In honour of T&T’s 50th Anniversary of Independence, six of the country’s emerging poets from the Circle of Poet T&T recently explored the composition of Ekphrastic-styled compositions referencing prominent local personalities, artistic sculptures, paintings and flora to highlight how these have helped shape our social and cultural identity through the last 50 years.
The poets were the recipients of in-depth and insightful tutelage in the art and style of poetry writing when they attended the Quinquagenary – Searching for the Poetry workshop from July 27 to 29, hosted by Anson Gonzalez, Poet Laureate of Port-of-Spain, at his residence, Sapphire House, in Diego Martin. The house was occupied by Gonzalez and his wife, Sylvia, in 1962, mere weeks before the country became an independent nation.
Throughout the next 50 years the house was host to dozens of Caribbean artists including Gordon Rohlehr, K Julie Pearn, Kenneth Ramchand, Undine and Neville Giuseppi, Jeremy Poynting, Joseph Cummings, Krishna A. Samaroo, Ann Walmsley, Earl Lovelace, Michael Als, Vishnu Gosine, Merle Hodge, Victor D Questel, Tony Kellman, Frank Birbalsingh, Jan Carew, James T Livingston, Clifford Sealy, Funso Aiyejina, Lloyd King, Willi Chen, Glenn Roopchand, Astor Johnson, Pearl Eintou Springer, Marina Omowale Maxwell, Pearl D Griffith, Ken Parmasad, Marguerite Watts, Therese MIlls, Neila Todd, Christopher Laird, John Robert Lee and Cyril St Lewis.
Sapphire House was also the home of a modest printery from which Gonzalez printed and published dozens of tomes containing the poems and writings of several sons and daughters of the soil and the wider Caribbean, his own reflective and revolutionary poems and his socially-impacting publication, The New Voices.
Quinquagenary—Searching for the Poetry offers four of the reflective poems that were “forged from the love of liberty,” as a 50th birthday gift to the citizens of T&T.
SAPPHIRE AT FIFTY
(Dedicated to Sapphire House in Diego Martin)
Conceived in the mind of a pioneering patriarch
Born in an August time of Independence
Nourished on the premise of providing for a nation
Sapphire arrived in the midst of much love
Weighted by tests to prove her strength
Stretched far beyond her girlish figure
Strained with the movements of growing life within her
Sapphire has borne much for love
Hostess to foreign bodies—and souls
Nurturer of a nest filled with dreams
Provider of peace to weary and broken spirits
Sapphire has done much for love
Catchment for a stream of ideas and ideologies
Muse for creative intent and pursuits
Listener to New Voices with messages of hope
Sapphire has encouraged much love
Standing at the gateway to her golden years
Suspended in a time of transition
Sapphire stands with gratitude for her role in a nation’s history
Secure that her future will be full of much love.