Rick Wayne in the Laureate’s Chair
Thirty years of controversial service to the Saint Lucian community and Rick Wayne’s spirit remains undaunted. From the pages of the and from the TV screen, to say nothing of his radio interviews, he speaks loudly about matters most would only whisper about in privacy. More often than not his statements are political. But Rick Wayne has also been a mentor and friend of many local journalists.
He seems never to tire of reminding young and old about the value of reading, whether for pleasure or education. He insists that it’s not possible to be a writer worth reading unless the wannabe writer habitually reads. Rick Wayne will be the first to admit he enjoys reading and writing as much as he enjoys talking, especially about books and the craft of the writer. Bodybuilding is also a pet subject, which comes as no surprise considering his history.
On Tuesday evening this week, the Saint Lucia Forum of Writers afforded Rick Wayne the opportunity to address his favorite topics before an appreciative audience at the Central Library in Castries. The emcee introduced him with obvious pleasure, noting along the way that the evening’s guest had been more than once Mr. Universe, the author of books on bodybuilding and local politics, not to say countless newspaper articles. He expressed surprise that when he invited Rick Wayne to submit a bio, what he received in return amounted to less than thirty lines. Who’d have imagined a modest Rick Wayne?
Before he got down to reading, he named as early inspirations the late James Baldwin, Norman Mailer, Gore Vidal, Truman Capote and others still alive and writing. It must’ve surprised many in the audience when he included local journalist Guy Ellis. But the writer whose name Rick Wayne repeated over and over was none other than the recently deceased Derek Walcott. “Saint Lucians have never really appreciated Derek Walcott,” he said, over and over, describing him as a mentor, an advisor and a cherished friend.
Several in the audience said they had turned up at the Central Library primarily to see the man in the flesh and to renew acquaintances. He read from his book It’ll Be Alright In The Morning— written in 1978—and also an artice that appeared in last week’s edition of the Over and over he stopped when audience laughter or applause interrupted him. Everyone seemed to be having a good time—especially the evening’s guest.
Then came the question and answer segment, and he invited the audience to “ask me anything. Everything is on the table. I have no private existence.” The questions ranged from how he went about doing his work, unpublished biographies, how age had affected his mind and body, the subject of self-confidence, and the way his books and articles proved “the more things change, the more they remain the same," in local politics particularly. Sometimes there was the feeling the questioners got more than they bargained for. An especially interesting question: “How do you move so easily from red to yellow and back again, over and over? His response: “Sounds miraculous but the truth is I have never been a party member. I liked some people’s policies, therefore I supported them. When they changed, I changed toward them. Simple, isn’t it?”
Long after the programme had ended, much of the crowd stayed on to buy some of the guest’s books, pose with him for selfies, or to just talk!
Everyone listening keenly to Rick Wayne's lessons about writing.
Rick entertaining an appreciative audience.