IN this period of isolation reading has become a lifeline to sanity.
Former journalist, school teacher, lay preacher and author Fitzroy Othello, who has a voracity for written material, knows this only too well.
Othello of Princes Town has written two books which have been doing surprisingly well online as physical activities take a back seat in this pandemic.
This son of a preacher, pastor Fitzroy Othello Snr, and his co-pastor at the Diamond New Covenant Ministries Baptist Church, Pearl Othello, the younger Othello’s first book, Dancing Naked Before God, is faith-based.
Her Story The Earth Collection, which was published in 2012, has picked up renewed interest and sales online. It is a collection of 18 poems which examines human conditions.
“Every once in a while, I look online to see how the book is doing. I came across a website called best books and when I checked the category under poetry, my book (Her Story) was listed first in the world.
“I continued to google websites which sells books and one of them said this was one of the books most in demand on that particular website.”
“To have a successful book is every writers' dream. As a creative person you would know you don’t do it for the money. You do it for the joy of seeing your work in publication. You do it for blessing people with what you produce and making a positive impact to culture and life and the arts and being recognised by your peers.”
Even though the book has been doing well, Othello said he has not benefited financially and is now looking into getting his just due.
Her Story contains 18 poems which were borne out of his own emotional struggles.
“The most therapeutic thing for me is writing and so I began to explore how to express myself and expressing myself to obtain my own form of therapy.
“As a creative person, creating is therapy for my own soul, and so I wrote this book, coming out of seeking that therapy, exploring what was going on inside of me and trying to find a way of expressing it that I myself could understand and then come to terms with. That is where this book came from.”
Exploring common universal topics such as self-esteem, materialism, value system of young girls, crime, and the saga of young African males, which people deal with on a daily basis, he believes, may be responsible for the international appeal the book is getting.
The chapter The Girl Child Cover Yourself examines the mode of a woman’s dress, exposing parts of the body to attract attention because of the age-old issue of self-esteem.
The author explains, “One of the problems every human has is self-esteem and for some strange reason (the) better looking the individuals, the greater the self-esteem problem because they judge themselves on their appearance and not on the content of their character.
“Because of that imbalance a person struggles because you must have the right core values because if the centre does not hold everything else falls apart.
“So, some girls devalue themselves, depending on their physical appearances to attract somebody else, not on how good a person they are themselves and because of that they struggle.”
Society, he said, is often judgmental and often times superficial, devaluing a person, especially females, on the basis of their physical attributes, contributing to the lack of their self-esteem
Similar thought processes went into the poem Material Girl and the common misconception which defines a person based on their material worth and not on the condition of their own soul.
“A material girl may be more concerned about how much money a man makes, the car he drives rather than what kind of father he would be to her children.”
Othello said experience as young court reporter working for the then Trinidad Guardian inspired him to pen Son Rise.
“Looking at all those long lines of mainly young African men going to jail and losing their lives at a very early age, Son Rise was my quest to advise them how to find a place for themselves in the world in which they wouldn’t have to turn to a life of crime.”
A University of the West Indies graduate, who took early retirement as a teacher from the Princes Town West Secondary school, Othello is still writing.
“What I do I journal for a long period before I write. I don’t know when those journals will turn into books. What I can say is that I am working on more than one book, inclusive of a book of poetry.”