Adventures of a Youth Blogger (3): Dr. Edward Baugh

On Saturday 29th April at 11 a.m I found myself engaged in 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 which was ‘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’.

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.

We were privy to have a sneak peak 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 characterise 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 had grown 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 studies years before in school, ‘A 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 as well. 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 and it was evident why those in the audience who were past students of his had addressed him with such fondness upon asking their questions.

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Stop, Listen, Act, Repeat

Speak Lord your servant is listening… to her favourite song,
Reviewing her ambitious goals once again,
Sighing at the mountain of bills on the table,
Stressing over the difficulties at work,
Searching for the next high while struggling through the inevitable lows

Speak Lord your servant is…
Listing all that she has yet to do,
Offering prayers of empty and selfish petitions,
Sinking into a superficiality that knows no bounds
But mainly, ignoring you through the noise cancelling headphones called society as it repeats its soothing playlist of comforting lies.

Stop. Listen. Act. Repeat
Since we’re used to patterns and comforted by routine

Stop rushing through the life that you long to wholeheartedly live
You’re a living,breathing paradox
Trying to live life as you please then crying out to God on your knees
And while your heart speaks your mind hears the opposite
And when your mind reasons, your heart fails to capture it
Do your thoughts travel so far that the distance creates a language barrier which stifles understanding?
So you never come to understand the meeting point for where you are and where you’d like to be
And you can never merge who you are with who you are meant to be
Stop waiting for the right moment when this is the moment you have right now
Stop pursuing what can only provide temporary relief
Stop applying bandaids that never cause your scars to breathe and heal
Stop and listen

Listen to the voice of the ever present optimism
The one buried under the blanket that you’ve woven together with your fears, worries and failures
There’s a voice that never lies, a voice so sweet and soothing that whispers saying
Listen to me
Come to me
Cling to me
Soften your heart to cultivate and understand the words that are meant only for you
Let them bloom and may they inspire too
To provide direction in the journey of life.
And when we are tempted to stray,
May they be the flowers we stop to smell along the way
Listen and act

Act as if you have already received all that  you unceasingly hope and dream for
Be thankful if you don’t knowing that the best is what’s in store
Be the one that brings a positive change
To eliminate the same negativity we’ve all helped to create
If faith the size of a mustard seed can move mountains
Then we have the ability to reorder the scenery and liven up the surroundings
Why wait to then live in regret?
This is change and it goes step by step
Direct my paths so that they always lead to you
In everything I say, think and do

Speak Lord your servant IS listening
And if ever the waves of life overwhelm me and I need to retreat
I’ll know that you are there to make me complete
If ever I’m lost saying, “It’s too much, I’m weak and I can’t do it.”
I’ll stop,listen,act and repeat.

#4

#4

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Pain and Poetry

The best works are written when you experience the most pain

Pain leaves you vulnerable

Vulnerability makes you open

Openness dispels lies

Lying covers the truth

Truth leads you to acceptance

Acceptance of the pain you experience

Experience tells you it’s only for a moment

A moment can sometimes feel like too long

Longing for it to all be over

Over yet another obstacle

Obstacles somehow bring out the best

And so

The best works are written when we experience the most pain

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