The Blacktip Island Literary Society this weekend will stage a series of readings and performances celebrating the life and works of British Romantic poet Walter Savage Landor. (photo courtesy of Payne Hanover)
The Blacktip Island Literary Society Thursday announced its plans for the inaugural Walter Savage Landor Literary Festival, honoring the obscure British Romantic poet and his alleged ties to the small Caribbean island.
“A lot of people never heard of Landor,” festival organizer Payne Hanover said. “We’re all about giving him some love. His work, by itself, is largely unknown today, but he was a huge influence on the next generation of writers, including Dickens, Browning, Yeats and Ezra Pound. Never mind Pound was a complete nut job there at the end.
“As for the local connection, people don’t realize he spent his last days on Blacktip Island,” Hanover said. “History books said he died in Italy, but we’ve got island records saying that was just a ruse. He gave his creditors a head fake and sailed for the Caribbean. Blacktip Island was a Brit Rom hotspot back in the day.”
BILS members praised Landor’s work.
“Critics loved him. The public, not so much. And that sucks,” Alison Diesel said. “He was the bomb in prose and lyric poetry. His Imaginary Conversations are lit, especially the ones between Marcellus and Hannibal, Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn, and Diogenes and Plato.
“People don’t remember he was tight with Coleridge,” Diesel said. “Dude had the connections and the chops. He and Byron had no use for each other, but we let that slide—he was a Blacktipper. We’re all Romantics at heart. Except for . . . well, never mind.”
The society plans readings of Landor’s work at various sites around the island.
“We’ll have scheduled readings at the Heritage House, of course,” schoolmaster Barry Snapper said. “But there’ll also be surprise pop-up readings at bars and resorts all across the island. Flash-mob style interpretive dance performances, too. Some of them on scuba.
“You really don’t have a true appreciation for Landor until you hear Dermott Bottoms stumbling through, I Strove with None and Twenty Years Hence on the Heritage House steps,” Snapper said. “It gave me chills during rehearsals.”
Island residents are looking forward to the weekend’s festivities.
“Don’t know nothing about poetry, but they talked me into helping by telling tales about the man,” Dermott Bottoms said. “Had total contempt for authority. I like that. He’d fit right in on Blacktip.
“Had a mouth on him, too,” Bottoms said. “Dude could piss off the Pope without half trying. We gonna have a two-day booze-up and get in fights to celebrate his life properly.”