“Unwritten Poem” – Poem by Barbados’ First Poet Laureate Esther Phillips

Three Worlds One Vision

minister of culture appoints poet esther phillips as barbados' first poet laureate - february 2018

Minister of Culture appoints Poet Esther Phillips as Barbados’ first Poet Laureate – February 2018
Photo Credit: Barbados Government Information Services

My Poetry Corner January 2019 features the poem “Unwritten Poem” from the poetry collection, The Stone Gatherer, by Esther Phillips, a poet and educator born in Barbados, where she still resides. In February 2018, she was appointed the first Poet Laureate of the Caribbean island-nation.

After attending the Barbados Community College at the University of the West Indies Cave Hill Campus, she won a James Michener fellowship to the University of Miami where, in 1999, she gained an MFA degree in Creative Writing. Her poetry collection/thesis won the Alfred Boas Poetry Prize of the Academy of American Poets.

In 2001, she won the leading Barbadian Frank Collymore Literary Endowment Award. Years later, the third of her three well-received poetry collections, Leaving Atlantis (2015), won the Governor General’s Award…

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  • Clyde Duncan  On January 8, 2019 at 3:50 pm

    Gideon Lasco, wrote a few years ago in the Philippine Daily Inquirer:

    I was reminded of a passage attributed to Pope Francis that made the rounds in social media. Titled “Being Happy”, it is shared with an image of the Pope and his name under the passage’s concluding lines:

    “Never give up on the people you love. Never give up from being happy. Because life is an incredible show.”

    A quick Internet search, however, revealed that the text is actually an almost-word-for-word translation of a Portuguese text titled “Palco de vida” (Stages of life), attributed to the renowned poet Fernando Pessoa (1888-1935).

    Only the concluding “Life is an incredible show” was changed from the less-exciting “Life is a no-miss obstacle.”

    I will share this one with caveat emptor – this one has been translated to English – probably amended along the way, circulated on the internet for a while and may have been amended – BUT, it is a good inspirational start to 2019, I believe:

    Be Happy

    You can have flaws, be anxious, and even be angry, but do not forget that your life is the greatest enterprise in the world. Only you can stop it from going bust. Many appreciate you, admire you and love you.

    Remember that to be happy is not to have a sky without a storm, a road without accidents, work without fatigue, relationships without disappointments.

    To be happy is to find strength in forgiveness, hope in battles, security in the stage of fear, love in discord.

    It is not only to enjoy the smile, but also to reflect on the sadness.

    It is not only to celebrate the successes, but to learn lessons from the failures.

    It is not only to feel happy with the applause, but to be happy in anonymity.

    Being happy is not a fatality of destiny, but an achievement for those who can travel within themselves.

    To be happy is to stop feeling like a victim – allowing your past to be your jailer – and become your destiny’s author.

    It is to cross deserts, yet to be able to find an oasis in the depths of our soul.

    It is to thank God for every morning – for the miracle of life.

    Being happy is not being afraid of your own feelings.

    It is to be able to talk about you.

    It is having the courage to hear a “no”.

    It is confidence in the face of criticism, even when unjustified.

    It is to kiss your children, pamper your parents, to live poetic moments with friends, even when they hurt us.

    To be happy is to let live the creature that lives in each of us, free, joyful and simple.

    It is to have maturity to be able to say: “I made mistakes”.

    It is to have the courage to say “I am sorry”.

    It is to have the sensitivity to say, “I need you”.

    It is to have the ability to say “I love you”.

    May your life become a garden of opportunities for happiness …

    That in spring may it be a lover of joy. In winter a lover of wisdom. And when you make a mistake, start all over again.

    For only then will you be in love with life.

    You will find that to be happy is not to have a perfect life.

    But use the tears to irrigate tolerance.

    Use your losses to train patience.

    Use your mistakes to sculptor serenity.

    Use pain to plaster pleasure.

    Use obstacles to open windows of intelligence.

    Never give up …. Never give up on people who love you.

    Never give up on happiness, for life is an incredible show [a no-miss obstacle]

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