Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : August 20th 2015 Contents Professor Gordon Rohlehr has
written a book about the Mighty
Sparrow that, he says, includes "all
kinds of moments of turbulence."
The Mighty Sparrow is perhaps one
of our most widely-honoured calyp-
sonians and public personalities, hav-
ing been awarded over 60 accolades
throughout his lifetime, says Rohlehr.
This local and global hero is celebrated,
and even intellectually interrogated,
in Rohlehr s book My Whole Life is
"I tried to sum up what I thought
was his real significance at this par-
ticular point in time," Rohlehr says,
adding: "I set out to look at whatever
might have been taking place in that
40-45 years (beyond the early music)."
Professor Rohlehr explores The
Mighty Sparrow s dynamic, compli-
cated and at times contradictory per-
sonality. Rohlehr s first essay, loosely
quoted, says that Sparrow is simul-
taneously aging and youthful, boyish
and grandfatherly, cynical, pragmatic,
sentimental, part of and beyond the
Further, it says: "He remains a phe-
nomenon, a well-spring of energy, a
fertility god that has experienced all
the illusions and dangerous ironies
that attend that role."
The man, the artist-entertainer, is
both "all too vulnerable, all too mortal
flesh" as well as spirit seeking flight.
For us, Sparrow emerges as a com-
plex character here---always grounded
and real as flesh, always restless and
transcendent as spirit.
Additionally, in the idea of this
calypso giant being like a fertility god---
a fertility god who in myth perishes
and then is reborn every year---is an
image of Sparrow s drive to be the
best, that is, as Rohlehr puts it, "to
every year beat the competition of
young fellahs coming up."
The idea for writing the book My
Whole Life is Calypso was born after
Professor Rohlehr delivered a speech
at the fund-raiser in Sparrow s honour
that was produced by theatre-prac-
titioner and business owner Rawle
Gibbons, at the Central Bank Audi-
torium in February last year.
Rohlehr was the first feature speaker
that night, but was unable to finish
the speech in the given time-slot
because of the wealth of knowledge
he had on Sparrow s life.
To share in-depth on what had
remained unsaid, Rohlehr, encouraged
by his wife, Dr Betty Ann Rohlehr,
and by Rawle Gibbons, decided to
write the book. Indeed, this book was
planned to commemorate Sparrow s
80th birthday which was on July 9.
My Whole Life is Calypso is written
clearly and not heavily laced with aca-
demic jargon. It is for any of us---all
people. Schools can benefit from it
Professor Emeritus Rohlehr is a
highly-respected Caribbean scholar,
a leading regional expert on calypso,
and the author of several texts on our
Caribbean culture and literature.
He has been a commentator on
Sparrow s work since the 1960s. This
publication, My Whole Life is Calypso,
represents nearly five decades of crit-
ical engagement with the work of The
Mighty Sparrow, a Caribbean genius.
The book launch, for which admis-
sion is free, takes place today at 5 pm
at the UWI St Augustine Campus,
Teaching and Learning Complex
(opposite SPEC), Lecture Room B. My
Whole Life is Calypso is also available
at The Blue Edition bookstore on St
Vincent Street, Tunapuna.
Ithink Alta does good work. Alta
creates real opportunities for us
to learn to read and write. I
myself have learnt to be bold in read-
ing what I write.
Apart from that, I am now able
to help my children with their home
lessons. I am able to write more than
I think I could. I was not able to go
to school but Alta has provided these
classes so I can better myself for the
future ahead for my children and I
am grateful to the sponsors.
Just knowing that someone else
is interested in my education makes
me feel appreciated.
In my class the teachers are so
helpful, they take their time and
effort to build our reading and writ-
ing skill. They also improve our con-
fidence and pride, we are able to
open up to each other.
We at Level two appreciate what
our sponsors are doing to keep Alta
classes running and we look forward
to our new sponsors. My tutor said
don t quit, the sky is the limit, never
give up on yourself.
Marlene, Level 2
Arima Boys RC
Ihave been an Alta student since
in 2005 but I had to leave for sev-
eral reasons. One is lack of self-con-
fidence. Now I can tell you what
Alta has done for me. On my return
in 2014, Alta has given me great
confidence within myself.
I see myself improving in every
area of my life. My spelling and read-
ing are much better now with the
help of my tutors. My tutors, I thank
God for them every day. If it was
not for their belief in me I would
not have been able to reach this
point in my life.
I used to tell myself I would never
learn to spell because something is
very wrong with me. But now I can
truly say thank God for Alta and
their vision in helping us the stu-
dents. Alta to me is more than lit-
eracy. It is a life skill in general.
I would say Alta makes me live
again. I used to feel a part of me is
dead because I am unable to express
myself in ways I need to.
Now I can encourage and be of
great help to others.
Thanks to the sponsors in helping
us the students to improve our
lifestyle. You are a great blessing to
us.From a grateful student.
E Joseph, Level 2
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Thursday, August 20, 2015
Professor Rohlehr launches
book on Mighty Sparrow
Never give up on yourself
New student registration
starts Sept 8 & 9. Call 624-
2582/653-4656 for more info.
Consider becoming a volunteer
or join an Alta class...No shame,
go brave!! Volunteer, Donate,
Sponsor-a-student. Like us on
Facebook or check out to our
YouTube Channel: Adult
Literacy Tutors Association
As Alta prepares for
September 8 and 9 at
libraries across Trinidad,
we revisit the message
of our anti-stigma
campaign: No shame. Go
You can read, by
sharing writing from
students who benefited
from the Alta programme
this past year.
This week, two
students write about the
impact Alta has had on
their ability to express
• For more information on the book
launch, guests can contact Dr Betty
Ann Rohlehr (645-1491) or Profes-
sor Gordon Rohlehr (663-4509).
The public is invited to come and
share in this tribute to The Mighty
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