August 31, 2011

"Pelicans at Evening" by Jennifer Rahim

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Pelicans at Evening

(for Pat Bishop)

as many as seven,
steadfast as pointers
press heaven,
push east along Toco’s
unquiet run of coast.

News comes here
as the beat
of ample wings
holds the eye true
 to evening’s fall.

Now, –

when an ocean’s peace
is gathered into beaks
that could deliver
the miracle of a child,

I hear you are gone.

And what is this word
bequeathed us
as you pass into earth ? –

Our souls full yet
with every
and fragile
you shepherded to birth –
not one
or unformed sound
left  unhoused.

So Miss B., 
what is this nothing
as you go your way
to Mucurapo?

What parting gift –
your baton’s final call? ‒
Our tongues stilled,
grief left broke,
for your wanting
no more
than servant’s pay,
wanting too
a sunflower’s witness
at the close
of your giving days.

In this crude season
of curfew 
from ourselves,
your cowbell’s
chosen metre
is perfect song, you
knowing  well
silence earned strikes
the purest note,
speaks clearest,
being free
of all regard ,
being free blesses
with its own question.
So, Sister Pat,
is it that you saved
your best wine
for last?

Your passing’s ripe Art –

this holy hush
as that arcane flock journeys
routinely home.

About Pat Bishop
Pat Bishop, a business executive, painter, musician, historian, media commentator, choreographer and fashion designer, was also a renowned ethnomusicologist who, according to Dr. Selwyn Cudjoe, “sang with the Esso Tripoli in 1967; arranged music for Fonclaire, Birdsong, Skiffle Bunch and Desperadoes Steel Orchestra among other groups; conducted Trinidad All Stars, Phase II, Renegades and other steelbands; performed with Desperadoes at Carnegie Hall, New York, Brooklyn Academy of Music and the Philadelphia Academy of Music.” She also directed music for the Morne Diablo Folk Performing Company, worked with Daisy Voisin’s La Divina Pastora Parang Group and directed the Lydian Singers for the past eleven years.
She lectured History at the U.W.I. St. Augustine and Mona campuses as well as the history of art and design at the Jamaican School of the Art between 1970 and 1972


Image Source:

About Jennifer Rahim

Jennifer Rahim is a Senior Lecturer in Literature in the Department of Liberal Arts, The University of the West Indies, St. Augustine, Trinidad and Tobago. She is a critic, poet and short story writer. Her articles on Caribbean literature have appeared in MaComere, The Journal of West Indian Literature, Small Axe and Anthurium. She edited with Barbara Lalla a collection of Cultural Studies essays entitled, Beyond Borders: Cross Culturalism and the Caribbean Canon (UWI Press 2009).

Her creative publications include three poetry collections: Mothers Are Not the Only Linguists (1992) and Between the Fence and the Forest (2002) and Approaching Sabbaths (2009). She has one collection of short stories, Songster and Other Stories (2007). Approaching Sabbaths was awarded the 2010 Casa de las Américas Prize for best book in the category Caribbean Literature in English or Creole and has been shortlisted for the Guyana Prize for Literature.

August 30, 2011

On those mornings...

when God's breath smells like whiskey,
and you know he's been carousing
at the furthest end of the universe
with those good-for-nothing angels—
away from his children who need him
to kiss their foreheads when the desire
to crawl into the eye of an aster
summons--the resurrected rain
lilies will whisper, "Do not ask,
not to die. Ask only to be ready."

August 29, 2011

Marcus and the Amazons Virtual Book Tour: Jamaica Diaspora

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Geoffrey Philip is a poet and fiction writer who teaches English at Miami Dade College, where he also chairs the College Preparatory Department. A critically acclaimed author, Geoffrey's work been published in the Oxford Book of Caribbean Short Stories and the Oxford Book of Caribbean Verse.
He has also won many awards for his poetry and fiction, including a Florida Individual Artist Fellowship, Sauza "Stay Pure" Award, James Michener Fellowships from the University of Miami, and in 2008, he won the coveted "Outstanding Writer" prize from the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission. 

For more, please follow this link:

Marcus Garvey's Rehabilitation of Black Men. Part One

One of the subtexts of The Philosophy and Opinions of Marcus Garvey is the rehabilitation of Black men. While some have accused Garvey of male chauvinism—apart from the historical context and the evidence of many female leaders in the UNIA —I can understand Garvey's intent.

As many writers such as Richard Wright and James Baldwin have demonstrated in their fiction, Black men have been the target of the White patriarchy whose goal has been to emasculate Back men both physically and spiritually. Marcus Garvey sought to put an end to that by inspiring Black men, who had drifted into learned helplessness, to recognize their inherent dignity.

Garvey did this in many ways. He wrote songs, authored plays, gave speeches and lauded titles such as "Supreme Potentate" and "Leader of the American Negroes," on the male members of the UNIA. As Sister Samaad explains, this had an immediate effect on the male members:

You would almost see them -- metamorph into something else. You would see it. They'd suddenly get very tall because the smallest man in the uniform still looked like a giant. I can tell you that from experience. They were gorgeous. The black men were gorgeous.

Another method that Garvey employed was an "experimentation with dialogues," which were probably modeled on the work of Goldsworthy Lowes Dickinson [1]. In A Dialogue: what's the Difference? the conversation between the father and son reveals the "Doctrine of Success" that Garvey sought to instill in Black men and, most importantly, in their sons.

A Dialogue:  What’s The Difference?
By Marcus Garvey

Chapter 1


Say, father, why is it I am born black and placed at such a disadvantage among other boys in the world?


My son, to be born black is no disgrace nor misfortune.  It is an honour.  Nature never intended humanity to be of one colour or complexion, and so there are different races or types of people in the world.  There are standard types and the Negro is one of them.  In the history of the world the Negro has had a glorious career.  In the centuries past he was greater than any other race, but, unfortunately, to-day he occupies a position not as favourable as that of his fathers.


But father, everywhere I go I hear and see people speaking and acting disrespectfully toward the Negro.


That is true, my son, but that doesn’t mean that to be black is to be really inferior.  It is only because the economic condition of the blackman is so low to-day why other peoples do not entirely respect him.  It is, therefore, due to his own neglect, and not to any cause of natural inferiority.


Does that mean, father, that if the Negro wants he can be as honourable, progressive and dignified as any other race?


Yes, my son, that’s it.  In this world we are what we make ourselves.  The Negro is just an individual like anyone else, and, individually, he can make himself what he wants to be.  In the same respect the individuals of a race becoming a congregation of a whole can make themselves what they want to be.

Do you mean by that, father, that if I want to be a great man I can be?


That’s just it, my son.  If in your mind you develop the thought and the ambition to be a useful and great man rather than a pervert, imbecile or hopeless dependent, you can be so, and in the same way you can do that as an individual; if the race become inspired it can climb to heights of greatness and nobility.


So, father, the only difference between me and the white boy is mind and ambition.


That is right, my son.  The white boy who has the ambition through dint of perserverence, energy and labour may climb from his lowly surroundings to become President of the United States or a Prime Minister in England.  The biographies and auto-biographies of individuals have shown that some of the humblest boys in the world became the world’s greatest men.


I am glad of this explanation, father, because at school and wherever I went I was made to feel that the Negro was never anybody and could never be anybody.


I can well understand that, my boy.  That is the kind of wicked influence that has been used against the race to deny it of its character for higher development.  But we must never fall entirely to our environment.  We must crate the environments we want, and I do hope you will endeavor all during your lifetime to create the environments you would like to live in.


But what about the millions of other Negroes, father, who do not know this?


The lack of this knowledge, my boy, is the great disadvantage of the race as a whole.  Most of our people born to modern environments in our civilization seem to think that they were destined to be an inferior people.  Their school and education was based upon this assumption.


But why so, father?


Because under our present civilization the Negro was forced to accept his educational code from other peoples who were not disposed to give him credit for anything.  They wrote books quite disparaging to the Negro.  Their literature was intended to bolster up their particular race and civilization and down that of the blackman.  Historians who have written have all twisted the history of the world so as to show the inferiority of the blacks.  The blackman has not written recently his own history, neither has he yet engaged himself in writing his own literature; and so, for the last hundred years, he has been learning out of the white man’s book, thereby developing the white man’s psychology.


I can see, father, that is why at school I wanted to be a white man, because the books I read all told me about the great deeds of white men.  I wanted to be like Abraham Lincoln and George Washington and Napoleon, but I thought I could only be that by being white.


This is a mistake, my boy.  Greatness has no colour.  You must never want to be a white man.   You must be satisfied to be what nature made you and to excel in that respect, so that the credit for your achievements will go to your race.


What a wonderful thing it would be, father, if all the Negroes thought this way.


That is it, my boy.  There is a new effort to inspire all the blacks to think this way, so that in another hundred years our children will not want to be white but will be proud to be black.  Instead of wanting to be George Washington and Abraham Lincoln or a Disraeli or Lord Chatham you should try to be a Toussant L’Overture {Toussaint L’Ouverture}, a Hannibal, a Booker T. Washington.


These were all black men father?


Yes, my son.  Hannibal, the Carthagenian, was a blackman, but the white history will tell you he was white.  Toussant L’Overture, the slave of Santa Domingo, was also a blackman, and if it were not for men like Rendell {Wendell} Phillips probably the records would show in another hundred years that he was white.  Even up to now some people are trying to make out that Booker T. Washington was more white than he was Negro.  That shows how certain white historians and others are disposed to rob the Negro of any glory that he may have.


So all the books we read, father, are not true?


That’s right, my boy.  Most of the books that are written are for propaganda purposes.  Each nation has its own propaganda method.  The Anglo-Saxon race will boot the Anglo-Saxon, the Teutonic race will boost the Teutons, the Latin races will boost the Latins.  None is impartial enough to give real credit to other peoples for what they have done are accomplishing, so that the books that the Negro has been reading written by the Anglo-Saxon, Teutonic and Latin races were not intended for him at all, except to give him the idea that in the history of the world he was never anybody.  The time will come when our historians and writers will reveal the truths of history.  At that time we will learn that our race was once the greatest race in the world.  That, when we had a glorious civilization on the banks of the Nile in Africa the white races were living in caves and among the trees and bushes of Europe.  They were savages and barbarians when our fathers held up the torch of civilization in Africa.


So there is no need, father, for me to hold down my head any longer?

No, my son, you should hold up your head and be as proud as any other boy in the world.  The English boy wants to be Prime Minister of England, the French boy wants to be President of France, the American white boy wants to be President of the United States.  You, my boy, and all other black boys should have a similar ambition for a country of your own.


Is that the reason why, father, the Japanese refuse to accept the leadership of Western civilization?


That is so.  The Japanese are a proud people.  They are of the yellow race and they feel that they should develop a civilization of their own, and so they have their own Empire, their own Prime Minister, their own Ambassadors, their own Army and Navy.  They have a Japanese Empire.


But can the Negro have an Empire, father?


Yes, my son.  It is difficult, to-day, for him to have a political Empire, because the world is almost taken up by the white and yellow races.  In fact, the white races have robed the homelands of the blacks, particularly in Africa.  The English, the French, the Italians, the Spaniards, the Belgians, and the Portuguese have, within one hundred years, gone from Europe into Africa, and have robbed every square inch of land from our fathers; so it is very difficult under existing conditions, where these countries use brute force to conduct their Government, for the Negro to politically become an imperial force.  But, culturally, the Negro can become imperial.  That is to say he can have an imperial ideal and culture and fellowship of love, which may ultimately end in political imperialism.


But how can this be possible, father?


You see, my boy, the world undergoes changes time over and again.  Just as the Negro ruled once and lost his power, so some of the races that are ruling now will in the cycle of things lose their power.  Nature intended this.  When this happens unfortunate and oppressed peoples rise into power, so that there is great hope for the Negro to be restored to his true political position, because sooner or later some of these dominant nations and races will fall.


So there is great hope for us politically, father?


Sure, my son.  But whatever hope we may have must be backed up by our own effort and energy.  We must never go to sleep.  We must always keep before us steadfastly the object we desire.  Like the Jews, we should never lose our purpose.  The Jews have been very much outraged by other nations and races of the world, but they ever clung to their religious ideals.  The Negro must have a religion that is binding.  He must have some ideal that is unchangeable and outstanding and when this ideal is universalized, being meritorious and worthy, he will in time accomplish the end.


I am glad father that there is a real  hope.  I shall tell all the other boys about this and shall make myself a missionary to preach the eternal hope of racial salvation.


That’s right, my boy, be ever vigilant in the maintenance of the honour, dignity and integrity of your race.

[1] Hill, Robert, and Bair, Barbara. eds. Marcus Garvey Life and Lessons. Berkley: U California P, 1987.
"A Dialogue:  What’s The Difference?" is also from Marcus Garvey Life and Lessons.


“We are petitioning President Barack Obama to issue to clear the name of Marcus Mosiah Garvey, a national hero of Jamaica.”

August 27, 2011

What Does Jamaica Mean to You?

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

OnePeople is a collaborative documentary that invites people worldwide to contribute footage to celebrate Jamaica’s global reach 50 years after independence. On August 6th, 2011 we pose the question “What does Jamaica mean to you?” with the aim that a global community of creative minded people will respond by uploading a visual representation of their answer to our website

We know that our tiny island nation has touched many outside of our country, even beyond our diaspora, and with this project we will embrace anyone who has ever been moved by a reggae song, enjoyed a plate of ackee and saltfish, been stirred by the words of Marcus Garvey, fell in love watching a Negril sunset or simply has a point of view.

A portion of the documentary’s profits will be used to create Jamaica’s first film fund to enable Jamaican filmmakers to tell their own stories in their own voices.

Submissions will close November 6th, 2011.

OnePeople will premiere August 6th, 2012 in Miami, Toronto, New York, London and Kingston.


August 26, 2011

Marcus Garvey is Just Another Dead Negro

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger... 
Marcus Garvey is just another dead negro
So why waste money to dig up his case.
Will it feed hungry children or improve the race?
Forget all those painful stories from long ago
Why resurrect a past that we should erase?

Marcus Garvey is just another dead negro
If we pardoned him what would we have to show
Except a picture of a black man's thick lipped face,
Why tell these stories that bring only disgrace?
Marcus Garvey is just another dead negro.

The Sunday Observer has acquired a copy of one letter sent by Parker to the US President, and the first ever reply from the White House on the matter .
"Marcus Mosiah Garvey is also a National Hero of Jamaica, West Indies and a leading forebear of the African American civil rights experience," wrote Parker.
"It is full time that this extraordinary human being of humble beginnings and strong moral character be pardoned by the pen of an American president. It would be fitting if both you, Mr President, and the first lady visit Jamaica for the purposes of signing the executive order pardoning Marcus Mosiah Garvey."
In a tersely worded reply to Parker's request, White House Pardon Attorney, Ronald Rodgers said such a move would be a waste of time and resources since Garvey had been dead for ages.


Exonerate Marcus Garvey

To be delivered to President Barack Obama

August 25, 2011

Book Review: This Strange Land by Shara McCallum

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Threshold to History
by Michela A. Calderaro
Here’s an invitation to enter Jack Mandora’s Babylonian city of death and birth where the gatekeeper requires you pay your toll by telling a story or sing a song. A city of blood and bones,where crowds are drawn by Marley’s beat, where memory must be kept suppressed to hold on to your sanity, and where velvety darkness promises comfort to your eyes.

For more, please follow this link:

About Michela A. Calderaro

Michela A. Calderaro, an Associate Editor of Calabash. A Journal of Caribbean Arts and Letters, now published on line, teaches English and Postcolonial Literature at the University of Trieste (Italy). Ms Calderaro, whose critical works include a book on Ford Madox Ford and numerous articles on British and Caribbean writers, has just finished editing a collection of unpublished poems by Creole writer Eliot Bliss and plans to complete Bliss’s biography by the end of 2012.

An Open Letter to Van Jones, Rod Smith, Nancy Pelosi, and Jeremy Bird

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Based on my donations to President Obama's campaign in 2008 and my support of Democratic/Progressive causes, you have recently sent me many emails to support Barack Obama's re-election bid.

Yet, how am I supposed to support President Barack Obama when the White House disrespects Marcus Garvey, a national hero of Jamaica like this?
 The Sunday Observer has acquired a copy of one letter sent by Parker to the US President, and the first ever reply from the White House on the matter .

"Marcus Mosiah Garvey is also a National Hero of Jamaica, West Indies and a leading forebear of the African American civil rights experience," wrote Parker."It is full time that this extraordinary human being of humble beginnings and strong moral character be pardoned by the pen of an American president. It would be fitting if both you, Mr President, and the first lady visit Jamaica for the purposes of signing the executive order pardoning Marcus Mosiah Garvey."

In a tersely worded reply to Parker's request, White House Pardon Attorney, Ronald Rodgers said such a move would be a waste of time and resources since Garvey had been dead for ages.

Here is my response:

Have a nice day,
Geoffrey Philp

Miami Book Fair International 2011: Save the Date!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Miami, August 12, 2011 - The 28th edition of the nation’s finest and largest literary gathering, Miami Book Fair International, presented by The Center @ MDC, will take place November 13-20, 2011 at Miami Dade College’s (MDC) Wolfson Campus, 300 NE Second Ave., in downtown Miami. The always-popularStreet Fair runs Friday through Sunday, November 18-20, with more than 200 exhibitors from around the country selling books in a festive atmosphere.

The Fair, MDC’s flagship cultural event, will once again treat book lovers to more than a week of cultural and educational activities, including the beloved Evenings With… series, the IberoAmerican Authors program, Student Literary Encounters, Children’s Alley and the Weekend Festival of Authors, including  comics and graphic novel panels, author presentations for tweens and teens, and much more. The Miami Writers Institute, a spring program of The Center, will debut a fall edition this year during Book Fair week with creative writing workshops taught by authors Pablo Medina and Robert Pinsky, among others.

This year, the Fair will showcase the rich literature and traditions of China. Fairgoers will enjoy a pavilion featuring Chinese art and music, in addition to a day-long conference on Chinese culture scheduled for Friday of the Fair, and readings by Chinese and Chinese American writers during the Festival of Authors.

Each year, the Fair raises the bar of excellence by offering a fine roster of, writers from the U.S. and abroad, and this year will be no exception. Confirmed authors include singer, actor and social activist Harry Belafonte, singer/songwriter Rosanne Cash, Chinese novelist Yu HuaSenator Bob Graham, former U.S. Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky, graphic novelist Dan Clowes, NPR Radio host Bob Edwards, anthropologist and physician Dr. Paul Farmer, journalist Jim Lehrer, critically acclaimed debut novelist Tea’ Obreht, novelist and essayist Colson Whitehead, novelist Michael Ondaatje, children’s author Megan McDonald, Native American writer Leslie Marmon Silko, and filmmaker John Sayles, to name a few.  

The IberoAmerican program will present an array of Spanish-speaking literary voices from around the world, including author and Spanish TV personality Jaime Bayly (Peru), poet and author Gioconda Belli (Nicaragua), novelist Esmeralda Santiago (U.S./Puerto Rico), novelist Javier Sierra (Spain), among others. In addition, the Fair always welcomes writers from Africa, Asia, Canada, Europe, the Caribbean, and more. 
Miami Book Fair International 2011 promises to be another exceptional literary event!  For regular updates on the Miami Book Fair, please, call 305-237-3528 or email


Miami Book Fair International is the largest and is regarded as the finest literary gathering in America. It is the premier event of The Center for literature and theatre 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 their 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.

Miami Dade College has a long and rich history of involvement in the cultural arts, providing South Florida with a vast array of artistic and literary offerings including The Miami Book Fair International, The Florida Center for the Literary Arts, The Miami International Film Festival, the Cultura del Lobo performance arts series, The MDC Tower Theater Cinema Series, the Miami Leadership Roundtable speakers’ series, the National Historic Landmark Freedom Tower, numerous renowned campus art galleries and theaters, and the nationally recognized School of Entertainment and Design Technology. With an enrollment of more than 174,000 students, MDC is the largest institution of higher education in the country and is a national model for many of its programs. The college’s eight campuses and outreach centers offer more than 300 distinct degree programs including baccalaureate, Associate in Arts and Science degrees and numerous career training certificates leading to in-demand jobs. MDC has served nearly 2,000,000 students since it opened its doors in 1960.
Media-only contacts:
Juan Mendieta, 305-237-7611,, MDC communications director 
Tere Estorino, 305-237-3949,, MDC media relations director
Sue Arrowsmith, 305-237-3710,, media specialist
Tarnell Carroll, 305-237-3359,, media specialist