Eruptions of La Soufriere inspire poetry collection described as explosive literary art
Vincentian author, Natasha Marks signing a copy of her latest book for a reader
Front Page
August 5, 2022
Eruptions of La Soufriere inspire poetry collection described as explosive literary art

Vincentian author, Natasha Marks’ latest publication has been acclaimed by local reviewers as an “explosive” piece of literary art.

Marks, whose pen name is NC Marks, officially launched her newest book — a collection of poems titled “Children of the Ash” — at the annual St Martin Book Fair in June.

Book lovers at the launch of Natasha Marks’ new book “Children of the Ash”

Last Friday, July 29, the author launched her debut poetry collection with an event at Beachcombers conference room, where lawyer and social commentator Jomo Thomas; and teacher, Gasley Cottle gave honest reviews on Marks’ latest literary work.

Thomas, a trained journalist told audiences that he is yet to read the work of a Vincentian writer “whose words explodes off the page as NC Marks’…”.

“If you talk about a concentrated mind, a mind that hones to a subject and takes it apart and put it together; this is what she did in this piece, ‘Children of the Ash’,” he said.

Thomas, who is also a former Speaker of the House of Assembly, noted that a writer will never realise his/her true potential if they are to pander to the norms of social media and write “in search of likes and applause”.

He said a good writer stirs the thoughts of readers, among other things. And Marks is able to accomplish everything that a good literary piece should do, in her latest publication.

Children of the Ash explores La Soufriere’s volcanic eruptions of 2021 through various lens, but also addresses societal issues of poverty, unemployment and rape culture.

It has been likened to the works of celebrated Vincentian poet, Shake Keane, who wrote five poems following the 1979 volcanic eruptions.

“I don’t know how long it took Shake to write those poems but NC Marks wrote 63 poems about the event,” Thomas told persons present at last Friday’s launch as he acknowledged the many different emotions expressed by the author through her collection of poems.

He added however: “Let no one say that I said that NC Marks is better than Shake Keane, a celebrated Vincentian poet…I am here to say however that NC Marks is pregnant with unsurpassed potential”.

Gasley Cottle, another critic at last week’s book launch also praised Marks for capturing the events of the 2021 eruption with eloquence.

Cottle, who is a teacher, revealed that he reads at least 144 books a year.

He confessed however, that he was not a fan of poetry and initially thought the book was meant for children.

“But when I opened the book, having read the preface of the text and I begin to really unearth what is really happening in the book, I realised that this is not really for children in its collection. There are poems that can fit the school context, whether in primary, secondary, tertiary or up to the university level, but left alone, this is an explosive weapon,” he said.

“Marks uses creative writing styles to document the tales of the eruptions of April 2021, using different forms of imagery and metaphors to describe the mood of the people, to define the atmosphere and the general feel during the times of the eruption The poems were carefully crafted, they are easy to read and in some cases, fun to read.”

The North Leeward resident also shared his thoughts that the author was able to successfully craft her latest literary piece based on her understanding and love for geography — a subject she teaches at the Girls’ High School (GHS).

The GHS teacher holds a Master of Science degree in Environmental Management from the University of London.

She began writing professionally in 2011 when she published the book, ‘When Silence Speaks’. Marks later wrote and published ‘Memoirs of a Teacher’ in 2012 and ‘Plastered in Pretty’ in 2018.

She treated last Friday’s audience to a reading of several poems from ‘Children of the Ash’, before sharing on the writing process of her debut poetry collection, which was published by House of Nehesi Publishers in St Martin.

Trained journalist Jomo Thomas doing a review of “Children of the Ash”

“I started writing poems about Soufriere while Soufriere was erupting effusively and a friend of mine said, ‘you should take poetry seriously’. He told me that several times and every time he told me to take poetry seriously, I would tell him, I am not a …poet. Those of you who know me, know the blank,” she said.

The author explained that she takes the old school approach when it comes to writing, and so she began writing her poems with a pencil up until June when she began writing with a pen and perfecting the pieces.

“My birthday was the 22nd of June. I was afraid to submit the manuscript because the project director of the House of Nehesi is a poet and he has over 20 books of poetry so I was like ‘oh my God’…I said if its accepted, that’s gonna be my birthday gift and that’s how I celebrated my birthday last year,” Marks said.

The book was on sale at last week’s launch and is expected to be made available locally at the Gaymes Book Centre in Kingstown.