Wednesday, November 19, 2008


  • Derek Walcott: In the opening symposium which was attended by the President of Guyana, Derek Walcott was at his aggressive best, according to the press, taking the Guyana President to task. It seems as though it is Mr. Jagdeo’s sole fault for the state of the arts in the entire region. Walcott refers to the President as “Prime Minister”. The audience corrects him once, “It is President!” He refers to the President again as “Prime Minister.” The audience corrects him twice, “President!” Sitting up on high, looking down, what do you make of this? Would Mr. Walcott have done this to Mr. Burnham, or to Mr.Hoyte? Has this anything to do with the fact that Mr. Jagdeo is of Indian ancestry? Does the Nobel Prize excuse such discourtesy and contempt, such ungraciousness to your host? Surely, a poet whose business is words, nuances, knows the difference between Prime Minister and President. If he doesn’t, he shouldn’t be writing poetry.
  • Credit must be given where it is due for organizing such a massive event in such short time. Little courtesies, the grace of Guyanese of all races: from Immigration to Customs to hotel staff to security personnel to strangers on a little plane flying to the interior. There were a plethora of fine events, especially literary events; readings at the Umana Yana, the discussions at the National Convention Centre, and a book fair featuring book launches. Who sited the book fair in the National Park under a boiling canvas tent in a boiling August sun when there were a dozen properly shaded and ventilated buildings in which this event could have been hosted, the National Library included? Presumably, we will know by the time the next Carifesta rolls around.
  • The Missing: There was, of course, more than one lament for the absence of George Lamming, among others. Some of the missing huffed and puffed in the press, on the Internet, and elsewhere. I can’t remember one person asking, why the most brilliant prose writer from the region, Sir You-Know-Who, Nobel-too-Laureate was missing. Perhaps, as an Indian writer who dared question—a lifetime ago—the “creation” of anything in the region, it seemed natural that he should not be present. But there was no lament for the absence for V.S. Naipaul, who has the last words (for now): the world is what it is.

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