“I am a writer because that’s really who I was born as.” R’hodé Noel is completely self-assured and truly basks in his art form, so much so that he describes it as a state of being. Noel was born in Sion Hill but spent a lot of his childhood moving from place to place until finally settling in Campden Park with his mother and siblings.
Through it all he has always been drawn to books and found that he possesses an innate love for reading and writing. He recalls his 11 year old self composing collections of poems in exercise books. He would continue to follow his passion until on one particular occasion he wrote a poem so perfect in every way that it became crystal clear to him that he is a poet. To him, this piece was impeccable in its structure and sound and encapsulated a level of literary genius that only a true poet could achieve.
It comes almost as no surprise that R’hodé is a great lover of languages and incidentally is a French teacher at the Barrouallie Secondary School. He speaks French and Spanish and is currently learning a few other languages which include Chinese and Japanese. He has written novels and poems in French.
Noel shared that he pulls inspiration from anything around him; he needs only to be moved in a certain way. However, love is a theme that pervades much of his earlier poems but as he grew his horizons were broadened, his poems became more advanced and revolutionary and the scope of themes and topics he explores expanded, allowing him to appeal to a more diverse audience.
He named Edgar Allan Poe as one of the poets whose work he enjoys but admits that he does not read much of the work of others so as to avoid imitating their style. He describes his creative process as being much like the birth of a child. The poem comes to him and he begins the process of stringing together the words, lines and stanzas into a final form that captures fully the initial thought, sentiment or experience.
There’s a period of development while the poem is in its embryonic stage and after each element is fine tuned, the finished work of art is ready to be introduced to the world. When asked which of his poems he would consider his prized possession he found it difficult to choose just one, but quoted ‘Solitude’ (Full text below) as being one of his favorites. “Solitude is a poem that I consider to be a very perfectly put together poem; it’s always a joy to read.”
From the late summer window among the branches,
Where the sun gave up hope of dispelling the grey mist,
The lonesome country woods took the shaping
Of a squared mirror, with a tree in a clearing.
She watched as the tree, helpless in the wind,
Shook her last goodbyes to her sunset-colored leaves
And would finally stand there brown and bare,
Shaking violently in the gusty chilly air.
Leaves that danced forever in the sky;
Silently she asked the wind not to change,
And she saw as she had seen other winters before,
They spiraled down and settled there on the grassy floor.
He also read the powerfully-worded ‘Emancipation‘, which cannot be shared here because of space, but should be a must read for anyone affected by or interested in the colonial history of the Caribbean and Americas. The hope is that one day this poem will find its place, where it belongs, among our national treasures.
R’hodé has taken the bull by the horns in self-publishing, distributing and promoting several of his books and poetry collections so as to forgo the challenges faced in seeking a big-name or international publisher. His ambitious nature also prompted him to initiate the ‘Noel’s Prize for Poetry’. He would invite the general public to submit their poems and reward the candidate with the best entry. However, he became unable to financially support this enterprise and so it was discontinued.
Noel intends to write until he takes his last breath and expressed his desire to continue sharing his writing with the aim of making an impact locally, regionally and even internationally. He hopes to stimulate and encourage writers in St. Vincent. He wants persons to know that poetry is still alive and well and that they too can share their work like he has done.
Particularly for our 37th Anniversary of Independence, his wish for Vincentians is that we would appreciate and fully embrace our culture and also become enlightened on the precepts and concepts of democracy so as to eradicate fear and inspire persons to be bold in whatever positive stance they may choose to take.