I have been very delinquent at writing and this blog is another in the series of so far failed attempts at writing consistently. Although I would prefer to be consistently writing poetry (presently I am on a very long hiatus), any writing will have to do.
In order to be a good writer one has to be a voracious reader. I read anything except science fiction (although I have read a few), horror and romance novels. This has been fueled in part by a mother whose first job was at a library and although she found another profession before I was born, her connections at the local library I visited as a child, remained. These ensured that at times books were reserved for my sister and I and my mother would allow us to use her library cards, she being an adult and entitled to three as opposed to the one card us juniors were allowed.
At the last book sale I went to I picked up “The Penguin Book of Modern African Poetry” (fourth edition, 1998) and as I looked through the Contents today found a poem entitled “Sugar Daddy” by Senegalese poet Thierno Seydou Sall. I had not thought about it before, but embedded in my subconscious was the thought that perhaps Sugar Daddy was a Jamaican/Caribbean concept. Now I have been schooled.
But perhaps, I digress. The downside to reading, as was pointed out by a poet friend of mine this weekend, is that it can be a bit intimidating to the aspiring writer. Do not get me wrong there is some bad poetry that has managed to receive publication and this is a sort of validation of your own work which is better; however, I more often than not read based on recommendations which never point in those directions. When I do end up reading bad poetry it is of my own doing. A misguided google search, a magazine picked up somewhere along the way, a book bought on sale that I bought without thinking, without scrutiny just because it was on sale.
Here in the Caribbean we have a very rich literary heritage and it is easy to name drop – Derek Walcott, Anthony McNeill, V. S. Naipaul, Mervyn Morris, Edward Baugh, Kendel Hippolyte… and without even thinking about it too much, I am overwhelmed and a bit paralyzed. Reading Poet Laureates, Pulitzer Prize winners, Nobel Prize winners though inspiring causes some introspection where I just do not measure up. So here I am, waiting for inspiration even though that is not supposed to be the course of action, I should just write. I however hate editing and would rather start from scratch than re-write which adds to the hesitation. If I keep updating this blog we will see how it goes.
On another note, today would have been the last day of the Calabash Literary Festival 2011, if it were being held. Thanks Colin, Justine, Kwame for the work you have done over the ten years of the Festival. You and the Calabash Literary Festival have left an indelible mark not just on Jamaica but the literary landscape of the world.