December 18, 2009

Merry Christmas 2009

Over the Christmas holiday, this blog will celebrate its fourth anniversary. It’s been an interesting journey and one that has had many twists and turns I would never have anticipated when I wrote my first post: Why Do I Continue to Write?

Since then, the blog has become a means of sharing my discoveries in the virtual, material, and literary worlds. And though not stated explicitly, it is also a collective repository of knowledge about writing that many published writers from South Florida and the Caribbean are sharing with readers of this blog. I want to convince younger writers that although the Caribbean literary tradition is less than 100 years old that their experience, their voice is the source of their creative power and to give them examples of published writers who are acting on that faith--call it virtual mentoring for younger writers to figure out the "how" of writing.

Next year promises to be filled with all kinds of new experiences. I’m looking forward to the publication of a new book of poems, Dub Wise, of which I am very proud. Dub Wise brings together all that I have learned from thirty years of reading, writing, brothering, fathering, sonning, husbanding, loving, and listening to reggae.

Some of the poems in Dub Wise were first published on this blog and others were published at Poefrika, Black Looks, Asili, peony moon, tongues of the ocean, The Caribbean Writer, Ocho #26, and with prompts from Read Write Poem.

During the new year, I also plan to finish editing a new short story, “Bob Marley and Bradford’s iPod,” and as follow-up to Grandpa Sydney's Anancy Stories, a new children’s book, Anancy’s Christmas Gift.

I'll be back on January 11, 2009, but look out for a guest post over by Dave Lucas on December 21, 2009. In the meantime, why not rummage through the archives? I'm sure you'll find something useful.

Have a great holiday and cherish the holidays with your loved ones.



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December 16, 2009

"Christmas Evening"

The story of Joseph in this poem is that of a man who is seeking a sign while believing that whatever he is enduring is worth it. The poem is grounded in the faith that if we seek the Divine and we are open, then in some of the most subtle moments, the gaze is returned.


December 14, 2009

A Year's Worth of Posts

An end of year roundup is always the most difficult because at the time of writing each post I always think: “This is the best post that I’ve ever written!” This year has also been challenging because of the publication of my book, Who's Your Daddy? And Other Stories, which I believe tells some interesting stories about the relationship of fathers and their children and provides a context for the discussion of fatherhood. Some of the stories are funny too.

Still, the exercise of writing a roundup is useful because it gives me the chance to review how my blog has evolved from merely being a chronicle of my experiences in the virtual, material, and literary worlds to a platform for writers to showcase their works and a space to discuss topics with which younger writers may be struggling.

The last point is very important to me because the issue of mentorship, especially in the Caribbean, is essential for the sustenance of a literary tradition. And although I cannot provide mentorship in the form of reading unpublished manuscripts, I can add to the conversation about subjects that are of interest to beginning writers: How to Use Allusions; How to Use Symbols, Am I a Writer? (Parts 1, 2, and 3).

I’ve also broken out of the mold on a few occasions to write about events that were not literary, but were of global significance: the Inauguration of Barack Obama,  Blog Action Day, World AIDS Day, and World Press Freedom Day. I also noted the passing of Michael Jackson and two Caribbean writers, Trevor D. Rhone and Wayne Brown, as well as the arrest of Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

There are many other posts that I could mention, but here's a list that I hope will give readers a taste of what to expect on my blog:

As a member of Read Write Poem, I took part in read write prompt #61: reveal your dialect with a poem from my latest manuscript, Dub Wise, which will be published next year by Peepal Tree Press.

February: I Love You.Three simple words. But they are the most difficult words to say to a friend or partner and especially within Black and Caribbean families. This became painfully clear to me as I sat on a panel to discuss Reaching up for Manhood by Geoffrey Canada

Giving thanks to the mentors in my life, but especially to Kamau Brathwaite.

A big thanks to Middle Zone Musing for helping me to gain perspective on the near cancellation of the Calabash Literary Festival and for exorcising some of the demons that have plagued my life.

Give thanks to Michelle for publishing this little poem that is fast becoming a reader favorite

A momentous month for me: reading at the Calabash International Literary Festival.

For travelling children everywhere.

It’s always good to get a little praise from readers.

South Florida and Caribbean poet, Adrian Castro, wrote about the release of his latest book of poems, Handling Destiny.

October: “Always Think It’s Bigger Than Me” Dr. Joe Leonard’s Visit to Miami Dade College, North Campus.It’s easy to become jaded about public servants, but Dr. Joe Leonard’s visit was not only inspirational for me, but also for our students who benefitted from his words and deeds. Dr. Leonard also lived up to his promise and returned on December 4, 2009.

Book reviewing is an area in which I’d love to expand the blog. But seeing as my blog is a one person operation, it is now sporadic. Any volunteers?

It was a honor to publish this original poem by one of Jamaica’s finest poets.

Next year looks as if it’s going to be another great year of blogging and publishing. I can’t wait!

This ia part of a group write project @ Middle Zone Musings.

Words from flickr

Created by kastner


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December 13, 2009

Blog Disclosure Policy

When the FTC made a recent decision “that ‘material connections’ (sometimes payments or free products) between advertisers and endorsers – connections that consumers would not expect – must be disclosed,” I had a choice. I could either go the route of The Field Negro and remove all paid links or I could comply and reveal the following:

Geoffrey Philp’s Blog Spot receives a percentage of the purchase price on anything you buy through links to Amazon, Shambala Books, Hay House, or any of the Google ads or Google Custom Search.

As you can see from the sidebar of the blog, I’ve chosen to continue endorsing books such as Natural Mysticicm by Kwame Dawes as an Amazon Associate, not because Kwame is my friend, but because Natural Mysticicm is one of the best books I’ve read about Bob Marley. In fact, all of the books at my online bookstore, Mabrak Books, are books that I own and recommend.

But, then again, I thought everyone knew about paid links. And I don’t need the FTC to teach me about ethical behavior. For example, the FTC ruling doesn’t require me to disclose that whatever reimbursement I receive is used for subscriptions to Flickr or for equipment such as digital cameras or camcorders so as to have a permanent archive of writers from the Caribbean and South Florida. I am also not required to disclose that most of the book reviews that I’ve written, for example, Caridad Moro-McCormick’s Visionware was done without the writer’s knowledge and that Visionware was purchased with my own money.

Now, of course, I could have written to the publisher and requested a review copy and they probably would have honored my request. But that’s not why I blog.

Geoffrey Philp’s Blog Spot exists not only to promote my work, but also to share with my readers the discoveries that I’ve made while reading books or other blogs. As an extension of my other forms of writing, my blog relies on the trust and the commitment that I have to Caribbean and Floribbean literature.

I’ve never believed in publishing for its own sake or for doing anything purely for material gain. I guess that’s why I took the “safe” route of academia so I’d never have to make the kinds of compromises that a prominent online agent decribed: “If a career is the path you choose then sometimes it’s important to remember that career writing, like any career, sometimes means doing things we aren’t necessarily passionate about, but that pays the bills.”

God bless ‘em. I know I couldn’t do that.

Life is too short to be wasted on useless cyber ink and I value my readers’ and my own time too much to blog unless I can, like Hemingway said, “Write a true sentence.”I’ve meant ever word I’ve written and I would never compromise that for a few shekels.

This is how I’ve always written and how I will continue to write. I owe it to myself and to you, dear Reader, to always give the best that I can give.


December 10, 2009

El Numero Uno by Pam Mordecai Opens in Toronto

Pam Mordecai's play, El Numero Uno,  directed by b current's ahdri zina mandiela, with design and music in the hands of Astrid Janson and Cathy Nosaty respectively, and featuring a cast of Canadian/Caribbean actors, the play opens on Thursday February 4, with previews on Jan 31 (2:00 p.m.), February 1 (10:15 a.m.), February 2 (10:15 a.m.) and February 3 (1:00 p.m.). There's a Teacher Preview at 7:00 p.m. on February 3 as well.

More @ Jahworld

Photo Source: Jahworld

December 9, 2009

Essential Lines from 2009: "Big Wheels Keep on Turnin'"

You’d have thought that with eight previously published books that I wouldn’t be nervous, yet I was. I was reading at the Calabash International Literary Festival 2009: “The only international literary festival in the English-speaking Caribbean.”

And I was reading from a new book, Who’s Your Daddy? And Other Stories.

I wrote “Big Wheels Keep on Turnin': Calabash 09 (Part 2)” to capture my experience of reading “The Day Jesus Christ Came to Mount Airy” because it was a turning point for me in my writing career. It was the first time that I’d read to so large an audience in Jamaica, and as everyone knows, Jamaicans can be a tough audience. Especially with our own.

For you can write a technically competent story with a beginning, middle, and end about a character with whom you think the audience will empathize; you can set up the plot in such a way as to make the hero’s choices (whether is a comedy or tragedy) seem plausible; you can even try out the story with a few friends for a "dry run," and still fail to connect with an audience. 

Luckily, the reading was a success and I was proud to have been one the Calabash authors for the 2009 season.


This is part of a group write project: Essential Lines from 2009: Group Writing Project.


December 8, 2009

Dr. Opal Palmer Adisa Appointed as New Editor of The Caribbean Writer

The Caribbean Writer is pleased to announce the appointment of Dr. Opal Palmer Adisa as its new editor. Her appointment will begin in January 2010.

Jamaican born, Dr. Adisa is a poet and prose writer who brings extensive editorial experience to the anthology. She has published 14 books, and her writings have appeared in over 200 journals and anthologies. She is also a much sought-after speaker and has traveled throughout the United States, Europe, South America, and the Caribbean. 

She has been recognized for her work in the form of many awards and honors, among them the PEN Oakland/Josephine Miles Literary Award for her poetry collection Tamarind and Mango Women and the Master Folk Artist Award for Storytelling from the California Arts Council. She has also received awards for both poetry and fiction from The Caribbean Writer and has served as an Advisory Board member of The Caribbean Writer since 1998. Her interview with renowned poet Kamau Brathwaite appears in Volume 23 (2009). Dr. Erika J. Waters, founding editor of The Caribbean Writer said she was “delighted the magazine was in such capable hands.”

Adisa, who has a doctorate from the University of California at Berkeley, most recently was a professor at California College of the Arts. She previously taught both graduate and undergraduate courses at several universities including Stanford University, University of California, Berkley, and San Francisco State University.

Dr. Adisa’s editorship will begin with the 24th edition of The Caribbean Writer, submissions to which are currently being accepted. As usual, the Caribbean should be central to the work, or the work should reflect a Caribbean heritage, experience, or perspective. Besides poetry, fiction, essays and one-act plays, special sections are planned on Trevor Rhone and Wayne Brown. Deadline for submission has been extended to December 31, 2009. Visit for more information.


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2009 Top Ten Hits

The end of the year always brings opportunities to evaluate things that are important to us. As the old adage goes, “Whatever we value, we measure.”

For the past week, I have been reviewing the stats on my blog and I’ve been participating in several group write projects. This is part of a group write project @ Daily Blog Tips.

Using Google Analytics, I’ve compiled the 2009 Top Ten Hits—posts that received the most hits.

The results were surprising because they differed slightly from the posts that I considered to be the most important for other group write projects.

Here, then, are the 2009 Top Ten Hits:

10.       Remix Tonight: Does Jamaican Dancehall Music Incite Violence?

9.         The Commonwealth Short Story Competition

8.         Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Rastafari

7.         Am I a Writer? (Part Dos)

6.         2009 Short Story Competition

5.         Video: Dancehall Music and Jamaican Society: Which Influences the Other?

4.         Bad T'ings Mek Joke: Jamaican Humor

3.         Who's Your Daddy?: Gender Issues

2.         Master of the Tragicomic: Trevor D. Rhone (1940-2009)      

1.         Michael Jackson: Spirit Dancer

You’ll have to come back tomorrow (12/9/2009) and on Monday (12/14/2009) to find out my choices for my other group write projects @ Middle Zone Musings and Confident Writing.


Words from flickr
Created by kastner


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For My Children: Christmas 2009

I want you to know, you were chosen at birth
by a sheltering providence that guides your ways
that soon will reconcile your mind with this clay

thrust up from the depths of the earth
to become the mouth of limestone longing to say:
I want you to know, you were chosen at birth.

And from the music in your cells will come forth
the rhythm of your destiny, so that you can repay
the sun and rain on your face with gratitude each day.
I want you to know, you were chosen at birth.


December 7, 2009

"PALIMPSEST" by Mervyn Morris


Grandma, much younger

than her age-paper,

is giggling on the floor

with baby Jon

as with his daddy

forty years ago. ‘Age

is just a number,’

as the slogan says.

Grandpa, seeming

buried in a book,

gives thanks for her

endearing gift  

and mumbles Larkin,

‘What will survive of us

is love.’ 


MERVYN MORRIS is the author of six books of poetry, including I been there, sort of:  New and Selected Poems (Carcanet Press, 2006).

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December 5, 2009

Lorna Goodison on Claude McKay's Signature Poem

Jamaican poet Claude McKay wrote a poem in 1919 called, "If we must die" in response to race riots across American cities. 

It was a poem of such quality that it became an anthem of resistance everywhere. Twenty years later British Prime Minister Winston Churchill used it as a rallying call to encourage troops in the second world war and to persuade the US to join the war. But Prime Minister and his speech writers never attributed the words to McKay.
BBC's Mark Coles recently discussed the poem with Jamaican poet Lorna Goodison.

Listen to Mark Coles' interview with Lorna Goodison


Photo by James L. Allen
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December 3, 2009

Mark Your Calendar: December 12, 2009

Book Launch: Reception and Lecture: Eroticism, Spirituality and Resistance in Black Women's Writings by Donna Aza Weir-Soley

Come out and bring your friends and family for good Caribbean food and an exciting discussion on the nexus between black female sexuality and spirituality.

Dr Donna Aza Weir-Soley will be reading from her latest book, Eroticism, Spirituality and Resistance in Black Women's Writings, on Saturday, December 12, 2009, at Broward South Regional Library/Broward Community College campus, 3700 Pines Blvd., Pembroke Pines.

Praise for Eroticism, Spirituality, and Resistance in Black Women's Writings.

"In Eroticism, Spirituality, and Resistance in Black Women's Writings, Dr. Weir-Soley successfully undertakes an analysis of how black women writers, beginning with Zora Neale Hurston in her masterpiece Their Eyes Were Watching God, have used overlapping narrative depictions of sexuality and spirituality to recast the denigrated black female body and rewrite an empowered and fully actualized black female subject."
~Candice M. Jenkins, Associate Professor of English, Hunter College, City University of New York

"Weir-Soley speaks with an authority that comes from real knowledge of, investment in, and attention to the details of the African cosmologies and textual complexities she unearths."
~Carine Mardorossian, SUNY-Buffalo

"The most original and significant contributions are the often brilliant readings of Morrison, Adisa, and Danticat. The work is riveting, both methodologically and critically."
~Leslie Sanders, York University

Saturday, December 12, 2009
1:00pm - 4:00pm

Broward South Regional Library,
3700 Pines Blvd., Pembroke Pines


December 2, 2009

Black Virgin - Modern Art Exhibition - Paris

For your Christmas pleasure, another view of the Virgin, who has appeared under various guises, most notably at the Chartres Cathedral. We know her in the Caribbean as Erzulie.


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December 1, 2009

World AIDS Day 2009: "not another aids poem."

Back in the early eighties when “not another aids poem” was written, our family was living in fear. My wife’s cousin, Hernando, was dying and nobody knew why. The doctors tried everything—interferon and other drugs used to treat cancer—but nothing worked. Then, we learned he had been diagnosed with AIDS.

My wife, who was pregnant with our first child, wanted to visit Hernando in Colombia, not only because she loved him, but because he was one of the first in our families who gave us his support. I still remember sitting in a small bar in Bogota, drinking aguardiente, listening to Andean music, and Hernando explaining to me why the preservation of indigenous music—the music of his people—was important.

In the end, my wife and I decided against the visit because we still didn’t know how AIDS was transmitted. Was it airborne? No one had any answers.

Today is World AIDS Day and we now have more information about the disease, but we are no closer to a cure. And it still doesn’t diminish our guilt and the pain that we feel at the loss of a life that was brilliant and filled with cariño.

Rest in Peace, Hernando.

not another aids poem

(for hernando)

when did the tissues,

the invisible barrier between cells,

break and send nuclei,

intent on their own destruction,

alerting an armada of antibodies

in your body's mutiny against itself?

i ask

because it's the only question

that i can understand,

with which i can console myself

while i mutter

a new alphabet of ddc, azt, ddi...

and you become a mottled ghost,

in a gown, transparent as

your skin, a part of the bed,

a network of tubes,

roots i cling to

that connect this life to the next

From:  hurricane center (1998)

Related Posts:


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November 30, 2009

An Early Christmas Present: “Palimpsest”

Mervyn Morris has just given me an early Christmas present that I’m going to share with you.

On Monday, December 7, 2009, I’ll be publishing his poem, “Palimpsest” on this blog.

As a student of Mervyn’s poetry, all the hallmarks of his craft are evident: brevity, dry wit, and multilayered meaning(s). This is also the first time that I have seen him deal with the theme of his mortality and the endurance of art in this way.

John O’Donohue in Divine Beauty mused about writers like Mervyn Morris:  “The presence of the contemplative and the artist in a culture is ultimately an invitation to awaken and engage one’s neglected gifts, to enter more fully into the dream of the eternal that has brought us here to earth.”

Stay tuned and enjoy.


MERVYN MORRIS is the author of six books of poetry, including I been there, sort of: New and Selected Poems (Carcanet Press, 2006).

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Book Review: Visionware by Caridad Moro-McCormick

One of the pleasures of attending the Miami Book Fair International 2009 was discovering new books and listening to the authors read—especially when they did it well—from their work. Listening to Caridad Moro-McCormick’s reading from her chapbook, Visionware, was one of those delights because her voice captured the nuances and subtle ironies in the text.

This is not to say that her poems fall apart on the page. It was just so much better to hear her voice when she read a poem like “Analfabeta” about her earliest experiences in sixth grade with a racist teacher and her abuela’s attempt to understand American culture. Throughout the poem, the speaker highlights her abuela’s dignity in a system that seeks to denigrate her individuality and heritage:

You would have though her a dignitary, the day she walked
into my 6th grade classroom, staccato heels, her good black dress
ironed crisp as a dollar, all for a date with Mrs. Dempsey

The teacher, however, does not share the same feelings of respect for her abuela or her culture and she notes how Dempsey “sometimes slipped and called me ‘Spic, how she pounced/when I spoke to my friends in Español.” During the parent-teacher meeting, her abuela “caught most of the/ words Dempsey lobbed her way, but didn’t say a thing,” and  she waits for the right moment, “as the words/too smart for her own good lingered in the air like the bells/ that ruled or days,” to assert herself, “Neber too esmart, mi niña, neber too esmart.”

Moro-McCormick chooses her instances of code-switching wisely and they are deeply poignant when she describes her family’s attempts to assimilate in “White Christmas in El Exilio, 1979”:

where you dreamed of Wise men,
Noche Buenas back home. women serving plate after plate:

lechon, frijoles, yuca, arroz.

Food becomes a trope in the collection which begins with this epigraph in the title poem:

“When you’re in love, everyday is a reason to celebrate. Every meal can be transformed into a special time to toast love, romance and your life together as a couple.”

Such bliss is short lived as her difficulty with the American utensils becomes a metaphor for her relationship with her husband:

Glass that never did learn
how to burn,
warming too fast

dinner scorched
night after night

Moro-McCormick uses food to define herself and relationship with American culture. Nowhere is this more evident than in “Compulsion: A Chronology” which details the various foods that are staples of her hyphenated identity as a Cuban-American: harina con huevo frito and Whoppers with cheese. Of course, the poem would not be complete without documenting the danger of using food in this way while trying to maintain the American obsession with weight-loss and Barbie-like perfection: “1999, Phentermine": "The pills are small and canary yellow, the closest thing to magic I’ve ever tried.”

Visionware represents a new chapter in the Cuban-American story. Moro-McCormick’s sometimes scathing indictment of discrimination is a reminder of the indignities that many immigrants suffer even when they are navigating holidays such as Labor Day or Veteran’s Day. And this doesn’t include family events such as weddings or quinceñeras. Or traumatic moments described in “Coming Out to Mami.” I am looking forward to Caridad’s next reading and a full length collection of her work.


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November 29, 2009

New Book: NIgger For Life

Neal Hall, M.D., graduate of Cornell and Harvard, ophthalmologist and poet, has published a critically acclaimed anthology of verse, Nigger For Life, reflecting his painful, later life discovery, that in “unspoken America," race is the one thing on which he is “first” judged, by which he is “first” measured, “first”, against which his life and accomplishments are metered diminished value, dignity and equality. All of which have everything to do with accessing choice, opportunity, power and freedom in America.

Nigger For Life reveals his deep sense of betrayal combined with his fervent passion for life and equality for “all”. His words pierce through in candid, gut wrenching clarity. He bares his intelligence, wit and dreams. His anthology is as confronting as it is illuminating, as disarming as it is thought provoking, as cathartic as it is filling.

Whether an ophthalmologist or poet, Dr. Hall’s reality is clear-cut - in the eyes of “unspoken America”, he is, a Nigger For Life.

Nigger For Life can be reviewed & purchased at:


Online Interview of Dr. Hall:

“…a warrior of the mind … a warrior of the spirit, an activist, a poet.” - Cornel West, Ph.D.


November 26, 2009

November 25, 2009

Thanksgiving Sestina @ Wordle

Here's the original poem: "Thanksgiving Sestina (for Nadia)"

"Thanksgiving Sestina" will be published in my next collection of poems, Dub Wise.


Geoffrey Philp Wins Daily News Prize For Poetry

The Editorial Board of The Caribbean Writer has awarded Jamaica-born poet and short story writer, Geoffrey Philp,  the Daily News Prize for his poem, “Erzulie’s Daughter.”

A talented writer in many genres, Mr. Philp has also won the Canute Brodhurst Prize for his short story, “Uncle Obadiah and the Alien.” The prize winning poem is included in Philp’s upcoming collection of poems, Dub Wise, which will published in Spring 2010 by Peepal Tree Press.


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November 23, 2009

Poor Man's Copyright?

I have a dark secret and I owe one of my students an apology.

It began with two car accidents in consecutive years. Two cars totaled by drunk or careless drivers left me unable to work at the level to which I had become accustomed.

Then, the bills started to pile up.

It would be an understatement to say that I was hard up for money. I was desperate and when I saw an ad in a very reputable magazine for a screenplay, I answered the ad. I'd been tossing around this idea in my head for some time and I bit. I emailed a proposal. The agent followed up and asked for a treatment.

I sent him this synopsis, but just to be sure, I mailed myself a copy of the treatment and followed the advice that one of my teachers had given me: "Use Poor Man's Copyright."

It  has been one of the biggest mistakes of my writing career.


Synopsis of The Blackheart Man

Opening Scene: Westmoreland, Jamaica.

The camera moves lowly over rows and rows of cane fields under a gorgeous Jamaican full moon. It’s as if the camera is bending the heads of the cane stalks, but there’s no sound—just the movement of the camera over the canes. A light rain begins to fall. The pace quickens over a hill to a Great House and toward a beach and circles back to cane fields.

Spling! The sound that machetes make when cutting cane.

The sound intensifies and the camera moves faster and after over the cane fields and suddenly we see a couple obviously in love racing towards a fence that has a sign “Keep Out! On Pane of Deth!” They ignore the sign and almost as if seeking shelter from the rain they race towards the dilapidated Great House.


We see the machete glinting in the moonlight. As they run, the woman begins to unwrap the skirt she’s been wearing. Obviously they are going to make love. We assume she’s going to lie down on the skirt. They enter the Great House cautiously, and then, race towards the center hall where they start to make out and then, to have sex.


The rain begins to fall harder and they are getting wet while they are making love, but they don’t seem to mind—the sex is too good. They are both giggling and laughing and we have a close-up of the man’s face. He is loving this.


In split second, the camera pans the woman’s’ face that goes from her own pleasure and giving pleasure to blood all over her face. The man has been decapitated. There is a thud on the floor. We never see the head. All we see is the look of horror on her face as the body falls on top of her and twitches. She screams. And screams. She picks up what she can and races out of the Great House.

The rain is falling harder. She is racing towards the beach. The sound of a heartbeat. We see the machete again.


A hand reaches out to touch her, but she fights it off a runs even faster away from the hand. Close-up of her as she apparently reaches towards her legs as if she had been cut down.


She falls and looks up at the camera, almost in recognition, but not quite. Scream…


Bunny Wailer’s song “Blackheart Man” begins.

Trevor Matthews, the protagonist
Janice Williams, the love interest
Uncle Wallace, the antagonist
Henry DaCosta, weed smoker and comic relief
Norman Higgins, sidekick and betrayer
Beeline, wise old Rasta man
Blackheart Man, a dreadlocked force of nature
The Mistress, comic relief

Trevor Matthews, who works as a manger at a hotel in Miami, has returned to Jamaica to take over and run Hog Heaven Hotel that has been placed in trust to his Uncle Wallace until he is twenty-nine years old. Trevor is educated, has a degree in hospitality management, and knows the hotel business in a bookish way. He has never been tested in Jamaica where he is a bit of a fish out of water. He has invited his friends Henry (weed smoker and comic relief) and Norman (secretly a coward) with him so that they can help him run the hotel. They have been friends with him in Miami and he figures they will be with him through whatever problems he comes up against in Jamaica.

On the night before Trevor returns from Miami, the murder has already occurred. Uncle Wallace (ex-cop) covers up the murder of the Jamaican couple with little or no fanfare. Uncle Wallace thinks he is going to buy out Paul's portion of the business.

When Trevor returns to Jamaica, he tells Uncle Wallace that he intends to take over Hog Heaven. This upsets all of Uncle Sam's plans. A murder of a tourist occurs and Uncle Wallace doesn't cover it up. In fact, he makes it a media event. He wants to discourage Trevor from buying the hotel. He wants the hotel for himself and his very expensive mistress.

Enter Janice Williams, Paul's' old girl friend. She works for the Tourist Board of Jamaica and is there to help Trevor so he won’t lose any more tourist business. Trevor still loves her and she still loves him. Trevor wants to prove that he is no longer a dilettante( “You can always run back to Miami and leave us the way you’ve always run away from everything” she says to him) and she wants to prove that she's no longer Daddy's little girl (“Did Daddy get you this job, too?” Trevor asks her the first time they meet: “He’s dead” she counters, “but I guess you were too busy in Miami to follow what’s been happening here in Jamaica.”

Paul also meets up with the Rasta man Beeline who gives him the background story of the Blackheart man who has been stirred by the boundary transgression of the Jamaican couple and the tourists and Uncle Wallace’s plan to extend the hotel to the land that was owned by the Blackheart man. A murder of a cook who worked at the hotel when Trevor’s father was alive has occurred before when Trevor’s’ father tired to expand the hotel. But once Trevor’s father restored the fence, nothing happened again.

Another murder attempt occurs and Trevor must act to solve the mystery. If not, another tourist will never step foot in the hotel. Who is the Blackheart man? Beeline gives more information. Uncle Wallace sees this as the perfect opportunity to kill Paul. He hires a hit man to do the job ala the Blackheart man. The Blackheart Man kills the assassin.

Trevor tries to rebuild the fence, but Beeline tells him it is futile now. The Blackheart man wants blood. The fence is still repaired. The next day they find it broken down again.

Fear takes over the hotel. Everyone is fleeing, checking out. Going to other hotels and islands.

Trevor is betrayed by his friend Norman who decides to go back to Miami, “I don’t want to die, man.” Uncle Wallace has bought off Norman. Henry will stay for the weed that Beeline supplies

Together Trevor, Janice, Beeline and Henry must join to kill the Blackheart man.

The Blackheart man kills Norman who is one the way to the airport.

The Blackheart man also kills Uncle Wallace. His expensive mistress gets away without her weave. Trevor is next. They all join forces and they kill the Blackheart man.

Trevor is reunited with Janice. The hotel opens under new management with Trevor and Janice about to get married.


I never heard from the agent again.

Then, a few years ago, my son and I were walking through Blockbuster and we saw this movie, XYZ, that was set on a Caribbean island, so we decided to rent it.

As we settled back in our seats, a sickening feeling overcame me. This was my movie. A few changes had been made, but it was my movie. I'd been ripped off.

I called all my friends and then we contacted a lawyer, who after reviewing the case told me that because we couldn't prove a “material connection” between he agent and the production company, we couldn't bring a law suit. Plus, he added with the costs of expert witnesses, etc, the costs made it impossible to win.

I asked him about "Poor Man's Copyright."

After he finished laughing, he basically informed me about what is now found in Wikipedia: "There is no provision in copyright law regarding any such type of protection. Poor man's copyright is therefore not a substitute for registration. According to section 408 of the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976, registration of a work with the Copyright Office is not a prerequisite for copyright protection."

Dejected, I put away the information and thought I'd gotten over it until a few weekends ago when a popular cable station had a movie marathon with the movie.

I was steaming mad, but there was nothing that I could do about it.

And then I remembered the advice that I'd given one of my students about copyrighting his poems. I told him it was probably a bad idea to copyright every one of his poems because of the cost and the chance of his work being stolen was infinitesimal.

I'm wondering now if I gave him the right advice. I don't think I did. So, my student, if you are reading this, I'm sorry that I gave you bad advice and I hope you have not lost any work to unscrupulous agents or producers.

For in this Internet age when everything on the web can be scraped, copied, and mashed, unless you're willing to let go of the work, then you'd better apply for copyright: U.S. Copyright Office.

It may just save you from the rage that I am still feeling right now.

Words from flickr
Created by kastner


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