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Think and Work Wisely - Painting by Guyanese Artist Philip Moore


My Poetry Corner November 2017 features the poem “If I Had My Way” from the poetry collection, Life’s Many Faces: Fun-on-the-Run (2013), by Yvonne Sam, a Guyanese-born poet, nurse, educator, and community volunteer. For the past forty years, she lives in Canada where she earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Nursing, following a thirteen-year nursing career in England. To fill a need for teachers in her community in Montreal, she later obtained a Masters in Education and a Diploma in Adult Education.

While Yvonne Sam maintains a light tone throughout her collection, she does not shy away from injecting an irreverent tone or strong moral convictions when dealing with life’s controversial issues. As a black woman and teacher, she urges “Black Youth” to get an education, to stay in school. She propels them forward in her poem:

So move on black youth let not your mind tire
Education must serve as an unquenchable fire
With passage of time it will speak and attest
Of a proud black youth and one of the best

In her Nature poem, “Earth’s Pain,” she observes that man has not been a good steward of the earth. Where trees once grew is now covered with misery, pain and sorrow. 

Though so many errors man has made
Earth needs us now and our supporting aid
Let’s all awake from this terrible nightmare
And give her our love and a little care

While the Good Book (Christian Bible) teaches us how to live in harmony and peace, Sam admits in “Peace not Pieces” that’s now totally impossible if wars never cease.

Wars and destruction would never start
If love and tolerance dwelt in every heart
Rockets, guns, missiles and bullets too
Examples of what damage to each other can do 

Our streets are also unsafe. In “Crime Time,” Sam questions our lack of compassion towards each other:

Senseless violence sending bullets astray
Giving victims no time a goodbye to say
Blacks killing blacks
Whites killing whites
Children killing children
What’s gone wrong with the world out there?
Is it true that people don’t care?

Sam confesses in her poem on “Love” that love cannot be bought it is priceless and free / and will always remain one of life’s mystery. Yet, a little “Common Sense (Come On Sense)” can save the day:

When talk of strife, danger and rumors fill the air
And facts are so distorted that views become unfair
Trifles get so magnified that they seem immense
Just forget party politics and use plain common sense

In the featured poem, “If I Had My Way,” the poet dreams of ending poverty, of workers getting a just living wage. With an end to war, brotherly and sisterly love would thrive.

Human beings would cease to doubt
Narrow views would be broadened out
Everyone would then see the light of day
If I am allowed to have my way

To read the complete featured poem and learn more about Yvonne Sam and her work, go to my Poetry Corner November 2017.

Captioned painting: Think & Work Wisely by Guyanese Artist Philip Moore (1921-2012)
Source: ARC Magazine