August 28, 2022

Sacred Rivers in Jamaica?

Rio Cobre

A few weeks ago, I read Diana McCaulay’s pilgrimage to find the source of the Rio Cobre, “which had suffered a devastating fish kill on July 30 -31 due to an effluent release from the bauxite-alumina refinery at Ewarton, currently owned by UC Rusal.” (https://jamaica-gleaner.com/article/focus/20220821/diana-mccaulay-search-rio-cobre)

The article led to an interesting discussion on Twitter about her idea of “sacred rivers” in Jamaica and her observation, “Wondering if we have a sacred river - it's definitely not the Rio Cobre!” Kimberly John replied, “I think the closest thing to a sacred river in Jamaica is the Rio Grande, and even so, it's not a mainstream idea. We're more afraid of paganism than environmental destruction.” And I responded, “Our rivers, lakes, streams, @dmccaulay, also don’t figure in our imaginations.”

I could give a million and one reasons why we don't consider our waterways to be holy, sacred, or worthy of veneration and respect. Or why we don't wax poetic like the English do about the Thames or how the awestruck Japanese poet Basho wrote haiku about the Mogami River.

But I prefer to talk about solutions. For if we are going to have a fighting chance against projected environmental degradation due to climate change, we must engage our people’s imaginations.

But then I wondered, how will we engage our people’s imagination?

Drawing on my experience of writing haiku, which according to Tricycle, is “the most popular form of poetry in the world,” I proposed a haiku contest with the following rules:

Name of the place, either in the #haiku or title (yeah, I know)
17 syllables
A turn of thought.
The winner from each parish receives USD 50

In my enthusiasm , I omitted the seasonal reference that traditional Japanese haiku usually contain. I reasoned that we only have two seasons in the Caribbean, a dry and a wet season, and I wanted to highlight our waterways.

I was misguided.

A pearl of ancient wisdom is buried in traditional Japanese haiku, which is a meditation on time and space. It’s a way of paying attention to the planets, seasons, the earth, holidays, plants, and animals. And as Simone Weil notes, “Attention, taken to its highest degree, is the same thing as prayer. It presupposes faith and love.”

So here is my revised proposal:

17 syllables.
Season or seasonal words like “mango blossoms” or “guinep.”
Name of the place either in the haiku or title. I’m sticking with this because many of us don’t know a lot about our island.
A turn of thought.

No entry fee.
Open to anyone who has never published anything.
Best entry from the parish of residence
The judges, ideally from each parish, will select the best entry from the parish where they live. The judges would also have the latitude to ignore the seasonal word. What matters is the skill of the poet in recording a fleeting moment in the natural world--critics, like me, be damned. The judge’s decision is final.
The winners would receive USD 100.

I’d love for Isis-Semaj-Hall’s suggestion to be implemented, “I support this. And it would be good to see CatherinesPeak, Wata, Island Mist, Life Span, 876 Blue Mountain, or any other Jamaican water brands come on board to support/educate consumers/ citizens too.”

I’d take it a step further. Isis. The winning haiku could become a regular feature on their products and advertising campaigns.

According to the poet and translator William J. Higginson, “Haiku teach us not only to respect the experience of others, but to recall and treasure our own experience.” I hope this project will help us not only to treasure places in Jamaica but to appreciate the everyday beauty we often take for granted.

#haiku #environment #Jamaica #climatecrisis #climateemergency



November 10, 2021

"Rastafari in the 21st Century" @ the Miami Book Fair

I Jabulani Tafari

 “Rastafari in the 21st Century – What Life has Taught I&I”

Comes to the 2021 Miami Book Fair


Join Priest Douglas Smith and Ras I. Jabulani Tafari at the 38th annual Miami Book Fair as they host the South Florida launching of their new book "Rastafari in the 21st Century: What Life has Taught I&I.” The Book Fair takes place at the Wolfson Campus of the Miami Dade College in Downtown Miami from November 14 to November 21, 2021.

The Book Fair presentation by Priest Douggie and I-Jabulani and the launch of “Rastafari in the 21st Century” is scheduled for Saturday, November 20 at 5.00 p.m. in Room 8106 (the Magic Screening Room) on the first floor of Building 8.
Rastafari 21st Century Vol 1 Front Cover-smallest.jpg
   
Volume One of the new book by Priest Douggie and I-Jabulani contains the previously unwritten history of the First Generation of Rastafari Elders. Today, many of that First Generation of Rastafari Elders are transitioning on to become Ancestors, and as they do so, their colorful and important life stories are already starting to fade from the collective memory of the people of Jamaica and the world.

This well-illustrated and thought-provoking volume was written as a literary tribute lest the world forget to highlight and honor those Rastafari Elders who sacrificed everything and endured so much with so little in order to establish a new Cultural Tradition and Way of Life.

The presentation by the Rastafari authors at the Miami Book Fair on Saturday November 20th will include music, videos and book signings before and after the event. Click the following link for more detailed information about “Rastafari in the 21st Century” at the Miami Book Fair.  

https://www.miamibookfair.com/event/in-conversation-on-rastafari-in-the-21st-century-what-life-has-taught-ii-volume-i/

Looking forward to seeing you all at the 2021 Miami Book Fair!
2021 save the date.


https://www.miamibookfair.com/event/in-conversation-on-rastafari-in-the-21st-century-what-life-has-taught-ii-volume-i/

#MiamiBookFair #MBF21

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Twitter https://twitter.com/miamibookfair

 

 

November 7, 2021

Book Review: “Anthropocene” by Sudeep Sen

 

Sudeep Sen

ANTHROPOCENE Climate Change, Contagion, Consolation by Sudeep Sen is a harrowing account of living with the effects of climate disruption during a pandemic. Using various literary techniques such as haiku, free verse, and prose poems, Sen from a “panoramic picture window” from his study in New Delhi, India, captures the sense of dread from the unpredictability of weather patterns and his isolation during the city’s lockdown. And while the theme of hope resonates throughout the collection, Anthropocene is a harbinger of a possible future if the trajectory of climate disruption remains unchanged.

Divided into nine sections, Anthropocene begins with “Prologue| Meditation,” in which Sen acknowledges his position of privilege. As he states later in the collection, “Solitude is something that most creative writers and artists crave, and yet when it is forced on you –how does one cope?” (“Poetics of Solitude, Songs of Silence”). In wrestling with this paradox, Sen relies on his dedication to his craft and epigrams from Eliot, Yeats, Beckett, and especially Kurosawa, “The role of the artist is to not look away,” to guide his inquiry.

Underscoring the second section, “Anthropocene| Climate Change,” with a quote from “Easter 1916”: “a terrible beauty is born,” Sen in “Climate Change 2,” puts his stamp on the memorable phrase with a haiku: “climate change: changes/ the terrible beauty of/ unbearable heat.” With an acute awareness of his environment, Sen records the disruptions that are already taking place in India: “Tap water scalds everything it falls on—turning all furnace hot. Heat rises from everywhere—surfaces, terraces, walls, linen, food, water—everything is vaporous” (“Summer Heat”). The dryness of the land leads to heatwaves, and in “Drought, Cloud,” Sen prays for rain, “It is bone dry--I pray for any moisture/ that might fall from the emaciated skies.” However, Sen’s prayers do not have the consequences he intends: “Rain where there never was,/ no rain where there was” (“Global Warming”). Riffing on the idea of the “terrible beauty” of climate change, Sen recognizes the rain’s seductive ability to “douse and arouse” (“Rain Charm”). Yet, ironically in “Shower, Wake,” he describes a frightening scene: “The September showers came too late, giving ample time for a prolonged drought. But when they eventually arrived, they brought with them the full fury of an unstoppered monsoon — the rain pelting down hard, cracking open newly laid tarmac, exposing the earth and the elements once again.”

Opening the third section, “Pandemic| Love in the Time of Corona,” with an homage to Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Sen combines Indian mythology “Krishna’s love for Radha” with a fixed focus on the effects of climate disruption on the poor: “In thousands migrant workers march home--/ hungry footsteps and empty highways” (“Love in a Time of Corona”). Then, in “Corona Haiku 5,7,5,” Sen documents some of the routines that predominate his life: “endless handwashing, /sanitisers, gloves, masks—a/ new apocalypse,” and his impotence in the face of the pandemic’s advance, “dread of death, death of/loneliness--our choices/ out of our hands.” As the death toll rises, Sen laments the loss of his friends, “One by one they are dropping dead/at the rate of a heartbeat,” and later in “Black Box: Etymology of a Crisis,” he confesses, “Where are you?” I can’t hear you, touch or feel you. All senses have evaporated. I have nothing. I have everything.”

In sections four to nine, Sen contrasts the sprawling view of the city with his solitude by juxtaposing photographs taken from the poet’s terrace, “day after day,” with prose poems arranged in columns that resemble silos. Still, despite the expansiveness that the photographs suggest, Sen is increasingly driven in poems such as “Fever Pitch” into an interiority that comes close to solipsism, “All around me is a vacuum--and beyond that glass--and beyond that a semblance of life and world.” As an antidote, Sen retreats to his library for companionship and consoles himself with quotes from Aldous Huxley, Thomas Mann, and John Milton. Perhaps, as a refutation of Milton’s Satan in Paradise Lost, “myself am hell,” Sen’s reaction to isolation is discovery, “And yet in this isolation and solitude, there is an inherent yogic sense of centredness, where being with oneself is both wholesome and multitudinous” (“Poetics of Solitude, Sounds of Silence”).

Yet, hope, whether or not warranted, arises from the poet’s “inherent yogic sense of centredness.” His practice grounds him: “Through years of untutored regimen, this process has become second nature, like any meditative practice” (“Poetics of Solitude, Sounds of Silence”). Another way that Sen’s “centredness” shows up is in his fearlessness, which sometimes, as in “Preparing for a Perfect Death,” borders on gallows humor: “Then, the most difficult part--/how and where to die, what to wear.” In a fitting metaphor for his hope, Sen asserts in “The Gift of Light’: “The gift of light/ is life’s benediction/ in these dark times--/no matter what or where/ there is always light.” The final poem of the collection, “Om: A Cerement,” concludes with an invocation from the Upanishads, which Eliot used in the last lines of “The Wasteland,”: “Om’s celebration now/ an unceasing requiem. Yet we chant in hope, / for peace; Om Shantih, Shantih, Shantih.”

ANTHROPOCENE Climate Change, Contagion, Consolation, a timely meditation on the effects of the pandemic and climate disruption, offers readers an opportunity to delve into a world of a poet who is attuned to the changes in his body and environment. His focus on the plight of the migrants and his attention to the lives of his friends rises to the level of prayer as Simone Weil in Gravity and Grace muses, “Attention, taken to its highest degree, is the same thing as prayer.” In this sense, Anthropocene is both a prayer and a jeremiad. I hope we will listen.  

About the Author

 

Sudeep Sen

Sudeep Sen’s [www.sudeepsen.org] prize-winning books include: Postmarked India: New & Selected Poems (HarperCollins), Rain, Aria (A. K. Ramanujan Translation Award), Fractals: New & Selected Poems | Translations 1980-2015 (London Magazine Editions), EroText (Vintage: Penguin Random House), Kaifi Azmi: Poems | Nazms (Bloomsbury) and Anthropocene: Climate Change, Contagion, Consolation (Pippa Rann). He has edited influential anthologies, including: The HarperCollins Book of English Poetry (editor), World English Poetry, and Modern English Poetry by Younger Indians (Sahitya Akademi).  Blue Nude: Ekphrasis & New Poems (Jorge Zalamea International Poetry Prize) and The Whispering Anklets are forthcoming. Sen’s works have been translated into over 25 languages. His words have appeared in the Times Literary Supplement, Newsweek, Guardian, Observer, Independent, Telegraph, Financial Times, Herald, Poetry Review, Literary Review, Harvard Review, Hindu, Hindustan Times, Times of India, Indian Express, Outlook, India Today, and broadcast on bbc, pbs, cnn ibn, ndtv, air & Doordarshan. Sen’s newer work appears in New Writing 15 (Granta), Language for a New Century (Norton), Leela: An Erotic Play of Verse and Art (Collins), Indian Love Poems (Knopf/Random House/Everyman), Out of Bounds (Bloodaxe), Initiate: Oxford New Writing (Blackwell), and Name me a Word (Yale). He is the editorial director of AARK ARTS, editor of Atlas, and currently the inaugural artist-in-residence at the Museo Camera. Sen is the first Asian honoured to deliver the Derek Walcott Lecture and read at the Nobel Laureate Festival. The Government of India awarded him the senior fellowship for “outstanding persons in the field of culture/literature.”

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October 21, 2021

New Book: Marcus Teaches Us

 

Marcus Garvey

On October 21, 2021, Dr. Eleanor Wint, a retired professor of Social Work, recognized for her experience and contribution to development in Africa and the Caribbean, teams up with Annu Yah Kadhi Stewart, an avid reader of Marcus Garvey, to release the third edition of Marcus Teaches Us.  

Born in Jamaica, Marcus Garvey rose from humble origins to lead the largest mass movement of “Africans at home and abroad.” A gifted public speaker and writer, Garvey used his pen and oratorical gifts to liberate his people from the effects of slavery and colonialism.

Simplified for kids 6-9 years old, Marcus Teaches Us weaves the subtle message that Black people should strive to become self-reliant entrepreneurs and economic leaders. The third edition of Marcus Teaches Us also includes two special lessons from Marcus Garvey’s Course on African Philosophy, and encourages kids to have pride in themselves with respect and love for others.  

Beautifully illustrated with many activities and downloads, Marcus Teaches Us reminds children of other great Black heroes, heroines, and influencers and is available from Amazon as a paperback and ebook.

We encourage families to get a hold of the paperback to promote a sense of ownership that supports self-worth and self-identification with the content for the child. 

Get your copy today! https://www.amazon.com/Marcus-Teaches-Us-Simplified-years/dp/1777561043/ 

 

About the Authors

Dr. Eleanor Wint, former Head of the Social Work Unit, UWI Mona and Head of Community Empowerment Unit, then the University of Natal S.A., resides in Canada. She uses her blog and publications to bring home the message of self-empowerment to parents and children. She has five publications in the area to date, with Marcus Teaches Us (3) being the latest. Her writing is rooted in her life experiences (USA, Canada, Africa, and the Caribbean), working with families and children in their different cultures.

Nine-year-old Annu Yah Kadhi Stewart, a native of Jamaica, is still in school. He is a valuable outspoken proponent of Marcus Garvey. He uses his own YouTube channel, “Star Seed Annu Talks,” to share how he sees this way of thinking should become a way of life. ‘Annu’ means…sent from heaven, and ‘Yah Kadhi’ means…courageous. A true Garveyite.

October 15, 2021

Meet the Author: Andrew Moss

STRONG IN BROKEN PLACES

 

STRONG IN THE BROKEN PLACES will be hosting a virtual "Meet the Author" with Andrew Kwabena Moss on October 21, 2021 at 5:30 pm (ET/USA).

Andrew Kwabena Moss is an Anglo-Ghanaian writer who specializes in Anansesem, the storytelling tradition of the Akan-speaking people of West Africa.

Andrew is a writer and teacher who has lived in the UK, Japan, and Australia. His work seeks to explore and challenge liminal landscapes, complex identities, and the social constructs of race. Most recently, Andrew’s poem, “Ecology of Healing,” is featured in Poetry for the Planet and The Best New British and Irish Poets Anthology 2019-2021 by The Black Spring Press Group. He has also been published by Afropean, People in Harmony, Fly on the Wall Press, and Sound the Abeng: Writing Black, Aboriginal & Indigenous Lives (https://www.soundtheabengmarvamcclean.com)

STRONG IN THE BROKEN PLACES is a writing collaborative that stretches across the globe, scripting a narrative with literary warriors who are intentional in writing truth into history, in exposing the ugly truths of social injustice while at the same time offering up the healing power of words. Writers speak from the intimate chambers of their souls to reveal the redemptive power of storytelling and community through words designed to inspire, entertain, and provoke thoughtful responses.

 

October 21, 2021 @ 5:30 PM ET/USA-

ZOOM ID: 794 5002 7512

Passcode: 1qxFvk