Deborah Moore-Miggins

For some people, gardening brings relaxation. For others, it’s meditation, singing or dancing that brings them peace of mind. Yet, for others, it’s enjoying the tactile nature of words––pure, unadulterated and unfettered words and their impact.

One such person is Tobagonian Deborah Moore-Miggins––a lawyer, mother, wife, former politician and author.

Moore-Miggins was recently asked to pass on what she knows of the literary world at the eighth installment of Mentoring By the Masters’ Programme.

The mentoring icons and practitioners have signed agreeing to pass on their knowledge in Theatre Arts, Chinese Folk Arts, Visual Arts and Tobago Folk Art (Speech Band).

The programme is designed to keep local arts alive by facilitating the passing on of cultural traditions from experts and cultural workers in the field to aspiring artists.

The 2020 launch and awards ceremony for the programme did not take place as scheduled on August 4 because of COVID-19 restrictions.

Still, the thought of being selected for the esteemed programme–with the likes of Helen Camps, Maria Lee and Sastri Maharaj–is exciting to Moore-Miggins.

The 66-year-old was also particularly pleased to be chosen to share information on Tobago’s indigenous art form – speech band.

“I love words. I appreciate the literary structure. I love the play of words and how they can be used to persuade, to inspire,” Moore-Miggins told Tobago Today.

She said the art of using words has been part of her life since before she turned 12 at Bishop’s High School, Tobago.

She recalled her first enter encounter with a speech band, growing up in Bethel.

“People gathered with tambourine, fire, music. There was excitement and the actors in the speech band elbowed out the crowd and made their way with powder, trinkets. There was the speechifying and the punchline when they completed their speech,” Moore-Miggins said.

She said from then she was “enthralled with the splendour of …anything to do with crafting words for a particular effect.”

She has dabbled in words as a politician, contesting the Tobago House of Assembly elections and winning the Bethel/Mt Irvine seat as an independent candidate from 1996-2000. In 2001, she formed the People’s Empowerment Party. Defeated at the polls, however, she ended her political career.

But Moore-Miggins continued speaking out on issues at various forums as a member of non-governmental government organisations (NGOs). She also joined the Tobago Writers’ Guild, formed the Tobago Empowerment Foundation and continued to be an active member of the Moravian church.

She is one of the 26 Tobagonian authors who contributed to Tobago In Print–a book compiling different articles by the authors.

She said she is currently working on two books–one on issues arising out of the real property land issue and the other on Caribbean humour.

Moore-Miggins sees writing as a big part of her future, as it helped her when she missed Tobago while at university. Then, she penned Caribbean Proverbs That Raised us. It contained 400 Caribbean proverbs from friends.

She expects literature to be a huge part of her future as she continues her work with NGOs, the church and Tobago’s writing organisation.