Rick Wayne in the Lau­re­ate’s Chair

The Star (St. Lucia) - - LOCAL - By Claudia Elei­box

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.

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