April 15, 2009

In My Own Words: Donna Aza Weir-Soley (2009)

AzaErotic Caribbean was conceived several years ago on a car-ride to Xunantunich (Lady of the Stone), the ancient Mayan ruin in Belize, close to the border of Guatemala. Opal and I were at a CSA conference in Belize and the discussion turned to the erotic, how there was so little of it in Caribbean poetry and fiction. So after much discussion about how repressed we Anglophone Caribbean folk are in our literature and the irony of that from a people who show so much sexual abandon in our music and other popular cultural forms, we decided that we would edit an erotic anthology of Caribbean writing. It was a very public conception in a car full of other Caribbean women writers.

Now if you have any Caribbean roots, you know that unless you plan on bringing a baby to term, you don’t go around telling people you’re pregnant. So since we had announced it so publicly, we had no choice but to give birth to this vision, though, truth be told, the child was breached for a long time—what with six real-life children between Opal and myself, me trying desperately to finish an academic text at the same time, Caribbean folk too bashful to send us their erotic writings, and others just plain galled that we had defined Caribbean erotic as a synthesis of sexuality and spirituality rather than just good old-fashioned daggering.

But much as we might like to take credit, that definition of the erotic belongs to poet, civil rights warrior, critic, lesbian activist and mother, Audre Lorde. Audre’s definition allowed us to sift the wheat from the chaff, so to speak, and to end up with a collection of diverse voices that honors our need to express ourselves as sexual and spiritual beings, without resorting to pornographic representations that often end up devaluing womankind (yes, that was our primary concern, no apologies). We knew we ran the risk of being considered presumptuous for assuming that we had the measure of what would offend or be considered pornographic to others, but it was a risk we were willing to take to achieve that balance between the sexual and the spiritual that we believed would make this collection truly representative of Caribbean eroticism.

It was a long and difficult birthing process. Like all mothers though, we tend to forget the birth pains once the baby is delivered. Thankfully, we are almost there. Erotic Caribbean will be published by Jeremy Poynting at Peepal Tree Press in time for the 2009 Miami Book Fair in November (that is the closest I can come to giving an actual publication date). Jacqueline Bishop, Carole Boyce-Davies, Colin Channer, Edwidge Danticat, Kwame Dawes, Nancy Morejon, Geoffrey Philp, Heather Russell (formerly Heather Andrade), Dorothea Smartt, and other luminaries and emergent writers from the Anglophone, Francophone and Hispanophone Caribbean community at large, have contributed to this project.

We think it will be a good looking baby; either way we plan to spoil and love it and we hope you will indulge us (please buy the book) and say nice things to our faces and especially behind our backs. We are hoping to put a panel together for the Miami Book Fair in November, so please look for us there.




Great News!!!

When it's published?
I'll be sure to add it
to our home's library alongside of
our copy of erotique noire/black erotica.~peace nyvette

Geoffrey Philp said...


We hope in November for the Miami Book Fair.


Anonymous said...

Any plans to do some book launches around the Caribbean?

Geoffrey Philp said...

Yeah, I hope Donna will set some up!

Anonymous said...

That is a definite possibility and would be widely publicized with Geoffrey's help:-)

Geoffrey Philp said...