June 30, 2008

Wanted: The Transformation of a Trickster/ Warrior

WantedThis weekend my family and I went to see Wanted, one of the best written Trickster movies in recent years. Well, it's not a pure Trickster movie. It's more of a Trickster/Warrior movie. This is all right with me because these are the two dominant archetypes in Jamaican culture.

To a certain extent, Wanted follows the pattern in James N. Frey's, The Key: How to Write Damn Good Fiction Using the Power of Myth which applies Joseph Campbell's insights into the structure of the so-called "monomyth" to creative writing. Many avid moviegoers will recognize the elements which have been used in films such as Star Wars, The Matrix, and Harry Potter.

1.The story opens with the hero, usually male, functioning badly in the Everyday World and desiring something (he doesn't know what he wants) to escape from his mundane life (Neo's wake up call in The Matrix)

2. A Herald bursts into the hero's life with a Call to Adventure: to go on a Quest to recover/retrieve something that has been lost or stolen (Princess Leia in Star Wars)

3. The hero may or may not answer the Call to Adventure. If he refuses the call, he will suffer. This is the plight of many of the characters in James Joyce's Dubliners.

4. For novels and full length films, the hero accepts the Call (sometimes reluctantly) and meets a Mentor (Morpheus in The Matrix or Dumbledore in Harry Potter) who introduces the hero to the Armorer and the Magical Helper (Mouse, Apoc, and Tank in The Matrix)

5. A Threshold Guardian appears at this moment and warns the hero of the dangers. Cypher in The Matrix: "Little piece of advice: you see an Agent, you do what we do; run. Run your ass off." If the hero ignores the advice, he crosses The Threshold and enters the Mythological Woods. The hero has begun The Initiation.

6. During the Initiation, the hero will be Tested and will learn all the rules of the new environment. Morpheus's advice to Neo: "This is a sparring program. Similar to the programmed reality of the Matrix. It has the same basic rules . . . rules like gravity. What you must learn is that these rules are no different than the rules of a computer system. Some of them can be bent. Others can be broken."

7. The hero may have a Sidekick (Trinity in The Matrix) and encounters many variations of the female archetype: Mother, Goddess, Witch, Whore, Femme Fatale (The Oracle, Persephone, Niobe in The Matrix and The Matrix:Reloaded)

8. The hero will also be in conflict with the Evil One (Valdemort in Harry Potter) or his willing surrogates. (The Merovingian in The Matrix: Reloaded)

9. The hero will be betrayed, have a change in consciousness, fall in love, or lose a loved one to death.

10. The hero will undergo a Death and Rebirth. (Neo's death and rebirth in The Matrix)

11. Confrontation with the Evil One in his or her environment (Neo and The Architect)

12 The hero fails or triumphs (momentarily) over the Evil One (Neo and The Architect in The Matrix: Reloaded)

13. The hero returns to the community and is Retested.

14. During the return, there is another confrontation with the Evil One and the hero gains the prize.

15. Once the hero is reintegrated back into the community, the prize may be rejected or an imposter may take the credit.

The most important element of the monomyth is the transformation of the hero (through time) over the course of the adventure and to witness his becoming aware of his change. In other words, the prize is unimportant--it's a MacGuffin.

So, Wanted could be called The Education/Transformation of an "apathetic nobody" into an "unparalleled enforcer of justice" and we watch in fascination as Wesley Gibson accepts the call to adventure, is initiated into a fraternity of Trickster/ Warriors, and his confrontation with the Evil One played by Morgan Freeman.

I was also intrigued by the use of Trickster symbolism and its connection with Yoruba and Akan mythology:

1. X of Eshu (Eleggua, Papa Legba), God of the Threshold

2. The web/loom of Anancy mythology

3. The circles used in Akan and Yoruba mythology and the necessary creative irruption that causes dis-equilibrium and the appearance of the Trickster

And if that wasn't all, the visual effects and stunt scenes were remarkable and managed to disrupt my analysis/enjoyment of the film as I was watching it.

And, of course, there was Angelina Jolie

***
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June 27, 2008

"Dancing With Katrina" by Geoffrey Philp



For this week’s Video Friday and the 600th post on this blog, here’s a poem livicated to Kalamu ya Salaam, who despite the disaster that was happening around him, continued with his valuable service to the community with e-drum.



Dancing with Katrina

For Kalamu ya Salaam


Paddling through New Orleans,


past a shotgun house up to its threshold

in brine, a dog, paws folded, waits

on the roof of his owner’s drowned

home, and stares across the river

at splintered houses in the shade

of pines, swaying in the wind

that keeled those sailboats

in the bay, leaning on each other

like partygoers after Mardi Gras,

when music filled the streets

like the laughter of those Creole

ladies, bright as Louis Armstrong’s horn,

that gave birth to this city,

dredged in the blues,

that hour by hour rises from her despair,

and puts on her favorite torn stockings,

so that when the waters go,

as they will,

she will be ready to work

as she has always worked

with style,

she will be ready to live

as she has always lived

with love,

she’ll be ready

to welcome all of God’s wayward

children into her arms again,

and dance with her stilettos in the mud.




September 10, 2005




Next week’s Video Friday will feature CM Clark’s “Learning to Drive.”


Have a great weekend!

***



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Accepting Submissions: Poui, the Cave Hill Literary Annual

June 24, 2008


A Note About POUI


This is to let you know that POUI No 9 is late because of changes in the format and the addition of another person, Mark Jason Welch, to the Editorial Board. Jason is the editor of POUI No. 9.

This is also to remind you that, notwithstanding the above-mentioned delay, the deadline for submissions to POUI No. 10 remains 31st July, 2008. So far we have received fewer submissions for No. 10 than is usual at this stage – please send in your submissions by the deadline.

POUI Editorial Board

For more information, visit Seawoman 





Poui, the Cave Hill Literary Annual, is published by the Centre for Caribbean Literature of the Department of Language, Linguistics and Literature, University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus.


Poui welcomes submissions of previously unpublished poetry and fiction.
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June 25, 2008

Anancy @ The Caribbean Book and Art Fair 2008

Caribbean Book and Art Fair 2008The Caribbean Book and Art Fair 2008 was a wonderful opportunity to read with old friends Donna Weir-Soley, Joan Cartwright, Eunice Tate, Malachi, and Carole Boyce-Davis. It was also good to meet Jeanine Agant and Marcia Douglas.Jeanine and I read during the children's section, and I was pleased and surprised that many of the children knew about Anancy. The parents who attended the book fair have obviously done a good job with educating their children, and I didn't have to give the history of Anancy. All I had to do was read and enjoy being with the children.I began with the second chapter of Grandpa Sydney's Anancy Stories where Kevin, the bully, confronts Jimmy in the playground. I could see and hear the children's reactions when Kevin took away Jimmy's snack and it was an affirmation that I'd captured their imagination.The Caribbean Book and Art Fair is off to an auspicious start. I'm already looking forward to next year's program and to be a part of their growth.
***
For photos of the Caribbean Book and Art Fair, please follow this link: Anancy in Miramar

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June 24, 2008

Trouble on the Horizon

With the downturn in the US economy and the concomitant effects on Jamaican/Caribbean life, John Maxwell offers a few solutions to the crisis.
We need to start NOW distributing seeds and slips - peas, beans, corn, pumpkin, sweet potatoes, sweet peppers, carrots, coco, tannia, dasheen, yampi, and other easily grown backyard crops with high nutritional value. We will need to persuade large landowners, in their own survival interest, to disgorge some of the enormous acreages which they don't use and don't need. Right off the bat the government needs to ban all conversion of farmland into non-farm uses and, as the British did in the Second World War, require all landowners to devote at least 10 per cent of their land to food production. This will guarantee more food, increased employment and reduced praedial larceny.
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June 23, 2008

Reader Question: "My Brother's Keeper"

Oxford Book of Caribbean Short StoriesHi

My name is Lynn and I'm a third year student studying literature and one of my courses is Caribbean Lit. I have an assignment on one of your short stories "My Brother's Keeper" and I was wondering if you can share what issues you were trying to address and what exactly was going through your mind. I would appreciate your help.


Thank YOU,


Lynn





Dear Lynn,


Greetings!


Lynn, I'm going to combine your question with a few I had from another student who has been studying "My Brother's Keeper" which was originally published in Uncle Obadiah and the Alien and republished in the Oxford Book of Caribbean Short Stories.


Could tell me some of the significant events in your life that I may share with the class and what means most to you about Jamaica.


In one of my earliest posts, I wrote about many of the events that shaped my life and fictions. Here is the link:

Lecture at Davidson College


I notice that you made reference to Marcus Garvey, what are your views on him?


Marcus Garvey has had a tremendous impact on Jamaican life. If Marcus Garvey had not been born, Rastafari, Bob Marley, and Reggae would not have existed. In fact, many of the Pan-African and liberation movements would not have been possible without Marcus Garvey.

Here's a post that I have written about him.

Happy Birthday, Marcus Garvey


You also mentioned how the narrator kills a mockingbird and his mother is angered by it? Is this a reference to Harper Lee's
To Kill A Mockingbird or does the bird represent something else to you?


Maybe it is, but when I was writing the story, I was thinking about the mockingbird representing motherhood, spring and life and the dangerous ground that the boy was now unconsciously entering.



What were some of the things that influenced you to write this story?


Child abuse in Jamaica, the diaspora, sibling rivalry, Cain and Abel. One of the enduring tropes of the Bible and the book of Genesis is sibling rivalry that culminates in the story of Joseph and his brothers. I've also used this allusion in Benjamin, my son.


There is also a mention of the narrator's father beating his mother? Do you believe that physical abuse is a big problem in Jamaica?

Yes.


What do you think of the women's rights over there at the moment?

Despite the many political gains by women in Jamaica, I still believe that women's rights are still devalued. The irony is that many Jamaican men are brought up by women and without any father figures, but the men retain formal political/economic power.



What are the primary roles women have in society?

A. Caregivers



I am curious to know what you mean by "bangarang" in the line, "When I get back home that night though, it was bangarang."

Bangarang in Jamaican means a lot of trouble



The mother in the story emphasizes the importance of Sabbath school while the narrator claims he only goes to please her, what religion is predominantly practiced in Jamaica and what are the less known religious affiliations?

This is from the CIA Fact Book:


Religions:
Protestant 62.5%
(Seventh-Day Adventist 10.8%,
Pentecostal 9.5%,
Church of God 8.3%,
Baptist 7.2%,
New Testament Church of God 6.3%,
Church of God in Jamaica 4.8%,
Church of God of Prophecy 4.3%,
Anglican 3.6%,
other Christian 7.7%),
Roman Catholic 2.6%,
Other or unspecified 14.2%,
None 20.9%, (2001 census)

https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/jm.html

I find it interesting that they did not include Rastafari.


Another term I did not understand was jacket when the narrator says, "Well, everybody start to laugh because him never look anything like anybody in my family and Richard say him must be a jacket. Richard did want to change my name from Umpire to 'Three Piece Suit and Thing'.

A jacket in Jamaican is an illegitimate child. "Three Piece Suit and Thing" is a play on the word jacket.


The narrator makes a strong statement shortly after saying, "So the truth come out, but it never set me free", what underlying truth is being referred to?

It's a play on the biblical phrase (John 8:32 ) "and the truth shall set you free." The narrator is thinking short term. He speaks the truth, but it doesn't have the result he expected.


Is the story symbolic to Jamaicans attitudes toward Jamaicans who leave the island to live in the states and later return after long periods of time gone?

I wasn't thinking about it that way. I was thinking about two brothers fighting for the affection/love of a dead father.


Is there some kind of need for re-entry/approval that must be given metaphorically similar to the David's sacrifice for the watch?

David's sacrifice is to win the approval of his brother--yes, a re-entry sacrifice .



Thank you, Lynn, for this opportunity!

Blessings,

Geoffrey

***

June 20, 2008

"Easy Skanking" by Geoffrey Philp




I know Rethabile likes this one, so for Video Fridays and his birthday, here’s my version of “Easy Skanking.”


Easy Skanking


all saturday evenings

should be like this, caressing

your thigh while reading neruda

with his odes to matilde's arms,

breasts, hair--everything about her

that made him

a part of this bountiful earth--

lilies, onions, avocados--that fed

his poetry the way

rain washes the dumb cane with desire

or banyans break through asphalt--

this is the nirvana that the buddha

with his bald monks and tiresome sutras

never knew or else he'd never have left

his palace and longing bride--

the supple feel of your leg in my hands

for which i'd spin the wheel of karma

a thousand lifetimes, more



***

Tomorrow I will be reading from Grandpa Sydney's Anancy Stories@ the Caribbean Book & Art Fair, Miramar City Hall, 2300 Civic Center Drive, Miramar, FL 33025 .

Saturday, June 21, 2008.

Here's the list of writers: CABA Authors

Have a great weekend!

June 19, 2008

Today is Juneteenth

Juneteenth
Lest we forget...
clipped from www.juneteenth.com


Juneteenth is the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States.


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In Six Words

Miami
The Fearless Blog has asked me to participate in this meme, and it looks like fun, so here goes:

I live for joy and beauty.

A husband, a father, a son, a brother, I was born in Kingston, Jamaica, and then, I moved to Miami, Florida where I've lived for the past twenty-nine years. A writer and teacher, I will continue to travel, learn, and write until "One bright morning when my work is over, I will fly away home."

***
If you've read this and you'd like to join in, consider yourself tagged!

June 16, 2008

"Red" by Geoffrey Philp




The Crafty Green Poet has reintroduced me to a form that I'd long considered, but never attempted: the ghazal. And while this poem does not adhere strictly to the form, it did allow me to play with the word "red," which at the start of the poem refers to a biracial person or "half-caste."

It's a strange thing, this blogging--this trying out of new things in public--merely setting the poems free the way that The Crafty Green Poet, Fragano, Rethabile, and Stephen do regularly. My friends, you have liberated me…


Red


It burst from those lips that I'd adored, "You're just too red!"

The curse of being apart, neither black nor white, but red



followed me through the streets, staining the shadow

of those fires that flared behind my mother's garden: red



ginger towering over anthuriums with their bruised phalloi

straining against the bark of the live oak, stunned red



petals bending in the sunlight to the weight of shame,

their pliant skin absorbing yellow and blue to become red



like the way by resisting we become the thing we fear the most--

as I now accept this blessing freed from race. Call me Red.



***


June 14, 2008

All or Nothing in the New York Times

Preston Allen's remarkable novel, All or Nothing, gets a rave review in the New York Times.
clipped from www.nytimes.com

Nevertheless, just as he’s finally lost his family, P does win — and big. This leads him to Vegas, where he plays in big-stakes poker tournaments, sporting the requisite black Stetson of the “whale,” or perennial high-roller. Even when his fortunes improve, P senses his spiritual bankruptcy, eventually attaining a form of sobriety through solitaire. He still haunts the casinos, however, as a sort of Ghost of Jackpots Past, dispensing funds and cryptic wisdom to desperate gamblers. (That he sleeps with some of them complicates his newfound saintliness.)

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June 13, 2008

Black Enough?

Preston Allen, whose novel All or Nothing will be reviewed in the New York Times this Sunday (June 15th, 2008), writes a must-read post about race, ethnicity, and storytelling.
Yes, when I was a young writer, I used to feel self-imposed pressure when I did not write black stories. I had stuff that I wrote for myself, and then I had “serious” stuff that I wrote for the black community. Like I said, I was young. At the same time, I was very much interested in science fiction, thrillers, and classic American lit 101, most of which did not have much to do, thematically, with African Americans. Thus, many of my stories were already “roaming beyond the African American thing,” but I felt a little bit guilty about it. Like I was selling out my race. I was young. So young. When I grew up, I said, “I am going to write what I write and let the chips fall where they may. I will master my craft and become the best writer that I can be. Readers will like me because I am a good storyteller, not because I have a certain color skin.”

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“Remembering Louis Armstrong” by Joseph McNair



This week’s Video Friday selection is “Remembering Louis Armstrong” by Joseph McNair


Joseph D. McNair is an African American educator, poet/writer, journalist, and musician. He is currently an Associate Professor, Senior in the School of Education at Miami Dade College, North Campus in Miami-Florida. He is the founder/editor of Asili: The Journal of Multicultural Heartspeak, an on-line literary magazine ten years old this year. He is a recipient of two of Miami Dade College's endowed teaching chairs. His published works include two volumes (Earthbook in 1971 and An Odyssey 1976) and one chapbook of poetry (Juba Girl in 1973). A collection of Selected Works is scheduled for release in early 2008. He has written three books for adolescent readers published by The Child's World Journey to Freedom: The African American Library series. These are Leontyne Price (2000), Barbara Jordan: African American Politician(2000), and Ralph Bunche (2001). His latest release, O Şe Şango, a novel, will be published by The Asili Press October/November 2007. As a journalist, he is the author of sixty-five feature articles and commentary written under his own name and several pseudonyms between 1986 and 1989 for Hotline Newsmagazine, a popular and influential Northern Nigerian weekly. In 1996 he authored a college textbook entitled Multicultural Awareness/Consciousness: Toward a Process of Personal Transformation. In 1997 he coauthored Individuals In Transition with three Social Science Colleagues. In 1998 he revised his first text under a new title: Personal Transformations: The Process of Multicultural Awareness/Consciousness. He is a prolific on-line author and manages several websites.

June 12, 2008

The Poster Girl Who Was Cut Out of the Picture

Kwame Dawes, a poet and professor at the University of South Carolina, continues his reporting on the HIV/AIDS crisis in Jamaica. For related poetry, photography and video interviews, visit http://livehopelove.com.


Last October, I met Annesha again in a brightly lit examination room in the clinic where she had first been diagnosed. She looked me in the eye and explained the dilemma of being young and HIV-positive and wanting to be loved. She knew that no man would marry her unless he was also infected. But she didn't want a husband who was HIV-positive; someone already suffering from the disease could be infected with a more virulent strain. She also knew that she would have a hard time finding a partner who wasn't positive. "The ones who are not positive, they won't walk with me in the public," she said.

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June 11, 2008

Anancy @ Madie Ives Elementary School

Anancy

The children at Madie Ives Elementary School helped me to experience being the kind of artist I've always imagined myself to be: a writer working in the community for the community. And because Grandpa Sydney's Anancy Stories is set in our neighborhood of Ives Estates, they were delighted when I read about the trees, birds, people and things that they see (0r didn't see until we read about it in the book) every morning and evening when they walk to and from school. We talked about using the imagination to solve problems and conflict resolution. I made a special effort to emphasize that Anancy as the smallest, weakest animal in the forest was often the target of bullies. They were also full of questions:


Q. Does it take a lot of reading to write good stories?


A. Even if you are a born storyteller, reading other stories and learning what makes a story work is always helpful. (Everything comes down to form.) In this way I am very "old fashioned" because I believe that stories should have a beginning, middle, and end.

The more you read, the more you will discover new ways of telling stories and you will learn about other writers who faced similar situations and you will learn about the answers that they devised. You may not agree with them, but you have given yourself another alternative, another possibility, another choice.


Q. How many steps does it take to write a book?


A. These steps don't follow a 1, 2, 3 pattern. They all overlap. But, generally, these are the steps:

1. The "AHA" moment when an idea pops into your head either by sheer luck or the conscious effort of always reading, reflecting, and making connections with your life.

2. The "squirrel' stage. You begin to do research by reading, getting all the facts straight by asking who, what, why where, when, and how.

3. Planning. Figuring out how you are going to tell the story. First, second or third person? How to begin? Some writers skip this stage. They just begin and worry about this later. Because I'm usually involved with other projects other than teaching, I've always had to plan, so this has always been an invaluable step.

4. Writing. Firmly sitting in a chair/ desk with paper/ pen/ writing instrument and writing.

5. Proofreading. Checking for grammar, style, and spelling errors.

6. Simmer over a low heat for a few days, weeks, months, until the story is clear in my mind. Tweaking word choice, style, and voice. Structuring the sentences to say what I mean or sometimes holding back information so that the reader will put the pieces together: Do I need to say more or less?

7. Sending the story out to my friends and asking for their opinion about the overall story and minor revisions.

8. Rewrite. Rewrite. Rewrite.

9. Sending out for publication. Saying a prayer. Lighting a candle.

10. Conferring with an editor about changes via phone or e-mail.

11. Publication and helping with publicity via my blog or web site.

12. Back to work: See Step 1.


Q. Do you get frustrated when you can't get your ideas on paper?


A. All the time. Some days are better than some. Some days are just awful. Some days I can walk on water. On the days when nothing seems to go right, I work on other things. I read more. I study more. And then I get back to the writing. These are the two big lessons of writing: persistence and perseverance.


Q. What inspires you as a writer?

A. My inspiration has changed over the years. When I started writing, it was all about seeing my name in print, trying to impress people (some of whom I didn't know or didn't even like) and to be recognized. Now that I've written a few books, I've realized that writing is what Charles Deemer calls "a way of being in the world."

Also, because I grew up in Jamaica listening to Reggae and when I was old enough to see the inequality and injustice around me and realized that I could put two sentences together that could have some influence about how others viewed the world, I livicated myself to the idea of InI. That was why I wrote Grandpa Sydney's Anancy Stories. I found out that many children, who grew up in Jamaica and the Caribbean and now living in Miami, had never heard of Anancy or the value of Anancy stories. Somehow, I think, their parents thought that Anancy stories were no longer relevant. Something had to be done and I could do it.

I wanted the children to experience something that was very important to my self-esteem: seeing myself or someone who looked like me in a book. It's a feeling that never leaves you.


I would like to thank Dr. Tanya Brown-Major, the principal of Madie Ives Elementary School for inviting me to speak to the children during Caribbean-American Heritage Month.

I would also like to thank Ms. Ferro-Philp, Ms. Debose, Ms. Hope Murray, who presented me with this Golden Apple Award, and the children for their interesting responses (PDF file) to the reading: Ms. Murray's and Ms. Ferro-Philp's Second Grade Class. I really liked the one that said, "Jimmy is just like me."

Best compliment, ever!!!


I had a wonderful time reading at Madie Ives Elementary School and I look forward to more events like this.

***

For more photos of the reading, please follow this link: Anancy @ Madie Ives Elementary School.

***



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June 10, 2008

Soon Come: Jamaican Spirituality, Jamaican Poetics

Jamaican Poets


Soon Come: Jamaican Spirituality, Jamaican Poetics by Hugh Hodges, Assistant Professor of English Literature at Trent University in Ontario, Canada, is now available.


Beginning with traditional proverbs and Anancy stories, Soon Come explores healing rituals, possession rites, and miracles in Revival hymns; the seminal poetry of Claude McKay, Una Marson, and Louise Bennett; the Rastafari-influenced reggae of Bob Marley, Jimmy Cliff, Bunny Wailer, and Ras Michael; the dub poetry of Linton Kwesi Johnson and Mutabaruka; and the groundbreaking work of Dennis Scott, Anthony McNeill, and Lorna Goodison. What emerges is a profoundly hopeful vision of Jamaican poetry as an ongoing ritual that engenders the future even as it reimagines the past. Written in a lively, accessible style, Soon Come will appeal as much to the general reader as to the academic, to the serious Bob Marley fan as much as to the student of New World religious traditions.


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June 9, 2008

Anancy and Bullying: Reader Question

AnancyDear Geoffrey,

I just read your book
Grandpa Sydney's Anancy Stories, and found myself a little disturbed by the message. Could you explain what you intended that your readers should learn about bullying from this book? I am hoping that your explanation will help me understand your book better and appreciate the application of Anancy to everyday life.
Thanks.
***




Dear______,

Greetings!


I am hoping that Grandpa Sydney's Anancy Stories will be read by a parent and child together. I am also hoping that the parent and child will think about Kevin's bullying and ask questions like these:
How else could Jimmy have avoided/solved the conflict?

Was Jimmy "right" in doing what he did?

Anancy stories are about a smaller, weaker individual outsmarting a bigger/stronger individual and they typically fall within the area of Trickster tales in folk mythology. This is why I would like the book to be read by parents with children because the character of Anancy is basically amoral.

In other words, if Anancy stories are misread, they are dynamite. Within the West African tradition Anancy stories would have been told by an elder or a griot to school the untrained in the values of the community. The story would have been used to show the consequences of actions and in Jamaica (it's not included in the Grandpa Sydney's Anancy Stories), Anancy stories end with the disclaimer, "Jack Mandora me no choose none!" By repeating this refrain, the storyteller would remove herself from the actions within the story and claim a morally disinterested perspective. The claim was often far from the truth.
Anancy, as part of the cosmogony of the Akan people, represents the archetypal creative impulse that thrives on momentary chaos, drama, and disorder in the lives of the actors (sometimes he creates it), in order to achieve a resolution to a dialectical conflict and take the conversation to a higher level. Anancy's message is always clear:

Always outsmart/outwit the bully or overcome the situation that threatens you. You are greater than any situation or circumstance.


I want the children (and perhaps the grownups) to understand that there isn't any situation that our imagination cannot overcome and to every problem, there is a solution. We just have to use our mind, and this is why Anancy stories are always relevant.

We will also need intergenerational conversations so that the children will be able to figure out when it is appropriate to use their "Anancy powers." For like any other archetypal figure, Anancy does have a shadow, and just as Caregiver can become a "suffering martyr" and a Ruler can become a Tyrant, so too can Anancy become a "Shadow Fool."
So, Anancy's application to real life involves creative thinking and realizing that conflicts can be solved if we think "outside the box" and NOT locking ourselves into EITHER/OR mindsets. These are just a few of the values of Anancy stories.

Anancy as a creative problem solver and a figure in conflict resolution offers what Edward de Bono calls Alternatives, Possibilities, and Choices.

For the grownups, they could also think about Snake's role as the Ego that always wants "more, more, more" and Tiger as the archetypal Ruler who despite the fact that he appears "weak" still manages to keep his kingdom in order by "using" Anancy to bring about a resolution without resorting to violence.
Indeed, both Jimmy's story and Anancy's story could be read allegorically with Kevin, as the cause of the karmic disorder, who is removed from the setting, and Jimmy as the hero who restores order.


Take care and thank you for this great question!



Blessings,

Geoffrey
***

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June 6, 2008

"Mother's Day" by CM Clark

This week’s Video Friday features “Mother’s Day” by CM Clark.


C.M. Clark’s poetry has appeared in a variety of publications, including Gulf Stream magazine, the Florida Center for the Literary Arts anthology Write Here, and she is a frequent contributor to the online journal, Asili. She has also been involved in a number of multimedia collaborations with other artists, including “COMPLEMENT/Art Basel,” a video project, as well as “Now Taste This,” an annual event pairing poets and local gourmet chefs. Her work has been published in the recent collection The Blue Hour, and in the artbook Pillow Talk, a joint project with painter Georges LeBar. For several years running, she has appeared at the Miami Book Fair International as part of the Write Out Loud reading series. Clark lives in Miami, Florida, with her husband.


***

For next week's Video Friday, I'll be featuring a poem by Joe McNair

***



June 5, 2008

6th Annual St Martin Book Fair Starts Today

Caribbean Beat Blog brings news of the 6th Annual St Martin Book Fair which starts today.

Schedule of Events

Thursday 5 June
8–10pm
Opening Ceremony
Includes addresses by Shujah Reiph (President, Conscious Lyrics Foundation); Jacqueline Sample (President, House of Nehesi Publishers) and Josianne Artsen-Fleming (President, University of St. Martin); and a keynote address by Dr James a Fabunmi.

Friday 6 June
8am–12pm
School Visits

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Happy Birthday, Orlando Patterson

Orlando Patterson is a sociologist at Harvard University known for his work regarding issues of race in America. Patterson took his B.Sc in Economics from the University of London and his Ph.D. in Sociology at the London School of Economics in 1965.

Earlier in his career, Patterson was involved concerning the economic and political development of his home country, Jamaica. He served as Special Advisor to the Prime Minister of Jamaica from 1972 to 1979. (Wikipedia)

As a novelist, Patterson is best known for The Children of Sisyphus, a novel that depicts ghetto life in Jamaica and which I count as one of the major influences on my own novel, Benjamin, my son.

Here is a quotation from a my short review on Amazon:
Orlando Patterson's Children of Sisyphus set the standard for social realism in Caribbean fiction. He does not romanticize the lives of the poor, nor does he damn them with neglect; rather, he gives their lives dignity.

This is the moral tightrope that all Third World writers face: the choice between compassion and brutal honesty. Patterson succeeds in this fine portrayal of the lives of the poor that is imbued with grace, despite their mean existence.

Give thanks, Orlando Patterson!

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JIC, you missed this in the Comments:

Hope readers of this blog will be glad to know that just at this very moment the scans of Orlando's Children of Sisyphus are open on my laptop and being retypeset in preparation for reissue early in 2009. Geoffrey is absolutely right. Sisyphus still reads immensely powerfully. The sadness is that what he writes about is not history.

Jeremy Poynting, Peepal Tree Press

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June 4, 2008

Holy Places in the Caribbean

Geoffrey Philp
This is a picture of me that my wife took when we were in Colombia, SA. It is one of the few places in my travels where I had a feeling of contentment with myself and everything around me. It felt like an experience that Derek Walcott describes in Another Life:

Afternoon light ripened the valley,
rifling smoke climbed from small labourer's houses,
and I dissolved into a trance.



I've had similar experiences in Florida and in Jamaica. Sometimes the experience has yielded poems such as "everglades litany" (xango music, Peepal Tree Press) or "A Heart Sutra."

When I visited the Grand Canyon I had a feeling of awe, but I couldn't say that I had a feeling like what I felt in Neusa or in the Everglades. A feeling of oneness and peace in the natural world. A holy place.

I know that this topic is not often covered in many blogs or by our tourist boards who are more interested in promoting sex, gambling, and hedonism in the Caribbean. On the other hand, we are known as churchgoing, conservative people.

But I also know that the Caribbean is filled with places of great natural beauty that could induce these feelings. But do we think of our islands as holy? Are there liminal places in the natural world, especially in the Caribbean, where the Infinite comes through and induces a feeling of "completion and sureness"?

So, here are my questions to you, Dear Reader: Have you had similar experiences? If so, where? What did it feel like? Do you think others could benefit from going to this place?

And if they do exist, as the O' Jays' song made popular by Third World says, "Now that we found love, what are we gonna do with it?"

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June 3, 2008

Reading: Beverly East @ Broward Community College

Jamaican author, Beverley East, will do a reading and signing of her well-received novel Reaper of Souls in Florida on Wednesday, June 4, 2008 at 6:30pm.

The event, slated for the Broward Community College in Pembroke Pines, is under the patronage of the Jamaica Consulate General in Miami in conjunction with the Broward Library Divisions. The reading is the start of a series of activities by the Broward Library Divisions to observe Caribbean Heritage Month, which is celebrated in June throughout the United States.
clipped from www.jis.gov.jm

'Reaper of Souls,' while a work of fiction, tells the story of one of Jamaica's worst tragedies, the 1957 Kendal train crash, which occurred in the parish of Manchester. The train was on its way back to Kingston from a church excursion in Montego Bay. Some 250 persons died in the accident, including 14 of the author's relatives.

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The Guardian & Walcott's "The Mongoose"

The Guardian covers the continuing literary feud between Derek Walcott and VS Naipaul.

Walcott's new poem, The Mongoose, is a fast-paced, savagely humorous demolition of Naipaul's work and personality that begins with the opening salvo: 'I have been bitten, I must avoid infection/Or else I'll be as dead as Naipaul's fiction.' It was premiered at the Calabash Literary Festival in Jamaica.

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June 2, 2008

"Luv Dub Fever": Review by Mervyn Morris

MalachiMalachi Smith was one of the founders of Poets in Unity, a dub poetry group formed in 1979 at the Jamaica School of Drama. He was the group’s most compelling presenter (and, as a policeman/peacemaker writing poems, the most newsworthy). Migrating to Miami in 1987, he has continued being both a policeman and a dub poet, earning the 2003 International Dub Poet of the Year Award in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and in 2007 a Master’s degree in Criminology from Florida International University. “I can never be silent when I see injustice,” he has said. “We are all part of the system.” Social justice and black self-realization are predominant concerns on his earlier CDs, Throw Two Punch (1998) and Middle Passage (2003).

Love Dub Fever
has a different emphasis: it is focused mainly on love and sex, as projected by a confident man. “She walked into my dream / Stripping de clothes from my iyes...” Lyrics! Many of the pieces praise the beauty and sexual prowess of black women and proclaim a male persona ready to meet the challenge. “Five times for one night / And every drop of de hammer was right.” The woman is a Nubian princess, or a Sheba, or Cleopatra. “She sugar up mi coffee / She sugar up mi tea / Har honey and spice / Ah trickle all over me.” The man—“Mister lover man”—is usually a Casanova, a freelance expert willing to assist. “When de luv is not enuff / I have an extension / Jus reach out / An is instant gratification...” One piece, however, warns against the lying seducer, “Mout sweet like sugar full ah samfie,” and another acknowledges that a woman also might deceive (pretending, for instance, that she has no husband). “Jezebel, Delilah, why did you / Why did you lie to me?” If a poem seems briefly to assert a man’s commitment to family—“my queen and two prince”—it very soon notes “there are times when home life gets you down / Soh yuh tek to de street / And rock to de beat / Yuh tek chance / An thief likkle romance...” On the other hand “Driver” respectfully acknowledges a mother’s burden, “dawters and sons / whole heap a dem / generations top of generations / dem heavy...”

Malachi’s performance is strong and subtle. His speaking voice—his chanting on most tracks—plays comfortably against the various music rhythms and the discreetly enhancing background singers. This is his best CD.

Mervyn Morris

March 2008

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