November 29, 2010

The Reticent Gardener

Philoctete Fleurimond was the most envied gardener in our neighborhood. He grew the reddest tomatoes, the most fragrant thyme, and the prettiest azaleas. Every year at the Christmas garden show, we flocked to his stall to pepper him with questions and perhaps learn his secrets.

“Do you use seaweed as a fertilizer?
“Canola oil as a pesticide?”
“Baking soda to keep away fungi?”

“No, no, no,” Fleurimond would say in that gentle way that reminded us of an absent-minded teacher who often forgot to wear matching socks, or couldn’t find his keys or chalk, but who had taught generations of children in a small village.

“I don’t use any of those things, “he would continue in the broken English he had learned after he was released from Krome; after he was abandoned in the sea by a captain to the sharks off the coast of Miami; after burying his wife and daughter in Cap Haitien; after being beaten for days by the Macoutes until his eyes were swollen like two giant egg plants.

“It’s  a secret of my family,” he would repeat, and then smile, as he packed up his stall and went home to the quiet of his garden, where he would thrust his hands into the earth and cupping the black soil between his palms, turn his anger into something green.


November 22, 2010

Donna Aza Weir-Soley, Heather Russell & Geoffrey Philp on PULSE

In case you missed the shows or weren't able to watch, here's the link:


A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Book Fair

One of the great things about the Miami Book Fair International is meeting new friends like January Gill O’Neil. Well, January isn’t exactly a “new” friend.

January and I have known each other’s work through Rethabile Masilo’s blog, Poefrika, but this was the first time that we’d met each other face-to-face. We greeted each other like old friends and started a conversation that grew too include Susan Rich, one of the poets, which included Kevin Pilkington and Mark Statman, with whom January was reading.

We attended each other’s readings and I was riveted when she read “How to Make Crab Cake,” a poem that is more about transformation of “experience into a narrative of becoming” than mastering the preparation of a culinary delight. I’d first read the poem on  Poefrika,  and I was pleased to hear her read. But it was even better to know that we had made our acquaintance through Poefrika.

So thank you, January, for a wonderful reading from Underlife, and  here’s to you, Rethabile, for introducing me her poetry.


November 19, 2010

Accepting Submissions: Pearson Publishing

Via Caribbean Book Blog:

The Book Industry Association of Jamaica (BIAJ) has announced that Pearson Publishing is inviting Caribbean authors to submit manuscripts for its Caribbean Writers Series. Authors may submit novels, plays and short stories for consideration for the general list. Manuscripts should be sent by email, in Microsoft Word. Authors may submit the first chapter or the manuscript in its entirety.

The manuscript should be accompanied by a 2-page cover letter including a synopsis, background information on the author’s reason for writing the story, any relevant social context, a short biography and resume, and information on the author’s published work and any writing awards. The story should be suitable for readers age 14-16. Interested authors are advised to look at Pearson’s other titles. Pearson is also accepting submissions for books planned for the primary school curriculum. Writers interested in submitting pieces for the primary curriculum are invited to write for more details.

Interested authors should contact Rachel Brown at


My Ideal Schedule: Miami Book Fair International

The lineup of authors for the Miami Book Fair International will again present some logistical problems. Translation: I will have either have to clone myself in a hurry or borrow the Time Turner from Hermione Granger.

Here would be my ideal schedule:


Michele Voltaire Marcelin on Lost and Found, Ruth Miriam Garnett on Chole’s Grief, Diana McCaulay on Dog-Heart and Mervyn Taylor on No Back Door.
Saturday, Nov. 20, 10:00 a.m., Room 3314 (Building 3, 3rd Floor)

Walter Mosley on The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey.
Saturday, Nov. 20, 10:00 a.m., Auditorium (Building 1, 2nd Floor, Room 1261)

Gideon Hanoomansingh, Merle Hodge, Lasana Kwesi and Raoul Pantin, Earl Lovelace with moderator Winston Maynard.
Saturday, Nov. 20, 11:30 a.m., Room 3314 (Building 3, 3rd Floor)

Michele Norris on The Grace of Silence: A Memoir
Saturday, Nov. 20, 12:00 p.m., Auditorium (Building 1, 2nd Floor, Room 1261)

Dr. Paul Farmer on Partner to the Poor
Saturday, Nov. 20, 1:30 p.m., Room 3314 (Building 3, 3rd Floor)

Kwame Anthony Appiah on Honor Code: How Moral Revolutions Happen and Thomas C. Holt on Children of Fire: A History of African Americans
Saturday, Nov. 20, 1:30 p.m., Presentation Pavilion B (N.E 3rd Street and 1st Avenue)

Lynn Emanuel on Noose and Hook, Chase Twichell on Horses Where the Answers Should Have Been: New and Selected Poems, Michael Hettich on Like Happiness and Lola Haskins on Still, the Mountain
Saturday, Nov. 20, 1:30 p.m., Room 3410 (Building 3, 4th Floor)

Les Standiford and Joe Matthews on Bringing Adam Home: The Abduction that Changed America
Saturday, Nov. 20, 1:30 p.m., Room 7128 (Building 7, 1st Floor)

James W. Hall on Silencer, Jeff Lindsay on Dexter is Delicious and Ridley Pearson on In Harm’s Way and Greg Rucka on Last Run: A Queen & Country Novel
Saturday, Nov. 20, 2:30 p.m., Room 7128 (Building 7, 1st Floor)

Heather Russell on Legba's Crossing: Narratology in the African Atlantic and Donna Weir-Soley on Eroticism, Spirituality and Resistance in Black Women's Writings
Saturday, Nov. 20, 3:30 p.m., Room 3315 (Building 3, 3rd Floor)

Carlos Eire on Learning to Die in Miami, Edwidge Danticat on Create Dangerously: Immigrant Artists at Work and Ngugi Wa Thiong'o on Dreams in a Time of War: A Childhood Memoir (free ticket required for admission)
Saturday, Nov. 20, 3:30 p.m., Chapman Conference Center (Building 3, 2nd Floor, Room 3210)

Tigertail presents A South Florida Poetry Annual: Selected Collective, Poetry, Prose and Projects by The Miami Poetry Collective
Saturday, Nov. 20, 4:00 p.m., Room 3410 (Building 3, 4th Floor)

Salman Rushdie on Luka and the Fire of Life (free ticket required for admission)
Saturday, Nov. 20, 5:00 p.m., Chapman Conference Center (Building 3, 2nd Floor, Room 3210)


T Cooper on The Beaufort Diaries, Preston Allen on Jesus Boy and Vicki Hendricks on Florida Gothic Stories
Sunday, Nov. 21, 10:00 a.m., Prometeo Theatre (Building 1, 1st Floor, Room 1101)

Haiti Noir with Edwidge Danticat, M.J. Fievre, Mark Kurlansky, Marie Ketsia Theodore-Pharel and Josaphat-Robert Large
Sunday, Nov. 21, 12:00 p.m., Presentation Pavilion A (N.E 3rd Street and 1st Avenue

Geoffrey Philp on Dub Wise, James Brock on Gods & Money and Nina Romano on Coffeehouse Meditations
Sunday, Nov. 21, 1:00 p.m., Room 3410 (Building 3, 4th Floor)

C.K. Williams on Wait and On Whitman in conversation with Campbell McGrath
Sunday, Nov. 21, 1:00 p.m., Prometeo Theatre (Building 1, 1st Floor, Room 1101)

Norberto Fuentes on Autobiography of Fidel Castro, Earl Lovelace on Is' Just a Movie and Mark Kurlansky on Edible Stories
Sunday, Nov. 21, 2:00 p.m., Room 7106/7107 (Building 7, 1st Floor)

Roberto González Echevarría on Cuban Fiestas, Gustavo Pérez Firmat on The Havana Habit, Octavio Roca on Cuban Ballet and Mark Weiss on The Whole Island: Six Decades of Cuban Poetry
Sunday, Nov. 21, 3:30 p.m., Room 7106/7107 (Building 7, 1st Floor)

Jonathan Franzen on Freedom: A Novel (free ticket required for admission)
Sunday, Nov. 21, 5:00 p.m., Chapman Conference Center (Building 3, 2nd Floor, Room 3210)

Hope I'll see you there!


Miami Book Fair International is the largest and finest literary gathering in America. It is the premier event of the Florida Center for the Literary Arts at Miami Dade College. The Center promotes reading and writing throughout the year by consistently presenting quality literary activities open to all in South Florida. Literacy projects target children of all ages—from kindergarten to high school—as well as college students and adults.

Established and emerging writers from South Florida and all over the U.S. read, lecture, and teach workshops. They work with K-12, MDC students, and diverse members of the community, helping to deepen their understanding of literature, and encouraging the work of writers at all stages of development. The Center envisions South Florida as a nexus of literary activity in the Americas and beyond, and will continue to champion its mission of promoting the advancement and appreciation of the literary arts in all forms.

Miami Book Fair International is made possible through the generous support of the State of Florida and the National Endowment for the Arts; the City of Miami; Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs and the Cultural Affairs Council, the Miami-Dade County Mayor and Board of County Commissioners; Miami-Dade County Public Schools; the Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau; the Miami Downtown Development; and the Friends of the Fair; as well as many corporate partners.

November 17, 2010

Answer Survey & Stand to Win £100 in Shopping Vouchers

Via Peepal Tree Press:

Peepal Tree Press is committed to publishing the best Caribbean books in printed editions. However with the advent of new technologies we are exploring the ways we can best serve our customers and our authors. While we will always publish printed books, we're interested in knowing how you feel about ebooks.

If you could take a few moments to answer this quick survey, we will enter your name into a prize draw to win £100 in Peepal Tree Press shopping vouchers, redeemable at our website.

We estimate that this survey should take no more than 2 minutes.


In My Own Words...Michèle Voltaire Marcelin

And it was at that age ... Poetry arrived
in search of me. I don't know, I don't know where
it came from, from winter or a river.
I don't know how or when,
no they were not voices, they were not
words, nor silence,
but from a street I was summoned,
from the branches of night,
abruptly from the others,
among violent fires
or returning alone,
there I was without a face
and it touched me.

And so it was, as Neruda recounts.  Poetry summoned me. It called me by name and seduced me.  The solitary child, I  answered her siren’s call and became her subject. I have loved her since. I loved the poets I met in pages of books before I knew any living ones. I loved their language, whispered or clamored; the way in which I felt my wings unfold, spread out and gather flying strength when I read poetry.

Why do I write? Because it is a summons as well. It is a “call and response” from me to me, from me to the world and from the world to me. A call to witness an event or a feeling. I wrote first because I fell in love; and as Plato said, "At the touch of love, everyone becomes a poet."  And I continued writing because I was to become a witness and testify to events that changed our world.  I am a woman of color born in Haiti.  These past months, with curses and catastrophes upon my island, it was difficult not to despair. Each day brought its share of disaster: Sorrows came not single spies but in battalions...

Then by chance I discovered these verses by French resistance poet René Char . That is what life does: sends us fragments of hope serendipitously, so we can go on when we think we cannot.

Make haste to transmit your share of wonder, of rebellion, of goodness
so you are not lagging behind life
the one denied you everyday by people and things
the one you obtain
here and there some fragments of
at the end of merciless battles..."
(Common Presence)

So this is why I write. As a way to defy darkness, misery and fear, violence, treacheries, delusions. And what goodness and wonder and rebellion I have to share is my art. That is what we do as artists: we share our passion, our need to create beauty to respond to life's cruelties, to let its mark be there on the edges of this harsh, violent world. Nothing is more powerful than beauty in a wicked world. It is the only thing that makes life tolerable.

Dostoevsky said “Beauty will save the world” and Russian poet Joseph Brodsky responded "Probably it is impossible to save the world already, but to save the separate man is always possible". But the world consists of people, and if we each are able to reach just one?

"We are luminous, we human beings. We are alight in that we have been given a light through our creator, through a gift of nature..."

So we must share that light, combine it with other lights to dispel darkness and chaos. In a world filled with headlines of disasters and fear, we need to turn to art for a place to nourish the heart and soul. So against darkness and in haste, I write to share my light.

Ars Poetica by Michèle Voltaire Marcelin

"on days when all seems dark, when the world pours in and your pain blows words out of my mouth, i look at opened windows and running trains with a craving hard to explain, but i rush by quickly, eyes shut tight, and count my breaths, and when i catch a glimpse of myself, a talking shadow in full light, hair blowing and blind, i must seem, not knowing my left from my right, always lost, but as i stand here, in my age of reckoning, a woman at the end of her history, i tell you i know i have found myself.  i have found happiness where i did not seek it and grief has come frequently when i did not expect it, and come to stay, like an unwelcome guest you cannot turn away, and it has marked me to allow my heart to break with tenderness and make me part of humanity. and i give thanks for the voice i have been given, for the little song i can sing, for the light i can add to everyone else’s, for i have tasted it all, the bitter, the sweet and what was forbidden me, but i am alive, and have learned to live in this world which is beautifully hopeless and hopelessly beautiful, and if i am remembered at all, it will be because whatever else is true or false, and because i have craved its light, i have unflinchingly faced love and embraced it."

About Michèle Voltaire Marcelin:

Michèle Voltaire Marcelin  is a writer, poet, performer, and visual artist who has lived in Haiti, Chile and the United States. Her first novel “La Désenchantée" was published by Cidihca in 2006. Since then, she has published its Spanish translation "La Desencantada", and 2 other books of poetry and prose: "Lost and Found", and "Amours et Bagatelles".

Her work is also included in 2 poetry anthologies published in France: “Terre de Femmes” (Editions Bruno Doucey) and Cahier Haiti by Revue d’Art, Littérature et Musique (RAL,M).

Maya Angelou declared her poems "stunning" in an interview on OprahRadio:

And author Edwidge Danticat wrote: "The seventy-four poems in Michèle Voltaire Marcelin's "Lost and Found" are as sensual as they are lyrical, as tender as they are incandescent. Make sure you are sitting down, or better yet lying down, with your beloved and a glass of wine, as you read them. Your heart -- and your love life -- will never be the same."

Featured as one of the poets of the NewsHour on PBS (, she has performed her poetry solo and with jazz bands at the Brooklyn Museum, the MoCADA, La MaMa theatre, Cornelia Street Cafe, the United Nations, the Segal Theatre, and other venues. This Port-au-Prince born artist  writes in 3 languages and currently lives and teaches in New York. 

More information about Michèle and her work can be found on the websites:  and

Click on the following links to listen and watch Michele recite her poems:


Michèle Voltaire Marcelin will be reading at the Miami Book Fair International.

Saturday, Nov. 20, 10:00 a.m., Room 3314 (Building 3, 3rd Floor)

November 16, 2010

Caribbean Writers on PULSE with Jessy Schuster

PULSE with Jessy Schuster

Thursday, November 18 @ 7:30 PM

Sunday, November 21 @ 12:00 PM 

Interview with Donna Aza Weir-Soley
Florida International University associate professor of English, Donna Aza Weir-Soley, joins us on the program to discuss the book she is presenting at the Miami Book Fair International, Eroticism, Spirituality And Resistance In Black Women's Writings.

Interview with Heather Russell
Florida International University associate professor of English, Heather Russell, joins us on the program to discuss her latest book, Legba's Crossing: Narratology In The African Atlantic, which she is presenting at the Miami Book Fair International.

Heather Russell and Donna Aza Weir-Soley will be reading at the Miami Book Fair International

Interview with Geoffrey Philp

Jamaican author, Geoffrey Philp, joins us on Pulse to discuss his latest poetry collection, Dub Wise, and the criticism and feedback he received from his previous book, Who’s Your Daddy?

Geoffrey Philp will be reading at the Miami Book Fair International


November 15, 2010

Leonard “Tim” Hector: Then and Now

The Caribbean Book Blog posted an article by Leonard “Tim” Hector, “Why is our literature so different? Why?” which reminded me of a livication I’d written back in January 2006:

Hector’s words are as true then as they are now:
“The middle classes, "the assimilados" who assimilated the colonisers’ culture and were chosen for administrative posts in the colonial order, knowing they would have maintained that order with the convert’s zeal. Having been educated they saw and still see their "specific purpose", as Lamming wrote "as sneering at anything which grew or was made of native soil". Such, who even today still look outside for their literature in Harry Potter’s children’s stories, or to Stephen King and the like, could not be subjects of West Indian poetry or novels. Educated in the professions, or buying and selling imported commodities, and re-inforcing the old order they were entirely without character and not fit and proper subjects for novels or verse, with the possible exception of satire, that is, as mimic men and mimic women.
West Indian literature, in the novel or as poetry is of artistic necessity preoccupied with:
What new fevers arise to reverse the crawl?
Our islands make towards their spiritual extinction?
Remember that word "fevers", it is a recurring image.
For we were born "in spiritual extinction", slavery and indenture sought to extinguish the African and Indian personality, at every turn, in or out of school, church, home or work. Always it sought not just the stereotype, but the other-determined personality as stereotype. Anything other than the other-determined stereotype was a threat to the system to be demonised and hounded, as if life itself depended on the reproduction of homogeneous and uncritical persons, who elevated the imposed sacred while undermining the native secular; the economy itself was about status and not the production and accumulation of wealth for human development.”

Long live, Leonard "Tim" Hector!


November 12, 2010


Give thanks to the BBC World Service for isolating this clip and rebroadcasting my interview:
Topics covered: Influence of Bob Marley on my work & Dub Wise


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Bob Marley Symposium at Americas Society

Inaugural Event: Chris Blackwell and Christopher John Farley—A Conversation

Tuesday, November 16, 7:00 pm

Blackwell, the founder of Island Records and the man who launched Bob Marley and The Wailers, and Farley, the author of Before the Legend: The Rise of Bob Marley (2006) and a Wall Street Journal editor, will discuss Bob Marley—the man behind the music. more

Panel Discussion: Ibo Cooper, Robert Hill, Herbie Miller, Christopher Winks

Wednesday, November 17, 7:00 p.m.

Cooper (Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts), Hill (UCLA), and Miller (Jamaica Music Museum/Institute of Jamaica), moderated by Winks (Queens College, CUNY), will address Bob Marley as a consummate musician and as a national hero of Jamaica. more

Launch of Review: Literature and Arts of the Americas (Bob Marley and His Legacy; Fall 2010):
Jacqueline Bishop, Kwame Dawes, Lorna Goodison, Herbie Miller, Shara McCallum. Christopher Winks.

Thursday, November 18, 7:00 pm

The launch of Review 81 will feature comments by guest creative editor Goodison and guest academic editor Winks; and readings of texts inspired by Bob Marley by poets/prose writers Bishop, Dawes, McCallum, and Miller.

With the collaboration of the Consulate General of Jamaica in New York and InterAmericas®.

Americas Society is proud to participate in the 5th Annual Latin American Cultural Week, produced by PAMAR (

Reservations are required.

Americas Society Members: Reserve today at

Non-Members: Visit our website and make your reservation online approximately five days before each event.

Related Events

Sound System Night with DJ Bunny Goodison, Sunday, November 21, 10:00 pm, at Nublu (62 Avenue C, New York, NY) more

Concurrent to the symposium, the Consulate General of Jamaica in New York will present an exhibition of images from Bob Marley and the Golden Age of Reggae: The Photographs of Kim Gottlieb-Walker (Titan Books 2010) in its space at 767 Third Avenue, 2nd Floor, NYC.

Americas Society gratefully acknowledges Honorary Benefactor Amalia Lacroze de Fortabat and The Reed Foundation for their generous support of the Literature Program. The Fall 2010 season is also made possible in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts; with public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts, a State Agency; and in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, in partnership with the City Council.

Location and HoursAll our culture programs are free, open to the public, and take place at Americas Society, unless noted. We are located at 680 Park Avenue at 68th Street in New York City. To arrive by public transportation, take the 6 train to 68th Street / Hunter College. Map. For wheelchair access, kindly call in advance.

Gallery hours are Wednesdays to Saturdays from 12 pm to 6 pm.

For more information, visit If you have questions or comments, please email us at

About Americas Society Americas Society is the premier forum dedicated to education, debate and dialogue in the Americas. Its mission is to foster an understanding of the contemporary political, social and economic issues confronting Latin America, the Caribbean and Canada, and to increase public awareness and appreciation of the diverse cultural heritage of the Americas and the importance of the inter-American relationship.

Images: Left: Photo courtesy of Adrian Boot-Bob Marley Music Inc. Right: Review 81 cover; image by Alicia Mihai Gazcue.

November 11, 2010

Who's Your Daddy? Nominated for BIAJ Award

Who's Your Daddy? has been nominated in the Best Adult Creative Writing category for the Book Industry Association of Jamaica awards for 2010-2011. It's a crowded field of poets, short story writers, and novelists and many of the nominees have been featured at the Caribbean Review of Books, Repeating Islands, or on this blog:

 So Much Things to Say, by Kwame Dawes & Colin Channer; Published by Akashic Books (Ibrahim Ahmad).
 Angels of Reflection: Poems by Lil; Written and Published by Lilieth H. Nelson.
 Heart Song, Written and Published by Blosson O' Meally-Nelson.
 Sista Single, by Carla Barrett; Published by Rebaki Christian Publishers.
 Snapshots From Istanbul, by Jacqueline Bishop; Published by Peepal Tree Press.
 I Name Me Name, by Opal Palmer Aadisa; Published by Peepal Tree Press.
 Intersections, by Frances Marie Coke; Published by Peepal Tree Press
 A Permanent Freedom, by Curdella Forbes; Published by Peepal Tree Press
 The Damp In Things, Millicent A. A. Graham; Published by Peepal Tree Press.
 Far District, Ishion Hutchinson; Published by Peepal Tree Press.
 Dog-Heart, by Diana McCaulay; Published by Peepal Tree Press.
 Who's Your Daddy? And Other Stories, by Geoffrey Philp; Published by Peepal Tree Press
 Leaving Traces, by Velma Pollard; Published by Peepal Tree Press.
 The Fullness of Everything, by Patricia Powell; Published by Peepal Tree Press.
 She Who Sleeps With Bones, by Tanya Shirley; Published by Peepal Tree Press.
 After-Image, by Dennis Scott; Published by Peepal Tree Press.
 Power Game, by Perry Henzell; Published by Macmillan Publishers Limited.
 John Crow's Devil, by Marlon James; Published by Macmillan Publishers Limited.
 The Girl with the Golden Shoes, by Colin Channer; Published by Macmillan Publishers Limited.
 Crocodile, by Anthony Winkler; Published by Macmillan Publishers Limited.
 Two Can Play & Other Plays, by Trevor Rhone; Published by Macmillan Publishers Limited.
 Inner City Girl, by Colleen Smith-Dennis; Published by LMH Publishing.
 The Day I Met Me; Written and published by Tracey Tucker.
 Souldance, by Jean Lowrie-Chin; Published by Ian Randle Publishers.

Ten years ago, I imagined that this kind of abundance would eventually emerge from the region--not from one island. It's also good to see that Peepal Tree Press has garnered the majority of the submissions: Dem likkle but dem tallawah

Here's the link to vote: 


Two Snippets Toward a Longer Post

Poetry is inherently difficult because its understanding requires three forms of knowledge:

The denotative meaning of words. That is, words "alone."

The connotative meaning of words. That is, words "in context."

And the archetypal meaning of words. That is, "hyper-contextual words"--words not in the context of the poem itself but in their historical use.

A well-written poem combines the three required forms of knowledge to create meaning on multiple levels--that is, "depth."

The problem with many poems is the direct neglect of one (or more) of these forms of knowledge--creating far more difficult--and ultimately less satisfying--works at the expense--or on the altar of "progress."

Once we understand that the arts do not progress--and that this includes poetry, we can embrace poetry for its inherent artistic value.

This means accepting that poetry, on its face, is "difficult"--moreso than prose--because it requires a greater depth of knowledge--and that there is little point in making it intentionally more difficult (to show ones "intelligence" perhaps?) in order to satisfy some overthought and overwrought "need" of the author.


Via Harriet:

Lowest-common-denominator thinker Malcolm Gladwell famously proposed the “10,000 hour rule,” which suggests that in order to become great at something, one must dedicate at least 10,000 hours to its practice. His examples include a young Bill Gates programming computers for 10,000 hours, and The Beatles playing 10,000 hours of shows. Even Ron Silliman has chimed in on the topic:

The second task, the extended reading, takes far longer. There are people—Bruce Andrews was one, Rae Armantrout another—who are writing in their mature style very early on, but in both cases you will find that were voracious readers also. This is where I think that Malcolm Gladwell’s gimmicky ten thousand hours of work to become good at any one thing, whether or not it’s writing, comes into play. You need to understand the range of poetry that you are seeking to become part of…

Poet and blogger John Gallagher has proposed a slight modification of Gladwell’s theory, arguing that once “mastery” has been achieved, it is important for the master to continue engaging with his craft as if he were not yet a master, i.e. in order to avoid resting on one’s laurels, the master (in this case the poet) needs to keep up with current developments in the art, and to continue to stretch his or her own craft:

What composes those 10,000 hours leading to ten years is important. These things become the practiced moves, the long-term memory (that can also become part of one’s automatic memory) that one will draw on for years. But just like anything else, once something gets too solid in memory, especially automatic memory, what feels like the mastery of hitting one’s groove can overnight turn into the realization of being in a rut. The point on the other side of the ten year rule is the rule of continued practice, which is the continued practice of new things.

Not only are we obsessed with success, we are obsessed with formulas for success! The question is: how long does it take to become a master of puppets?



November 10, 2010

Caribbean Writers @ Miami Book Fair International

The 27th edition of the nation’s finest and largest literary gathering, Miami Book Fair International, presented by the Florida Center for the Literary Arts (FCLA) at Miami Dade College (MDC), will take place November 14 - 21, 2010, at the college’s Wolfson Campus in downtown Miami.

Scheduled Caribbean Programs

Saturday, November 20 at 10am in Room 3314
Panelists: Michele Voltaire Marcelin, Ruth-Miriam Garnett, Diana McCaulay and Mervyn Taylor

Saturday, November 20 at 11:30am in Room 3314
Panelists: Gideon Hanoomansingh, Merle Hodge, Earl Lovelace, Selwyn Cudjoe
1970: Black Power Revolution, 1990 Coup d’état (Trinidad), Grenada occupation 1983

Saturday, November 20 @ 3:30 pm. Room 3315 (Building 3, 3rd Floor)
Presenting will be Heather Russell & Donna Weir Soley

Sunday, November 21 at 2pm in Room 7106. 
To present Earl Lovelace: Is’ Just a Movie, Norberto Fuentes and Mark Kurlansky.

Sunday, November 21 @ 1:00 pm. Room 3410 (Building 3, 4th Floor)
Geoffrey Philp reads from DUB WISE.


November 9, 2010

Octavio Roca @ Books & Books

November 12, 2010 
8:00 pm

Books & Books
265 Aragon Avenue
Coral Gables, Fl 33134

The unique style of Cuban ballet is galvanizing the world of dance in the United States, Europe, Latin America, and beyond. Cuban Ballet (Gibbs Smith, $40) by Octavio Roca explores the history of Cuban ballet by focusing on the life and career of the indomitable Alicia Alonso. It also spotlights many of the young dancers who are changing the face of ballet with their superb technique, impeccable work ethic, and spectacular performances: Lorena Feijoo, Lorna Feijoo, Joan Boada, Taras Domitro, Jose Manuel Carreo, Rolando Sarabia, and Carlos Acosta to name but a few. While focusing on the artistry and spirit of Cuban dancers, both within and out of Cuba, Roca deftly explores the political realities artists face in Cuba and why so many need to leave their beloved home to reach their full potential, taking their grace, beauty, strength, and style with them. Cuba's loss has become the world's gain. 

Photo Source: San Francisco Sentinel

November 8, 2010

Christian Campbell Wins Aldeburgh Prize

Caribbean poet Christian Campbell has won the best first collection prize at the Aldeburgh poetry festival for his book Running the Dusk, described by judge Neil Rollinson as "the clear stand-out" among all the volumes read for the award.

Campbell, whose book was also shortlisted for the Forward prize for best first collection, was presented with his £3,000 cheque this evening at the Suffolk festival.

The poet said he was "feeling good in the Nina Simone way" after winning the prize. "I am honoured to be a part of a moment of great energy and transformation in contemporary poetry in the UK," he said, adding: "It's very, very difficult for any young poet, and for any Caribbean poet, to get this level of recognition."

Publisher Peepal Tree Press describes the poems in Running the Dusk as taking the reader to "what the French call l'heure entre chien et loup, the hour between dog and wolf, to explore ambiguity and intersection, danger and desire, loss and possibility".

For more, please follow this link:


Photograph: Toni McRae

November 7, 2010

Alston Barrington "Barry" Chevannes, R.I.P.

Prime Minister, the Hon Bruce Golding, says the death of University of the West Indies' (UWI) Professor Emeritus, Alston Barrington "Barry" Chevannes, has dealt a tremendous blow to the academic, religious and cultural communities.

"Professor Chevannes has left a void as an outstanding mentor in our society," Mr. Golding said, in a statement issued by Jamaica House shortly after the Professor' passing at the University Hospital of the West Indies (UHWI) on Friday afternoon (November 5). He was admitted to the hospital in September in serious condition.

Professor Emeritus Barry Chevannes

The Prime Minister said that, in addition to his outstanding contribution to the University, Professor Chevannes will be remembered as a leading activist for peace in Jamaica, as the head of the Violence Prevention Alliance.

"To his wife, Pauletta, his children (daughters - Abena and Amba), members of his family, and friends, I extend my deepest condolence," Mr. Golding said.

The UWI also paid tribute to Professor Chevannes in a release, stating that his passing was a tremendous loss for the university, "to which he devoted almost a lifetime of service."

"Professor Chevannes joined the UWI in 1973, and was continuously engaged with issues dear to the hearts of the Jamaican and Caribbean people throughout his career", the university said.

As a Masters student, he was involved in the study of Afro-Caribbean culture and religion, as well as one of the earliest scientific studies of the social impact of Ganja in Jamaica.He went on to do a Ph.D on Rastafari at Columbia University. From work in these areas, he published two books Rastafari: Roots and Ideology and Rastafari and Other African Caribbean Worldviews.

He was also well known for his more recent work on socialization, the family, fatherhood, masculinity and sexuality; out of which came his book Learning to Be a Man: Culture, Socialization, and Gender Identity in Five Caribbean Communities. In 2006, he published Betwixt and Between: Explorations in an African-Caribbean Mindscape which provided his insights into the essence of Caribbean culture.

Professor Chevannes' association with the UWI spans the Institute of Social and Economic Research, now The Sir Arthur Lewis Institute for Social and Economic Studies and the Department of Sociology, Psychology and Social Work, where he served as Head.

He was subsequently appointed Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences, a position which he held until 2004 when he was appointed Director of the newly created Centre for Public Safety and Justice. He played a leadership role in the University Township Project, which built on work that he had done for many years in the surrounding communities of August Town.

He was the recipient of several national, international and university awards: Commander of the Order of Distinction, the Institute of Jamaica Centenary Medal for work in the field of culture (1979); the Norman Manley Award for Excellence in the field of social development (1997); the UWI Guild of Graduates Pelican Award for contribution in the field of anthropology (1998); and the Vice-Chancellor's Award for Excellence in research, teaching, University service, and service to the wider society. He was also an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Anthropological Institute.

He we was Chair of the Council of the Institute of Jamaica, founder of Fathers Incorporated, and of Partners for Peace, and is recognized for his original contribution to Jamaican folk and religious music.

He chaired the National Commission on Ganja in 2000-2001, was a member of the Peace Management Initiative (PMI) of the Ministry of National Security, Chairman of the Jamaican Justice System Reform Task Force and Co-chaired the CARICOM Commission on Youth Development.


November 5, 2010

Support the CRB 2010 Year-End Donation Drive

The CRB is a non-profit initiative, and the magazine's entire contents--and our six-year archive--are accessible via our website at no cost. You don't have to pay any subscription fee to read our insightful and intelligent coverage of Caribbean books, writing, art, film, and music. And we plan to keep it that way.
We run a lean operation. We keep our expenses to the barest minimum. But it does cost money to publish the CRB. Websites are relatively inexpensive but not free. There are unavoidable admin costs--even small expenses like posting books to reviewers eventually add up. And we remain committed to paying our writers, even if modestly. It's a sign of respect for the important work they do, for the profession of writing itself.
So how do we manage to cover these costs, and publish reviews, essays, interviews, original poems and fiction, artists' portfolios, and all our other cultural coverage every week? Some of our current operating expenses are generously supported by the Prince Claus Fund for Culture and Development. Partners like the trinidad+tobago film festival support specific sections of the magazine. But we also depend on the generosity of our readers.
Hence our current donation drive, and the point of this message. Between now and the end of 2010--for the duration of the next issue of the magazine--we ask our readers to consider making a donation to help support the CRB and its ongoing coverage of Caribbean culture. Our "support the CRB" page tells you how:

Image: Untitled drawing by Christopher Cozier (2002), courtesy the artist, reproduced on the cover of the August 2004 CRB, as featured on the CRB home page.

November 4, 2010

OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature

The Bocas Lit Fest, based in Trinidad and Tobago, is an annual celebration of books, writing, and writers. Launching in April 2011, the Bocas Lit Fest is an exciting new addition to the Caribbean’s literary calendar. The centrepiece of the festival will be the award ceremony for the OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature, a major new award for Caribbean writers of poetry, fiction, and literary non-fiction.

Boca is the Spanish word for mouth — the organ of speech and song and storytelling. And the Bocas del Dragón — the Dragon’s Mouths — are the narrow straits off Trinidad’s northwest peninsula, which connect the sheltered Gulf of Paria to the open Caribbean Sea. For centuries, the Bocas were the gateways connecting Trinidad to the Caribbean and the Atlantic. The Bocas Lit Fest invites readers from around the world to enter through the Dragon’s Mouths and celebrate with us the rich literary heritage of Trinidad and Tobago and the wider Caribbean.

For more information, please follow this link: