Cleaning out my office, I found a book of poems from the Grenada revolution, Freedom Has No Price; an anthology of poems, printed 1980. The anthology has a forward stapled in, that opens with a quote:
must be given words
to refashion futures
like a healers hand…
This little collection, without so much as an ISBN number or a named editor, has the actual words of the actual people who hoped that the revolution would change their lives, and it certainly did. The book was published for the “Festival of the Revolution March 1-13 1980” it says on the front cover. A year into the revolution. Its contributors are listed on the back, a fourteen-year-old student, Alice Paul. A poem of Mildred V. Julien that particularly speaks to me. “There is nothing, nothing at all.” I look her up at the back of the book: “71 year old housewife of St. Pauls” is all it says, but that is something.
I repeat: I’m not trying to tell the story of the Grenada revolution. in my novel. They tell their own story, as they do in this book of poetry. This little revolution that lasted just three years and a bit, that the US Government decided to crush entirely after it imploded anyway. I am writing a novel. I make shit up. Still, I went there twice, sat in the press box through weeks of the trial, and now I find this chapbook of their poetry that speaks to me. Mildred, there is something here, not nothing, nothing at all. I’ll make plans to go back. The rum factory where we delivered some big pieces of the still in the back of a pickup is now part of a tour I can take for $240 once I get there. The black sands beach, of course, is still there. Some things don’t change. Now… to get back to the novel. I need to finish this and only the first part is set in the Carribean.