Tobago

Tobago
Horizon at Sandy Point

Thursday, February 10, 2011

when I knew Keith Smith

He must have been in his late twenties, just a few years my senior. He was the editor to my junior reporter in a "newsroom" of three, the other an equally embryonic youth wanting to write (and who went on to television). Keith's "job" before that had been in the Bahamas. This team, however, was assigned one of Trinidad's fledgling publishing enterprises - a homemaking journal, an airline magazine, an annual documentary and a cookbook. 

Even then, Keith's writing was like a wave running back to the sea. Even then, his pensive thinking as he hunched over an old Underwood was marked by his forefinger straying into his nose hole or into his mouth - searching for the phrase? - before he attacked the keys with two fingers. Always two fingers. We must have worked - at least three Carnival magazines have his name on the masthead. But the conversations with Keith were the best.  His favourite author (at the time) was Scott Fitzgerald. That was his model for ease of language, the ironic story. A diamond as big as the Ritz. The Great Gatsby.

I could never fathom what it was about these American lives that fascinated Keith, but I read Fitzgerald because of him, trying to model not Fitzgerald's but Keith's facility with language.  We fed each other's love of calypso lyrics and delved into researching mas past and contemporary. In 1976, we had the opportunity to witness and record the newest talent in Carnival, Minshall. But by that time, Keith was already heading away - in the direction of his own people's magazine, and through that to the all-absorbing world of the newspaper.

What I carry of Keith is his loving heart. He never wanted to be in charge. Lucky for us that he let himself be this person through whom the rhythm and vibes of our time flowed to the page like water.

2 comments:

  1. He always found his way to the heart of the matter.. I always looked forward to his articles in the newspaper.

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  2. I was so shocked to read of Keith's death. Though I didn't know him personally, he was always a writer I looked out for and read when I lived locally. A serious person in T&T.

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