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Painting Pictures With Words - August 22 2005

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Painting Pictures With Words


Good day, fellow Saint Lucians.

You know there are many things we take for granted, until of course, we suddenly miss them. So this week I have chosen to converse with you about something we have in abundance but which, as in so many other cases, we simply take for granted.


By the way, I do not speak of the abundance of natural beauty that has earned our island, the title “Helen of the West Indies”. Neither do I speak of our flora and fauna, our sandy beaches or our abundance of hospitality, nor do I speak of our World Heritage Site (The Pitons), or the St. Lucia Jazz Festival. No, it’s not about bananas, coconuts or mangoes. Instead, I speak of our abundance of literary talent.

The world has recognized that our own Derek Walcott is the best writer in the English language. This land has also produced several other literary giants who, in their own right, have risen to the top of their craft – authors, poets, researchers among them. We take the praise for the achievements of our Nobel Laureates, Honourable Derek Walcott and Sir Arthur Lewis, but too few of us remember or acknowledge the contributions of several others to the development and sustenance of local literary talent.

Yes, we do have many people who, simply put, can write well – they are good at story telling, at painting pictures with words in ways that remain on the canvas of our memories. Their words leave photographic images that stay with us. They share and they communicate. Then, there are also the photographers who use electronic and digital technology to take the images from their locations and bring them to us in the comfort of our homes, offices and in selected publications.

We have hardly noticed it, but we have developed in recent years a publishing industry that has grown and expanded in many directions and dimensions.

The efforts of our writers, photographers, printers and publishers have resulted in the flourishing of a number of high-quality, full-colour, glossy and sophisticated magazines.

I shall list some of those magazines – and I say “only some”, because I am sure I cannot recall all of them.


First among those I wish to recall today are the trailblazers – those magazines that set the pace and have stood the test of time.

Among the trailblazers are Tropical Traveller and She Caribbean, Visions of St. Lucia, Paradise St. Lucia and the Business Focus.

Tropical Traveller started with a newspaper format over twelve years ago, featuring our best tourism sites and products. They explored and shared our local folklore, culture, history, archaeology and natural heritage. Aimed at visitors to the island, it offered insights on how to get around St. Lucia, the great escapes, the night life, the shops, the beaches, the heritage tourism sites, the hotels, the spas and the tours, the sports, the weird and the wonderful. It also provided “feedbacks” from the visitors through interviews and features. The magazine has now taken on a glossy look with a size that is more easily handled. It is increasingly used as a gift by St. Lucians travelling abroad, who pass them on to friends and potential visitors.

Still in the tourism department, Visions of St. Lucia is a tourist guide published by the St. Lucia Hotels & Tourism Association. Visions also features photographs, stories and advertisements that collectively offer visitors an all-encompassing guide to St. Lucia. It presents Saint Lucia as a unique, intriguing and breath-taking island. Published once a year by local entrepreneur, Tony Austin, Visions, is also endorsed by the Minister of Tourism and the Director of the St. Lucia Tourist Board, both of whom penned messages in the current and latest issue of this high quality local publication. This year marks the 15th anniversary of the magazine in the service of the local tourism industry. The publishers have indicated that they publish 100,000 copies annually that are circulated locally and internationally.

Paradise St. Lucia is one of several similar island tourism guide publications by another local entrepreneur, Lokesh Singh. A bi-annual publication, Paradise St. Lucia is a pocket-sized version of a guide that’s bright, colourful, easy to read and extremely portable for any handbag, pouch or large enough back pocket. It welcomes visitors to the island and offers insights into shopping, hotels, restaurants, culture, entertainment and real estate. It also seeks to feature those sights, sounds, tastes and emotions that make St. Lucia unique


She Caribbean is a magazine at the top of its class. As a publication specializing in issues about women and by women, it features articles that offer interesting angles on social issues. It even explores sensitive subjects such as masculinity and infidelity. Its features range from marriage to motherhood, from beauty to body talk and from profiles to portraits. As with Tropical Traveller, the images in She Caribbean feature the work of some of our best nature and fashion photographers on the island and in the region. Indeed, “She” over the years became “She Caribbean”, reflecting more regional images and topics of interests to our regional community. Both Tropical Traveller and She Caribbean are published by the Star Publishing Company, a local company which has itself also expanded in all directions since 1997.


But it is not only in tourism promotion that our writers, photographers and printers shine. This is also true of the business community, which has for several years been the focus of a publication entitled Business Focus. Now in its 30th issue, this magazine is produced six times a year by Advertising and Marketing Services (AMS), the same company behind Paradise St. Lucia. It offers features on Finance and Banking, Human Resources, Management, Technology, Trade, Travel & Tourism, Advertising and Marketing. This magazine for and by the business community, features who’s doing what, where and how in the private sector. It also features a section called “Government in Focus”, which highlights government initiatives of interest to the private sector. But one popular section of the magazine is that which features New Company Registrations – a veritable guide to who’s going into what business -- and with whom.

Two other business magazines come to mind. One is by the Julian’s Supermarket chain, which presented the Living Today magazine to its customers; the other is the Cimpex Group of Companies, which published the Home Companion. Both magazines have served their purpose.

Living Today, was published by Tony Austin, edited by Judy Deterville and published in collaboration with the Julian’s Supermarket Group. It featured articles focusing on everything from Kweyol and food, to business, health and travel. It began in January 2003 and was published quarterly, but it seems to have been shelved – hopefully, only for a while.


The Home Companion was published by Alwyn St. Omer and edited by Vincent Lewis and was presented six times a year and was published in collaboration with the Winmark Group – a subsidiary of the Cimpex Group of Companies -- with the objective of promoting self-improvement, healthy lifestyles and family values. It looked at art and culture, history, fashion, cooking, home-making, consumer interests and national consciousness. Like Living Today, Home Companion also seems to have been shelved – and hopefully just for a while as well.

The Shopper was another interesting publication. It contained mainly advertisements, but it also included one or two feature articles of interest to shoppers, whether advising on choice of purchases or on the wide range of purchasing sources. We got a glimpse of what’s for sale, what’s for rent and of course, where the good deals could be found. The Shopper changed shape and size from time to time, from a regular magazine shape to a pocket-sized shape. Unfortunately, we have not seen it for some time but I have been told that it’s “gone electronic” – meaning, it is now available on TV and, perhaps, online.

St. Lucian Lifestyles is another magazine that appeared but unfortunately disappeared. Edited by Andre Alexander, it was produced every three months, featuring articles ranging from life in the ghettoes to the island’s major festivals, health and community, home and garden, pets and planting. One of its most recent issues featured an interview with the father of local literary giant Mc Donald Dixon, who was one of the last remaining local practitioners of herbal medicine. Here too, it is hoped that it’s apparent disappearance is only temporary.

Elan is another of those early magazines that appeared during the period under review. First published about 1999, it continued into the year 2000, featuring interesting articles and photographs from St. Lucia, St. Vincent and Barbados. It looked like a very encouraging effort by young persons to take style and fashion publishing to another level. I hope that it makes a comeback, sometime soon.


Island Where is a relatively new publication published by the local advertising and public relations firm, Right Angle Imaging. This publication, which is published by a local company headed by veteran broadcaster Barbara Jacobs-Small, is aimed at the Eastern Caribbean traveller. It contains articles, features and photography with a regional appeal. It is circulated not only in St. Lucia but also in other islands such as Dominica, Barbados, St. Kitts and Nevis and St. Vincent. It receives rave reviews from regional tourism officials and travel consultants and its contributors span topics that range from island happenings to regional realities.


But while some of those I have just mentioned may have gone into hibernation, there is one interesting publication -- by professionals – that has set the stage here for professionals of a particular discipline to raise public interest in what they do and to explain and interact with others about the nature of their profession. I speak here about Insight, the official publication of the local Association of Professional Engineers. This publication is glossy and visually gripping. It is delivered to you in real class. It is individually addressed in transparent plastic wrapping, and so makes those who receive copies feel they were personally designated recipients. Edited by Shanta King and published by the association of local engineers, Insight plays a great part in getting regular persons to better understand the issues that confront those in the world of professional engineering.


I want to make special mention here of a publication that is not a periodic magazine, but which has made and continues to make a great contribution to the presentation of St. Lucia as a destination worth visiting by tourists in search of that one place they never discovered. I speak of a special publication published by an investor group that has certainly dropped anchor in St. Lucia’s waters. I speak here of a photo magazine simply called “The Land, The People and The Light.” It was published as a result of a special initiative by Doubloon International, the developers behind Discovery at Marigot Bay, the project that aims to change the face of St. Lucia’s most sheltered Hurricane Hole. John and Judith Verity, with the help of Molly Mac Daniel, secured the services of one of the best photographers in Britain to come to St. Lucia to photograph images of St. Lucia and compile them into a single picture portrait – a veritable photo album – of the people and places in the land they chose to invest in. The photographs are virtually alive and the characters and places depicted each have a story that is worth telling – and worth knowing.


But I cannot end this tribute to our writers, photographers and publishers without highlighting what has been done from, in and of Vieux Fort. I speak here of the publication called Jako, which is published by Jako Productions, a Vieux Fort-based company headed by Dr Anderson Reynolds. Now in its second issue, this is the publication which seeks to capture and present the works of those who have laboured in the cultural and historic field. A published writer in his own right, Anderson Reynolds has so far published two books, one of which has won the M&C Fine Arts Award for literature. His books seek to capture moments of our history and present them in language that is vivid and touching. The second issue of Jako is out and, like the first edition, it seeks to paint a picture of what we do, how we do it and why. The magazine seeks to expand our intellectual boundaries, sometimes by exploring socio-political issues of emerging significance. I will not pretend that I like Jako just because it is a Vieux Fort product. But then, if you get and see the magazine and read and digest its contents, you will undoubtedly agree with me that it is a renaissance magazine that has lots of promise in its quest to highlight those aspects of St. Lucia’s fascinating social and political history.


If I have sounded like I was reviewing some of our best publications so far, it is not because I wanted to give you a school-based literature lesson. Rather, it is because I wanted to acknowledge, in a sincere way, the contributions of our writers, photographers, printers and publishers. Over the past eight years they have laboured in the vineyards of the contemporary literary world to produce words and images that feed our intellect and fill us with pride.

Yes, we have Derek Walcott, Garth St. Omer, Kendal Hippolyte, Adrian Augier, Robert Lee, Stanley French, Patrick Anthony and the many others who have blazed the trail and whose contributions are etched in our literary history. But, as I hope I have shown in the preceding minutes, they have inspired a whole new generation of writers, who, working with the best photographers available and the best printing and publishing facilities available here, have been able to produce magazines that are as exciting as they are insightful, as informative as they are pleasing to the eye. I enjoy them all. They fill me with pride. Go out and get copies. I hope they do for you what they have done for me.

Until next week, this is where I say goodbye for today. I wish you God’s blessings.

August 22, 2005


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