Thursday, December 22, 2011

One Room Shack: A review of Delroy Williams’ poetry publication

A few months ago, I had a professional but small media debate with a Dominican columnist, Ian Jackson, about his article in the Sun newspaper entitled ‘Our Youths Simply do not care’. It became intense during a radio talk show where I even requested a recant from the columnist and an official apology t
o the youth of the island. Off course, he didn’t apologize, I wouldn’t have apologized either. But I made the appeal anyway. Now to get to the point, about a month ago I went to his place of work, the St. Mary’s Academy, to provide him a copy of my book One Room Shack. It is my debut publication and I asked him to do a review for his popular column. I was hoping that he would be professional and he proved to me that he indeed was. Let me say, that I had already had other discussions with him since our radio debate so we had already buried the hatchet, well whatever hatchet there could have been since I didn’t take anything that was said between the two of us personally but instead as two strong-willed individuals who had strong but opposing points. Below, is a verbatim of the column as appeared in the Sun, a few days after my book launch, perfect timing if you ask me.

The Review:

The title of this latest poetry collection is interesting; one could say even it’s an oxymoron as Delroy ‘Nesta’ Williams goes way beyond the confines of his One Room Shack to reflect, dream and even question rhetoric or philosophical in content, unveiling the rich potential of the youth leader.

Sometimes he admits being stuck not knowing “which direction to take” in life’s trials. He cries out in words from his soul even while admitting his “burden is mine alone to bear, but I’ll carry it with pride.” He searches for self, identity, love and meaning; he cries for love; he surmises that he ‘wished I coulda make it right’; or to the ‘Untitled’ he concluded that ‘maybe one day, when I’m old and gray, I’ll comprehend”.

Nesta is introspective and deep in his writings and sees a poem even in innate objects as the eye of a “Teddy Bear” who listens to his every complaint. He’s “never one to judge or caste blame” or make demands as others he once loved so dearly in his life.

Nesta’s ‘One Room Shack’ cries out for a listening ear, not just for his own sentiments but for the youths whose father have failed. “Sons slipping beyond rescue now mother cries… while father hides”. Indeed this is a reflection of our own failings as a society to be examples and be there for our sons, in particular.

In Nesta’s own words he craves a “time of seclusion” but wants to stand out; he wants his moment, to shine, “an opportunity to stand out”. Isn’t this the dream of every youth who picks up a musical instrument, goes on stage to perform, or engages in study or some vacation?

Ironically the poet acknowledges some uncertain but wants to “congregate” and be “invisible in the crowd blending in among the mob” in which he finds comfort. For amongst his peers the fears subside. He laments in ‘Tears’ which has been exhausted because there seems to be no more left to quench the desert of pain he feels inside.

“Life can be so cruel” expresses Delroy Nesta Williams; he says so many times we walk away in defeat when victory was moments within our grasp. Nesta can be direct or metaphorical as in dreams where “aspirations washed away by worldly erosion”. Deep stuff for a debut publication.

Nesta is one of Dominica’s youth who once headed the NYC and this seems to be an extension of his work in representing their thoughts, dreams and aspirations, in search of warmth, love, comfort, still elusive to the travelling man”. He finds solace, redemption in his ‘One Room Shack’ at least it’s a place where he feels safe, wanted, belonged.

The title of this collection is so appropriate; as I read through the pages I see it as a representation of physical living conditions of thousands of Caribbean poor families who want to escape win its borders but still find comfort in its confines, for after all home is home; it’s not necessarily a house.

Nesta’s ‘One Room Shack’ is full of contradictions. In his smile there are tears or in his deliberate approach as he evokes imagery and challenges a society to unravel and provide answers to the many of the questions that is tied up in his poetry.

Though an English publication, in ‘De Dominican Gift’ the poet explores the use of dialect in a commentary on the political issues of the day from ‘red, blue and green’ angles. Satirically, he concludes that all this melee and rift “is truly Dominican gift”.

Delroy ‘Nesta’ Williams debut poetry is self published just as many of us who started on this road to put our thoughts to paper. His writing talent goes beyond poetry; he was the 2nd place winner of the Independence Short Story competition.

He dedicates the compilation in honour of his mother. Support him; it’s good work.

Ian Jackson is an established writer who has published numerous books of poetry and prose. He regularly contributes articles on various aspects of Dominican culture to local newspapers and other publications. His most recent publication is the book entitled “Lyrics and Melody: 50 years of calypso, 30 years of Independence”. Ian is also a popular calypso artist known as the Black Starliner.

I have the newspaper article posted on the wall of my bedroom as inspiration to continue writing... Thanks Ian...

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