Monday, 14 January 2008

Days of Wrath by Raoul Pantin

Raoul Pantin of Trinidad and Tobago remains one of the outstanding journalists of our time. There are few real countries, if any, that would dare allow someone like Raoul to stand on the periphery of a crumbling professional media infrastructure, at a time when it needs all hands on deck.

It might be there is a greater, divine logic behind his newsroom absence or, perhaps, a higher calling in the form of more complete literary achievements such as the writing of books and plays and, hopefully, some poetry.

Heaven knows the routine slaughter of the Muse in the course of a news day, the unending triumph of the ‘W’s over metaphor. A “flick of the wrist” the editor often declared through the haze of forbidden cigarette smoke that should have rightly clouded Independence Square.

At the Express, and later at CCN radio and television, we shared poetry to pass the time between the verbal incontinence of parliament and the fiction of social justice that filled the spaces between the latest shoe sale and list of defaulting mortgagers.

Today, the need to grow the flock of readers is matched only by the absolute requirement to cultivate a withering crop of writers.

That Raoul has completed this particular work of journalism suggests there is some room for hope in what my favourite West Indian poet, Martin Carter, describes as this dark time.

All round the land brown beetles crawl about
The shining sun is hidden in the sky
Red flowers bend their heads in awful sorrow
This is the dark time, my love,
It is the season of oppression, dark metal, and tears.
It is the festival of guns, the carnival of misery
Everywhere the faces of men are strained and anxious
Who comes walking in the dark night time?
Whose boot of steel tramps down the slender grass
It is the man of death, my love, the stranger invader
Watching you sleep and aiming at your dream.

The days of wrath and of darkness are, perhaps, still upon us. Raoul’s testimony as journalist extraordinaire is thus as necessary as the shining sun that emerges from its hiding place in the sky.


Anonymous said...

A good friend gave me this book as a present. I enjoyed it greatly. i think it helps us think about the challenges that we still face in the caribbean.

RebeliousArcAngel said...

Hi, My name is Louige Damion and I am a Swedish citizen with a Brazilian Father. I had some years ago the pleasure of traveling to Trinidad Tobago where I stayed for some time at the home of the father of a good friend of mine who is also a half Swede as my self. At the end of my visit there I was on tour with my friends cousin to the Port of Spain. On our way home the very last Saturday our car broke down and we were stranded in the middle of nowhere. And since this was at almost the middle of the night there were few cars that passed the road where we stood. and those minibuses had seized their tours for the day. One car stopped and offered us a ride. the gentleman who did this said that he was a journalist and we started to talk about the indigenous people of Trinidad of whom he said to be one too. In my ears it sounded as he wanted especially me comming from "the far outside" to know some things that werent in them tourist brochures about the Island. The conversation was utterly giving and I have for a long time since then looked back and even searched the net to try to find out exactly who this gentleman was. One thing he said before we left his car close to where we could continue our journey home was...."If you ever want to know more, look me up..they call me "Pantin".? I now wonder, could this Raul Pantin be the same man who gave us that very needed ride that day back in the late 90's?

I would be very thankful for any kind of pointer towards who this journalist that we met was.

Thanks for an otherwise very interesting article.

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