MICHAEL ANTHONY’S Green Days by the River was the genesis of a special project designed to give form two students of ASJA Girls’ College in San Fernando their own “live” experience of some aspects of the book.
The students who are reading Anthony’s text for exams also engaged in lively discussion with Anthony following the presentation of a skit which was adapted from the book.
The Green Days by the River Experience at the college also commemorated the 50th anniversary of the first publishing of the novel in 1967.
The staging of the event last month was a feature of the Love your Local Authors initiative which highlights the literary works of West Indian authors through author visits, story hour, read-a-thon and special literature critique sessions with tertiary lecturers. The programme engages students from forms one through six.
For special effects and to give that real-life experience, the venue was transformed into scenes representing Mayaro –where the story is set– with exhibits highlighting elements in the book such as gramophone records, a calabash, sugarcane stalk, fruits and vegetables.
The songs mentioned in Green Days by the River were also played including The Tennessee Waltz by Patti Page, The Peanut Vendor by Perez Prado, Where She Danced 1945 by Salome and One Day When We Were Young. Even the movie which the main characters Shellie and Rose saw was downloaded for students to view.
Making the experience more “home-grown” was a skit done by students Wynsty Boochoon, Darnel John-Jack and Sajdah Al Razi who enacted a scene (when Mr Gidharee and Shell were getting to know each other and Mr Gidharee decided to have Shell come and work with him in his garden). This enactment was geared to generate conversation and encourage students to have a deeper understanding of the book as well as themselves, said a release from the college.
Following this presentation Anthony and the students engaged in lively discussion and he responded to their questions on the book. Queries ranged from the symbolism of the cashew tree to why Mayaro was chosen. Anthony clearly stated this was the story of his life and he wanted people to know, appreciate and hopefully love Mayaro –his home– as he does.
He directed the conversation deeper into what led him to become a writer and how the power of the written word –from the likes of Charles Dickens and many others– inspired him to “perspire” and create short stories. His passion became his purpose, having penned 22 books later.
Anthony is described as one of the 50 most influential people in Trinidad and Tobago and he still is today. At the age of 87, with his unassuming and kind nature, his humility and his astonishment of the generational impact that his works have had on not only the students but also teachers was evident, the release said.
Students were treated to sugar cane bites and cocoa pods after the conversation –those too were also part of Shellie’s (the main character’s) experience in the fields when he used to cut cane with Mr Gidharee. The Green Days by the River Experience was made possible through the support of Joanne Boochoon .