

and later Eddie Brathwaite from Barbados, all had sent poems to
Kyk, but always Wilson Harris and Martin Carter could be relied
upon to send in poems to be printed.
As I look at the Index, I realized that Kykoveral is a prism of
silver crystal which had attracted and held glowing images and
ideas from more than 150 contributors over 17 years and mingled
them into a jewel of memory of indescribable richness, now
flashing in radiant light and now colours of heaving and seething
blue and green and yellow for the delight and development of
thousands of its readers. It's lovely to know that this jewel was
once in my hand.

KYK # 46/47



Kyk-Over-Al has seen 50 years! We rejoice and give thanks to the
Editors who have sustained its growth over the years and so I offer
my congratulations to the present Editor, Mr Ian McDonald, for
carrying on the work left by the former Editor, A.J. Seymour for
him to do.
I am pleased and happy that Ian has been able to take up and
carry on from where AJS left off. When I look back I remember
in one of the Kyks, AJS writing, as it were, a last injunction:"to
lan as my son, I leave this in your hands to carry on for future
generations." 1 ant happy to record that you have carried out the
instructions of producing the magazine regularly and faithfully.
I like to remember Ian as saying he came upon a copy of
Kyk when was in the 6th Form of Queens Royal College in
Trinidad and enjoyed reading what was there. Also I remember a
tribute from Anne Walmsley while teaching in Jamaica which
brought her to Guyana to meet AJS.
It was not easy producing this magazine but it was meeting the
literary needs and urges of those who were trying to write
something for publication. It gave them all great joy to see their
work appear.
There were problems connected with the publication such as
collecting the copy for printing of the advertising material and
afterwards collecting the cash for advertisements. Some agents
offered to collect for the editor but went off with what was
collected, used it to their own purpose; that was distressing. So I
decided to offer my services to collect for one issue as the
Printers were getting worried about payment for the printing and
AJS was worried and ashamed.
Mr. Oscar Wight, Managing Director of Argosy tried to help
AJS out of the difficulties with the collecting agents knowing that
AJS was a poor civil servant with a large family and he could not

KYK # 46/47

always put his hands in his pocket to pay for the printing on his
But whenever the magazine was published those who
contributed came around with smiles on their faces to collect their
copies and were grateful they had something published. This
brought much joy and satisfaction to the contributors but there
was anxiety on the part of the printers. However, Mr. Oscar
Wight was very kind and wiped off some of the debt for the
printing that was owed to the Argosy Company.
Congratulations and thanks for carrying on with Kyk-Over-Al
until this day. Many persons are grateful to have a copy to read. It
is a little magazine that has kept going for 50 years.
Here is a short poem AIS wrote a year before he died. I have
always kept it and enter it here now.

For Kyk

Here in my hands I hold
this happy jewel
these glowing dreams I forged
in a hard school.

Visions and memories
their blessings radiate
And many a blessing more
On new eyes wait.

My life's blood, others too
this jewel holds
transformed and caught in words
Glinting with gold
And when with dust my eyes
Finally close
Still with our happiness
this jewel glows.

ew o4 uj "dJt feoo

(owa af i ekw.,

k G Ard -cut

t^ fiA G^j. (f to
MY' w ^ r i
t4 J avud A/dkw
fraH)ioaas ttcedaf' a4
GAuwy wzw Zc


KYK # 46/47


From Kyk # I

From Kvk-Over-Al # 1


Editorial Notes

Already there is the tang of Christmas in the air, and from the
Watch Tower we send happy Christmas greetings to every reader
of Kykoveral. It is the first Nativity season we spend free from
hostilities, though not from the shadow of them, and most people
hope for a long era of peace to repair the ravages of war.
Intellectual life in Europe and elsewhere is coming out of its
enforced hibernation. The winter solstice is past, and thought
begins its inevitable swing back to catch the sun. In the West
Indies there are signs that social and economic conditions will
slowly but surely improve, and the colonial peoples are being
taken more into partnership in the government of their own
Cultural life too, is quickening in many ways, but one needs a
canalising of energies or, if you like, nuclei here and there that will
give direction and permanence to the quickening activities.
Surely the B.G Union of Cultural Clubs is one of those rallying
points, and so also is a periodical of the kind we hope this will be.
What are our aims? Kykoveral we hope will be an instrument
to help forge a Guianese people, and to make them conscious of
their intellectual and spiritual possibilities. There's so much we
can do as a people if we can get together more, and with this
magazine as an outlet, the united cultural organizations can
certainly build, we believe, some achievement of common pride
in the literary world, without detracting in the least from their
group aims or autonomy.
Now, why change the name from "Greetings from Guiana" to
"Kykoveral"? The answer can be, why not? Associations make a
powerful cementing force, and although ruined, Kykoveral still

From Kyk # 1

stands to remind us of our Amerindian and Dutch heritage. If we
are going to grow, and to grow as people, we've got to have roots
and Kykoveral is one of them. The old fort there is in ruins, but,
as Harold Stannard says in his article, the creative spirit of man is
indomitable, and cultures burgeon again amid their own ruins.
As a title for a periodical Kykoveral calls for quick and wide
vigilance and the expression of an alert people. The cover design
- we think it an attractive one, was kindly done for us by Cecil E.
A word, now, about the contributors. The most distinguished
of course is Harold Stannard, who made such a profound
impression on the people of British Guiana two years ago. We
don't have to introduce Alan W. Steward or Oscar Wight or H. R.
Harewood or N. E. Cameron. Every one knows these
public men.
Readers of Guianese periodicals will also know already
J. A. V. Bourne, Duncan Boyce. Vere T. Daly, Celeste Dolphin,
Wilson Harris, Terence C. Holder, J. E. Humphrey and Jas. W.
Smith. They are known to editors of longer standing than this
one, and if we are not mistaken the other contributors also have
appeared in print.
The issues of Kykoveral will dependd largely upon public
response. We may promise half yearly publication, with the
hope readers will ask that the periodical appears quarterly. But
Rome was not built in a day and we would wish steady growth
in quality and response.

From Kyk # 1


The Story of Kykoveral

Kykoveral today is our oldest historical relic, and it should be
visited by all who have pride of country in their hearts. Its name
was doubtless an inspiration, for it "Looked" or "Kyked-Over-Al"
the waters of the Essequebo, Mazaruni and Cuyuni. Provided we
have a sufficient leaven humility in our hearts, we would do
ourselves no harm to take as our watch-word "Kyk-over-al!"
It has now been established beyond reasonable doubt that
Kykoveral was founded in 1616. The trustworthiness of Major
John Scott, on whose authority this statement was first made, was
once contemptuously denied: but Dr. George Edmundson, in a
series of learned articles -published in the English Historical
Review, has shown, by comparison with Dutch and Spanish
contemporary records, that Scott is entirely to be trusted.
By close examination and careful deduction Dr. Edmundson
has reconstructed for us the story of the founding of Kykoveral.
Early in the seventeeth century there was at the Spanish
settlement of San Thom6 on the Orinoco, a Dutchman by the name
of Adrian Groenewegen. He was the Spanish factor at San Thom6,
but when a change of policy had come about in the little
settlement Groenewegen quit the Spanish service and went back
to his old masters in Holland.
He was at once engaged by Peter Courteen and Jan de Moor
and put in charge of an expedition to Essequebo, where on his
arrival with a mixed force of Englishmen and Zeelanders in two
ships and a galiot, he built a fort and established a settlement on
the island of Kykoveral at the water-meet of the Essequebo,
Mazaruni, and Cuyuni rivers.
Until Dr. Edmundson took up the cudgel in defence of Scott
(who was a notorious swindler in his private life) every bit of the
above was discredited. But the acceptance of Scott's story has
now shown how false are earlier accounts which tell of the

From Kyk # I

founding of Kykoveral between 1581 and 1598 and the finding
of an old fort of alleged Portuguese construction.
In 1621 the Dutch West India Company was formed. Its main
aim being the capture of Brazil, which belonged to the
Portuguese, its first notable act was to send an expedition of
twenty-six ships to raid San Salvador. It is probable that official
attention was not paid to Essequebo before 1623, when the
Zeeland Chamber began to show special interest in the post.
Jacob Canyn, a ship's captain, was the Company's first agent. He
contracted to serve for three years, but in 1626 we find him asking
to be released. It is to Jan Van der Goes must go the honour of
being the leader of the first official occupation of Essequebo.
In 1895 the question as to the respective boundaries of the
Republic of Venezuela and the Crown Colony of British Guiana
caused a world-wide stir; but war between the United States of
America (acting for and on behalf of the Republic of Venezuela)
and Great Britain was averted when an arbitration treaty was
signed between the British Ambassador and Senhor Andrade at
Washington on February 2, 1897. Working on both sides were
some of the ablest professors in the world, and one of the
difficulties they had to face was to decide which of the two
accounts of the founding of Kykoveral was to be accepted -
Scott's, or that which could be gleaned from the minutes of the
West India Company. In the American case, Scott's account was
treated with contempt: and in the decision handed down by the
tribunal which met in Paris, it is clear that Scott was discredited.
The apparently irreconcilable difficulty was this: If
Groenewegen in 1616 had established a settlement, why was it
necessary for the West India Company to establish another
sometime between 1623 and 1626? What had happened to
Groenewegen's settlement? Had it failed?
By close analysis of the documents which have come down
to us, Dr. Edmundson has shown that the official occupation of
Kykoveral did not disturb the settlement under Groenewegen.
Undoubtedly the old settlers must have viewed the new ones with

From Kyk # 1

suspicion, and vice versa; but on the whole the fortunes of the
Company's trading post hardly affected the Courteen's colony.
How reasonable this conclusion is may easily be seen when
one begins to read of attempts made by the West India Company
to suppress the activities of a body of private traders. We find in
1634, for example, Abraham van Pere, and the Zeeland Chamber
instructing their deputies, who were being sent to a meeting of
the *Nineteen, "to request, and even insist, that no colonists or
other persons shall be at liberty to navigate to the Wild Coast
(Guiana) except this Chamber and Confrater van Pere alone";
And this request having failed we find the Zeeland Chamber the
next year passing a resolution to the effect that "the trade to the
wild coast shall be done by the company alone and by no private
In 1635 the Company's settlement was in such a bad way that
the Zeeland Chamber's Committee of Commerce and Finance sat
to decide whether or not it was profitable to keep it. At that time
there were in the Company's employment not more than thirty
men, whose main business was that of exchanging the articles of
European make for anatto dye, which was then in great demand in
Europe for use in the manufacture of cheese and other products.
Presumably, the report of the Chamber's Committee was
favourable, for the official occupation of Essequebo continued.
The discovery that sugar-cane was growing in the colony may
have been responsible for this decision, for it is about this time
(1637) that we find the first mention of sugar in the minutes of the
Zeeland Chamber.
But if official Essequebo was in a precarious condition, the
same cannot be said of the settlement under Groenewegen. In
1624 it was visited by one Jesse de Forest and in 1627 by Captain
Plowell, the discoverer of Barbados. Plowell's visit was for the
ostensible purpose of obtaining seeds and roots for planting in
Barbados, but his real motive was to reinforce the colony. "There I
lefte eight men." he writes, and lefte a Cargezon of trade for
that place."

From Kyk # 1

In 1637, when the Zeeland Chamber had just decided not to
abandon its past, Groenewegen was leading an expedition against
San Thome a state of affairs which shows that the Courteen's
settlement was in a stronger position than the Company's.
It is certain that the first fort on Kykoveral by Groenewegen was
not of stone, for in 1627, and again in 1631, van der Goes was
promised a fort of brick. Failure to fulfil this and other promises
caused van der Goes to return home with the whole lot of his
colonists in 1632. He was, however, re-engaged, and by 1634 he
was back at Kykoveral with two assistants. Significantly, in 1639,
he was addressed for the first time as "Commandeur," and one may
reasonably presume that this title was given him because of the fact
that there were now soldiers under him. A further conclusion that
can be drawn is that the promised fort had been completed, and that
the soldiers were housed there. It was, as van Berkel described it
thirty-one years later, "of quadrangular shape, having below the
magazine, and above three apartments in which soldiers are housed,
a room for the Commandant and one for the Secretary, which at the
same time serves to store the cargoes.
Meanwhile, the rivalry between the Company and the Courteens
for the mastery of Kykoveral was gradually coming to an end. By
1645 the position was so much easier that Groenewegen was made
Governor by the West India Company; nevertheless, the Zeeland
Chamber suggested to the Company. that in applying for a renewal
of its charter it should stipulate that no private individuals be
allowed to trade to Essequebo. This, however, was the last protest,
for in 1650 Groenewegen was not only Governor, but was also
Commandeur of the troops. The two colonies finally fused in 1664,
for in that year Jan de Moor died and Groenewegen definitely
became a Company's servant.
Groenewegen died at his post in 1664. He was, as Scott says,
"the first man that took a firm footing in Guiana by the good liking
of the natives...." As an associate of Captain Plowell he was
responsible for giving substantial assistance to Barbados. A story
goes that when it became known in Essequebo that the Indians

From Kyk # 1

whom he had sent with Plowell to Barbados were enslaved, he was
hard put to show that he was not party to such a diabolical scheme.
He solved the situation by marrying an Indian woman by
whom he had a son, Amos Groenewegen, who was later post-holder
in Demerara (circa 1680-1700).
The year after Groenewegen's death Kykoveral saw its first
serious action. Commercial rivalry had brought the English and the
Dutch into conflict, and in 1665 Major John Scott was sent by
Lord Willoughby, then Governor of Barbados, to raid Dutch
settlements in Guiana. After devastating Pomeroon, Scott
proceeded up the Essequebo and captured Kykoveral, leaving there
twenty-eight men under Captain Keene before returning to
Barbados to boast of his conquest.
Scott mentions in his report that he was able to secure for
his troops 73,788 lbs. of sugar, and this throws some light on the
activities of the settlement. That the Indian trade in anatto was
still the chief occupation of the settlers there can be no doubt: but
Prince Sugar was already threatening to usurp the throne of King
The British occupation, however, was not destined to be long.
The first difficulty of the troops was with the Indians, who refused
to give them supplies; then the French, who were the allies of the
Dutch, came and bombarded the fort; finally, a force under
Bergenaar, the Commandeur of Berbice, travelling overland by a
path that is probably now part of the Rupununi Cattle Trail, and
down the Essequebo, reached Kykoveral and recaptured it.
Meanwhile, the States of Zeeland, hearing of the fate of their
beloved Essequebo, had sent Admiral Crynssen to the rescue.
Crynssen arrived after Bergenaar had effected its recapture; but
he took the colony over in the name of the States of Zeeland
and instituted one Baerland, Commandeur.
The Peace of Breda, signed in 1667, brought hostilities to a
close. Pomeroon was now completely deserted, but Kykoveral
was recovering gradually from Scott's blow.
There was now some difficulty in finding an owner for the

From Kyk # 1

colony, but after long and tedious negotiation the Zeeland
Chamber of the West India Company took it over once again.
Hendrick Rol was made Commander; and though a third
Anglo-Dutch War was fought in the meantime, Kykoveral was not
But this was not for long. Louis XIV's ambitions soon
precipitated Europe into more wars, and during the War of the
Spanish Succession Kykoveral was attacked (1708). To the lasting
shame of Commandeur van der Heyden Resen, it must be written
that instead of sallying forth to meet the enemy he ignominiously
shut himself up with his troops in the Fort. Some resistance was
given at Plantation Vryheid (Bartica) by the owner and his slaves:
but after two had been killed and a few injured the defenders
Captain Ferry, the leader of the French expedition, took his
departure on the receipt of a ransom of 50,000 guilders, paid in
slaves, meat, provisions, and pieces of eight. But Essequebo's cup
of bitterness was not completely full. Two more French privateers
sailed up the river the next year (1709) and completed the work
of destruction. They plundered and burnt to their heart's content,
took two hogshead of sugar that were being prepared for export,
and left on their departure but two sugar mills standing.
These two raids on Kykoveral soon woke up the planters to
the alarming fact that the Fort could defend neither the colony
nor the plantations. A fort, more strongly fortified, and more
strategically placed, was needed, especially now that the fertile
alluvial coastlands were attracting the planters lower and lower
down the river. Flag Island (now Fort Island) was decided upon
as the best site for the new Fort, which was so advanced by 1739
that the seat of government was transferred there.
In 1744 Fort Zeelandia (as the new fort on Flag Island was
called) was completed. Kykoveral thereafter was neglected, even
though it was Gravesande's intention to have it reconditioned
that very year. In 1748 it was proposed to raze it, and in 1750 it
was reported abandoned. In 1755, however, it was again fortified.

S35 From Kyk # 1

because of an expected Spanish invasion: but after the scare had
passed it was allowed to fall into a state of dilapidation again.
Kykoveral today is our oldest historical relic, and it should be
visited by all who have pride of their country in their hearts. Its
name was doubtless an inspiration for it "Looked" or
"Kyked-over-al" the waters of the Essequebo, Mazaruni and
Cuyuni. Provided we have a sufficient leaven of humility in our
hearts, we would do ourselves no harm to take as our
watch-word "Kyk-over-al!"

KYK # 46/47


Note on Vere. T. Daly's" The Story of Kyk-Over-Al"

While Kyk-Over-Al clearly represents the first permanent Dutch
Settlement in this country, the precise date of its foundation
remains as much a mystery as ever. It is fashionable now to follow
the Edmundson theory and accept 1616 as constituting the year of
Essequibo establishment. Vere T. Daly certainly did so, being
possibly the first popularizer of Edmundson's work locally. For
all Daly's conviction, however, it cannot be proven beyond all
reasonable doubt that Edmundson is right. His account is
essentially a hypothesis -albeit a plausible one, It reconciles
evidence which is otherwise irreconcilable, namely the account
given by Major John Scott on the one hand, with the admittedly
defective official records on the other.
As Daly himself points out, the problem lies in the fact that
the earliest extant official documents relating to Essequibo
indicate that the colony was owned by the Dutch West India
Company, and that it probably had its origins around 1623. The
Company was formed in 1621, which makes Scott's date for
Essequibo's foundation 1616 highly problematical. Scott,
who as Daly rightly says, was something of a scoundrel, obtained
his information from two Essequibo traders whom he had captured.
Edmundson's neat hypothesis states that the colonial
entrepreneur, Jan de Moor, first had a trading post in Essequibo
in 1616, and that around 1623,. the West India Company
established itself there. For many years, he says, the two
operations co-existed, until Jan de Moor died, when they were
merged under the governorship of de Moor's representative.
Groenewegel*. Edmundson considered that the West India
Company, normally so punctilious about enforcing its monopoly,
tolerated de Moor because he himself was a member of the
Zeeland Chamber, or branch, of that Company.
Edmundson has chosen to ignore two pieces of evidence

KYK# 46/47

deriving from the Spanish records. These indicate, firstly, that in
1616 there were about a dozen Spaniards living in Essequibo
growing cassava, and that secondly, the Spaniards believed that
William Usselincx, and not Jan de Moor was behind the Dutch
attempt around that time to settle at various points along the Guiana
coast. It is possible that the Spanish authorities were wrong in their
assumption about Usselincx, and the presence of a few Spaniards
somewhere in Essequibo in 1616 does not invalidate the thesis, but
the problem is that Edmundson never attempted to confront the
Spanish data. As things currently stand, the evidence is insufficient
either to prove or disaprove Edmudson's admittedly seductive
As in the case of the date of the Essequibo's establishment, no
one can be certain about precisely when the brick fort, whose
archway alone now survives, was built, except to say it was
probably before 1670. In 1691 it was recorded as housing 43
Europeans, 54 Amerindian slaves, 165 Black slaves and 14
Coloureds possibly free men. As Daly rightly indicates, for
many years Kyk-Over-Al was both the seat of the government as
well as the military headquarters. What he does not say, however,
is that it was evacuated in stages. The Governor and administration
moved out first, taking themselves to the mainland at Cartabo.
Here a house was built called, appropriately enough, the Huis
Nabij" or "House Nearby". This was in 1718, and the seat of
government remained here for more than twenty years, until it and
the military garrison from Kyk-Over-Al moved downriver to Fort

* Vere T. Daly uses the spelling 'Groenewegen',which is the
Edmundson version of the spelling. 'Groenewegel' is the more
correct version.

.38 From Kyk # 1


The Earth is a Woman

The earth is a woman with patient hair
And she watches a window pane
Where a tower of cloud creeps slowly past
And other clouds come again.

When night comes in. she counts the stars
On the dark gown that woman wears.
She sits with her quiet hands folded there
And she watches the patient years.

From Kyk # 1


Drama in British Guiana

An observer who has done a fair amount of travelling in South
America recently remarked at a meeting of one of our cultural
clubs that he thought that the extent of dramatic activity was
greater in this Colony than in any other which he had visited. It is
quite true that locally there has been an outburst of such activity
within recent times.
Let us take the year 1944 for instance: in January we had
Princess Ju- u staged by the Bedford Boys and Girls' Club: in
March Ecce Homo, a religious play was staged at Buxton: in
April Adoniya (Wife of Moses). written by the author of this a
article was staged at Queen's College; in May Savitri was
presented by the B. G. Dramatic Society in the Assembly Rooms;
in July Pageant of Church History was presented in St. George's
School Hall; in August a sketch was presented on the occasion of
the opening of the C. Y. 0. and at the Annual Convention of the
B. G. Union of Cultural Clubs two sketches were presented by
the Georgetown Dramatic Club and the B. H. S. Old Girls'
Guild; in October the Georgetown Dramatic Club presented
Bernard Shaw's Androcles and the Lion in the Assembly
Rooms, and in November, Queen's College presented as its
centenary play Shakespeare's Twelfth Night, and in the same
month Esme Cendrecourt presented her own play Unmasked in
the Assembly Rooms, this being. I think, the last play staged in
the Assembly Rooms before it was destroyed by the fire in
February, 1945.
While there is undoubtedly a considerable amount of activity
in this field locally, I personally am not in a position to say how
this compares with similar efforts in the West Indies. I know.
however, that Dramatics in the West Indies will be an interesting
study for I have heard of playwrights in Jamaica and Trinidad
and a writer of children's operettas in Surinam.

From Kyk # I

Anthony Froude in his The English in the West Indies
published in 1887, remarked that on the occasion of a visit paid to
Tobago by the Governor of that time, a party of villagers sprang a
pleasant surprise on him when they presented before him the
Merchant of Venice. That was nearly 60 years ago.
For a long time in this Colony there have been dramatic clubs
and groups presenting plays. I came across, in the Royal Gazette
of December 31, 1863, mention of "an edifice containing all
the appointments necessary to effective presentation of optical
and dramatic entertainment."
The writer of the article in question referred to the fact that the
building no longer existed and that since then there had been no
local theatre similarly equipped. I do not know whether the
reference was to the Athenaeum which was founded in 1851, but
the Athenaeum Club and the Philharmonic Society were among
our famous cultural institutions of the past. Clubs there have been
galore, e.g., the Georgetown Dramatic Club and Demerara
Dramatic Club. These two contemporary clubs presented plays
on two or three occasions yearly and on some evenings they
presented as many as three one-act plays. Other clubs were the
Lyceum, the Three Arts, Jerusalem. At present the principal
dramatic clubs are the B.G. Dramatic Society, which caters only
for Indian members, the Georgetown Dramatic, open to all,
while there are several clubs which include drama as a part of
their cultural activity.
There is no doubt that drama has a special appeal for young
people as one of the means of spending their leisure. Their
opportunity for self expression, practice in elocution and gesture,
an increased sense of dramatic appreciation together with the
team spirit formed by constant association in rehearsals strike the
youths as making play-acting well worth their while. It must be
remarked, however, that no special courses in acting are given
apart from hints picked up while at school or from reading articles
and magazines or books bearing on drama. Here, of course, much
more can be done and indeed much is expected to be done,

S41 From Kyk # 1

especially along the lines of elocution.
Then again the drama provides opportunity for a very great
variety of talent, for apart from the actors there are the questions of
scenery, costumes, make-up, music and dances, lighting effects,
and the business end like advertising, etc. There are some notable
scenists among us. Special mention may be made of Mr. R. G.
Sharpies, President of the Guianese Art Group, who painted an
outdoor and indoor set for Queen's College and an out door set
for the Ursuline Convent. Some of our make-up artists have
succeeded in creating very good results and recently the lion in the
Georgetown Dramatic Club's presentation Androcles and the
Lion was declared by many to be a work of art.
Local Dramatists:
I think the first person to write a play in British Guiana was the
late Father C. W. Barraud, S. J., Principal of St Stanislaus
College. In 1872 he wrote St. Thomas of Canterbury and
St. Elizabeth of Hungary, both 5-act plays in the Shakespearean
manner. These were, however, not published until 1892 and were
reviewed locally in the following year. In 1893 a master of
Queen's College, J. Veecock, Secretary and Stage Manager of the
then Demerara Dramatic club, presented Falstaff which was a
collection, with modifications, of those scenes in Shakespeare's
Henry IV, Parts I and II, in which the character Falstaff appeared.
Then followed short sketches, usually humorous, dealing with
various phases of local life. It is unfortunate that there appears to
be no copy extant of Quid Rides (Why do you laugh?), a
collection of about 10 sketches by Rev. P. Giddings, all the more
as the sketches were supposed to characterise various foibles of
the people, especially a tendency to use words of learned length
and thundering sound.
About 1916, Sidney Martins, a Portuguese comedian
published a collection of his witticisms and sketches. One of
these Mrs. Farrington's Third Husband might well bear
representation especially if re-written to suit modern taste.
Since that time there have been several writers of comic

From Kyk # 1

sketches, the most brilliant being G. Ingham Goring, whose comic
songs are still remembered by many. Three of his sketches are
Perseus Drops a Brick, a sketch based on the story of
Andromeda in 5,000 words: Robin Hood and the King's Deer
and the Mortgage on the Old Guiana Home.
In May, 1931, came a revival of the full length play when
there appeared the author's Balthazar, a play based on Anatole
France's version of the story of the Three Wise Men. The late
Walter Mac A. Lawrence reviewing this play in the New Daily
Chronicle hailed it as the beginning of a new phase in local drama.
Encouraged by this publication, Esme Cendrecourt, the most pro-
lific of our playwrights, staged Romance of Kaieteur in the
Assembly Rooms in September, 1931. Miss Cendrecourt's
succeeding plays were all propaganda plays, illustrating some
phase of health work or social welfare work. In December, 1943,
the author presented Adoniya at Queen's College for the first time.
The most recent to enter the field of Guianese dramatists is
Mr. Basil Balgobin, who presented in May of this year Asra, a
political play on India.
There is a growing demand for a new Guianese drama with
full length plays written on a dignified plane dealing with various
aspects of local life, and indeed voicing the sentiments and
aspirations of the people. While this is very praiseworthy and
indeed may be the next phase of our efforts at dramatic
publications, it is rather curious that the advocates of this idea
do not stress at the same time that all the other forms of local
art and literature, for example the short story, music, painting,
poetry, should strive similarly to represent to the world the
thoughts and aspirations of British Guiana. This is undoubtedly
one of the highest aims of art and literature.
I mentioned previously that it was possible that in the very
near future systematic courses of study might be given to our
actors. Similarly, there should be courses of study in play writing
for the would-be playwright. I notice that lessons on play writing
and competitions for the best original plays are being given to the

*43 From Kyk # 1

B. H. S. dramatic group and one can only hope that similar courses
will be given in our dramatic clubs.
The work which has been done up to the present has been
quite good on the whole in spite of the disadvantages due to
lack of special training in acting and playwriting and to the
limitations of small stages and halls of faulty acoustic properties.
With the advent of British Council activity among ts and with
the promise of a new and modern theatre we may look forward
to a considerable advance of local dramatic achievement.

KYK # 46/47

Special Contributions


Frank Collymore and A J Seymour.
A Literary Friendship

This is a small but special chapter in West Indian literary history.
It is well known that Frank Collymore and A.J. Seymour played
important and similar roles in the development of West Indian
literature, chiefly by their editing of the little magazines Bim and
Kyk-Over-Al, but also their own poetry. What is not so well
known is that in these roles they were mutually supportive,
encouraging each other, collaborating, and forming and
sustaining a friendship almost entirely by correspondence.
Some of this correspondence survives. In the Collymore
collection in the Barbados National Archives, there are two
letters from Seymour to Collymore, written in the 1940s. In the
Seymour collection in the University of Guyana Library, there are
six letters from Collymore to Seymour, spanning the period 1952
to 1975, as well as one from Seymour to Collymore, written in
The first of these letters, from Seymour to Collymore, is dated
16 February 1946. It was obviously written in the early stages of
contact between the two men. It is not clear who initiated the
correspondence. It may have been prompted by the first
appearance of Kyk, in 1945, Bim having first appeared in 1942. In
this letter, Seymour, addressing his correspondent as "Dear
Collymore," thanks him for the flattering notice in the
December Forum," and for the copy of Collymore's Beneath the
Casuarinas (1945), a collection of poems, which Collymore had
sent him. The Forum was another Barbadian little magazine
which was also making a contribution at that time to the
development of West Indian literature, and the flattering notice
may have been of Kyk. Seymour expresses his delight in

KYK# 46/47

Casuarinas, and singles out for praise "Newsreel from
Buchenwald," which he describes as horribly powerful," and "
This Land." With reference to the latter, he says, "We've got to do
a lot of that in the West Indies drive home our roots if we want
to grow as a people."
Seymour also mentions his first "glimpse" of Collymore, from
a photograph in the Barbados Annual Review, a Christmas
publication of the Barbados Advocate newspaper. This glimpse of
Collymore prompts Seymour to ask about Collymore's age, and
whether he is married and has children. Then he gives some
information about himself: his age-32 (" I feel 52") that he is
married and has five children, and that he is Assistant Publicity
Officer of the Bureau of Publicity and Information.
The second letter is dated 14 May 1949, but it is clear that the
correspondence and friendship had developed between 1946
and now. Seymour tells Collymore about books which he has
been reading, and makes special mention of E.M.W. Tillyard's
Poetry Direct and Oblique, which he finds to be "very good as a
line on trends in the colonies." He adds, "... as soon as I'd
finished the book, I took me my pen & said so to the master of
Jesus College, Cambridge. Being a nice man, Dr. Tillyard replied
with corroboration." The style ("I took me my pen," "replied with
corroboration"). and the relish in the ceremonial designation
(" The master of Jesus College, Cambridge") are typical of
Seymour. Collymore was not likely to have written to Tillyard in a
similar situation.
Of the two, Seymour was also the one more given to plans
and projects in the editing of his magazine. He now proposes to
Collymore that they "engage, professionally, in correspondence
on the literary & cultural prospects of the WI & our colonies in
particular, so that we both publish the exchange of letters at the
same time." Collymore being a man most reluctant to sound off'
about anything, it is not surprising that this particular project of
Seymour's did not materialise.
Then Seymour shares information about promising literary

KYK # 46/47

development in Trinidad: "Lamming & Co have begun to think of
a magazine for Trinidad. I suppose he's written you also, &
[Andrew] Pearse, the Resident Tutor there [ for the Extra- Mural
Department of the University College of the West Indies ], tells of
a Reader and Writers Guild." Lamming, then just twenty one years
old, Collymore's protege and friend, was teaching in Trinidad,
and had indeed been keeping his mentor informed of literary
activity there. Lamming had become vigorously involved with a
small group of Trinidadian writers, including Cecil Herbert,
Ernest Carr and Harold Telemaque, who were the hub of
literary activity on the island. In an undated letter to Collymore
(Collymore Collection, Barbados Archives), quite likely also
written in May 1949. Lamming tells his mentor about plans for
the magazine. He says that Seymour has promised a contribution.
He tells Collymore about Seymour's having written to Tillyard, a
development which he finds "so encouraging." It is a fair guess
that it was through Collymore that Lamming had come to
correspond with Seymour.
In his next letter to Collymore, also undated, Lamming gives
Collymore an account of a talk on "West Indian Writing Today"
which he had delivered the previous evening. Reflecting on the
art of public speaking, he considered the talk a failure. For one
thing, he realized afterwards that he had not said some of the
things he had wanted to say. In particular, he had not said enough
about West Indian poetry, and had not done justice to either
Collymore or Seymour.
The main topics of Collymore's extant letters to Seymour
are: news about forthcoming contents of Bim and about the
difficulties of keeping the magazine going: news about other
West Indian writers: comments on, and transactions for
distributing Seymour's publications; the possibility of their jointly
editing an anthology of West Indian poetry.
By the time of the first letter, 7 September 1952, Seymour had
begun to publish his Miniature Poets series of chapbooks by West
Indian poets. and Collymore thanks him for the one by the

KYK #46/47

Trinidadian Cecil Herbert, which had recently arrived. He tells
Seymour that he had recently met E. McG. Keane and Daniel
Williams, who had passed through Barbadoson their way to the
UK and the USA respectively. These two, along with Owen
Campbell, formed a trio of promising Vincentian poets whose
work has been appearing in Bim. One of them, Keane, went on to
make something of a name for himself as a poet. Mention of Keane
and Williams causes Collymore to reflect ruefully on the exodus
oTWest Indian writers from the region: "It seems a pity that all the
young men who have something to say should have to go else -
where to say it, but... they both told me they simply could not
remain in St Vincent... it was too soul stifling."
In his letter of 22 October, Collymore thanks Seymour for his
"very meaty" letter of the 12th, and for the Keane chapbook and
Kyk No.15. He congratulates Seymour on the Kyk, which he
considers the best number produced so far, and says that he must
make a special effort "to tackle Wilson Harris," whose work does
not appeal to him so directly as does that of Martin Carter. He
places orders for chapbooks in the Miniature Poets series, and
tells of progress with the production of Bim No.17. This number
will include a foreword aimed at reassuring Bin's indispensable
advertisers, especially in the face of the adverse local reviews
which the last three numbers have received: I do wish
advertisers to know that writers in Bim are being accepted as
'world writers' and not merely as Caribbean curiosities'-"
With regard to a new Kyk project-a symposium on The West
Indies Today," Collymore suggests that Seymour might ask the
Barbadian poet and historian H.A. Vaughan, and the Professor of
English at the UCWI for contributions. The Professor, A.K.
Croston, an Englishman, had recently given a lecture in
Barbados, and Collymore thinks that "he may be able to work the
matter into a critical assessment of the W.I. Novel."
Collymore's pleasure at the metropolitan success of Bim
writers features in his letter of 26 November. He mentions
Mittelholzer, Selvon, and Lamming, whose first novel, In the

KYK # 46/47

Castle of My Skin, was soon to be published (1953). He also
mentions the non-West Indians Bruce Hamilton and Hugh
Popham, and adds that Geoffrey Drayton has completed "two
[books] which have not yet been placed." No doubt one of these
was Drayton's only published novel, Christopher (1959).
Collymore also gives news of Mittelholzer, his friend and
faithful correspondent, who had written to him from New York.
He tells Seymour about Gloria Escoffery, the young Jamaican
painter and poet, who was then teaching art at Combermere
School, where Collymore had by then been teaching for over
forty years. Escoffery was acting for the sculptor and painter
Karl Broodhagen, who had gone to the UK on a British Council
scholarship. She is very keen," says Collymore, "& would, I am
sure, write you an article for Kyk." She may not have written an
article, but she did have poems published in Kyk.
Seymour had just published a Collymore chapbook in the
Miniature Poets series, and Collymore thanks him for the extra
prompt delivery" of the forty copies which he had ordered in his
previous letter. He congratulates Seymour on the physical
appearance of the book, and on the standard of proof- reading. As
he had done in the previous letter, he complains about the poor
proof-reading which he has had to suffer at the hands of the
Advocate Press.
Seymour had been keeping abreast of Collymore's work in
the theatre, with the Bridgetown Players, and Collymore now tells
of his guarded hopes that the group will be able to have a theatre
building of their own. He sounds a note which anticipates by
twenty years the kind of complaint which Walcott was to make
about the public and state support for theatre and the arts in
Trinidad: "People in Barbados are not public spirited. With all this
talk of culture, no progress can be made until due homage is paid
to the arts, and a theatre is a necessity. Govt. are apathetic."
We are next able to pick up the story of the correspondence
in mid-1958. The two men are excitedly exchanging ideas for
jointly editing an anthology of West Indian poetry for the British

KYK # 46/47

publishers McGibbon and Kee. Apparently Selvon had contacted
Collymore from London, to inform him of the publishers' interest
in such an anthology, and to interest him in editing it. Collymore
in turn enlisted Seymour's support. Seymour replies in
enthusiastic affirmative on 16 May. They begin to discuss the
contents of the anthology, in what order the poems should be
presented, what the introduction might contain, whether or not
there should be an index of first lines ( Collymore is not much for
it ), and so on On 14 June, Collymore says that he has written
to Selvon for further information, such as the size of the book and
whether contributors will be paid: "not that I expect or want to
make anything out of it, but I wonder whether contributors may
not expect some sort of royalty." For whatever reason, nothing
came of this venture. If the anthology had been published, it
would have been a landmark.
The next letter, from Collymore, is dated 22 March 1959 and
is devoted to two topics: "Bin's decease" and resurrection, and
Seymour's request that Collymore write an article for Kyk on the
theatre in Barbados. In No. 27 (Dec.1958), Bim had announced,
regretfully, that, because of financial difficulties it would not be
reappearing. There was an outcry of disbelief from the circle of
readers and writers who had come to set such great store by the
magazine. Collymore tells Seymour about the many condolences
and suggestions," including Seymour's, that he had received. But,
he says, "frankly I was skeptical. And, for another thing I was
tired." Then he tells the story of how it came about that Oliver
Jackman managed to raise the famous Fifty Pounds which saved
As for the requested article on Barbadian theatre, it is not
surprising to find Collymore regretfully declining, because he
would not have the time to do the research he considered
necessary. Of course, even in the process of declining, his own
active involvement in the theatre apart, he was indeed the ideal
person for the job.
The last extant letter is written by Collymore nearly sixteen

*50 KYK # 46/47

years later, on the 6th January 1975, the day before his eighty-
second birthday. The letter is a brief, almost illegible scrawl. By
now his health and eyesight are failing. He apologises for not
having earlier acknowledged receipt of a Dictionary of
Guyanese Folklore which Seymour had sent him-"but this
attack of cystitis has laid me low and I'm having more trouble
with my eyes. So please excuse brevity." He wishes AJ and his
family "all the very best. .. for 75." The rest, as they say, is
This little story may seem to be largely one of ideas and
plans unrealised; but it also provides valuable evidence of that
networking to use a word which would no doubt have
scandalised both men which was so crucial to the making of
West Indian literature. It is a story warm with a sense of shared
purpose, and with the elation of a bright new beginning.

KYK # 46/47


On the 50th Anniversary of Kyk-Over-Al

Fifty years in the life of a small magazine, is without exaggeration,
an age and survival, a miracle worth recording. Take, for instance,
a man's life. After Mewling and Puking through his infant, inarticu-
late years, he arrives at the point say in his teens, when he is moved
to think that although he may not be able to shape the world to his
own desire or design, there is enough around and about him that
simply, because it is newly seen, compels him to record his
presence, to say, without apology or bombast, that he was here, and
so he sets about gathering his wits and his words which are really,
in addition to a mysterious energy, his only tools.
Since the end of 1992, the 50th Anniversary issue of Bim
Magazine with which Kyk-Over-AI published ajoint issue, Bim has
been silent. The problem is financial: printing costs have proved
prohibitive. But there is also the question of the difficulty of finding
enough free hands and time to carry out the various tasks of
editorship, as well as the increased correspondence which has been
the result of the magazine's long life and widening readership.
May I share with you a disjointed extract from an introduction
to Clockwatch Review by James Plath, the editor.
More than a few literary magazines begin with introductory
letters or essays from the editor. Although I have always shied away
from such things, this issue seemed to cry out for some sort of
editorial comment or at least an explanation, since the 10th
anniversary issue of Clockwatch, labelled "Volume 9 Numbers 1 -
2," is published at the end of our 1 1th year. Obviously, though the
first issue of this semi-annual debuted the summer of 1983, we
dropped a stitch or two along the way. Sometimes an issue was
delayed or we published only one per year because of financial
problems, while other times we weren't getting enough quality
work to fill an issue. Such is life in the small press world. But
explanations aside, it struck me that a 10th anniversary issue

KYK# 46/47

without some sort of informal history would be like having a
birthday cake with no candles. As always, we hope that you will find
surprises inside our latest issue. But the real surprise is that
Clockwatch is still ticking after all these years. So, here's a behind-
the-scenes look at the publication you now hold in your hands. I
offer it partly as a record of one little literary magazine (for future
students of this peculiar industry), but mostly for readers who might
be curious about what goes on at a literary magazine...
T.S Eliot once wrote Karl Shapiro that a literary magazine
should be one person, and defined the little magazine as one which
had "a single editor, a small circulation, and a short lifespan, rarely
exceeding the life of the founding editorship." Clockwatch is
typical, I think, of the thousands of little literary magazines that
operate as single proprietorships, with the average circulation being
500 (ours is now 1500) and the average lifespan just a year and a
half. Most literary magazines are shoestring operations, many of
them published out of home offices, and so it never ceased to amuse
me how often I got mail addressed to "Circulation Manager,"
"Business Manager," "Advertising Director," "Fiction Editor," or
"Poetry Editor," and thought, that would be me. Or how often I got
phone calls even from a New York City publishing house or
agent who should know better from people expecting the click
and clack of office noise, and hearing instead cartoons on the
television and children squabbling. "Is this Clockwatch Review?"
they'd ask, and one of my children would invariably stun them into
silence by saying something like, "Just a minute ... I'll get him."

KYK # 46/47


Bill of Rights
Extract From a Poem Sequence

From Chattanooga, from Brixton (L--, write)
From hallowed be Thy name, Thy Kingdom come,
To the Potaro, Essequibo, Demerara,

The near one thousand came and stayed.
I am your saviour. Follow me. And we did.
And planted, did we plant, on a hill;

And the rains came and washed the crops away.
And we planted them again, and they were
Washed away, again; and starved, we starved,

Until the locals took pity on us.
There were, after all, pregnant women,
Children and the very old, in our midst.

'Occupancy limited to 118 persons.'
We sat in the aisles, plunked children
One on top of another, into laps,

Volunteered for the cargo hold
And would have remained there
As directed by Father had the pilot

Not said we'd freeze or suffocate
At 33,000 feet, or both. I am among
The agile ones, curled in the overhead

KYK # 46/47

Luggage compartment.

Goodbye Chattanooga. Hello Potaro.
Later, L- and Brixton. Essequibo, here we go.

Someone they call a buck light-footed
It over to me. I jumped but his open palms,

A stupid smile and his near-naked frame
Put me at ease. He gave me corn

I bolted down. His head shake, finger wag
And suppressed chuckle told me I'd done wrong.

Dip the tip of an arrow in this plant sap,
Let it dry, untouched, in the sun,
Let it fly into that wild boar.

Roast the boar but offer some to the sun,
Carve buttons from the bone,
Dry the skin, tell the boar you are sorry

But you have a thousand mouths to feed
And it fits the bill exactamundo.

Bow tie, bodacious, Father. Model divine Daddy.
Friend of Lenin. Friend of Amin. Friend of Stalin.
Here the Trades rinse the air constantly.
Rain returns the verdant to grass, trees and paling.

KYK # 46/47

'All the days of my life, ever since I been born
I never heard a man speak like this man before.'
1000 Tarzan yodels tear the night to ribbons.

Holy is coconut with cream and water
Holy stinking-toe and sour-sap and eddoe
Holy this vision in Him that brought us here
Holy His name Jones and His every aspect

Holy am I for my proximity to Him
Holy this uzi blessed in service to Him
Holy every drop that rains and rusts our joints
Holy the hard wood greenheart in these huts.

Autochthonous wood.
Purpleheart and greenheart
Blunted or broke electric
Saw after electric saw

In half. Wood this tough
Cannot have known much love
And must have hardened itself
Against further loss of face.

In Chattanooga as in Kalamazoo
We had three square meals, inside loos
And an inside to speak of.

KYK# 46/47

Here in paradise, Essequibo, Potaro,
The branch's leak never switches off.
I have the runs and chigoe,

A fungus culture between my toes.
I patrol this new town's perimeter
With my finger on an uzi's trigger.

Yoknapatawpha county,
This was not.

Rice for breakfast,
Rice water soup for lunch-
Yes there was time for lunch-
Rice and beans for dinner,

With the stubborn, giant anteater,
The sloth and the caiman,
Too tough by far,
Even for our meagre pots.

Topsoil gone in the rain with our seedlings.
Spirit for fighting back this wilderness gone
Too; all that's left unencumbered is my love
For Father: my nerves are a Stradivarius

In the hands of a musical pygmy.
Inside I sound like cats in an alley
Mating or squabbling over a smell of fish.
My face is as expressionless as a satellite dish.

KYK # 46/47


In the Beginning Kyk

Kyk-Over-Al is at the beginning of my intellectual life. I had
always been aware of the magazine as I was always in and out
of AJ's study, full of questions and ideas about one thing and
another. So he put me to work, when I was about sixteen years old,
reading proofs for the magazine. This seemed a natural develop-
ment to our conversations about Wordsworth and Keats in the small
garden beside the house. Obsessed with poetry as I was, proof-
reading poetry written by our own poets for Kyk was an added
excitement to my high school years. Then my mother, who lived
in New York, sent me a portable typewriter, very light, easily
carried around. By the time I was studying for A levels, I was
resident typist for Kyk-Over-Al, typing poems from the
handwritten missals sent in by poets from the islands and some
from our own Guyanese poets.
I remember especially proof-reading a very early poem by
Derek Walcott commemorating the destruction of Castries,
St. Lucia "A City's Death by Fire." Other poems followed, from
Vaughan, Collymore, Sherlock, and others. While we worked on
Kyk, AJ would tell me some of the stories of the tribulations the
writer must encounter and assimilate. I remember especially the
story of Edgar Mittelholzer's attempts to publish his long novels.
Edgar would send off his huge tomes to London, by sea mail in those
days, and they would come back, it seemed, by return mail.
Someone was waiting on the wharf at Plymouth specifically
to send them back. Edgar would be very depressed and upset.
Then, miraculously, Morning at the Office was accepted and
published. Elation and happiness all around. So Edgar took out
those same rejected tomes and, without changing a word, sent
them off. Miracle of miracles, they began to appear Kaywana,
Children of Kaywana, The Harrowing of Hubertus and Edgar
was now a published, important, author. When Mittelholzer

KYK # 46/47

moved to England, he sent AJ a copy of every book he published,
all inscribed.
Most intriguing of all was the process of building a poem, the
many versions before the printed version. I learned about this
from AJ's Thursday group. Martin Carter and Wilson Harris
joined AJ on Thursday afternoons to read poetry-in-progress to
each other, as well as to discuss other poets they were reading.
Because I kept quiet, they let me join their circle. I sat next to AJ
in an enchantment more real and concrete than the
enchantments I was dreaming up in fairy tales I began writing at
that time. Particularly memorable was Wilson's reading of
Auden's"Lullaby" and Pound's "Night Litany." Wilson's
reading of Pound's "Night Litany" is so lodged in my memory
that when I emerged from the train station in Venice in June,
1994, the Pound poem just invaded my being as I waited for Boat
One to take me to my hotel. More indelible was Wilson's reading
of poems he was working on, then, best of all, giving me one or two
to type for Kyk.
I considered Kyk my magazine since I spent so much time on
it. When the proofs came, I discontinued my own routine to pay
careful attention to proof-reading. One routine was to ride my
bicycle up to Kitty, then walk out on the jetty, listening to the
Atlantic crashing against the concrete, and the wind in the huge
sea-grape tree with tentacle roots in the sand. Sometimes a
Hindu group had left wedding offerings in the water, which
bobbed up and down on the waves. When Kyk was due, time was
precious, and my rides were fewer. I continued my work for Kyk,
until I left Georgetown to attend college in New York. A part of
my life was over, although I did not know it. The invaluable gift
of myadolescence is the insight into a poem's birth -
"construction" is too hard a word listening to Wilson, Martin,
and AJ talk about, rethink, change, their poems as they wrote
Fifty years is a truly golden age for a little magazine, so
essential to a country's intellectual life. I am happy that Kyk

-59 KYK # 46/47

celebrates this anniversary, feeling blessed to have helped in its
early nurturing. AJ is quite proud, now in the Great Beyond; I'm
positively sure of it.

KYK #46/47


Beloved of the Rivers:
(A Fictional Encounter in 10 Poems.)

You sat on a tree
that hung over the river
fishing for me.

I took the hook
and I hauled you in
to the net of my book.

Fallen into fiction
you're now trapped with me
in this self-contradiction.

And there's nothing I can do,
within rock and swift water,
but turn the pages of you.

In other places
I have been careful about intruders,
I have learnt about locks and iron bars.

Here I open a door
to admit a river, watch it spread across my floor
with palm seeds and the brittle claws
of crabs.

How often can you forgive me
for sinking your house
down to the secret bed of a river,

KYK # 46/47

and for emerging from its wet dream
to embrace you with sudden spite,
like a lover?

I crush your fingers
like aromatic leaves
and hold them to my lips:
the fragrance of you fills me
and we dance on wet leaves
in a patch of sunlight
purer than the love you spoke to me.

And sunlight dances now
on the torn skirt of the river,
on the glistening rocks ...
as my own love, like spilled blood,
swirls slowly to stillness
and fills the soft shallows,
the warm hollows
of the silence on the surface
of you.

After the body's shrill song
comes a silent love
like the calm reaches of a river
that once crashed down stone stairs,
its head boiling with foam and passion,
and you wonder:
"Was all of that for me?"

And you look beyond love,
as a river, tasting salt
in its tidal mouth, stiffens

KYK # 46/47

for the Judas-kiss of the sea;
finding no ground for hope,
you surrender silently to me
wondering, as you lose yourself in love,
"Will love still remember me?"

What is this love
we are always rehearsing?
Where will it take us
at the end of what day?

To whom do we offer
these arms and lips
and the hardened tips of ourselves
in mock surrender
- in rituals that sunder
stone and sky, cloud and thunder?

I try to remember
a reason for it all,
a place behind the gesture
that might still be hallowed;
but it is hard, in these times of drift,
to think fruitfully
beyond flesh and faint laughter.

Perhaps truth is no longer to be found
where we have always sought her.
We grow too old for belief.
Like the sky, we simply shrug:
the stone's indifference to water.

KYK # 46/47

Because rivers contain
the history of space,
I call you to come with me
into those amber shallows.

We start with creeks:
Kamuni, Wauna and Warapoka,
they become no more nor less
than your naked body,
which I enter to discover
-in that fluid mirror-
the past and the future
of my face.

Next the larger tributaries:
Potaro, Cuyuni, Barama ...
Ah. do not be fooled
by the contiguity of surfaces:
we descend into separate depths
where each river's cold is a different shiver,
and shattered light falls dully
among your drifting hair.
There is primordial memory there
in poured libations that are sufficient
to reach the spirit of the sea.

And Demerara, Corentyne, Waini:
I whistle for you across those estuaries,
My tears become the same salt as the sea.
crusting in the cracks beside my eyes
Here we must respond in time
to the challenge of space:
I anchor myself to your vast body
raking the flesh of a continent

KYK # 46/47

on the soft, forgetful beds of rivers,
making and healing
the scars of my race.

There are insects that crawl
on the skin of rivers,
giving you gooseflesh;
but the long brush of a hand
doesn't break your surface
on which I can still count the stars.

I watch the trees descending
to the sky, each with a blurr
of unkept promises. I hear you sigh
like breeze on the flesh of the river:
cold fingers of mist caress you
and my body and I await
your subtlest capitulations.

In this frenzy
of leaf-rot and sunstruck foam
I ease out of you,
lathered with your involuntary laughter,
nursing the crumpled remnant
of my story now in danger
of abridgement in mid-stream ...

I who must love rivers
love you too much
to succumb to your only dream.

KYK # 46/47

Hearing the tidal beat of your wings
above the river, I look upward
to see the morning sky stained
with your brilliant love for me.

The noontide, swollen
with my foolish pride,
bears me beyond the reach
of your farthest tendril finger
and the cloudless sky consumes me.

Evening washes me back to your warmth,
across the groins of love's wide estuary;
and I imagine that I have turned your tide
into the living flesh of memory.

Night severs the umbilical strand
of our love and I wait
in the tether of your throbbing tide
for the drowned touch of another dawn
to release me.

To take you
like a smooth river stone
to the hollow of my neck
is to dream of freedom
beyond the cool skin of ecstasy.
beyond fossil, beyond the finesse
of rhyme and memory.

To dream of loving you and rivers
has been to discover the specific thirst
of earth for sky

*66 KYK # 46/47

and the cruel patina of being
painted on the gifts of time.

When I finally rolled away
the stone of your love
that concealed the self I sought in rivers,
I was awakened to
sudden sorrow
by the cruel sunlight
streaming from an ordinary sky
through the startling absence
of you.

KYK # 46/47


Looking Inland

In April 1995 recent work by three Arawak Guyanese was
shown at Castellani House -Guyana's national gallery -in
an exhibition of Contemporary Amerindian Art. George Simon,
whose paintings were hung along with wood sculpture by
Oswald Hussein and Lynus Clenkien, had initiated and
arranged the exhibition. It demonstrated the results of
Simon's involvement with a group of artists in his home
village of Pakuri- St. Cuthbert's Mission -on the Mahaica
River. It also revealed ways in which Simon's travels and
studies over the past ten years as a trainee anthropologist and
archaeologist have affected his paintings.

GEORGE SIMON I had just completed my MA course in
Archaeology in London and returned to Guyana. While waiting
for a new posting, I thought I should become involved again with
a group of artists that I've been working with at St. Cuthbert's
- to find, to my disappointment, that in my absence only two of
them had been working at their art. I felt that it would have been
a great shame that these two sculptors whom I knew to be
talented and in whom I saw some sign of development were
going to be left alone, and I thought, to show with them is to
give them some kind of moral support and to bring them out to
Georgetown. Ossie Hussein, who on two occasions has won the
national prize at the annual National Visual Arts Exhibition, never
had a show on his own but had a body of work with which I felt
we could put an exhibition together quite quickly. Lynus
Clenkien did not have many pieces, but I felt he should show his

ANNE WALMSLEY How long had you been working with these
artists at St. Cuthbert's?

KYK # 46/47

In about 1988 I became concerned about Amerindians from my
village not going very far in their education. I felt I needed to
help them along, so to speak, in life. Since I was trained as an
artist, I thought one thing that I could do is to encourage art and try
to develop their skills in painting or sculpture. Sculpture was the
best because there was wood and they were familiar with
carving: making canoes and paddles and that kind of thing -
making bows and arrows was a natural to us. So wood carving,
wood sculpture was a natural thing for them to develop.

Am I right in saying that until you worked with them and
encouraged them, no work of this sort had been done by
Amerindian peoples of Guyana? That although there is a long
tradition of varied and highly skilled Amerindian craft work,
there is no non-functional visual practice, no 'fine arts'?

Not quite so. Stephanie Correia has done tremendous work as a
fine artist, especially in ceramics, and there are other Amerindians
who work privately and whose work is not yet known to the
general Guyanese public. As a youngster, even at school I had
a little chance while I was at St. Cuthbert's Anglican School. We
had a Friday afternoon I think it was session where we would
actually be taught craft by the villagers: basket weaving, making
miniature canoes and paddles and that kind of thing. Basically, it
was craft that was made for trading or for selling purposes.

So in this recent exhibition you, the teacher, were showing
alongside your students.

The most important thing was that the three of us seemed to have
been working in the same vein, very secretly and very privately.
I had always allowed them to develop their own ideas. I have
changed my figurative work to semi-abstract, gradually getting
involved in mythology and when I got back it was refreshing and
very exciting to see that Ossie had all the time been concerned

KYK # 46/47

with the mythology of his people. Lynus had been concerned
with spirits and also working in the same vein. So it was not
difficult for the three of us to come together, it was a natural
thing, so to speak.

Your painting Oriyu-Shikaw: Kaieteur, Home of the River Spirit
was amongst the paintings which you showed, and has been
bought for the National Art Collection of Guyana. Is this a recent

Yes, it's amazing how that came about. Maybe an insight into
how a canvas develops for me might give you an idea of how
things happen very spontaneously. After I've prepared a canvas,
I'll decide on a dominant colour and then throw paint
haphazardly onto the canvas and imagery comes up. It's a
principle that I think da Vinci mentioned where if you were to
lie very quietly on your couch and look at the ceiling, you could
probably see horses and warriors and people fighting -
whatever. It's that kind of thing that happens to me, and I have
great faith in the subconscious. So I would let the paint remain on
the canvas and look at it and gradually images come out and I
would develop those images. And lo and behold a picture of the
Kaieteur emerged on this occasion, and I developed the idea. The
first time I had experienced the Kaieteur, it was such a powerful
place to be at, that I thought, surely, the first people who had
discovered or seen this place would have worshipped there. So I
had this in me, and I created a Kaieteur which is totally different.
The Falls itself is full of petroglyphs and symbols, and then the
bottom part of it where the water actually falls into the gorge is
full of fossils and skeleton remains and rocks. In the distance in
the landscape of denuded forest, it's all mountains, grass
mountains criss-crossed with rivers and tributaries. I've done
a lot of work there; I've travelled beyond the Falls and I've
looked at archaeological sites along the Potaro River. I have
been really concerned with all the dredging and the destruction

KYK # 46/47

of the river. I can imagine it happening where the Falls would
dry up and what would remain are the walls of the Kaieteur and
trickles of water coming over the top and human remains at the
bottom. So the painting was more or less a political statement as

Had an exhibition of work by Amerindian artists ever been shown
in Georgetown before?

There have been past exhibitions of craft work. In the mid 80s
there were big exhibitions of work by Amerindians which would
include some pottery, weaving, basketry, that sort of thing. But
to have an exhibition of this kind was new.

Where do you think such art is going to go next, and how do you
want to be involved in it?

Already it has made an impact on the Guyanese art scene
because, as you would realise, most of the artists in Guyana are
people who live on the coast. And now I myself live in
Georgetown. But to have the boys from the interior -
Amerindian boys with a new vision, it's going to cause some
confusion, I think. And I dare say it will assist the coastlanders to
look inland instead of looking towards the sea and towards the
Caribbean. Now what we hope to do is to go out to the villages.
Indeed.already Lynus and Ossie have gone to Annai in the
north Rupununi savannah to work together with a ceramist -
among the Macusi. the indigenous people there, to show the
people what they are doing and hopefully stimulate a few of them
into making ceramics or sculptures. What will happen eventually
in Guyana is that there will be an emergence of new sculptures
and other art forms of totally different ideas, created by artists
with totally different backgrounds from those that we have seen
so far.

KYK # 46/47

And how about your own work in painting, where do you see that
going now?

I will concentrate on Amerindian mythology. I need to look inside.
I trust the subconscious and I wait for that inner voice to say,
'Change it here and do that there', and that's how I work. And I can
only see that this is the way that I will pursue my work. My
archaeology helps, and of course a lot of that comes into my work
as well.

How have your studies in archaeology helped this new direction
in your painting?

I have been looking at prehistoric art in South America and in
Latin America generally. That has helped tremendously. It has
encouraged me to look inwards and maybe to use some of the
imagery that I've seen, or maybe to become much more confident
in using my own private language and taking more notice of
what my peoples have done and how they've been stifled and how
they have not said things before, and trying to use their

How did you think about yourself and your people before you got
into archaeology?

I did not know the importance of my Amerindian past, I did not
know the history of my people. The subject was not taught at
school. In fact, I was forbidden at school to speak my own
language and anyone found speaking Arawak in class was
flogged. In general, Amerindian culture was discouraged and we
were made to feel inferior. An anthropologist said to me recently
that he knew more about the Amerindians than they know about
themselves. How sadly true! I was trained in Europe and
developed European ideas for my art. I did not draw from inside
myself at all. I didn't become conscious of my Amerindianness, if

KYK # 46/47

I might say so, until after returning to Guyana from my years
of art training in England, in 1978. I was invited by Denis
Williams to join him at the Walter Roth Museum of
Anthropology in 1985. This opportunity allowed me to travel
extensively in Guyana and to be reunited with my people. I had
had an exhibition in 1982 which dissatisfied me. The paintings did
not reflect my Amerindianness.

What did the work at the Musetun involve?

Very shortly after I had joined him, Denis had a message of
some sort to say that the Museum of Puerto Rico was interested
in sending an expedition to the Wai-Wais in the Upper
Essequibo River, in the Amazon forest. The expedition would
make a collection of Wai-Wai artefacts, half of which would
come to the Walter Roth Museum and others to the Museum of
Puerto Rico. There would be an anthropologist and an
archaeologist in the team and I was going to be the Walter Roth
Museum representative. That was my first expedition. I didn't
have a clue what I was going to do. I felt like I was going to be
looking after these American strangers in the forest.

You hadn't been to the part of Guyana where the Wai-Wai live?

No, no, no. I knew St. Cuthbert's and Mackenzie and that was
it though I had gone up to Great Falls, up the Demerara, in
the early '60s. So I didn't know anything. because I'd been
partially cut off from my people and that kind of life. However,
yes, I agreed to go on the expedition. So Denis gave me six books
about anthropology and the Wai-Wai to read in two weeks. I
became very interested in the work that we were doing when
we eventually arrived at Shapariymo where the Wai-Wais lived.
We spent a month with the Wai-Wais. We made recordings of
their music and songs, took photographs of the Amerindian
situation, went hunting with them and collected their craft work.

KYK # 46/47

All the time I was observing how the archaeologist was working
and how the anthropologist was working. Here at last there was
something that related to me. I felt re-awakened by the experience.

Did you do any work as an artist while you were up there?

I did a lot of sketches. I was asked to do a sketch of a conical
house, traditional Wai-Wai architecture. I studied the ground
surface and recorded all the artefacts on the ground, the walls and
the thatched roof. This study helped me to see a layout of the
house -where people lived, where the people ate, where people
did housework and that kind of pattern. This was my first
experience of being in the Amazon and of being with indigenous
peoples of the Amazonas, from whom I could draw parallels
with my own early life.

And then back at the Walter Roth Musewn ?

Yes, I wanted to know more about my people, I wanted to know
more about primitive art, primitive culture. So there was pottery
to look at, more books to read, and discussions on these subjects.
I started from there. I came back from that first expedition fired
with interest and I thought, ah, now I can paint. I have something
to paint, something to say!

What sort of painting did you then start to do?

The painting situation had become worse and one couldn't get
oil paints or linseed oil or turps to buy. Acrylic paint was
relatively easy to acquire, although I couldn't purchase a medium
to go with it; it was a water-based paint, which was good. I
started to use these sparingly, very carefully, in washes, and I
developed from that a technique of applying paint very thinly
onto the canvas layer over layer, layer by layer in this very
watercoloury kind of effect. I developed a glazing technique and

KYK # 46/47

studied colour theory.

What support material were you painting onto?

I use twill. I stretch twill and sometimes apply a very thick
ground: maybe six coats of emulsion paint, very thick
sometimes, and I would sand it down with sandpaper and then
work from that, and very gently and very tediously try to build
contrasts and colours and depth and that kind of thing by
applying layers and layers of colour on top of one another. And
so I built my surfaces. But then I became proficient so to speak,
in this technique. I paint very quickly now in this medium and I
can capture someone sitting there very quickly and get a very
good result, like you would do in watercolour. But I wasn't
satisfied. I considered the composition of the picture and I
introduced three-dimensional shapes and flat areas into paintings.
Gradually, I became interested in the atmosphere, and in effects of
the light -and in how Rembrandt and Turner achieved these.
Of course in the meantime I am sent out from time to time on
expeditions for the Museum.

What other expeditions deeply affected your subsequent work as a

I did a lot of work in the Essequibo River and in the Potaro River,
so I had to cross and travel up and down the Essequibo River a
great deal. And that helped me in looking at atmosphere. So, after
the Wai-Wai series, I did about 25 paintings of the Essequibo
which I called 'Essequibo Series', basically of the river, the
landscape, the streak of land that you'd see in the Essequibo -
such a vast river, this line that separates the sky from the water,
this vast expanse of water. I laid great emphasis on the water.

On some of these expeditions you must have been studying the
petroglyphs -the great prehistoric rock carvings. Did they

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influence your own artistic work?

Not until quite recently, in the last two years or so. Denis
Williams was, of course, the man who really brought these
things to life. They had been looked at before, but not in the way
that Denis had really studied them in the Berbice and Upper

And Denis introduced you to them?

From his work, from his writings, I'd seen them. But then to
have seen these things on paper is not to experience them in
landscape. I came across these carved marks, these petroglyphs,
for the first time I think it must have been in 91 or 92 in the
Essequibo. To see them there and in the flesh, in a river bed that
had dried up, was a marvellous experience, it makes you begin to
wonder. You know, you go to Kaieteur and you think oh
people must have really worshipped this Falls here, such a
powerful thing! So to use the imagery of the petroglyphs was to
incorporate the spirituality of the place. It moved one to look at
the other side.

So you're rot simply reproducing the motifs in your paintings,
you're trying to get behind what prompted them, and to bring
something similar into your work.

Absolutely. I became interested in the writing of these things.
Why were they written? What were people trying to say'? I tried
to decode them in my own particular way, not in the
archaeological sense. For instance, I did a painting which was a
view from the plane going across the mouth of the Siparuni
River, one of the Essequibo tributaries. We were going to do
some work in that area in July or August when the water was low.
And I saw this area and then did a painting of it as if it had been
x-rayed, like I'd looked at it from the top and gone through the

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inside. I'd gone beyond the surface and looked beyond to see the
rock formation and that kind of thing. And I like to think of the
petroglyphs in that sense, where you don't just copy the surface
but you look inside; you consider the place where the petroglyphs
appeared maybe a little waterfall, the trees that might be around
there, the birds you think of all these. It's a religious centre, so
to speak, it's like a little cathedral, and I look at it in that sacred
sense. So I use all these and they conjure up in me a certain kind
of way to present what I have seen and experienced. It becomes a
very, very private undertaking. I make these paintings and what
happens on occasions on the canvas is that there are some very
heavy textured surfaces and some very light areas. I now move
between textured and light surfaces for contrast, like I did initially
with flat and round forms. I think one needs to go beyond the
expected. I've never understood when someone said, 'Oh, you've
captured the true spirit of that individual in the painting'. I
always thought, what was that? I now understand what that
means: it's capturing the essence of Kaieteur if you're going to
paint the Kaieteur.

Which, it seems, you have now done marvellously in your painting
Oriuyu-Shikaw, Kaieteur, Home of the River Spirit. Thank you,
George Simon, and best wishes to you and the 'boys from the
interior' in your continuing work.

(From interviews with George Simon in London in January
1994 and June 1995.)

KYK # 46/47


Kyk-Over-Al at Fifty
Only think how many human beings, the prize of creation, who
were born fifty years ago did not live to see their fiftieth birthday.
Perhaps one day our literary statisticians will make a
intersectorial comparison between the infant mortality rate of
humans and the infant mortality rate of publications.
Although, according to the latest Human Development
Report of the UNDP, our infant mortality rate still stood at 48 per
thousand in 1992, there is reason to believe that young people now
eighteen,on the verge of childhood's old age. or even those who are
now fifteen, will be there to celebrate Kyk-Over-Al's centenary.
That is an encouraging way of expressing faith in Kyk-Over-AI
for its own sake, paying tribute to the founders and those whose
love and clear-headedness has kept it going for all this half
century. And with confidence claim that the rising generation will
rise to the occasion as most have always done, despite
misgivings of elders and so continue the tradition of creation
and publication in this form, or in whatever form seems to them
most fitting in the circumstances which will greet them on their
way and which they may even now have begun to influence.
But Seymour! It is impossible to say Kyk-Over-Al without
thinking of its most dedicated founder, and without seeing him at
his desk with that supreme calm which grew as difficulties
mounted; without thinking of his life long co-worker and
companion, Elma, whose time and space were as communal as
his, and of that long line of men and women writers whose sparks
he fanned into flame.
Kyk-Over-Al is fifty Long live Kyk!

KYK #46/47



Every thing he did came easily.
Trees dropped their fruit
for him to catch,
fires lit for him
with one damp match.
Rain filled his bucket to the brim.
The yard, the circles
of cousins, neighbours, friends,
the childhood games,
the gabled house,
familiar as its housemaids' names
bouyed his young life so he could swim.

In those green Dolphin-days boyhood meandered
like a creek
finding its course,
changing its mind.
He wanted to leave the source behind, go where
the sun's glow lit the river's amber scrim
making the forest's cyclorama dim
to gold.
He longed to sing with tongues of gauldings
blown, like white confetti,
along the river's rim.
He yearned to skim that changing surface,
soft as silk,
or dimpled as a dinner-gong.
Older swimmers said 'boy, you too young.
That water deep. The currents there too strong.'

One afternoon the river called to him.

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He heard its song.
Its voice was hoarse,
raucous as sin.
Its umber face reflected his
when he slipped in,
his body a bateau unzipping
the dark water's skin.

Later, half-drowned, glug-glugging on a coke,
sucking a cigarette,
he watched as his struck match ignited the dusk.
Towelled and dry,
his skin smelled of the river's musk.
The swimmer knew that smell would stay
for good. like a dark stain.
Nothing in life would come easy again.

KYK # 46/47


Personal Reflections:
Kyk-Over-Al, The Magazine

My initial encounter with Kyk-Over-Al, the magazine, was in the
Caribbean section of the Public Free Library, as it was then
called. In one sense I smelt Kyk before anything else. Everyone
who has been in the library knows of the particular smell of the
books arising from the substance used to protect them. Kyk
appeared to have an abundance of the stuff. At the time, I was
less concerned with reading than with admiring its form and
seeming permanence on the shelf among other West Indian
books. But its emphasis on poetry caught my mind even then.
All the obscure and the great poems were included in Kyk. And
just think! Where else could one have read short stories, poems,
interviews, art criticism, and so much more, as Kyk provided?
To my mind Kyk's very name was a choice of genius. The
relevance of its name, an amazing conjunction of image and
history, linked the geographical and historical significance of a
Guyanese landmark and art, a marvellous leap of identification.
It also performed the function of history teacher. Is it true that
the remains of Kyk-Over-Al at the confluence of the Cuyuni,
Mazaruni and Essequibo rivers only imbedded itself in the
national consciousness largely because of this great literary
magazine? On picking up an old Kyk one was always struck by
the image of the Dutch fort on the cover. In time it fused itself
in the memory.
Every magazine has its own spirit. This mirrors in some
way the society that gave birth to it. Kyk came to symbolise
more than a new element entering an emergent post-war
Guyanese readership, thirsty for its own literature. Yet it was a
few kindred spirits who spawned it and brought it to fruition.
Martin Carter was once heard to remark that a whole village does
not write a petition, someone does, and a village ratifies it. So it

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was with this Guyanese icon. Kyk-Over-Al has been ratified
several times over in its fifty years. And yet, then and now, it
continues to require a tremendous persistence to be maintained.
The process of making a magazine involves a great deal -
conception, collection of material, editing, getting it to the
printers, and then distribution. Only a great love of literature and
art could have provided that engine of consistency. The two
main figures associated with Kyk's fifty years, AJ Seymour and
Ian McDonald have had this particular quality in their
respective editorships. AJ Seymour himself made a large slice of
his life's work this odyssey of perseverance and commitment.
There were breaks in its production over the years but AJ
and his successors could have remarked like Goethe, "Die ich
Riel, Die Geister werd' ich nun nicht los". Roughly translated,
"The spirits that I summoned. I cannot now dismiss". In other
words had Kyk not existed it would have had to be invented. It
had created a want.
A final reflection: Another thing I recall everytime I think of
Kyk is the mutation of its page colour and print.The newer Kyk.
that is, the Kyk of the computer age, does not have the faded
"yellow" pages of its predecessors of the 1950's and 1960's. That
colour gave the magazine an additional 'history'. Editorial
licence pushed the Kyk image to the top of the page in the
newer issues with attractive main covers. But is newer better?
Maybe in some ways. Yet somehow those old, faded copies of
Kyk and their very readable print are superior to the modern
computer-assisted appearance. In any case Kyk will survive and
remain a permanent part of the Guyanese imagination. Hail
Kyk's Fiftieth Year!

KYK # 46/47


Edgar Mittelholzer (1909 1965)

Edgar Mittelholzer was the first Guyanese or West Indian
novelist to live by his pen for most of his career. Even today,
among West Indian writers, a similar claim may be genuinely
made only for V. S. Naipaul. But Mittelholzer's singularity goes
further: he has written more novels than Naipaul, or any other
West Indian for that matter; and in quicker time. From his first
novel Corentyne Thunder, in 1941, Mittelholzer produced
twenty-five books; and if we consider that he published virtually
nothing from 1942 to 1949, around the period of the Second
World War, it means that in fifteen years (1950-1965) he
published twenty- three novels, not to mention With a Carib
Eye, (1958) a travel book that reveals some of his most deeply felt
views, and his autobiography A Swarthy Boy (1963). These
statistics proclaim startling, not to say bewildering literary
productivity, and an imagination whose fertility remains
unsurpassed in the annals of West Indian literature.
Mittelholzer is also a pioneer. When he began writing, there
was virtually no imaginative literature from Guyana or the West
Indies. For this reason alone he should be canonized as the father
of Guyanese literature. He either invented or made a critical
contribution to basic genres of Guyanese and West Indian writing
- the historical novel in his Kaywana trilogy; detective fiction
in My Bones and My Flute; social realism in A Morning at
the Office; science fiction in A Twinkling in the Twilight;
erotica in The Piling of Clouds; the psychological thriller in
Sylvia; and what he himself calls comedy-fantasy in such novels
as Shadows Move Among Them and The Mad MacMullochs.
Where he did not initiate these genres, his writing provided a
decisive impetus that helped them to become established.
For all that, despite his professionalism, productivity, and
pioneering, Mittelholzer has had a bad press. He is not accepted

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as an artist of high calibre, like his contemporaries -
V. S. Naipaul, George Lamming, Samuel Selvon, or his fellow
Guyanese Wilson Harris. This is astonishing because, on the
surface at least, Mittelholzer possessed qualities that would be the
envy of most great or gifted artists fertile imagination, original
ideas, inspired initiative, technical flair, dogged determination
and superhuman energy. Yet the sad truth is that his fiction, like
the batting of his equally gifted countryman Robert Christiani
- delivers less than it promises. Perhaps he was too spendthrift
with his rich talents, as Christiani certainly was; hence the
calamity of his fiction being disfigured by opulent self-indulgence
in novel after novel, for example, in Eltonsbrody, Shadows Move
Among Them, and most tragically of all, in his masterpiece the
Kaywana trilogy in which Mittelholzer cannot stop himself
from piling grotesquerie on top of eccentricity, sensation on top
of horror, mainly it seems, to shock the reader. Such powerfully
compulsive writing suggests either that Mittelholzer simply
threw caution to the winds and hugely enjoyed what he did, or that,
irresistibly, he was driven by demons that he could not control.
No wonder he destroyed himself in the end; for an
imagination that was daring enough to inspire fiction mixing
fascist or racist theories with transcendentalism, occultism.
eroticism and sado- masochism, was just as capable of devising a
method of suicide that entailed turning himself into a human
torch in England, where he had finally settled. The parallel is
inescapable with Buddhist monks whose pictures he must have
seen in English newspapers, willingly undergoing public
self-immolation. Even if it sounds preposterous, this horrifying
form of death tends to vindicate the compulsive self-indulgence
of Mittelholzer's writing by investing it with an aura of almost
monkish devotion. For one thing, after self-immolation, it is
said that Mittelholzer's body was found in a devotional posture.
For another, his novels contain moral or religious elements. At the
same time, improbably, many novels are riddled with
contradictory concepts of a Jekyl/Hyde variety, and situations of

KYK # 46/47

manichean extremes that enjoin both lust and abstinence, evil as
well as good. His novels also contain characters like Hubertus van
Groenwegel (Kaywana Stock), an archetypal sinner/saint, capable
of invoking pious incantations of abstinence and selfless
dedication to God at the very moment that he cherishes thoughts
of brutish lust, or actions of outlandish, carnal self-gratification.
All this points to a mad logic in the manner of Mittelholzer's
death which may explain contradictory elements in his fiction,
without, artistically, redeeming them.
Growing up in Guyana in the first quarter of this century,
Mittelholzer enjoyed a measure of colonial social privilege. He
came from a white/brown, creole, or upper middle class
background; and although the literary resources available to him
were slender, for example, the Bible. The Pilgrim's Progress,
Victorian penny dreadfuls and periodicals like The Union Jack,
they were a good deal better than those available to most of his
countrymen in a remote British Caribbean colony at the time.
This is partly why he and other writers of a similar social
background DeLisser and Roberts of Jamaica, Frank Collymore
of Barbados, and Gomes, Mendes and DeBoissiere of Trinidad
are among the most important pioneers in West Indian literature.
Among this group, C. L. R. James remains a lonely exception
because he was black and from the lower middle class. These
pioneers all display initiative, originality and versatility in their
historical novels, social studies, romantic or detective fiction,
and psychological thrillers; but Mittelholzer stands out because
of an historical imagination more daring and dynamic than any
other, both among his contemporaries, and their successors. For
instance, while the harsh historical reality of DeLisser and
Roberts is often relieved by blandishments of local colour and
romance. Mittelholzer's historical fiction is austerely motivated
by a seemingly morbid desire to plumb the darkest depths of the
master/slave relationship that is at the very foundation of
Guyanese and West Indian culture.
This confers a unique accolade on the Kaywana trilogy; for

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although the relationship between European masters and
African slaves, in a plantation context, is the most historic of all
West Indian subjects, it has not received the attention it deserves
from West Indian novelists. It is true that Ada Quayle's The
Mistress vividly documents domestic plantation routine, and
Orlando Patterson's Die the Long Day offers generalised and
rather abstract reflections on the same subjects; but neither of
these novels investigates the morality of human beings owning
other human beings, as Mittelholzer's Kaywana novels attempt to
do. The achievement of these three novels The Children of
Kaywana, Kaywana Stock and Kaywana Blood is that in the
process of examining the moral implications of slavery on
Guyanese plantations, they transform themselves into sheer
marvels of historical reconstruction, adaptation, and
improvisation. In the sterile and forbiddingly uncreative
conditions of colonial Guyana, in the first half of this century,
Mittelholzer had no more than J. A. Rodway's A History of
Guyana as a source on which he could rely. Consequently, he
fell back on his imagination which roamed at will, far and
wide, vigorously and feverishly creating, inventing, fabricating and
conjuring manifold scenes, events, issues and characters into a
sweeping panorama of Guyanese history that spanned three and
a half centuries. Ineluctably, it seems, mesmerised by the
prodigious effort he devoted to this enormous project.
Mittelholzer was also induced to plumb the turbulent.
subconscious depths of his own mixed (European/African)
ancestry. The result is an evocation of Guyanese history less
distinguished by historical accuracy or documentary authenticity,
than by a dazzling combination of psychological insight with
ebullient, dramatic action, thrilling adventure, bizarre
philosophical speculation and a vision that, ironically, would
prove prophetic in the author's homeland.
The vision that emerges from the Kaywana novels is one of
enforced jungle justice, a severe, tough-minded, resilient creed
that accepts life's cruelties with perverse relish and participates

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himself off as a true patriot in the eyes of the Guyanese people. If
this is true, it is typical of the cynicism and expedience of
Burnham's regime as described by Ashton Chase in Guyana: A
Nation in Transit Burnham's Role. At any rate, for
Mittelholzer to have drawn his portrait of Cuffee, more than
twelve years before Burnham took office smacks of prophecy.
Yet Mittelholzer's portrait of Cuffee/Burnham is not
entirely mysterious: it is partly the logical outcome of a blind,
brutal and haphazard vision of life as outlined in With a Carib
I can even find it in me to sympathise with the old planters
in their cynical apathy towards political questions of the day.
In the final reckoning, whether they protested against some
threatened measure or shrugged with indifference, the
powers in Holland or England always decided the matter as
the powers saw fit.
This, too. is part of the vision in the Kaywana novels, with
their portrait of political leadership, whether of planter or slave, as
one of resigned, cynical apathy, expedience, and Machiavellian
self-aggrandisement. The most original aspect of this vision is its
insight that political Independence which put an end to colonial
rule in Guyana in 1966, was likely at least in its initial aftermath
to be followed by the same authoritarian, colonial style of
government that it had supposedly overthrown. By exemplifying
the truth of this vision. Burnham's post-Independence regime
vindicates the acuteness of Mittelholzer's perceptions, and the
tortured integrity of his troubled genius.
The singularity of Mittelholzer's genius is indisputable: his
originality and inventiveness are peerless; his sense of drama
wrenching; his evocation of landscape brilliant; and his
intellectual curiosity diverting and entertaining. To all this he
brought a narrative fluency equalled by no other West Indian
novelist except, possibly, John Hearne of Jamaica. His
professionalism, productivity and pioneering deserve to become
an integral part of Guyanese and West Indian literary history. But

KYK # 46/47

his belief in jungle justice was a liability, despite the fact that it
led him to predict events in post-Independence Guyana. In the
end, Mittelholzer remains, potentially, the most gifted writer of
Guyanese or West Indian origin. But alas, like Robert Christiani,
whose dazzling feats of batsmanship survive chiefly in glorious
fragments, in abbreviated Test innings, Mittelholzer's immense
literary gifts lie in a disconsolate mass of scattered fragments,
strewn higgedly-piggedly over more than twenty novels. We
shall never fully know what saints or demons, probably
originating in his native county of Berbice, led him to squander
his precious gifts so prodigally, or to create at such white heat
that, metaphorically, literally, prematurely, he burnt himself out.
All we can glean from his work is the dimly glowing wonder of a
career promising the most brilliant productions ever to come
from a Guyanese or West Indian pen, and perishing, tragically
unfulfilled, in alien, autumn sunlight, in Godalming, Surrey,

KYK# 46/47

perform, what he called "this duty of criticism".
There are always the newspapers to perform part of this
duty of criticism, but the journalist has primarily to deal with
short term material and he supplies more of fact and less
of opinion. It is to the weekly and monthly and quarterly
issues of critical material that we must look for more
fundamental probing, there we must seek the expression of
the more slowly maturing spirit of the people. In other words,
publications are necessary if the leaven of community and of
national unity is to work among an organised people.
This on eve of the 1953 April elections and the beginning of
a convulsive year in the colony.
And after the trauma of the invasion of October 1953 and the
overthrow of our first elected government? A solemn
remembrance of the honourable dead who blazed the trail of our
cultural movement the brothers Potter, Philip Pilgrim and.
before them. Mac A. Lawrence. A. R. F. Webber, Egbert Martin-
a praise-song of the supremacy of the spirit over material
things." The opening line sounds the note:
In this country we have seen brilliant lights go out in the
darkness and clocks have stopped on the wall.
In the face of rupture and defeat, the measured celebration of
continuity and a defiance of negation. Speaking out of a radical
conservative humanism. Seymour hit upon a vital truth of social
motion, ignored by political activists at their own peril and
ultimately at the peril of others: "We are pre-occupied with
community values of a more political nature, and rightly so, but
there must be an advance upon many fronts at the same time if
we are going to develop the national spirit." (Italics mine).
There was no lack of boldness in Seymour's quiet defence of
the freedom of the creative imagination in the heyday of
literature engagee, that of the highly reputable Sartre no less
than that of the utterly disreputable Zdanov. In 1952. we lind
him writing :
The most valuable asset of the writer is his independence. It is

.93 KYK # 46/47

true that he is socially conditioned in the unconscious
springs of his being, but no attempt should be made to make
him toe a party line in literature.
Inhospitable only to dogma and its suffocations,
Kyk-Over-Al was from the beginning a voice for reason,
moderation and an unapologetic humanism.
Born in the same year as the United Nations fifty years ago, in
the aftermath of the decimation of great cities and the slaughter in
the ovens, on the steppes and in the trenches, Kyk-Over-Al was a
small part of the universal assertion of civilisation over barbarism,
of humanism over inhumanity, of the garden over the ashes. And
this in a British colony, far from what is called the centre.
"The writer writes as best he can" Seymour has written, "and he
is grateful that he can write at all." In a salute to Kyk-Over-Al on
its fiftieth anniversary, gratitude is a good note on which to end.'

KYK # 46/47



The photograph, "The village shop," comes from Guiana, British,
Dutch, French, a nineteenth century colonial travelogue
published in 1912 by Fisher Unwin '. When I first saw it I felt
it evoked my father's boyhood. It reflects the situation and
society of his birth, childhood upbringing and life on a sugar
plantation in rural, coastland British Guiana 2. Our family lived as
part of a community of sugar workers in Rose Hall Plantation in
Canje, on the banks of the Canje River, a tributary of the Berbice
River3. The photograph makes me remember that my parental,
widowed grandmother raised her two sons and daughter there, in
the village shop near the sugar factory. I was born and lived there
until I was nine. This photograph reminds me of my father's
identity. It reminds me that the country of his birth British
Guiana, its history, political and social experience at a specific
time was also his history. The struggle of the Guianese sugar
workers was the defining frame of his life. This photograph
represents his childhood, his life, in that frame.
My father is prominent in my earliest childhood memories
because he was so active in looking after me. His closest friends
were the canecutters, field and factory workers at Rose Hall estate.
Canje. I recollect scenes of companionship among them. They
came after work to our home to rest, chat and wash away the soil
and dirt of the canefields before going home. They helped to
build the large water tank in our yard. They came to draw water,
boil it for drinking and to wash. Late at night, my father would sit
with them in the lamplight and talk politics. They also played their
banjoes, sang, and told stories. The companionship, security and
warmth among them often lulled me to sleep. This is one of the
most comforting memories of my childhood. It returns mc to an
inviolable sense of security. I dream frequently about my father
and these companions. In my dreams, they emerge from my

KYK # 46/47

psyche and appear with my childhood family as mythical,
fantastic figures with power to traverse space and time, link me
with my past, present and future, and redeem mundane
experience with vision and imagination. They have this power
in my imagination because I witnessed the power of theirs in the
face of the harshness and cruelties of plantation life. Rare,
delicious water chestnuts and exquisitely perfumed lilies grew in
the deepest parts of the canefields. They made a habit of collecting
and giving them as presents to women and children. I have
witnessed a canecutter covered entirely in soot from burnt cane:
cutlass, saucepans and pitchfork hitched to his back, arrive at my
mother's kitchen door bearing a bunch of beautiful delicate lilies.
Even as I write this, the rare scent of those lilies and the taste of
those water chestnuts return to intoxicate me. Now I know that
their talk of politics was not peaceful. They were often plotting
tactics against the plantation managers. They talked about
fighting for their rights. Their meetings seemed to mean more to
my father than anything else. I never saw him so serious and
passionate as when he was involved in politics. At weekends, they
organised work gangs to repair and build their homes, and to
maintain the dams and protect our villages from floods. I
associate my early childhood with my father's active political life.
In my teenage years, he caught polio. He lost the use of his
legs. His friends would still visit and keep him informed but it
fretted him to be paralysed. It pained me to see my father like
this but he was brave. One friend, Mr. Moses, a furniture
craftsman, made him a Berbice chair specially to aid his recovery.
Mr. Moses regularly performed libations over the chair, and
helped him recover the use of his legs by visiting daily and
supporting him to force himself to walk for half an hour each day.
Another friend, Bhajan, would massage him with coconut oil, the
East Indian cure-all, and sing to him in Hindi or Bhojpuri while
he lay in the chair. African, Chinese and Amerindian herbalists
provided teas as well as oils and pastes for massage. Christian
friends came to read the psalms and sing hymns to my father in

KYK # 46/47

his Berbice chair but he refused the Anglican priest when he came
to give him communion. These healing sessions and political
meetings were conducted simultaneously. When he began to
walk again they said it was a miracle. He was afflicted for the rest
of his life by constant pain and a limp. This confined him at home
and thwarted his political activism. His community-based
political cultureended when young cadres invaded our village
with the politics of the Cold War and to preach Soviet
communism and Marxism. The political meetings in our yard
ended. It was also the end of my childhood.
My father's influence led me to become involved in
community-based politics in London. It taught me what politics
meant to him. I think he believed in living in a colony, on a
plantation, nothing else could give his life as much shape and
focus, or his actions as much meaning. He distrusted liberalism,
individualism, bourgeois values, christianity, colonial education
and culture for political reasons, because they were used to violate
our autonomy. His politics give his life discipline, direction, value
and stability in the unjust and unpredictable world of the sugar
plantation. He felt helpless to see his children undergo an
education he distrusted. When I returned home from school he
did his best to de-educate me, to undermine what I was learning at
school, and bind me to his values. It left me with a lasting
ambivalence towards my education that made me interrupt and
postpone it frequently, question it, shy away from an academic
career, and settle down only with iconoclastic teachers. My
education was always controversial, dominated by issues of power
and politics because of my father. He conditioned me to question
everything, to distrust ideologues, ideology, doctrine. Teachers
like Samuel Archer at my primary school understood him, knew
how to win his trust, and teach and inspire me to learn. I was ten
when he encouraged me towrite an essay on the title. "My Life".
I did not know where to start. In the end, I wrote about my
impressions of the forest along the Canje River. I called it "Water
and Trees" (ten years later. I rewrote and published it). He read

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