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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November 18, 2009

Who's Your Daddy? @ Miami Book Fair International: Redux

Geoffrey Philp, Dylan Landis & Marc Fitten
I’d sent out dozens of invitations via Facebook, but I didn't expect to see so many friends on Saturday at the Weekend Author Sessions, Miami Book Fair International 2009

The event got off to a great start after the introduction by Professor McKnight-Samms. I read one of my favorite stories, "My Jamaican Touch,"  which was first published on this blog. The audience loved it and laughed in all the right places. Even my mother-in-law, the antagonist in the story, laughed when I read, “She feels I have led her daughter away from the true Church, which according to her is "Roman, Catholic, and Apostolic!"

Next, Dylan Landis read from Normal People Don't Live Like This, the story of a troubled young girl and her relationship with her equally disturbed companions. Dylan captured all of the Sturm und Drang of a precocious teen growing up on the Upper West Side during the seventies.

We rounded out the event with Marc Fitten’s Valeria’s Last Stand about an elderly Hungarian widow’s attempts to cope with political and romantic changes in her life. If the first chapters are any indication of the rest of the book, then Valeria’s Last Stand will definitely be on my list for Christmas.

Give thanks to the organizers for putting together such an Irie reading for the Weekend Author Sessions. It was a pleasure to meet and read with Marc Fitten and Dylan Landis. But what was really heartwarming was to see all the friends who promised to come to the event and showed up!

So, the Events app. on Facebook works. Hallelujah.


For more photos of the event, please follow this link: Miami Book Fair International 2009 @ Flickr

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November 16, 2009

For I will consider my Cat Buju

He is not supposed to be alive. My daughter heard his cries from inside a dumpster where she found a garbage bag sealed with duct tape. She tore the bag open and he  licked her hand. He barely weighed a pound. And when he curled up between her palms, she remembered a scene from one of her favorite movies, Ace Ventura: Pet Detective: "My little Buju."  He now had a name.

Our family nursed Buju back to health and when he was strong enough, we took him to the Humane Society to be neutered. Since then, Buju, who used to be scared of the slightest sound has grown stronger and bolder to the point where he has become a fixture in our lives: playing tag with my son, nuzzling my daughter, purring in my wife's lap.

Buju and I are the ones who are awake while the world sleeps. When I'm watching TV, he reminds me that I have a bald spot and licks the thinning hair on my crown. And when I'm falling asleep, he nudges me until I awaken and then he pads over to the window where he becomes, like Jeoffry,our guardian: "For he keeps the Lord's watch in the night against the adversary."

He also thinks that he is a writer.

On most mornings before I go to work, I begin my day by writing. Buju escorts me downstairs to my computer and sits beside me. He plays with my pens, chews on my pencils, and like any good critic, offers commentary at the appropriate time.

And when I refuse to listen to his endless carping or he disapproves  of the text, he slaps his paw against the keyboard and holds down the keys for emphasis: asssssssssssssssssssssdddddddd

And despite my screams, "Buju!' which when he first came would have sent him scurrying under our beds where he would have stayed for days, he has now grown to the point where I don't scare him any more.

He must also think he's one of my children.


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November 13, 2009

Who's Your Daddy? @ South Florida Caribbean News

MIAMI - Jamaica-born author, Geoffrey Philp will be reading at with Dylan Landis and Marc Fitten the Miami Book Fair International 2009 on Saturday, Nov. 14, 2009 at 2:00 p.m. in Room 3410.


Related Post @

November 12, 2009

Who's Your Daddy @ Nightly Business Report

I'll be appearing on WPBT's Nightly Business Report tonight (7:00 p.m EST) in an interview with Jeff Yastine. We talked about blogging, social media, Kindle, and publishing in the Internet age.


Update: 11/13/2009:

NBR Transcripts-November 12, 2009 Thursday, November 12, 2009


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November 11, 2009

The "DC Sniper" & Who's Your Daddy?

I have often been asked if there was a real life story behind “Who’s Your Daddy?”. The inspiration for that story, John Allen Muhammad, was executed last night.

In 2002 when the first “DC Sniper” shootings began, America was gripped with fear. The shootings were so random. No one, it seemed, was safe. People stopped going to gas stations and some began to wonder if malls or supermarkets were safe.

Many of the profiles from experts in law enforcement suggested that the sniper was a white male and many of us in the black community breathed a sigh of relief. All we needed was another crazy brother with a gun out there for the rest of us to become scapegoats for his crimes.

So you can imagine the shock when it was revealed that the “DC Sniper” was John Muhammad and his young accomplice was a boy named John Malvo. The relief in the black community was now a collective: “WTF?”

The story fascinated me from the start. A young boy effectively abandoned by his parents, but more importantly by his father, who had fallen under the influence of a charismatic older male with a murderous streak. The seeds of tragedy were sown and the bitter harvest was being reaped: “In all, the sniping team would shoot 22 people, murdering 15 of them, in a deadly coast-to-coast spree that stretched from the Northwest to the deep South” (Victim's Brother Says 'Surreal Watching Life Sapped Out' of DC Sniper).

And when Muhammad was arraigned there was even a greater shock. But not with Muhammad. He resembled what I had imagined: a burnt out man who was a cross between a pool hustler and a failed evangelical preacher. But John Malvo? Behind that cherubic face, there was a sinister coldness in his eyes that mortified me. How could a child’s eyes be so deathly cold? How did this young man end up like this?

I began doing the research and it turned out that Malvo’s story is similar to the tale of many fatherless boys growing up in the Caribbean and in Miami—the “barrel” children, the children who have never known the love of a parent or grandparent and are easy prey for the Alpha males with whom they come in contact. These young Malvos are recruited for all kinds of criminality, from selling and transporting ganja, cocaine and heroin to committing murder. And the monetary rewards that they receive are minuscule compared to the risk (Steven Levitt: Crack Economics)—which suggests that the mixture of devotion, admiration and loyalty that these young Malvos have for these older males is something akin to love.

And the strange irony is that these young men grow up to be either Malvos or Obamas.

John Malvo was sentenced to life in prison without parole, and as Grace Nichols, author of "Genesis: The Bullet Was Meant For Me: D.C. Sniper Story Untold" has said, she is at peace with Malvo's sentence of life without parole because "he had the mind of a child who happened to be with a man who became diabolical."

Malvo may still be in prison, but his story is being multiplied in the Caribbean and South Florida. Malvo’s little brothers are still out there playing in the streets of Jamaica and Miami, waiting for another John Muhammad to appear in their lives to train them in the ways of terror.

Photo: Wikipedia

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Book Review: How to Leave Hialeah by Jennine Capo Crucet

An Open Letter from Marisella Veiga to Jennine Capo Crucet

Dear Jennine,

Initially, because you are a Cuban American woman fiction writer, I was interested in reading your first short story collection, How to Leave Hialeah. Then, your having won the 2009 John Simmons Award for Short Fiction and were the first Latina to win it—these facts were also a draw. When I learned the University of Iowa Press published the collection, I called for a review copy.

I am a Cubana fiction writer too. You were born in Hialeah in 1981. I was born in Havana in 1957 and arrived in Miami at age 3. Much of my childhood was spent in Minnesota, so I know something about learning to be a Cuban by living in the North.

I returned to Miami in 1968. As your book reveals, contrast helps people define themselves. I suspected your work would move me, and I was right. It has not stopped resonating. Your short stories bear witness to the many dynamics present among our exiled people. The characters you depict are on target.

Your last story, from which the collection’s title is taken, has countless examples. “You need more vitamin D than these Viking people, you have no choice,” you write, a tiny illustration of a myriad of differences.

Your well-crafted and written short stories are insightful, a powerful witness to the many dynamics present among our exiled people and within themselves. Your observations about the characters you’ve depicted are on target. I wonder how you, at such a young age, found the courage to depict so many hard truths in your stories?

Let me direct the next few lines to potential readers:  Jennine’s last story, from which the collection’s title is taken, has countless examples. “You need more vitamin D than these Viking people, you have no choice,” she writes as a tiny example of the myriad of differences.

In “The Next Move,” a male first person narrator relates events two years before his wife Nilda, had died. He refused to go back to Cuba, but details her trip there to visit her sisters. His comments on the Tai Chi class he and Nilda took together are hilarious. The decision to enroll in the class was motivated by one of his wife’s sisters in Cuba. The narrator questions the wisdom of someone who hasn’t eaten a steak in years.

The narrator interacts with his daughter and grandchildren, “animal children” he calls them once. These children don’t speak Spanish as well as they should. They are clueless about what Cuba was or is. As assimilation continues, the inter-generational and cultural rifts grow. And so does lack of time and lack of appreciation for our elders’ stories.

The narrator reveals frustration with both, speaking for so many of our people:  “I stood up from the bed and said, ‘Can’t I just tell a goddamn story!’”

This collection of 11 short stories accomplishes so much. It is a fiction that tells the truth of the lives of your characters, many of whom sprouted in the working class city of Hialeah, a place often sneered at by fellow exiles.

For readers who want to know about what is happening in our South Florida exile community, this book is important. For a closer look at what happens to immigrants and refugees as they begin to assimilate into the U.S. mainstream, it is crucial.

Maybe the book will educate a few people, in particular those who insist on seeing Greater Miami as a glamorous place—(read sexy), all those beautiful Latinos. After their South Florida jaunt, they can return home to their newspapers and televisions where they learn about us from a distance and complain about our ways.

Your book made me conscious of so many conflicts and pains and attitudes and traits that I’d rather ignore. I can easily do this, since I live in St. Augustine, way north of our Mecca. On the other hand, because I needed the confirmation and affirmation, I read on. I have emerged shaken, both sorrowful and joyous. Thank you for writing these stories.

How to Leave Hialeah by Jennine Capo Crucet (University of Iowa Press, paperback, $16.00, 184 pages.)

Marisella Veiga was born in Havana, Cuba, and went into exile with her family in 1960.  She was raised both in St. Paul, Minnesota, and Miami, Florida.  She received a B.A. in English from Macalester College and a Master’s in Fine Arts in Poetry from Bowling Green State University.  Her writing has appeared in numerous magazines, newspapers and literary anthologies. Veiga has won The Pushcart Prize XX, Best of the Small Presses, Special Mention in Fiction, the Canute A. Brodhurst Prize for Best Short Story in The Caribbean Writer.  She was also given the Evelyn LaPierre Award for Journalism in Alexandria, Virginia.  She is a nationally syndicated columnist with Hispanic Link News Service.  Recently, Veiga released a spoken word recording with Eclipse Recording Studios that has collected a few. The CD is  Square Watermelons:  Ten Essays on Living with Two Cultures. 

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November 10, 2009

Mark Your Calendar: Saturday, Nov. 14, 2009

Geoffrey Philp on Who's Your Daddy, Dylan Landis on Normal People Don't Live Like This and Marc Fitten on Valeria's Last Stand.

Saturday, Nov. 14, 2:00 p.m., Room 3410 (Building 3, 4th Floor)

Marc Fitten

Marc Fitten was born in Brooklyn in 1974 to Panamanian parents. He’s been published in Prairie Schooner, The Louisville Review and serves as the editor of the Chattahoochee Review in Atlanta. His first novel, Valeria’s Last Stand (Bloomsbury), set in a Hungarian village, is “a promising debut.” – Publishers Weekly.

Dylan Landis

Dylan Landis, author of Normal People Don’t Live Like This (Persea), has published fiction in Tin House, Best American Nonrequired Reading and won the California Writers Exchange Award from Poets & Writers. “The characters in Dylan Landis's debut story collection, Normal People Don't Live Like This, are blessedly extraordinary.” – Vanity Fair.

Geoffrey Philp

Geoffrey Philp is a writer and poet whose awards include a James Michener Fellowship at the University of Miami. Born in rural Jamaica, he is the author of four collections of poetry, a previous book of short stories, a novel and Who’s Your Daddy and Other Stories (Peepal Tree Press).  He lives in Miami.

Saturday, Nov. 14, 2:00 p.m.     Free    


Miami Book Fair International * Miami Dade College
300 NE Second Ave., Miami, FL 33132
Room 3410 (Building 3, 4th Floor)

Source: Weekend Author Series

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November 9, 2009



The 29th Annual West Indian Literature Conference

Department of Literatures in English
Faculty of Humanities and Education
University of the West Indies, Mona
Kingston, Jamaica
April 29 – May 1, 2010

Special Guests :

Kamau Brathwaite        
Lorna Goodison
Shara McCallum            
David Chariandy

The theme for the 29th Annual West Indian Literature Conference is Caribbeanscapes: The Vistas of Caribbean Literature.

The Caribbean has been perceived in myriad and often contradictory ways:  as paradisal isles; outposts of innocence offering Edenic beginnings; hedonistic beachscapes of tourist fantasies; the backwaters of civilization, condemned to mimicry and futile posturing; and vital centres of creative cultural hybridity, literally new worlds that prophesy our globalized futures.  

Anglophone Caribbean literature is a rich archive of such perceptions, often articulating them as visual tropes of space and place that conflate geography and history, language and cartography in the attempt to chart the imaginative and literal frontiers of psyche and society.  

To explore this archive of Caribbean literary vistas, the 29th Annual Conference on West Indian Literature invites papers and panel proposals on the following topics:

•    Tropicalized Spaces : The Power of Vistas
•    Home and Garden: Domestic Ecologies
•    Unhomely Spaces
•    Manscape and Womantongue Trees: The Gender of Vistas in Caribbean Literature
•    Rural Pastoral, Urban Dystopia? City and Country in Caribbean Writing
•    Plantation, Yard, Tonelle:  Metaphors of Place and Identity
•    Spectacular Islands: The Visual Politics and Poetics of Caribbean Popular Culture
•    Translocal and Transnational Vistas
•    Travel Writing
•    Bordered Vistas: Border Regimes, Border Clashes, and Border-Crossings
•    Imagining Caribbean Space

Proposals are welcomed on other topics that are relevant to the theme of the Conference.

Abstracts should not exceed 250 words in length, and should include (1) a title, (2) name, status and institutional affiliation of the presenter(s), (3) a contact email address, and (4) a mailing address. Please also let us know if you require any special equipment. Papers will be a maximum of twenty (20) minutes in length.

Abstracts or proposals for panels comprising three papers should be emailed to the following addresses:

The first Call for Papers will close on November 30, 2009


Dear Reader,

Please help to spread the word via Twitter, Facebook or any other social media .



November 8, 2009

Interview With Hannah Bannister: Peepal Tree Press

Hannah Bannister, Peepal Tree marketing manager
and managing editor, Jeremie Poynting

Do you think Caribbean writers have reason to be hopeful about the future?

Hannah: I really do think it’s a bright future, and I hope we’ll start to see more entrepreneurs setting up Caribbean publishing companies – there’s room for more, judging by the volume and quality of the submissions we receive.

Photo Source: Caribbean Book Blog


November 7, 2009

Celebrate National Bookstore Day

Today is Publishers Weekly’s first annual National Bookstore Day, “a day devoted to celebrating bookselling and the vibrant culture of bookstores.”

If you live in Miami, drop by Books & Books, and show them some love.

Of course, readers in Boynton Beach can always visit  Pyramid Books which "celebrates Black History Month 365 days a year to educate all people about the African Diaspora."


November 6, 2009

Night of the Indigo Wins Moon Beam Award

This year, Holgate's Night of the Indigo won a silver medal in the category of 'Young Adult Fiction - Religion/Spirituality'. The awards ceremony was held on October 10 as part of the West Virginia Book Festival in Charleston. While Holgate was not able to attend, he was happy to have won. "I'm very pleased with the award. I found it very interesting that the book didn't win in the category of fantasy/sci-fi which is the genre it qualifies for, but won in the religious/spirituality category," he said. "I'm very happy nonetheless. Anyone who reads the novel could easily understand why that happened."


Who's Your Daddy? endorsement @ Electronic Village

Give thanks to Electronic Village for this endorsement of Who's Your Daddy?:

Philp's imagination flows from a casual game of dominoes that reveals the deep undercurrent of affection between father and son to the laugh-out-loud inventiveness of a dreadlocked vampire. I encourage all villagers to read this book to see a unique view of the lives of Black boys and their (sometimes) absent fathers.


"Summer Storm" by Geoffrey Philp

Summer Storm

After thunderstorms have cleared the city,
after the homeless have abandoned their cardboard palaces,

fog older than Tequesta circles, Seminole arrowheads
and Spanish jars, dulls the sawgrass’s razor,

turns away from the charted rivers,
slithers over the boulevard I could not cross

when the names Lozano and McDuffie rhymed
with the scent of burning tires, and away

from churches with broken steeples that grow
more vacant each Sunday because their faithful

folded their arms while balseros floundered, boriquas
drowned, and negs joined their sisters and brothers

 on the ocean bed. Yet something like music
rises from the sound of the gull’s wings beating a path

over Calle Ocho, Little Haiti, La Sawacera, like the bells
that echo over the Freedom Tower, bright as the final

burst of the sunset against the billboards, gilding the sea
grapes’ leaves washed clean by the evening rain.