TTAWA, Canada -- An excerpt from the poem “Under the Breadfruit Tree”, which was written by St Kitts and Nevis poet Dr Mutryce A. Williams, will be featured in Ottawa’s 150th anniversary publication. The 150th anniversary of Canada, also known as the 150th anniversary of confederation and promoted by the Canadian government as Canada 150, occurs in 2017 as Canada marks the sesquicentennial anniversary of Canadian Confederation.
“On learning of the request by Her Excellency Shirley Skerritt-Andrew and the High Commission for the Federation of St Christopher (St Kitts) and Nevis in Canada, which stated: ‘Canada is celebrating its 150th Anniversary and the diplomatic missions in Canada are asked to submit something authentic to be placed in the cookbook. The High Commission came across Ms Williams’ poem and thought it would be quite appropriate to accompany a breadfruit recipe’, I was astounded, speechless even and sincerely humbled,” Williams said.
In her response to Skerritt-Andrew, Williams said, “It is with profound gratitude and the utmost humility that I respond to your correspondence granting the authorization of the use of my poem titled ‘Under the Breadfruit Tree’ for use by The High Commission for the Federation of Saint Christopher (St Kitts) and Nevis in Canada, in an effort to help showcase the Federation for Ottawa’s 150th Anniversary. As a proud national and daughter of the twin island federation of St Kitts and Nevis, it would be a prodigious honour to have my work featured for this auspicious event, a life’s highlight. I wish the High Commission for the Federation of Saint Christopher (St Kitts) and Nevis in Canada continued success as it continues to serve the needs of all nationals, the diaspora and friends of St Kitts and Nevis, while addressing bilateral and multi-lateral relations with Canada and all diplomatic missions in Canada.”
Williams said, “I must also add that when I learned of this request, a flood of gratitude came over me, gratitude for everyone who has encouraged my journey as a poet. There was gratitude for my high school English teachers Mrs Delcia Bradley-King and the late Ms Delores Ward, my sister Ms Julie Charles who has set a great example, my husband Mr Ivan A. Morris whose banter inspired this poem, and the rich and vibrant community of St Paul’s, St Kitts, which serves as a setting for most of my work. I am grateful to the former editor of the St Kitts and Nevis Labour Spokesman the late Mr Dawud Byron, the manager of 98.9 WINN FM Mr Clive Bacchus, radio broadcaster Mr Abdul Ali, the editor of Caribbean News Now Mr Barry Randall and the editor of the VI Consortium Mr Ernice Gilbert who published my work and allowed me to reach a wider audience. I must also highlight the influence of West Indian writers and poets such as the Jamaican Miss Lou-Louise Bennett-Coverley; I remember that very moment when I fell in love with her poem ‘The Scholar.’ It ignited something in me and I have had a love affair with West Indian writing, heritage and culture ever since. There was of course, Sir. V.S. Naipaul, Sir Derek Walcott and native Kittitians like Ambassador Simon Jones-Hendrickson and Ambassador Jacinth Henry-Martin whose works have influenced my writings.”
In conclusion she said, “With every blessing that I receive I thank my grandmother, the late Ms Agnes A. Williams who was a phenomenal, phenomenal woman. She always encouraged me not to ‘box’ myself in or limit myself. She really believed in me.”
As a note, another poem by Williams titled “The Battle for Women’s Rights is the Unfinished Business of the 21st Century” was quoted by the former premier of Bermuda Dame Jennifer Smith in a speech that she delivered to the Bermuda Industrial Union in commemoration of International Women’s Day in 2016. This, Williams said, was another highlight of her journey as a poet.
Williams is a mother, writer, social commentator, award winning advocate, columnist, educator, cultural conservationist, poet, artist, former diplomat, certified homeland protection professional and volunteer extraordinaire. She is also an international relations and national security specialist who holds a doctorate in public policy administration with a double concentration in terrorism, mediation and peace and homeland security policy and coordination.