As a boy growing up in a small rural village, and well into his adult life, he was “dying” to find purpose and connect with God in a more meaningful way.
This feeling has led Graham Clarke, Executive Director of the Barbados Coalition of Service Industries (BCSI), to write his first book, which was recently launched at the Gun Hill Signal Station in St George.
The spiritual autobiography – Dying to Experience the Supernatural: Discovering Power in the Ordinary – is a story about “Ethan’s” journey to adulthood as he tried to find purpose and connect with God and the supernatural. The story is set in the village and explores several spiritual themes and shares several life lessons surrounding love, hope, loss and forgiveness, among others.
Clarke, a husband and father of two children – Zane-Andrew and Zara Gabrielle Clarke, said he received tremendous support from his wife Misha Lobban-Clarke, adding that, “I feel like I have arrived at this point on the backs of many individuals.”
During the armchair discussion at Gun Hill, Clarke recalled some of the issues and people that propelled him to write the book.
He said “from very early” in his secondary school life he thought about writing a book, recalling that one of his teachers encouraged him at that point.
“I think back then, I felt that writing was something I could do, but I didn’t have the mentorship,” he said. “I think my desire to write was fuelled by the books I read voraciously as a child. I read everything I could put my hands on,” he said, adding that reading for him is “like traveling through a time tunnel”.
Clarke, who is portrayed by the character Ethan, also kept a diary growing up, which he said provided the foundation for the paperback.
In addition to his family, Graham dedicated the book to his friend Pastor Eustace Hill in Antigua.
“I feel humbled and honoured to add to the journals out there,” said Graham.
“Caribbean people tell the best stories. We need a Caribbean Hollywood. We need to do like Tyler Perry,” he said.
Explaining the reason for the title of the book, he said: “I see the supernatural as a bit of a paradox. You are looking for something cataclysmic, you are looking for this exotic experience of God, and God is turning up in the ordinary all the time, in our lives every day, and we are missing it.”
Stating that he was hoping to inspire a lot of people with his work, the 60-year-old recalled some of his fondest moments with the late former Prime Minister Professor Owen Arthur, adding that he wished the life and work of Arthur were documented.
“I was always intrigued by the late Prime Minister Arthur because he spoke with the voice of the ordinary person… many people felt represented when he spoke,” recalled Graham.
In fact, Graham called for a parliamentary library to be established, detailing the life and work of past leaders including Barbados’ Premier Errol Walton Barrow.
The author who grew up in St George, is a graduate of the London School of Contemporary Christianity and the Cornhill Training Course in London.
Clarke has worked with several non-profit companies in senior management roles and is a qualified chartered marketer with a special interest in social and non-profit marketing.
He has a Master’s degree in marketing from the Kingston School of Business in England. He also holds a certificate and post-graduate diploma in marketing from the chartered institute of marketing in England.
Graham’s close friend, fellow author Dr Akhentoolove Corbin, described the new book as “a powerful work”, saying it spoke to the contradictions of life.
“I read this book and I cried. I cried,” said Corbin, as he shared a brief review of the book. “The story was able to manifest the beauty and spirit in the village and these tales, an expression of what I call a time capsule of pain, of joy, of happiness, expressions of life. He speaks of love and caring and giving… no matter how little the family had they shared,” he said.