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Wednesday, 15 August 2012

'Writers on Writing' Responses.

From time-to-time members of the Cayman Writer's Circle endeavour to reflect upon the comments of far more prolific and well-know writers who offer us insights into the writing process. During our weekly evening sessions we occasionally look at four or five quotes from various writers on some aspect of writing. We then respond to the quote in any way we wish. Sometimes the results are insightful, or thought-provoking. Sometimes they are beautifully worded in their appreciation of, or in opposition to, the comments of the writer selected. Below are some examples of the results of these exercises:

Piet Hein, creator of ‘Grooks’, once wrote:

There is
one art,
no more,
no less:
to do
all things
with art-

In retrospect, what greater praise could a writer aspire to than to be told by a reader that they knew a person very much like one of the characters in a story or play they had written. Or to be told of the significant impact a story or piece of poetry had made in their readers’ lives. A piece of writing that can hold the thoughts and attention of a reader for several days after reading it, or perhaps jolt readers into a creative act of their own, surely is testament to the worthiness of that writing. Piet Hein removes the mystery from the masterpiece. Great writing looks effortless, like it was simple to create, almost as if it were not simply everyday life writing itself. Because of this aspect of simplicity, it can appeal to everyman. It flows effortlessly and leaves a lasting impression on the minds of readers.

Leo Tolstoy explained it in this way: great drama thrusts characters into the midst of problematic situations, and by struggling along with them as witnesses as they fight against tremendous obstacles (physical, emotional, or intellectual), the reader encounters the flaws and traits that make them so human. One-by-one these reveal themselves until we have a grasp of the persons as complete individuals caught within the confines of a situation, and rendered by a master craftsman, the dramatist. Tolstoy said: “Drama, instead of telling us the whole of a man’s life, must place him in such a situation, tie such a knot, that when it is untied, the whole man is visible.” Essentially, what he was saying, was that we do not need to know everything about a person in order to know and understand the person. It is the experience of getting to know a character that makes good writing, whether that be drama, poetry, short story, or novel. We only need glimpses of the soul to see the fullness of that individual. To expose the soul of a person is the essential aspect of great writing.

By: H.M. Peter Westin

"The maker of a sentence launches out into the infinite and builds a road into Chaos and old Night, and is followed by those who hear him with something of wild, creative delight."
- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Interpreting RWE.

Writers use words and ideas as a builder uses bricks and mortar. The construct will have a familiar feel as the outer walls take shape but it is once you get inside that you will notice the personality of the craftsman reach its zenith. One sentence leads invariably into another and before long the reader has traversed a winding road that has led them forward into the mystery of the night and the unknown. Chaos is close. Upheaval is rampant in the churning landscape of the possibilities of the mind and memory. The old night is pregnant with dreams and haunting emotions. The reader is carried off on a wild, elusive ride of self-discovery, bumping and converging with images and pungent aromas of delightful foreign thoughts, themes and language of the heart.

By: H.M. Peter Westin

Reflection on RWE

I think that what he meant was that when someone writes something controversial, like his views that Jesus was not God, that they have to be brave, and launch into the unknown. The same could be said about writing anything where the writer is not sure of the reaction of the reader. By writing his thoughts, he tries to make sense of chaos and confusion, and goes against the conventional wisdom that he considers misguided (old Night). When people read that he has written something along the lines of their own thinking, they start to write their views too, encouraged by his bravery and excited that they are not alone in their thoughts. 

By: Fiona Pimentel

"The role of a writer is not to say what we all can say, but what we are unable to say."
     -     Anais Nin
Writers do not say what we all can say but what we are unable to or afraid to say. They constantly struggle against silence, fear, and abuse of all sorts, while the rest of us endure. What is it that enables writers and disables the rest of us? What makes writers shout and others whisper or do not speak at all? Some people were never asked why and they never ask why. Accustomed to dictation, they become dependent and accepting, never searching, always absorbing (good or evil), never unburdening. They are threatened by the voices that preach confidentiality; they fear the voices that have somehow convince them that standing up will costs their future and their children’s future; they are  controlled, brain washed perhaps because there is nothing confidential about hoarding  daily injections of poison, and abuse. You know they want to speak, their eyes scream, face droop, and their bodies crouch, constantly in a silent whisper to anyone who will listen. But fear and threat, those big sticks  keep them quiet. 
Writers are not threatened by fear. In fact they do not have enough fear to remain silent, to see wrong and call it right or to ignore what most people would. Writers expose the darkness other people cannot or do not want to see. They erase the silence of the paralyzed, enlighten the ignorant, and mobilize the relaxed. Writers don’t worry about what others will think, say or do. They have broad shoulders and backs too. The consequences scarcely matter. What is seen, felt, heard or infer will find its way on paper. Job loss, law suits, or even broken ties…writers will not be silenced. They walk for those who are psychologically amputated, speak for the mute, see for the visionless and listen for the hearing impaired. 
Writers are not impulsive. They are in the minority; they take the path of greatest resistance, and take time to think about an issue. Expecting their ideas to be unpopular they prepare for opposition. They are non conformist if conforming is wrong. They may not say much but their actions write boldly. Some say its non-cooperation. But that is OK as long as the message is respectfully sent and correctly decoded. Writers are educators; eye openers; they put the Y in why, and then find the answers.
By: Grace Chambers

Writing Reflection.

"Writing is a struggle against silence."
-         Carlos Fuentes

We all know the saying, that ‘the pen is mightier than the sword’. But what does this really mean and why do we say it?

If we take up a sword to do battle with, we may have a very real impact upon someone, perhaps on more than one individual. We might be able to force our will upon another through the sheer force of our own physical strength, or the skill with which we wield the sword. We may be part of an historic moment, perhaps even part of a blade of cutting change. Or, we may celebrate a momentary victory, and then slip back into the obscurity of bygone ages.

As a writer, when we take pen in hand, we strike with our intellect and wit. We expose truth in a situation, uncover injustice, or entertain the masses. What we say, and the truth of our beliefs, takes root in the hearts and minds of many. It is there on paper as a record of our reflections, beliefs, and action taken. Our words can continue to win battles and make impressions on the hearts and minds of men well after our own demise and earthly journey into obscurity. We will continue to live in our ideas and in the language and emotion of our writing. Our very words and ideas will strike boldly against the silence of obscurity. Silence is a sign of acceptance and agreement. If we take issue, we must speak out. Our written voice can be louder and longer lasting than the loudest bellow of our living lungs. To write is to stand up and make a proclamation, share our thoughts, ideas and beliefs. It is to reach out with emotion, to offer guidance, to prick the conscience of another. To a writer, there is nothing so terrifying or inhumane as silence.

By: H.M. Peter Westin

Activity: Write about something ugly — war, fear, hate, cruelty — but find the beauty (silver lining) in it.

Beauty in Cruelty?

“Cut me and I bleed,”
Blurted Shakespeare’s Shylock,
And I’m not ashamed to share his sentiment.

“I pray you find peace by killing me,”
Were the gentle words of Ghandi to the gunman.
“Forgive them, Father,” said the Saviour, unselfishly.

There is always beauty
to be found in suffering,
If the victim so chooses,
But this will never excuse cruelty.

Difficult decisions,
Actions chosen,
Must take into account
Kindness and compassion.

“Cruel to be kind”
Is a lie, lazily promoted and
Promulgated by those who are
Too hard-hearted to be considerate
Or care-full.

By: Fiona Pimentel

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Poem into Short Story.

Writers often have preferences as to the genres wherein they feel most comfortable in their writing. One of the roles of the Cayman Writer's Circle is to expose writers to various writing opportunities and to afford aspiring writers the venue and vehicle with which to expand their own horizons.

In June of this year, members of the Writer's Circle were asked to choose from one of four Japanese Haiku poems and to engage in the task of using that poem as a prompt to write a short story or essay. Here are some examples of their efforts:

Stillness - by Matsuo Basho
The cicada’s cry
Drills into the rocks.

A short walk – by Fiona Pimentel
The air was still, and hot. Sweat trickled down her back and into her trousers. It was a strange sensation, as her clothes were not wet. The sweat was evaporating almost as quickly as it was being produced.
She wished there was something to drink, but all she could see in every direction were the prickly pears. The silence seemed to bounce off the surrounding hills, interrupted only by the occasional sound of cicadas.
She had thought it would only take a few minutes to get down the hill, but the further she walked, the greater the distance left, to get to the road to meet the others. In the end she had given up and turned back, but in so doing, had lost her bearings.
It was three o’clock when she had set out, which she knew, was the hottest time of day in the South of Spain. The saying “Mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun” had crossed her mind more than once. Here she was, already English, and feeling as if she would soon be going mad, with the heat beating down on her uncovered head. 
She needed to sit down or better still, lie down, in the shade, but there was none. “No, I must go on, otherwise I’ll die of dehydration,” she said to herself.
The noise was getting louder. She knew she recognised it, but what could it be? It reminded her of torrential rain on a metal roof, tantalising like a mirage, but audible instead of visual.
Finally, she succumbed to her thirst and picked a prickly pear. She bit into it, and straight away realised her mistake. Her tongue, gums and lips had been pierced by tiny prickles. She was caught between the relief from the liquid and the discomfort of the bristles.
Things couldn’t get any worse, she thought to herself. She was lost on a hill somewhere South of Granada. The only village nearby, was the one they were staying at, and she had somehow, carelessly lost it.
Without paying much attention to where she was going, she continued to walk, always climbing the hill, until, at last, she saw the terracotta rooves of the whitewashed houses, and she breathed a sigh of relief. As if nothing had happened, she casually walked into the covered terrace of the house they had rented. It dawned on her that it was locked, and she didn’t have the key. She didn’t mind, all she cared about was that there was a running tap, and she filled her mouth, cooled her face, and drenched her head under it.
There was that sound again, clear and deafening now. It was like some sort of electric drilling, as if someone was looking for water in the rocks. With her mind more lucid after the drink, she approached the sound, and saw on the stone wall, a single cicada, calling to its mate. She instinctively reached out to touch it, and immediately it flew away.
She sat down on the cool floor, and started picking prickles out of her mouth.   


          The morning was just beginning to unravel on the edges of the night time sky. The man, after hours of restless rolling, gave up the attempt at resuming sleep and left the warm comfort of his bed. He moved slowly toward the un-shuttered window and let his eyes penetrate the surrounding darkness outside.  The creeping corners of light spoke to him in the form of friendship, made him feel welcome and alive in the early hours of this morning.

            He stood at the window for several minutes, until his eyes could begin to make out the shapes of tree silhouettes in his yard set against the backdrop of expanding light. He felt grateful to be alive and to be awake to witness the unfolding of a new day. In a little while he would be caught up in the activity of life, and his moments of peace and solitude would be swept away by the demands of order and schedule. His life would be re-infused into the lives of others around him, and he would be lost in their world for the next several hours without the opportunity for reflection or inner contemplation. He treasured and savoured these last few minutes of peace and of being alone. He spent them in silent conversation with nature, the face of God he knew so well, and reconstituted his energy and his drive.

            As the sky lightened, he stepped away from the window and walked slowly to his patio door. He stopped briefly in his kitchen to pour himself a tall tumbler of orange juice. Glass in hand he stepped sedately through the French doors and onto the patio stones at the rear of his house. By now there was some movement around him and occasional birdsong broke the otherwise quiet sunrise. Seating himself in wooden lawn chair, he put his head back and stared up into the sky. His mind ascended upward and his eyes closed. His ears became more acutely aware of the sounds around him. Now and then there were movements of small creatures, crabs and lizards, in the bushes and flowers that encircled the house. He listened to their activity as it intensified with the brightening of the sky. And as the sun rose up in the horizon, he knew it would not be long before the plaintive cry of the cicadas heralded the arrival of the new day.

            He took a sip of the orange juice and marvelled at the wonders of nature. His mind shifted somewhat restlessly on its own caught by the growing warmth of stray rays of sunlight. He thought about his own life and about the news he had received just yesterday. He wondered how the next few weeks and months would play out, and what was in store for him long term. The songs of the cicadas were now casting their magical spell on the attentive world, and the stillness of the early dawn was slipping away again, until the evening sunset.

By: H.M. Peter Westin

Monday, 2 July 2012

In Defense of Writing

As a writer, one of the hardest tasks we can face is to explain to others our writing style and defend our own forms and choices for our writing. We know why we write, oftentimes it is the insatiable drive to express our thoughts, feelings and emotions about some subject. We do it for the pure pleasure that it brings us, rather than for notoriety or fame. But that is a hard thing to explain to someone else. People tend to want to look behind that stated reason to find the 'real' motivation, the one that benefits us surely in a more concrete manner.

As a writer who prefers to dabble in poetry, it is often difficult to understand, much less explain, the reasons for selection of style, format, words choices, images, etc. Each poem can bring its own subtle nuances. Each can frame itself in unique and sometimes startlingly different forms.

In June of this year, members of the Writer's Circle attempted to explain themselves by writing an 'apology' (defense) of their work. Here are some samples of what they wrote:

Image Link: Google Images


I enjoy writing my journal most of all < I journalize my thoughts, my secrets and what I'm feeling> when the mood of creativity is upon me - I write poetry, short stories, essays, plays, political commentary, social commentary and catholic commentary for print in newspapers and / or performances on the stage.

Tonight I shall attempt to define and defend the art form that is Caymanian Dialect Poetry Writing.

Growing up in the Caribbean, on an island under colonial rule - all school children were taught to speak, write and read proper English; that is to say, the Queen's English. However, that wasn't the language most of us kids spoke at home growing up with mom, dad and the extended family. We spoke in a rather broken English, we used words not found in the Oxford dictionary. Some words, phrases can be found only in the Cayman Islands and among Caymanians. Don't be confused with the Jamaican Patois - which is another language of it's own; but allow me to say here that in the Caymanian lingo you will find a few words borrowed from the Jamaican patois such as "Unno" which becomes "Unna" in Cayman. In standard English = You all.  Please find some other examples: Jamaican = batty // Caymanian = Bonkey // English = Backside, buttom or buttocks.  Caymanian = Norrod // English = North.  Caymanian = Sorrod // English = South.   Caymanian = W'reackly or  A ' reackly // English = Directly, soon or presently.
Never = Nehwa.  England = Cheeky // American = Smart Ass // Caymanian = Foppish.

"Dat yung g yul start'n to smell her piss" or "Dat yung g'yul start'n smell her rank" in standard English means "That teenage girl has become very rude and has no manners". This is often times said of a young girl who backchats her parents or is doing a little more than just holding her boyfriend's hand while out on a date <hint>

I could go on forever. But in many homes in the Cayman Islands this is what we grew up hearing. The mother tongue being dialect.

Instead of our parents telling us "Why don't you speak properly?" They would say "Ya cyant talk betta dan dat a wha?"
So our parents wanted us to speak proper English yet at the same time told us to speak properly with a broken twang themselves.

For along time - it has been looked down on or frowned on if the local dialect is used. People think it sounds unprofessional, it makes one sound uneducated and it's just plain and simply damn low class! (poor & working class).

But I disagree. I defend the Caymanian lingo, the dialect - the local native talk :) I believe that it should be brought to that of an art form. Bring it to the stage. Take a british pantomime - Caymanianize it and you'll end up with a "Rundown" or a "Boil-up" which can be two stage comedies or two pots of delicious Caymanian food! Seriously.

If Caymanians are to find their identity - then it starts with the simple things. This is why I choose to write in the Caymanian language.  Please find two dialect poems attached here.

 “Talk Caymanian”

Da Caymanian talk wha a sweet talk
No one should be shame
Our chilren no longer talk it
Ah wonder who we kin really blame
We gaw teach we gaw  preach
Let’s keep on talkin de talk
Poodin pan grata spoon and folk
Times is change yes and every generation is different
But don’t sell wha is good only to get second best
Be proud to call unna self a Caymanian
Yu puppa yu mumma and yu companion
Now tell me somting why should we want to talk
Like dem we putting um up on pedestal we
Sellin our soul fa de dolla oh wha a sin
Black white chiney lookin notty
Or indian hair – it don’t matter who
Ya is talk Caymanian be Caymanian
Let’s don’t bodda to fight
If we would all live in love
U ga see we all could unite
We is tree islands in de Caribbean comin to com
But lord it pain my heart wen I see
My people on de street lookin like bum
De rich ga get richer and de poor ga get poora
Hard time surely comin here again
Come mama come papa come friend
I na gaw no pile a money gold or a medallion
But we is proud to call ourselves Caymanian.

Miskita tun motocar

Eh! Unna see all dese cars in gran cayman
fa such a small teeny lil islan
wen ya tink 'bout it is like car mus be havin car
so dat's why I na ga be no mo silant

Cousin Martha tell me say it mus be a blessen
caw wen she wa chile it wa donkey or walk
but now we get proud an feget wey we com from
not even 'hello how ya do' or lil sweet ole talk

swaga say in hees day miskita wa tick like sin
he had to had smoke pan to keep um charge off
dey wha biten hard ya see an so much
dat somtime dey would choke cow an mek um coff

miskitas is getten lessa yes sah
it wa a purgatory fa ya to see
but cars is gettin tick now i fansa
soon na ga be no place fa you an me

wen ya stop an tink a wit doe
caymanians com a long way from so far
wid de hep of de modda country
it look like caymanians really tun miskita into motorcar

In defending this type of artistic writing style - I am also defending the very essence of being a native and I am also defending Caymanianness. Is is defined by an attitude, a mood and plenty body language. It represents the house wife cleaning house and cooking over a caboose for the family. It represents the fisher men on the water front of George Town cleaning their daily catch. It misrepresents (by choice) the man or woman born here but who studied  economics in Canada or read law in the UK. He or she now chooses to distant or separate him/herself from the old time Caymanian backyard.

"Neva mek we figet wey wi com from"  // Let us never forget where we've come from.

Thank you!

By: Quincy Brown

Why I Write Stage Plays.

By: C.G. Wilson

I have always loved the theatre. Even as a child I loved to act. I appeared in many plays even when I was 5 years of age. I longed to be someone else. I had a terrible stammer that got worse as I got older but when I acted and said the lines, there was no trace of this stammer.

I never realized how bad it was until I was at technical college and a debate I was in was recorded. I was horrified at how bad it was and I was determined that I would correct it.

I used my acting ‘skills’ to pretend I was on stage and I thought out in my mind that I was going to say before I said it. Bingo. It worked. I got faster and faster at saying the lines in my mind and no one noticed the pause that isn’t even noticeable today – unless I get excited and forget to play it out.

I loved writing stories and someone could give me any theme and I could and can write an intricate plot around it with lots of words. I could easily fill a whole school exercise book with just one tale. However, whilst my speech skills were above average my descriptive skills were (and still are), average.

My English teacher told me to write stage plays. I could become good at that. So I did.

I read a lot of plays and acted on stage at every chance I got. At one time I even tried to become a movie actor, but that’s another story.

I find when I write a play I not only play all the characters out in my mind, I even direct the action and see it happening. Even from which side of the stage that actor should come in from. I get so enwrapped in the dialogue I write down, I actually assume that character – his of her feelings. The character takes me over.

I am often amazed at what I have written as the dialogue and phrases I have used, the style of speech is so different from the real me. When I read back some of my old work from years ago, I do not even remember myself actually writing it.

My best work I have ever done that gives me the greatest pleasure was “the Judith Code” a modern day retelling of the ‘Book of Judith’. It was well-received here when it was staged at two different locations only two years apart. I actually fell in love with Judith. However, as I wrote in one of my lines I gave an elderly Jew who did not agree with a lot of things Judith did, “I admire Judith very much. But I would not like to be married to her.”

I also have turned to writing movie scripts but I am not as comfortable with that medium.

That is why I love writing stage plays.

Defining and Defending My Poetry.

            I enjoy writing poetry. If I had to define the style of poetry I write, I would characterize it as ‘free verse’. Free verse poetry typically has no rhyme scheme or stratified stanza style format. The words flow freely and the line breaks come, with practice, from the natural flow of the language, often to emphasize specific words. The words used are carefully chosen to facilitate the flow (natural rhythm) of the poem, while creating unique and interesting images. To say this is not to suggest that what comes out at first-effort is what remains. A careful read through might detect imprecision in words choice and might commit the poet (me) to searching out that true and precise replacement which will strengthen the poem and transmit the intended meaning more clearly. Clarity, therefore, is an important aspect of my poetry.
            Many of my poems focus on the theme of ‘nature’. Others examine the relationships which exist between people, or people and their environment. I do this from my own background, which is a ‘Christian’ perspective on life. Some of my poems are longer poems, in which the subject chosen is prodded and viewed from a number of angles. The focus of these poems is to elicit a response from the reader by engaging them in a journey of discovery. Some of my poems are quite short, from three to five lines. Many of these focus on the ‘realities’ of life. In the three line poems, there is often a couplet, set somewhat apart from the third contrasting line through the use of a colon or semi-colon. My poetry often contains a bit of a twist, or unique use of language at the end, that catches the reader a bit off guard, or by surprise, and helps give the poem the depth that requires a reader’s thought and personal response. More of my recent poetry has contained a more overt expression of my Christian principles and beliefs, although I prefer to render these by mixing them in to the glimpse of reality that I weave in words on the page. For me, poetry must exist beyond the words on a page. They have their full significance when they enter the reader’s mind and become entwined in their thoughts. They are most successful when they leave some imprint on the heart of the reader.
            I employ a variety of literary devices in my poetry, including the use of metaphors, alliteration, and word images. Although I write for others, I need to be satisfied with what I create before I can take steps to share the work. I can suffer from ‘dry spells’ where I lack the necessary drive and desire to write. These usually do not last for long periods. In this sense, I see my poetry as ‘inspired’. Having said that, on occasion I have forced the issue by deciding in advance that I will write a poem and have chosen a topic that I will write about. Some of these have worked out quite well, but I have noticed that these tend to be poems that thrive only after numerous revision attempts. Usually my poetry flows naturally when I sit to write. Sometimes my writing will be sparked by a single word or image. Quite often, my title is the last thing that comes. Several of my shorter poems, however, begin with the title and then proceed from there.

By: H.M. Peter Westin

My Writing Style
By: Fiona Pimentel

My writing style could be described as journal-writing, although it is still developing and evolving.
It seems I am not possessed with an imaginative style, or rather, my strong sense of logic does not allow me to write in away that bears no resemblance to reality.
I started writing when I noticed that at times someone would say something with which I strongly disagreed, but I couldn’t find the words to state my case in their presence. Thoughts would flood my head afterwards and I would type them up and sometimes send what I had written to the person.
In the summer of 2011, I decided to start writing poetry, even though I didn’t have the faintest idea how to even begin. I didn’t know if there were techniques to be learned, or if you were supposed to wait for inspiration. I decided to just write anything, regardless of how terrible it was. The result was my “Summer Holiday Poems.” I just wrote the first thing that came into my head, usually when someone said something that rhymed unintentionally.
What I have called Coaching Articles emerged in September of that same year. I sat down and wrote for an hour every day, until I had written 12,000 words, and had nothing more to say. I wrote about the 5 basics of overcoming depression: nutrition, sleep, exercise, communication and prayer. When I had finished, I broke them up into small articles and posted them on my blog. I hope and believe these have been useful to people.
Next, I discovered that poetry was a way of expressing my feelings and figuring things out in my head, like a sort of thinking out loud, but on paper. Words would just come to me, and I would write them down, with no conscious effort or thought at all. I would never correct or revise the poems, because they were the honest expression of the emotion of the moment, and to do so would have felt dishonest. The poems told of my spiritual struggles and submission to God. They were both therapeutic to write, and proved helpful to readers of my blog who were experiencing something similar.
Very recently, I have entered a new phase of writing, which is making a conscious effort to write, and not necessarily about something that is true or that I feel strongly about. I find I am able to write from a prompt, through the use of tools like word association, as in my short story and poem entitled “A familiar smell,” or poetic structure, as in my “Acrostic poems.” I enjoyed writing the acrostic poems, because due to the constraints imposed by the starting letters of the words, the imagination is forced to come up with something that may not otherwise have been thought of.
Moving from factual writing to fiction can have its problems, such as the time when I wrote a short story about a lady who was diagnosed with terminal cancer, and one of the members of the Writers Circle thought it was autobiographical, and became worried and upset.
Even when what one is writing about is to be taken literally, there can be errors in communication, and sometimes a phrase may be read in several ways, and the readers may completely misunderstand what is being said. It does make me nervous about writing, but not enough to put me off writing altogether.
There have been times when I have worried that what I have written may cause offense, and have gone to my blog, with the intention of deleting something. However these posts are precisely the ones that readers have thanked me for, and gained some comfort from, so I am persuaded to leave them.
To conclude, my writing style is evolving from autobiographical to creative writing, but is always very simple, honest and unpretentious. It can be summed up by my poem entitled
I just write my mind:”

Serving Fish ‘n’ Chips
as opposed to Gourmet feasts
or Nouvelle Cuisine.

Friday, 1 June 2012

Freedom and Bondage

What is freedom? What is bondage? Interesting questions that can be tackled from a number of perspectives. When thinking of 'freedom' are we speaking specifically about physical freedom, the ability for unrestrained physical movement? Is it about the choice to travel, or to visit where we would like? Is it more about unbounded possibility rather than the actual act of doing? Or are we speaking more of 'legalistic' sense of the word - the state of existing as a 'free' man or woman in the eyes of society? Mercifully, days of 'legal' ownership of slaves has passed. That is not to say that there are not still forms of slavery being practiced in parts of the world. And what about war between nations - how does that aspect of the question play out?

Is freedom more than simple 'physical' freedom? What about freedom of thought? Or, freedom of religion? There are still states in this world where 'freedom of thought' is a rare and precious commodity. There are still dictatorships and communist countries which proport to know better than individuals what ideals and goals people should strive toward. There are daily examples of religious persecution around the world, and sometimes even in our own 'backyards'. They can take an active physical form - attacks on churches, synagogues and mosques - or followers of these religions, or they can be more subtle forms of attack, through government enforced regulations or by proponents of secular or humanistic 'quasi religions'.

And what about bondage? Is bondage necessarily tied to physical restraint? Can there be a bondage of mind? Are we made dependant upon others for decision making? Are we brainwashed by advertisers into believing that we 'need' certain products in order for our lives to be 'better'? Does 'hope' seem nonexistant in our lives? Are we being forced to 'conform' to the 'norms' of society, or to the current prevalent values and practices of the majority?

In February of 2011 members of the Writer's Circle took up the challenge of writing about 'Freedom and Bondage'. Efforts followed divergent aspects of thought paths and produced some interesting results.

Image Link: Google Images


I have always known freedom. I can only imagine what it must be like to be in bondage. Without any hope of becoming free. However, is my imagination worth much at all?

I imagined for many years what it would be like to be hit by a major hurricane. I know some people who said they would like to experience it. Now they have, would they like to go through it again?

When hurricane Ivan hit Grand Cayman in September 2004, I was there.

I imagined a hurricane would be horrendous. I actually picture it in my mind, the devastation, see trees falling, hear the winds, even the torrential rains and the angry seas. But did it come near to my imagination? Not even close. It was so much worse.

How much worse? Well, the noise was five times as loud, the sea did more damage, came in so fast and I felt panic, even despair. The aftermath I didn’t imagine because I didn’t even think of it.

I lived for only two months like half the impoverished world live their whole life. But it was much worse for me. I had always been free. I could get what I wanted, when I wanted and no one to say ‘No, you can’t.’ I had money in the bank. It belonged to me. I was in charge of my life. No bonds to hold me back. Now it was different. I was imprisoned on an island without all the niceties I knew and had grown up in. What a shock. How could I possibly cope? How could I adapt? When would this misery and suffering end?

After the hurricane had passed the banks didn’t open at all. Some very few shops that did open would only accept cash. My plastic money was worthless. It was some weeks before the banks did open and when they did it was not for long. I queued in long lines, in hot sun, and if it was past the one and then two hours of opening time and I was still outside, I was turned away. I went home empty. And even if I did get inside the bank they told me how much they would let me have – of my own money! No electricity at home. No car. No gas and no running water. Food – I had to queue up for that too, and the amount again was limited. Water – a jug in hand and queue up again in the hot sun with others fighting – yes fighting to get a full jug of water!

There were curfews every night. Strangers in uniforms and carrying guns were everywhere.

 I had watched on television, thousands of people, living under tyrannical governments being beaten by uniformed police and soldiers, lying on the ground. “You never hit a man lying on the ground.” Does anyone ever hear that saying now, or remember it? The victims are hit by batons, kicked, pistol whipped. They queue for a handout and most times have to fight for it, too.

My suffering lasted only for a few weeks and got better by the months. I had hope. There was light at the end of my tunnel. I would be free, again. And, I was and I am now. My life is back to normal. Peace.

So how can I imagine being in bondage? Can I imagine the despair, the hopelessness, the beatings, the hunger? If I was in bondage and born into it. Not knowing any other life. Could I actually imagine freedom?

By: C.G. Wilson

Memories of 1939

The month was August, a few weeks into summer vacation. I was 11 years old that month, and the best part of the holiday was time at my Great Uncle Sterling Fisher’s property ‘Mount Pleasant’, a few miles above Runaway Bay on Jamaica’s beautiful North Coast. I was a lover of all animals from as far back as I could remember. At Mt. Pleasant I was surrounded by cats, dogs, chickens, but best of all – because it was a cattle breeding place, with dozens of beautiful cows, the bulls were safely kept away. I loved the smell of the cows, they were tame and gentle, and there was one that I could ride. My cousin Jim kept Polo ponies, and a thrill for me was being allowed to ride one, on a lead rope, which I thought unnecessary.

The house was an old one, large with huge rooms – our bedroom, shared by Mum, sister Jac. And myself, had an enormous 4 poster, so high it required 4 small steps to climb up. The windows, also large, looked over the grounds, to the sea at Runaway Bay, and beyond. At night, when the moon was up, I joined a bunch of local kids, kicking a football around, with much laughter. My Great Aunt Sis adopted numerous children, of all ages, from poor families, gave them a home and love, and taught them to read and write.

I have many memories of Mt. Pleasant. On the back verandah, hanging within reach, was a clay water jar, the water cooled by a ‘Thunder Bolt’, a smooth, silky stone, originally made by the Arawak Indians. It was one of their tools, and very treasured, found somewhere in an Arawak midden, perhaps on the property. The Arawaks, a peaceful people, long gone unfortunately.

I would be awoken in the morning by the voices of the cattlemen, calling the cows in to be milked. Happy carefree days – smells of Pimento berries drying in the barbecue, smell of cows and horses – swimming at Dry Harbour (Discovery Bay

Myself, a child with little understanding of what was on the horizon, the horrors of war. As August went by – the adults discussing their dread – radio constantly on BBC until late at night – Neville Chamberlain the Prime Minister “Peace in our Time” not to be; Poland invaded, September 3rd war declared between Great Britain and Germany – it had begun, with the heartbreak of families. So many young Jamaicans volunteered at once, some who had been ‘big brothers’ to me, gone, many not to return. The day the world changed, to never be the same again.

By: Brenda Quin

Bondage and Freedom

Behind iron bars
of my mind’s making
I lie barely awake, passively
tied to this earth
through two bony legs
and the passions of the body.
enduring endless trials
answering the knocks
until at last angelic voices
beckon and arouse me
and I slip effortlessly,
from these chains.
Free of restraint,
rising on soaring spirit
entering into
the nearer presence,
to see clearly
in the blinding light.

By: H.M. Peter Westin

Friday, 27 April 2012

The Ocean

When you live on a small island in the middle of the Caribbean Sea, the ocean is bound to have an effect on your way of thinking and your lifestyle. From your 'fun in the sun' beachside activities, right through to your 'hurricane worries', the ocean is an ever-present factor in your thoughts and everyday living. It teems with an abundance of life. It plays out its own rhythms. It sooths, comforts, rejuvenates, times, it can even menace. The ocean is a constant factor which cannot be ignored. The members of the Writer's Circle acknowledged this fact through this sampling of writing exercises begun in July of 2010, and continued periodically up to today.

Nor’ wester Days

I love the wild and windy damp
when a strong Nor’ wester blows,
the sea with its white capped waves,
crash on the ironshore.
The blown spume fills the air
with mist, and scent of oceans far.
South of Hog Sty Bay,
the waves are breaking, building higher,
carrying debris from the ocean depths.
Sand and seaweed,
broken shells and coral,
carpeting the roadway,
all traffic has ceased,
only onlookers stand at a safe distance
above the road.
The sea in shades of green and aqua,
and many other hues,
nature in all its forms,
is truly wonderful to behold.

By: Brenda Quin

The Sea, a living canvas

This morning,
I watched a display,
put on just for me,
a living canvas
of so many blues,
with sprites bright like snow,
leaping up,
as joyfully as lambs.
They paused,
suspended in air,
thendissolved into mist.
The sea, inanimate?

By: Fiona Pimentel

 Image Link:

South Sound Beach.

Small, dark coloured
birds feeding at the ocean’s edge,
clouds, feather like, above
the turquoise sea.
Casurina branches swaying on
the North East wind,
I stand upon the rock strewn
shore, lean against a drift log,
and watch small ghost crabs
emerging from their holes.
Alone, but not lonely, surrounded
by nature’s beauty. But yearning
for someone who sees as I
see, to share this precious
peaceful hour beside the quiet

By: Brenda Quin

I wish
I wish I had talent to write
About the smell of the sea,
Calling me to the cove,
How the wind lashes my face
And the fantastically huge waves
Splatter me with spray.
I wish I could swim at a hundred
Miles an hour, or surf over the horizon.
I wish I could rise up and fly.
So exhilarating….
I wish there could be no more tears…

By: Fiona Pimentel

15 Meetings with the Ocean.

The azure reflections call to mind
the deep sea recesses and
slow solitude of horizon, yonder.

A turquoise calm casts its spell
across the mirrored surface
of a windless ocean morning,

Lapping waters reach with
soft caress to sooth
tired body, and furtive
eyes, bringing sweet calm
of safe retreat.

At three this morning
relentless pounding
of crashing waves
calls me from sleep, down
to the nearby cove.

I looked at her and recognized
the deep blue emptiness
of her eyes, the vast ocean
wasteland of her mind.

Words sputtered out:
frothy foaming
of an exhausted ocean gale.

Sounds of laughter
carry on a breeze,
good friends and small
children cavort together
on the edge of a point
of sand.

Weathered boat tied up
at the wharf, unloads
a bounty of life gathered
from the ocean depths,
men of the sea
mutter simple words.

We gaze,
the ageless panorama of
a coastline scene framed
within the edges and panes
of summer cottage windows.

Lines of white horses
gallop over the reef
and ride up into the nestling cove
below the cliffs.

My tongue circles above and below:
the salty lick of the old dog sea.
A restlessness rustles beating beneath
my sweater; an irrepressible
desire drives my feet
across the sands of deserted

Fast eddies and shallow rock pools;
tidal waters retreat leaving
playgrounds for the inquisitive,
a harbour of hope for the
small creatures of the shore.

Dark clouds line the sky;
at water’s edge
my eyes meet the surly mood
of a stormy North Atlantic Sea.

Within the glow of setting
sun, the tentative touch
of lovers in the evening hours,
a quiet walk along the
shoreline sand.

By: H.M. Peter Westin