October 28, 2016
Publishing poetry is for closure, not ‘capitalistic gain’ – Theobalds

With the recent publication of his book of poetry, Anthony Theobalds is warning young people hoping to follow in his footsteps that the process is not about “capitalistic gain”.

SEARCHLIGHT recently caught up with Theobalds, the chief cultural officer in the Culture Department, as he gave some insight into his personal journey to publishing his first solo publication, ‘Thoughts and Images For Those Days’.{{more}}

Writing under the pseudonym Claude Anthony, he explained that there is little fame or money to be made out of writing in St Vincent and the Grenadines.

“If you’re doing it to be famous, if you’re doing it to make money… don’t do it,” said Theobalds.

“You do it because there is something inside of you, driving you.”

He further pointed out: “The only reason to publish is to be able to share your idea, whatever idea it is that you have. So, it is only in a context of completing the process of having a thought, of writing it down, of sharing it with somebody. That’s why we publish – to bring closure to the process.”

‘Thoughts and Images For Those Days’ is a compilation of poems that Theobalds penned between 2004 and 2016, which explore numerous themes, such as nation building, reflections on women and spirituality – among others.

“I am satisfied with it. The concept was to put my poems alongside visual art work,” he disclosed.

Theobalds said that he handed out his poetry to local visual artists and asked them to sketch images that would complement them.

“My approach to writing is to try and write something every week. Sometimes, I don’t get to write because my job gets in the way; but, whenever I can, I make the effort to write!”

For now, persons wishing to purchase the book will have to contact Theobalds directly. However, he is exploring the possibility of making it available in bookstores and in digital format.

He explained that he had only printed relatively few copies, as in his experience, Vincentians are “not a big reading public”, and poetry (on a local level) does not attract a large following.

“I am very aware, as an artist, [that] people in St Vincent don’t purchase art work… It has value because it is being sold, but they feel they should get it for free. That is the artistic reality of St Vincent and the Grenadines.”

Referring to the future of poetry in SVG, he added: “I think that the problem is that most young people don’t want to use the intellectual matter that they have. They want instant, they want simple.”

He also opined that too many young persons are unable (or unwilling) to apply the skills necessary (conceptualizing, establishing imagery etc) when writing and deciphering poetry.

Theobalds has previously contributed his poetic endeavours to an anthology of Vincentian writers, which was organized by the Association of Writers, Artists and Producers.

Prior to that, in 2006/07, he was also asked to contribute his writings for two different presentations while studying in Canada. (JSV)