“The Montserrat General Election of 2019 was different,” writes Dr Howard A. Fergus KBE in his description of his latest compilation of called Man of the Match Election Poems, released January 2020.
“Call it special if you like, but one had a sense of departure, of new landmarks; even the Montserrat diaspora, especially in the United Kingdom and the United States demonstrated a sense of involvement that was unprecedented. Real or imagined, there was a general feeling that the island had stagnated and that change was necessary.
“This sense was obviously not universal for it turned out to be an epic battle whose outcome was difficult to predict; the campaign was different and made a difference. The number of players and the associations and even disassociations was remarkable. Thirty-five persons were on the hunt for political power necessitating an enormous ballot paper in contrast to nine in 1952 and 24 in 2009. There was a record four political parties, two of which had apostates from the 2014 alliances.
“Pushed perhaps by his Party, Premier Romeo ran on an Independent ticket. At 11, we saw the highest number of Independent candidates, and just as remarkable, there were seven women in the hustings including the immediate past Speaker. Intriguing stuff. Given the numbers and categories, (I nearly said the mixed multitude), it is not surprising that canvassing was vigorous and even vitriolic. It did not have to be somewhat nasty, as many maintained it was. With all this political ferment and spill over passion, political observers with promptings to write could not be inactive,” Fergus said of the almost 90 poems in the collection.
Dr Fergus, who was once a professor at the University of the West Indies and was knighted in 2001 for his contributions to scholarship, history and education, said the new book also includes poems which capture other notable moments of life on Montserrat over the past year. He said now that he has more than 80-years-old, it is “difficult to avoid a biological note in one’s imaginative work. This volume is no exception. In fact the longest piece, Bethel, is about my alma mater which featured prominently in my early life; and the miracle and provenance of writing is always fascinating. I am eternally interested in the question: whence come these lines?”
First of August Come Again Poems of Celebration was the second of two collections published in 2019.
Beginning with half a dozen poems on the theme of slave emancipation in Montserrat, this collection highlights the significance of that event in our history, and memorialises some of the main players. Meanwhile we celebrate in poetry and story, persons like William Bramble, Robert Griffith, Ellen Peters and company who protested and fought against post-emancipation landlordism which was virtual slavery in a new guise. As labour leaders, they used trade unionism and socialist politics to accomplish their goals. We also celebrate a couple of prominent Montserratian artistes in Keithroy Morson (De Bear) and Edgar White, an intriguing and first class creative writer.
Then there are the ‘occasional’ poems led by “Hurricane Dorian”, itself iconic in a negative sense, indeed notorious; and there is a Nine/Eleven poem which inevitably memorialises a macabre event which resonated across the world. The other September poems which it inspired including “ Nine/Thirteen” (Friday) have their sinister and hopefully intriguing appeal. Finally there is “The Clock” a wedding gift of forty-nine years ago, an “undying memento” which celebrates my spouse.
Evidently, the theme of celebrations cum-remembrance runs throughout this anthology; and remembrance captures something of the baleful history of wasting hurricanes and therewith our existential concerns in the era of global warming. First of August Come Again Poems of Celebration is a work of our mature years fresh, we believe, with deep, contemporary human interest that transcends island
Here’s a list of poetry collections from the very prolific Dr. Howard Fergus over the past four years. They are available for purchase in print and kindle at the links below and hard copies from Dr. Howard Fergus.
Man of the Match Election Poems (2020)
First of August Come Again Poems of Celebration (2019)
Our Mother’s Dreamt (2019)
A Word in Season with St.Patrick’s Day and Mango Poems – 2018
March Montserrat and Hurricane Poems – 2018