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In anticipation of Caribbean American Heritage Month, I’ll be running a series called Video Fridays. I’m starting the series with a video of my own, “Everglades Litany.” The poem was first published in xango music (Peepal Tree Press) and the images are from these sources:
Here are some other sites that also have some incredible images:
http://hobor.hu/blog/2006/apr/everglades_national_park_florida_usa__part_2_.htmlAnd if you want to do something about the encroachment:
Everglades Digital Library
Environment Florida - Founders of The "Save The Everglades" campaign
Everglades National Park (National Park Service)
Friends of the Everglades
Everglades National Park
Photos of Everglades National Park - Terra Galleria
South Florida Environmental Report (South Florida Water Management District and Florida DEP)
Have a great weekend!
I believe that artists should talk about money, because they should talk about value, and they should educate their patrons about value. Artists should determine these standards, although anyone may seem to be able to, as the saying goes, ‘wash their foot and jump in…” to the art arena, and clearly the arena is willing and able to absorb them. The art world of Trinidad and Tobago needs to set standards of quality. If so, everyone will rise to the level that they are comfortable with, and things would not be so ambiguous as they presently seem to be.
This is an important discussion (especially given the relative wealth of Trinidad) because it begins a dialogue between two groups that are often at variance with each other: artists and their patrons. The seeming differences between artists and patrons are often caused by a lack of understanding of each other's needs. In order to create a common language, it is often useful to use Abraham Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs to gain a broader perspective about the issues.Basically Maslow's theory and its subsequent revision in 1970 states that there are seven human needs:
3. Love and Belonging
"The first four layers of the pyramid are what Maslow called "deficiency needs" or "D-needs": the individual does not feel anything if they are met, but feels anxious if they are not met. The deficiency needs are: survival needs, safety and security, love and belonging, and self-esteem." (Wikipedia). In other words, for most individuals their physiological needs must be met before they consider anything else.I stress "most individuals" because artists throughout history have been known to forgo the first four needs in order to concentrate on their aesthetic needs. For once an artist has sensed beauty, she begins on a path to explore her initial impulse and the many surprises that will come as part of the journey. This lifestyle has often artists at odds with their families and their patrons.
Many of the patrons of the arts, who have achieved a certain level of self actualization by meeting their physiological, safety, belonging, and self-esteem needs, do not understand the aesthetic need. They have a roof (or roofs) over their heads, money and time for leisure, security guards and police at their back and call, and because of the goods and services they provide, they are often respected members of a community which means that they are afforded a certain kind of respect or perhaps even love.
In such a conflict, both sides lose. The potential patron is deprived of an experience that could broaden her understanding of what it means to be alive in a certain time and place, and the artist has lost a means of meeting her physiological needs and self-esteem needs. For even if the artist thinks she has risen above her basic human needs, sooner or later she will have to eat. And if she chooses to eat or get health insurance, she will face some very interesting dilemmas. In order to eat, does she "dumb down" the presentation of her subjects? Does she pander to "lower needs" by only tackling subjects that will "bring home the bacon" instead of pursuing the complexity of her art that comes with maturity? And although her art may ultimately be a form of spiritual practice, until she transcends the belief that her self-worth is attached to recognition by others, her ego will take a beating as she sees others being rewarded for work that is informed by fancy and not the imagination.
The need for the continuation of this conversation has never been greater, and thebookman is to be congratulated for starting the dialogue. For as the pressures of globalization and the boundary-less Internet erode the issues of communal/national identity, Caribbean artists may turn away from the important work that they do in discovering beauty in a space that has only known tragedy, ugliness, and genocide, and begin to concentrate on meeting their physiological needs. If left unchecked, this can lead to our communities losing the habit of seeing beauty in our everyday experiences and a coarsening of human intercourse. For artists also provide a means for us to ask questions such as "Who are we?" and "Where are we going?" "What is beautiful?" And if these questions of identity are left unanswered over long periods of time, our community will lose a sense of wholeness, which despite the best efforts of business persons and politicians, will not satisfy the most basic questions of human identity that only artists can answer through the medium of metaphor.
Now that you have conceived your book idea and polished a complete fiction or nonfiction manuscript--or perhaps drafted a proposal--are you ready to become a published author? Join our workshop to learn how the publishing industry works and receive personalized guidance preparing your tools for finding the right agent and publisher. Weekly “anchor” lectures and individualized critiques of query letters, proposals and submission strategies provide students professional feedback while you create effective presentation tools.Janell Walden Agyeman has been a literary agent with Marie Brown Associates Literary Services since 1993, representing authors of books for children and adults. A publishing industry veteran, she previously held editorial positions at Doubleday & Company and the Howard University Press and administered the Howard University Press Book Publishing Institute. She is the proprietor of Blue Horizon Author Services and frequently leads seminars for new authors on the publishing process.
“Say What?” Writing Good Dialogue
Six Tuesdays, June 3 – July 8, 2008, 6:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.
Instructor: Nick Garnett
Nick Garnett is currently revising his memoir, Straight Man—A Married Guy’s Journey to Fire Island and Back which is currently with a literary agent. He was recently accepted into FIU’s Creative Writing MFA program and has taught frequently for Miami Dade College’s Florida Center for the Literary Arts.
Michael Hettich has published a dozen books and chapbooks of poetry, most recently Swimmer Dreams and Flock and Shadow: New and Selected Poems, both of which were published in 2005. His awards include The Tales Prize and Florida Arts Fellowships. Flock and Shadow was named a Book Sense Top Ten Pick in Poetry for 2006. He teaches at Miami Dade College.
Elements of Nonfiction—It’s Not What You Think
Six Thursdays, June 5 – July 10, 2008, 6:30 p.m. - 8:30 p.m.
Instructor: Elizabeth Hanly
“Nonfiction” as a category is bigger, better, richer than many of us imagine.
In this course we will explore the range of the genre focusing on those who created “new journalism”–Tom Wolfe, and Gay Talese–those who are working in the ground between Latin America, the Caribbean and The States–Richard Rodriguez and Edwidge Danticat–as well as less well-known writers who are pushing the genre still further, sometimes writing essays as free verse.This course is designed to give those attending a wider range of choices, of colors if you will, with which to approach their own work.
Recommended text: The Next American Essay, edited by John D’Agata and published by Graywolf Press.
Elizabeth Hanly is a journalist focusing on Latin America, religion, and the arts. Her work has been published in a wide range of magazines and newspapers, including the New York Times and The Guardian of London. She has taught all levels of writing at FIU’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication and finds herself increasingly intrigued by the possibilities of creative nonfiction.
For more information, registration forms and fees, call (305) 237-3940 or visit www.flcenterlitarts.com.The Florida Center for the Literary Arts (FCLA) at Miami Dade College (MDC) promotes reading and writing throughout the year by presenting literary activities to the community.
Walcott was critical of the American standard, saying "you don't tell stories, you don't mould character, you don't have a beginning, a middle and end. That is old-fashioned. It is good that Caribbean people are old-fashioned. They still tell stories and that is what the human heart yearns for".
He began writing in the mid-1960s and came to notice in 1967 with a prize-winning poem, 'The Creole Gang'. His early poems were published in New World, Kaie, Voices and various anthologies. His first published collection, Meanings (1972) begins his exploration of the consciousness of the Indo-Guyanese 'divided by horizon's edges, yet/ telling of no other worlds/ but mine'. His second collection, Patterns (1983) continued the creative but painful potential of this limbo consciousness, asking "Who am I/between buried copper trunks/voices in the cemeteries?/Oh whom am I/between a dying consciousness,/a growing vision."
Monar also began to write short stories, encouraged by his blood brother, the folklorist and poet Wordsworth McAndrew, though it was almost another ten years before they saw publication as the classic Backdam People first published in 1985 and in a new edition in 1987. After Backdam People, Peepal Tree brought out a collection of Monar's poems, Koker (1987), followed by his novel, Janjhat (1989) which explores the tempestuous first year of a marriage under the interfering pressure of the boy's mother. The move from estate to village life is explored in the short stories of High House and Radio which sees the backdam people leave their logies for their new high houses and the coherent Indianness of the estate challenged by the new visions brought by the radio, politicians, and the pursuit of more individual lives.
Since then Monar has written two works of popular fiction, Ramsingh Street and Tormented Wives (1999). In 1987 he was awarded a special Judges' Prize for his contribution to Guyanese writing.
Baling and throwing
among green canes from rusty punts,
their sweated faces
show how many days and nights have passed
between cane roots and black streams,
sunburnt trashes and parched earth,
wearied days and restless reality.
Their hands and limbs are but fragments
that walk and bathe,
when sun shines, rains fall
and drivers shout.
Who can tell when midday meets
their rest - they eat, they talk?
Their limbs cry and hearts burn.
Is this not the century of dreams,
of tales told by ancestors
of a faith told by life?
Again and again they will bale and throw
curse and rest among green canes
and black earth, wishing, wishing. . .
The CD features vocals by Sharon Forrester, Ettosi, Cindy, Cassandra, Winston Dias, Taurus Alphanso, Splity Atombo, and Major Conrod. Musicians are Dean Fraser, Karl Pitterson, Mikey Fanus, and Splitty Atombo. Marlon Smith, Malachi’s son is the production engineer for the project. The liner notes for the CD were written by Professor Mervyn Morris of the University of the West Indies (UWI). According to Morris, Luv Dub Fever is Malachi's "best CD."
Luv Dub Fever is Malachi’s fourth album. Malachi has a MSCJ from Florida International University (FIU). As a James Mitchener fellow at the University of Miami, Malachi studied poetry under Lorna Goodison and playwriting under Fred D’Aguiar. He has won many awards for his poetry. Malachi is also a Miami-Dade County Police Officer (Field Training Officer).Malachi is a leader in the Caribbean community in South Florida, where he resides with his family. He is also in the process of recording his next CD, still to be titled, of dialect poems about his love of county.
Learn how the publishing industry works and receive personalized guidance preparing your tools for finding the right agent and publisher. Get professional feedback while you create effective presentation tools.
Learn how to recognize, appreciate, and create effective dialogue and avoid the traps which can bring your story to a grinding halt. You’ll come away from this class with the skills necessary to make your dialogue work for your characters and your story.
In this class, you’ll examine the most commonly-employed metrical patterns in English poetry and attempt to understand how these patterns work to create the rhythms of vivid poetry. Sample poems, practice scansion, and listen for the rhythms of thought each poem enacts. Attempt original writings in a wide range of traditional poetic forms – from the sonnet and villanelle to the haiban and ghazal.
Explore the range of the genre focusing on those who created “new journalism”–Tom Wolfe, and Gay Talese–those who are working in the ground between Latin America, the Caribbean and The States–Richard Rodriguez and Edwidge Danticat–as well as less well-known writers who are pushing the genre still further, sometimes writing essays as free verse.
Tuition: $95. For more info on workshops, instructors and registration forms, visit www.flcenterlitarts.com, or call (305) 237-3940.
"What good is a community without stories? What value is a society without storytellers? I mean beyond crick crack. Beyond the loss of douens to electric lights and Anansi replaced by the World Wide Web.
The carrier of the stories is the carrier of the wisdom and a sensibility that you can’t and never will get from the Red House.
The carrier of the stories is both the revolutionary and the peacemaker. Who shows the community its beauty and its dirt and its light.
A storyteller is a shape-shifter who uses every tool, every image, every sense to draw you in, capture your imagination."
His memoirs begin with a return to post-volcanic Montserrat to rediscover the now abandoned village of Harris’ and his grandmother’s old house and his meticulous and moving reconstruction of his boyhood in that house – a grand house that made the family feel that settling in the Harrow Road end of Maida Vale was a distinctly ‘downwards’ move for a cultivated Caribbean family.
And it is Markham’s wryly humorous navigation between the poles of his family’s confident sense of their worth and the racial attitudes of those times that makes his account of his travails in the rag-trade, his pop-singer ambitions, the discovery that they were living next door to a leading member of the British Union of Fascists, and his involvement with the ‘angry-young-men’ shifts in 1950s British culture such a rewarding and human document.
In the new poems from ‘Children of the Morning’ there is both a focus on the lives of the young, and a Blakean concern with the quality and integrity of childhood experience that clearly grows from his work as a storyteller with children. These are both songs of innocence and experience, of what ought to be, and, as in ‘Stephen’s Song’, of a young life snuffed out by racism.
I forget the tree’s fabled endurance;
the egret’s unconscious geometry;
the dog’s hard-earned freedom.
I sip my coffee and read;
suddenly it tastes bitter.
In these poems of quirky, unassuming observations, McKenzie never preaches, but he does find sermons in lilies, and what he discovers for himself provides a way of wisdom for those readers inclined to look for it. And beyond the personal, he locates the sources of endurance in his grasp of Jamaican/Caribbean history. In ‘Philosophers in the Crossing’, for instance, he writes of the African philosophers who ‘volunteered to join the victims/in their crossing...’ for there had to be someone ‘to say something/ to those who would be thrown/into the sea’, and concludes that:
These philosophers endured it all,/ and survive/ in our proverbs and songs,/ in kumina, myal and rastafari/ and in the tongues of Garvey and Marley..
The jungle, grown impatient with us all,
Has marched on military feet,
Has assaulted the rice and sugar coastland,
Checkerboard of historical habit.
The jungle’s retribution
Has invaded the capital.
In every street, branched giants have uprooted houses.
Monkeys with green faces and critical eyes
Open doors or climb into windows.
Terrible is their barking laughter.
Contrivances of our desperate spirit fail.
The sham we thought was our reality boils,
Evaporates, is gone, not even a fume
Remains. Inside each hollow skull
Something rattles - perhaps a knuckle
Of the dead, still weeping man, that, as he rubbed
The dusty trickle of his tears, became unhinged
And fell behind the absence of his eyes.
Ant-bears scribble with their snouts and tongues
Daintily on the infested skin of corpses.
Fleshy flowers, beating like live hearts,
Decorate the starkness of our pavements.
Troops of vipers move deployed, my love.
Essential horror has occurred, my love.
In the middle of an important street
An inventor of the black man’s soul lies dead.
His fingers clutch neither machete nor bomb,
But an anguished book he wrote - published in England.
O jaguar, lady, muse, teacher, it was you
Who banged your jaws into his throat, then ripped.
Post a picture or make/take/create your own that captures what YOU are most passionate for students to learn about.
Give your picture a short title.
Title your blog post “Meme: Passion Quilt.”
Link back to this blog entry.
Time: Wednesday, May 14, 2008 7:30 p.m.
Location: Books & Books, Bal Harbour Shops