Making it big at home
After graduating from Sir George Williams, Keens-Douglas returned to Trinidad to launch his career as one of the Caribbean’s leading storytellers.
“Back then in the Caribbean, we didn’t have publicists and agents,” says Keens-Douglas. “You became a one-man show in order to produce your stuff.”
Keens-Douglas, a former radio announcer for the now-defunct Rediffusion Trinidad and Radio Trinidad, founded his Creola company to stage theatrical shows. He began writing and performing full-time in 1979. Today, the award-winning, self-published author has written 10 volumes of works and has produced 30 recordings, three videos and two DVDs. He also created his popular annual Tim Tim Storytelling Show in 1975, and his annual Carnival Talk Tent show in 1983.
“I was able to become successful while staying home in the Caribbean,” Keens-Douglas says. “Normally you don’t stay in the Caribbean to make it as a big writer. You have to go to London, Toronto or one of the big cities in order to fit in. To stay home and find an audience, make a living and be happy — that is my success.”
While Keens-Douglas is self-made, he notes that his time in Montreal influenced him.
“At university I really got to know the Caribbean better because I met students from other Caribbean nations I never met at home. We don’t travel between the islands much, people don’t have that kind of money. So meeting other students from the Caribbean actually brought us closer to home.
“Not only that,” Keens-Douglas adds, “Because I was in Canada, I was able to see what I took for granted in the Caribbean.”