Transport of the Word

Kamau, Kamau, Kamau
Speaks in his measured pace
From word to word,
The upright, steady pole
at the centre of the whirl.

His mind flings out leaping
Stones in a stream.
Stream becomes river
Deep and wide
Need to fly to the other side
And we do,
 on wings
of images freely
Sipping dipping
elisions flow
collisions go
Whup! Upside your head
And knock you from streaming
Into conscious wonder.

I wonder how

his raptor vision   soars
spotting landmarks
in the panorama of events
then chooses the words;

How what he sees is heard,
How he paints behind our eyes
How some strokes feather,
cut or blur.

His choices are
De liberate,
though sometimes baffling.
But this quibble
is anchovy tango.
(See what I mean?)

The arc remains.
He stands at the lectern
humbly but erect
his forearm sweeping,
round and round
like a coucou stick
stirring the pot of poem
dishing it steaming
into our open beaks,
making arcs over the page.

He does not so much read,
as transmit.

And – What’s this? –  I see an aura.
It can’t be so;
I am not one of those
who does. I blink and
the glow remains
curving over the man
tracing circles
in the spotlight.

Through the darkened hall of bodies
I hear his voice in my pores.

-- on the occasion of hearing Kamau Brathwaite reading“Arc” at Frank Collymore Hall


Born in the US and educated all over the world, Sarah Venable has lived in the West Indies since 1992. This broad perspective influences her work as a writer, painter, tutor, and culinary creator. Her home is now Barbados. 

The bulk of her published work has been non-fiction, primarily in regional and Barbadian magazine such as MacoIns & Outs of Barbados, and various in-flight publications. Other work - namely poems and a wacky piece of short fiction - can be found in Poui, the Cave Hill Annual, and The Truth About Oranges, an anthology of NIFCA-winning work.

Meanwhile, working with children in the WISE (Writers in Schools and Education) programme gives her a pleasurable challenge which sometimes leaves her hoarse.

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