Take My Word for It
Published by Peepal Tree Press
Take My Word For It offers rich insights into the long and full life of one of one of Jamaica's finest poets who has also been at the heart of the island's economic and commercial development. There are moving and sometimes comic chapters of a pre-war boyhood in colonial Jamaica in a far from prosperous white and Catholic Jamaican family, the years spent at the Jesuit college of Fordham in the USA, and postwar service in the United States Airforce, serving in Japan. Thereafter Ralph Thompson tells the story of a life at the heart of Jamaica's development of tourism, capitalist modernity and the leadership of Seprod, one of the island's largest companies. There are fascinating glimpses of involvement with Jamaica's sharply divided political life -- between Michael Manley and Edward Seaga. But along with the businessman who can convey something of the excitement of commercial strategy and take-over bids, there is also the artist and poet who has explored the inner life, not least the position of a white man in a Jamaica whose decolonisation has been in part about discovering its black identity. Ralph Thompson has long had a passionate concern with the quality of the education on offer to all Jamaicans, and he writes with feeling about his contribution to the debate around educational issues and practical attempts to make improvements. There is also the loyal supporter of Derek Walcott's Trinidad Theatre Workshop who did much to bring that theatre to wider Caribbean and American notice, who writes about his friendship with Walcott with warmth and insight.
Amply illustrated with photographs, images of Thompson's paintings and extracts from his poetry, Take My Word For It is a beautifully and frankly written record of a significant Jamaican life.