Thursday, June 29, 2006

I have yet to believe that our government, that we, are actually concerned about our national GPA being D. Are we as a nation serious that such things matter? I find it difficult to believe that we take a serious stance against what a D average means.

My interpretation of a D average is that the culture of academics, though extremely important to some among us, nationally, is neither here nor there - is a thing which, nationally, we can take or leave.

I really cannot take the comments on this issue on the news, from the mouths of public officials seriously. I do not find them sincere. Were they in earnest about the culture of academics – about an intellectual culture in out Bahamas, they would establish and sustain the necessary atmosphere for academic pursuits.

As a poet, as a writer – the kind of creature I’ve chosen to be, my life is continually and totally dedicated to intellectual, to academic pursuits. Though my academic involvement is not geared towards exams, I identify and empathize entirely with those among us – our students at every level of academia with studies to engage in – with exams forever before them to take.

If it’s a thinking, an intelligent country we wish to emphasize and create, this has to be indicated. But everything that’s against such an environment – such a milieu is instead emphasized and is tolerated. In public, in New Providence, with a book open before me, I seldom feel comfortable. I’d fear because I’d feel incongruous – out of place. This activity in out anti-intellectual community does not seem appreciated – is not encouraged.

We seem to imagine that academics belong within the walls, the halls of academia and is to be confined as well, between the years of five and seventeen. But intellectual life cannot be enclosed. I’d have graduated from St Anne’s since 1971. I went to university from 1973 until 1976 and back again in 1985 to complete a degree started earlier but I have chosen academics and it has chosen me. I’ve never left it. It has never left me. It is my life. People involved in academics at any age, at any stage therefore are my very close kin.

Academics cannot be confined to class time as, though in class is where instructions take place, study time extends way beyond – long after school ends – into the evening – into the night – into the weekend. Time and space beyond the walls of academia must also be made conducive for study, for contemplation – for thinking. At present, even school time, even school space is under assault, is constantly disrupted.

Nationally we seem to take much too lightly, the invasion of all time, of all spaces by booming music. These persons, these noises fill the day, the night, the weekend. This music amplified until it is but noise, creates the agenda, the milieu. This noise is what I thought we were officially into – what I thought we were officially about.

To hear therefore that we are about academics, to hear that the national GPA matters is therefore news to me. If it does matter, I thought I’d have heard more than myself complaining about - dissenting against the constant disturbances which militate against intellectual life. Many seem entirely satisfied to imagine that the intellect were dead and buried. Many seem happy to be dancing upon its grave.

Our seriousness about our tourist industry most certainly is obvious. I see the nation react when fly alight upon tourism but not the nation’s intellectual life. Cockroach, rat, centipede, could crawl all over it, spiders could build their webs within it and not a finger is lifted, not a word is said.

In spite of – in the face of such neglect there is shock that the national average is D. Whatever the average is is born out of a national culture and is not confined to what, to where, to when we consider school to be. If such achievements as the national GPA are important to us, we must all be involved. The national culture must encircle and support it.

At present, national life is allowed to be a sort of dump – a junk yard – a bone yard. To be shocked that the national average is D is for me, sheer hypocrisy. To my mind, it seems to have resulted by design.

I am a poet. Officially I do not feel recognized or encouraged. I see little indication that intellectual life and culture, to which I’ve dedicated myself, my life, is nationally central or even significant. There is but lip service and no real emphasis.

The brilliant student is an anomaly and out of place. The majority do poorly therefore to fit in and to be accepted. I am an outsider here at home and I must accept this. My complaints, my concerns seem to fall upon deaf ears.

Obediah Michael Smith
4:21 a.m. March 26, 2006

Friday, June 16, 2006

Silver Knife
for E.J.

now the cheese is naked
like a woman's body,
naked for my touch

I've ripped the plastic off somewhat viciously

I like hard cheese to slice into, to slice in two,
to slice through

© Obediah Michael Smith, 2006
5:37 a.m. 16/june/06

Thursday, June 01, 2006

I must shake for flees to flee, to fall off
able to write, able to wrong
with ink or with stone

able to write, able to wrong
too late or too soon

able to write, able to wrong
at midnight or at noon
what I gur do wit a lil haf-pint gal
when I dun use to a gallon a woman
Two Visit

Rowena come like thy kingdom
after long wait, after fasting and prayers

someone who knows my language,
knows people, things I know
persons, things, precious to me, important to me

without whom, without which,
I am, she is unable to live

for too long, in and out of my life,
persons who didn’t, who couldn’t
give a damn about Einstein or Picasso,
Stiglitz, Bergman or Stravinsky

women satisfied to be born again
coupled with babies out of wedlock

Rowena, native of my city, woman of my race,
I could run with, laugh with, talk with

walk with in Central Park, along Les Champs-Elysées
or in Boire de Bologna

with her, visit Jardin du Luxembourg or Eden

© Obediah Michael Smith, 2006
6:13 a.m. 31/may/06