Wal­cott in­tro­duces au­thor of Mag­pi­ety!

The Star (St. Lucia) - - LOCAL -

By Toni Ni­cholas

Never be­fore had I en­coun­tered a more an­i­mated and ex­cited Derek Wal­cott. Our only liv­ing No­bel lau­re­ate was clearly in his el­e­ment on Wed­nes­day evening when he played host at a book launch, at Jambe Du Bois on Pi­geon Is­land.

To quote Wil­liam Arthur Ward: “The me­diocre teacher tells. The good teacher ex­plains. The su­pe­rior teacher demon­strates. The great teacher in­spires.” Guests at Wed­nes­day’s launch­ing of Bos­to­nian Melissa Green’s book of poetry, ‘Mag­pi­ety’, couldn’t have asked for a more in­spir­ing tu­tor than Wal­cott—as Ms Green hap­pily tes­ti­fied.

Among Wed­nes­day evening’s ador­ing as­sem­blage was Jane King Hip­polyte. By Wal­cott’s in­dis­putable word she stood out early—for her clar­ity and modesty. “She is also mar­ried to one of our best po­ets, Ken­dall. But she taught him how to spell,” Wal­cott joked.

Ms Hip­polyte read a piece en­ti­tled ‘Geography for Robert’, re­port­edly in an­swer to an ob­ser­va­tion by fel­low lo­cal poet Robert Lee that there was no geography in her poetry. “This sub­ject is quite top­i­cal th­ese days,” said Hip­polyte.

In his in­tro­duc­tion of Melissa Green, Wal­cott re­vealed that she was a very gifted but quiet stu­dent of his. “We were work­ing to­gether and then one day she told me her fa­ther had died. What I said was, “So now you have to write a poem, right?” which sounded to her, I imag­ine, cal­lous and crude, maybe. She went home and wrote a poem any­way. And when I got it I was stu­pe­fied with ad­mi­ra­tion!”

I sus­pect it’ll be a long time be­fore the lady re­ceives higher praise!

For her part, Green re­called that when she first met Wal­cott she had been drown­ing for a long time try­ing to find some­one who could bring her to poetry. “And he just put out his hand and drew me from the wa­ter and we worked very hard . . . But I wasn’t a good writer. He taught me to write a line and it had to be as straight and pow­er­ful as the hori­zon. I will for­ever be grate­ful to Derek for teach­ing me how to write a line. He both shad­owed and bright­ened ev­ery line.”

Ms Green has been writ­ing thirty years. She said: “When Derek rec­og­nizes you, you come to life; you be­come blessed; you are chris­tened; you are awak­ened.”

I swear I saw a tear fall from the No­bel win­ner’s left eye. Green then read ex­cerpts from her book.

Later in the evening a tra­di­tional folk band en­ter­tained and it was not long be­fore Wal­cott was into the singing of some of the Kwéyòl folk songs too, much to the de­light of those present. Some of them even joined in at the beck­on­ing of Wal­cott.

In at­ten­dance on Wed­nes­day were some of Wal­cott’s other long time as­so­ciates and friends: Gan­dolph St. Clair, Ken­dall Hip­polyte, Robert Lee and McDon­ald Dixon as well as poet Vladimir Lu­cien and SHE Mag­a­zine ed­i­tor and Man­ag­ing Di­rec­tor of the STAR, Mae Wayne.

SHE Caribbean pub­lisher and STAR MD Mae Wayne with

No­bel Lau­re­ate Derek Wal­cott.

Wal­cott and friends enjoy some folk singing.

Melissa Green in­tro­duces Mag­pi­ety.

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