A TRIBUTE TO MICHAEL "SPRIGGITS" FOSTER
Although he was only twenty years of age when he died, Michael Foster, or "Spriggits," as he was known to his friends, made a lasting impression on just about everyone who met him. He was a talented writer, artist, and singer.
He was about 5 foot 11 inches tall, weighed around 200 pounds, with broad shoulders, and a build much like that of an American football player. He was no saint. He particularly enjoyed meeting and drinking with his friends on weekends. He loved women, and there were many who loved him.
In the Foreword to "Things," a book of his works published after his death, writer, Frank Collymore, recalled one of the occasions he met with Spriggits. He said - "In the course of our brief conversation I mentioned - very ineptly I fear - that I found it fun to write verse. I shall never forget his reaction to this casual remark of mine. "Fun?" he queried uncomprehendingly, and again, almost as though I had committed blasphemy, "Fun?!"
"For to him, poetry was not fun, it was not the joy of creation (for this is what I should have said), but the agony of a tortured spirit that sought expression and relief from the inescapable evils and horrors of earthly life. But this I was not to learn until later."
Cruelty, injustice, hypocrisy - these were the raw wounds that disfigured the world he lived in: the knowledge of their existence festered within his sensitive mind and would give him no rest. The problem of evil haunted and tormented him.
The vision of the crucified Christ was ever present in his imagination, the symbol of the world's response to unalloyed goodness.
At the age of seventeen, while still at high school, he attempted in a play, "The Christos," in the style of the Greek dramatists, to portray the last hours of the Man, Christ. Why had humanity rejected him? Why should such things have been?
Religious dogma could not satisfy Michael Foster. Religion, as portrayed by the churches of the world revolted him. He was grieved, as he could not understand why, if a loving God existed, would he allow such misery and suffering in the world; and he found it difficult to believe in a God, worthy of respect, that would ordain as his earthly representatives in this modern world, some of the robed, white-collared individuals he saw in churches, preaching wishy-washy sermons, in a variety of sanctimonious intonations. He became an agnostic and then an atheist.
An all embracing Love and Understanding was the answer, but where was this to be found? Was there no philosophy which might reconcile the irreconcilables? What was Truth? This was the object of his unceasing quest.
He was genuinely interested in true philosophy, the honest study of beliefs regarding God, existence, conduct, etc., and of man's relation with the universe, and so he went to University to pursue a degree in philosophy. But after about a year, he became disgusted with things at the university and left.
It was not only by means of the written word that Michael Foster strove to express his ideas; painting was another natural outcome of his intense poetical imagination. Not interested in portraying the outward and ordinary appearance of objects around him, he adopted the surrealist style, to produce from the seething world of his own imagination, a number of incredible paintings, in which he used perspective for its sense of drama and emotional effect; in them, man is usually depicted against the backdrop of immeasurable space and infinity. Here is a photograph of a painting he did in the surrealist style at the age of sixteen.
Here is a poem he wrote when he was just fifteen.
He chose to live in a little hut, erected in the garden of his parents home. It was a shack just big enough to hold a small bed, a table and a chair, his guitar and an interesting collection of books, which he kept in a rustic bookcase, constructed out of a few planks of wood, supported by slabs of stone from the garden.
Here is a poem he wrote at age seventeen.
The apparent ingratitude of the wealthy, and their indifference towards the poor, troubled him greatly. He abhorred any form of discrimination or prejudice. Indeed, some of the poorest of people were counted among his dearest friends. Whenever he met with his friends, there was always that warm, broad smile and glimmer in the eyes that unmistakably said - "I love you my friends."
On the nights of many a weekend, as you passed by one of the popular beaches, you would invariably see a group of people sitting on the ground under the tall trees, listening with rapt attention, as there in the midst of them, Spriggits sat, with back against a tree, speaking of life, death and religion, and provoking philosophical debate regarding ethics.
He was not afraid to speak out against things that he knew to be wrong, and in so doing, he often stepped on the toes of many of the so-called "upper-class," who called him "non-conformist," or "radical." Nevertheless, in his search for truth and understanding, his words touched many a silent ear, and provoked them to think about life in a way they had never thought about it before.
All those who really came to know him were deeply saddened by his passing, but knowing the type of guy Spriggits was, in the words of one of his songs, I am sure he would simply have said............"Another Man done gone."
After Mike's passing, well known poet, Frank Collymore, wrote a poem in tribute to him, which you can read here.
Just a few months before the car accident which took Mike's life, late one Sunday night after leaving the Beau Brummel night club, I took Mike with his guitar into the studios of a radio station where I worked as an announcer, set him up behind the microphone in one of the recording studios, dimmed the lights to create a better folk singing atmosphere and started the tape running. Below, you can view a short picture video as Spriggits sings, "Lord Randal," one of the songs he recorded that night in the studios of Barbados Rediffusion Service Ltd., Bridgetown, Barbados.
If you would like to purchase the four songs he recorded that night and his book of poems, entitled, "Things," just click the link below. You will be taken to our secure order page; after making your payment of just $14.95, you will be able to immediately download your order. All funds will be received by Mike's sister, Kaye.
Spriggits' book of poems is now available on Amazon.com in Paperback format here.
Alternatively, you may obtain it in Kindle format here.
To read another of Spriggits' poems, just click
his book below.
Perhaps what he was searching for is here:
All pages of this tribute are Copyright © 2017 by Jeff Neil Weatherhead. All rights reserved. However, his YouTube video of the song, "Lord Randal" may be distributed freely.