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#Bocas2017 Youth Blog: Edward Baugh

Ishion Hutchinson, panel moderator, alongside Edward Baugh in #bocas2017 contemplation.

On Saturday 29th April at 11 a.m, I found myself engaged by a one on one session with Dr. Edward Baugh, Professor Emeritus of English at the Mona campus of the University of the West Indies and renowned poet. He was immediately put on the spot with a question he dislikes: ‘What made you want to be a poet?’ Nonetheless, he answered by stating that his inspiration started in his childhood and stemmed from listening to sermons in church, as well as reading various books in the Bible. He then spoke briefly of the responsibility of a poet and stated that each poem must ‘somehow make a difference’.

Hutchinson and the audience listen, transported, as Baugh reads his timeless poems.

Apart from his early influences, Mr. Baugh delved further into other facets of inspiration. During the time of his schooling, the poetry that he would have been exposed to included the romantic English poets as well as Browning’s dramatic monologues. In university, he would go on to discover the works of Derek Walcott, which he would often read during his free time while in the library. This all served as food for thought for upcoming writers and even amateur writers like myself, to see how we can find a balance between the great inspiration we receive from the writings of others and the need to establish our own voice through our writings.

Later that day, Baugh and Hutchinson shared a moment after the announcement of the 2017 OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature.

We were privy to a sneak peek into the musings of a very talented writer as he stated, “When I’m writing a poem, I must hear it. It must have a kind of resonance.” Upon reflection, one may think that it’s only in writing the poem that it can then be read, heard and appreciated, but in this case Baugh allows us to see the writing process from a different perspective, as he goes from inception to the point of putting pen to paper. It was then quite funny and not surprising that he would go on to state that while in school he loved to read when he was getting a cold, as he liked the sound and depth that would then characterize his voice. The value that Baugh placed on sound, even from a young age, was quite evident.

In my secondary school, studying Literature for the CSEC examinations was compulsory, but it was an obligation which I grew to love over time. Hearing poems being read by the teacher and my classmates was quite entertaining, but I have to admit that it is incomparable to hearing it from the lips of the poet himself. Baugh read his well known poem which I had studied years before in school, ‘The Carpenter’s Complaint”, which was evidently a favourite among those in the audience.

It was an opportunity not only to hear the poem read the way in which it was intended to be read, but to hear the story behind the masterpiece and the intentions of the poet. All the same, Baugh is always open to interpretations and critiques. He stated, “Critics are useful if not necessary.” Edward Baugh’s presence at the Bocas Lit Fest left us with the warmth of the smile he maintained throughout the one on one session. It was clear why his past students in the audience had addressed him with such fondness, upon asking their questions.

Blog by Kimberly Inglis, Photos by Marlon James.

One of our inaugural NGC Bocas Lit Fest Youth Bloggers, Kimberly Inglis completed her B.A in Spanish in 2015. Her love for languages and writing led her to start a blog. As an amateur writer and blogger, she hopes to use her passion for languages, along with her writings, as a medium through which to inspire others. Her other interests include graphic design, reading and photography. She blogs at Extension of Expression.