December 26, 2011

December 23, 2011

Joseph’s Journey (For Randi Gray Kristensen)

Joseph had grown old enough not to believe
The occupiers of the holy places in Jerusalem 
Whose lies, curled like shavings of cedar
From his blade, surrounded him on the floor, 

Sweat for the few shekels that he earned,
Taxed by Romans whose peace defiled rivers 

With blood, mountains with their standards.
Yet as far east as the roads crowded with caravans 

Could travel, spears sprouted from the sand.
The coin from Mary's uncle burned in his palm, 
And Joseph turned it once more, perhaps, for an omen
That would ease his heart from the gossip in his town. 
But when she greeted his eyes and blessed his hands,
He lowered his head and surrendered to her love.



Give thanks to Randi, who has made me restart my practice of writing a poem or story for Christmas. I've collected some of the best in Twelve Poems and A Story for Christmas.

Merry Christmas!

December 21, 2011

Vote For Geoffrey Philp’s Blog @ Jamaica Blog Awards

For the second year in a row, my blog has been nominated in the Best Overseas Blog category of the Jamaica Blog Awards. Give thanks!

Since I began using Google Analytics on Monday, October 26, 2006, this site has had over 500,000 visitors from 217 locations:

The white areas represent locations where I've recorded only one visitor. Not to worry, Pinky. Tomorrow the world!

Readers have come from as far away as Tajikstan and as near as Hialeah, yet the top ten locations have remained stable:

1. United States: 141,604
2. Jamaica: 23,034
3. United Kingdom: 17,856
4. Canada: 15,880
5. Trinidad and Tobago: 11,142
6. India: 10,552
7. Philippines: 8,206
8. France: 8,042
9. China: 7,512
10. Germany: 5,132

Many of the readers are students seeking information about writers such as Mervyn Morris, Dennis Scott, Derek Walcott, Kamau Brathwaite, Vic Reid, and Olive Senior. 

Others are looking for posts about Bob Marley, Marcus Garvey, and Rastafari. And still others search for information about writing, contests, and conferences.

For 2011, the top twenty posts followed the usual pattern with a two big surprises: "Have a Marcus Christmas and New Year" with 1366 hits and "Jamaica is One Love": with 513 hits.
Here, then, is the roundup of my top twenty posts for 2011:

1. "Meanings of Bob Marley's Songs": 4744 hits
2. "'Epitaph' by Dennis Scott: An Appreciation": 3401 hits
3. "'Colonial Girls' School' by Olive Senior: An Appreciation": 2696 hits
4. "Little Boy Crying" by Mervyn Morris: An Appreciation": 1726 hits
5. "Have a Marcus Christmas and New Year": 1366 hits
6. "'I Shot the Sheriff': A Fable of Freedom" : 1278 hits
7. "Happy Birthday, Marcus Garvey": 1179 hits
8. "Top Ten Things Every Writer Should Know": 1170 hits
9. "What Can Bob Marley Teach Bloggers?": 938 hits
10. "About Geoffrey Philp's Blog": 921 hits
11. "In My Own Words: Andrea Elizabeth Shaw": 749 hits
12. "A Rubric for Poetry?" :730 hits
13. "Bob Marley: Making of a Legend": 722 hits
14. "Happy Birthday, VS Reid": 547 hits
15. "Jamaica is One Love": 513 hits
16. "Obama Rejects Plea for Marcus Garvey": 511 hits
17. "Polyglot Writers": 425 hits
18. "'Marrysong' by Dennis Scott": 409 hits
19. "'Mass Man' by Derek Walcott: An Appreciation": 381
20. "Broward Coronation Film Festival": 380 hits 

If you have enjoyed reading any of these posts, please follow this link to vote for my blog in the category: Best Overseas Jamaica Blog:

The voting ends on January 2, 2012, so as we say in Miami: "Vote early and Vote Often."

December 9, 2011

Have a Marcus Christmas & New Year

As the holiday season approaches, I want to give thanks to the readers of this blog on the RSS feed, web site or following on Twitter or Facebook. I also want to give thanks for those who have supported my work by buying my books and "Liking" on Amazon.  

A few of you have also sent direct PayPal donations through the Donate buttons, which I have posted at the end of popular blog posts, and for this I also give thanks.

Inshallah, I will begin some projects for the New Year, so I'm going on a blog vacation to work on the first drafts. If I receive any new information about contests or calls for papers, I'll post on Twitter: @geoffreyphilp

In the meantime, why not visit my author page @ and buy a few books? They make great Christmas presents!

Have a great holiday and I promise that in 2012 that I'll continue posting about writers and events that you care about.

One Love,


Marcus and the Amazons (Kindle)

Marcus and the Amazons (Print)


December 8, 2011

“Christmas Flash Mob” by Cynthia James

so they lit the third candle, the rose among the mauve,
a half-split caimito really, on the evergreen, the plum,
gradating to a fuschia, vulva-centred, fleshy white,
a moist black star buried in every quadrant whorl

but no witness to this story to fill its many gaps:
how a girl hearing voices that she pregnant
(second hand), just ups and take a journey
to a distant land to visit an old cousin by herself,
that a baby leaping in a womb confirm; they say
she end up staying with the cousin six months

and the cousin husband, old Mahal, you know Mahal,
revving car and turning corner, with lip and foot and hand;
he doubt; they light a candle on his head; strike him dumb;
and Shadrack, too, for years we live with Shadrack,
walking up and down with rope, brown gown and jesus-
sandals clanging bell, a dead ringer for the same John

so I’m telling Bev about this flash mob, livening the humdrum,
this Sunday stir up, twelve-eleven; people in their dan dan!
Everybody singing: Exultez de joie, acclamez votre roi!
led by a doe-eyed angry man playing an organ

and I say: We just practising to maim and kill tomorrow
the only way we know how. See those stalks clawing
the promised fire at the centre of the ash coal dawn?
See how right now we longing for the white stuff?
All this, One cycle, One répétition. Near Easter, we
cursing the same white stuff: White Stuff, Begone!

and my daughter ups and say: You know you! You’d better
keep your mouth shut! Your great grandmother shut her mouth
so you could born. You always jeopardizing things, opening
up your big mouth. But I tell her: No worries, this poem not
getting print no how. Is just you know how sometimes when
you’re breathing and you notice that you’re breathing, just so

you start to gasp because you cannot find your rhythm? Well
the half-split caimito’s just a figment of that Carib woman
far from home, dreaming a slice-a black cake, and a slice-a
Scrunter pork and a drink a ponche à crème! Ah! to top it off

© Cynthia James 2011

About Cynthia James

Cynthia James is a Trinidadian, living for the past 3 years in Toronto. She writes poetry and fiction and her work can be found in publications such as Callaloo, Caribbean Writer and The Oxford Book of Caribbean Verse

December 7, 2011

Marcus Garvey’s Christmas Message, 1921

Despite the attempts of many black intellectuals to link Marcus Garvey with failure, Garvey's message was never confined to a "Back to Africa movement." Anyone who has read The Philosophy and Opinions of Marcus Garvey will recognize the smear, which began with the "Garvey Must Go" movement and has been repeated most recently by Eugene Robinson in Disintegration and Charles Johnson, writers for whom I have enormous admiration and respect.

Garvey was Afrocentric and he was a product of his times. Garvey's call of "Africa for Africans" was similar to the other separatist nationalist agendas throughout Europe and the Americas. Garvey's readings of history led him to the conclusion that the white power structures would never willing relinquish power and that peoples of African descent would never secure their human and political rights without a solid economic base. To this end, he built on the foundations of Booker T. Washington with economic self-empowerment while expanding on the intellectual development that W.E. Dubois sought without the divisive idea of a "talented tenth" being the salvation of the race.

The crisis of the "Abandoned" that Robinson delineates in Disintegration is the logical conclusion of the integrationist movement of DuBois and the NAACP, which has secured the political rights of African Americans, but has failed in delivering any method of economic empowerment to the other 90% (or is that 99%?) of the populace. In other words, we have rights, but we have failed to recognize our economic power.

Garvey wanted dignity and freedom for all the "sons and daughters of Africa." It was a message of hope, which he eloquently delivered in December 1921.

Christmas Message to the Negro Peoples of the World.
December 1921

Fellow men of the Negro Race,

Greeting:— To us is born this day the Child Jesus—the Christ. The Shepherds and wise men are now wending their way toward Bethlehem, there to behold the Wonder of God. Because, there, in a manger, is to be found the Baby Christ who is to be the Redeemer of the world.

And so our thoughts go back for more than nineteen hundred years. We hear the shout "Hosanna in the Highest, blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord."

With all the preparation the human race has made to welcome into the world the Christ who is to redeem us, we find ourselves still in confusion, still fighting, still exploiting, still merciless in our onslaught one upon the other. But on this Christmas morn may we not all members and brothers of the great human family, forget our differences, and in one glorious chorus sing put to the world "Peace, perfect peace?".

Christ died to free Mankind.

When we come to consider the Brotherhood of Man and the Fatherhood of God, and that this Child of our own flesh, yet spirit of the Great Creator has been sent to link us nearer to our common Father, will we not admit of the reason that there should be but very little differences between us, What will we gain fighting the battle of man against man? Absolutely nothing but death; and was not this Child Jesus sent into this world to teach us the new life, the life of Love, of Charity, the Life of Mercy? What greater example do we desire than that which He gave in His own Life? He suffered, He died that others might be free. Yet even with the great object of the Cross before us, even though He died on Mount Calvary to make us free; even though He overcame death, the grave and hell to demonstrate to us the new life possible to each and everyone, we have not yet turned from the path of sin to enter into the glory of His Eternal Kingdom.

The Spirit of Christmas.

Instead of planning a career of sin on this Christmas Morn, may we not lift our thoughts to that grand and noble Father who save to us on this day His Royal Son, whom He has made our brother, and ask Him to bless each and everyone of us that our hearts may be touched with the true spirit of the first Christmas morn? That first day in the stable at Bethlehem was a beacon of a new born hope, for with the birth of the Prince of Peace there came to us an age of spiritual grace, which in its course sought to link man nearer to his God, and coming down the ages for more than nineteen hundred years, we have tried to preach Him as He appeared to us in His innocence, His Love and in His Charity.

Christ labored for thirty three years to teach us the way to glory, but in His career man, his brother sought the life that he could not give; he persecuted Him, he derided Him, he jeered Him and at last he crucified Him. But when that which was physical in the Christ died, the spiritual continued, and from earth betook its flight to heaven, there, probably, for all eternity, to look down upon the sinful, wicked world, and still to shower upon us blessings that we really need.

We shall never succeed in taking the Spirit of Christ out of the world, because in some of us, still, there is that spark of love, charity, and mercy that links us to our God. But may we not ask the Great Omnipotent, the Great Creator, our Eternal Father to send once more into the world, just at this time and oh, how we pray that it be on this Christmas morn, our brother Christ, so that He may calm the raging storm and in truth pour out His benediction upon a corrupt world, a soulless human race, and make us subjects fit for Eternal Life?

Hail! the New born King

As with the angels let us sing, "Hail the New Born King, the Prince of Peace, Hail to the Son of Righteousness, for with Thee there is life, without Thee there is death". For as thou died upon Calvary's mount to make us better, to redeem us from our sins, may we not hope for a continuance of that love even for today? and knowing Thee in Thy bountiful love for all mankind, may we not further ask that Thy Spirit lighten up our hearts and bring to us by the touch of Thy grace, the knowledge of the Everlasting Brotherhood of Man, and the Eternal Fatherhood of God?

As the angels now rejoice in heaven over this new birth, so we rejoice on earth, four hundred millions of us, who are members of this Negro race, feeling that Thou art our King, that Thou art our Savior, that thou shalt be our Emanuel. We love Thee because Thou art the Son of God. We praise, worship and adore Thee because Thou art the Prince of Peace.

The Prince of Peace Our Guide to-day.

Let others in their sin, in their wickedness seek after the infant Life that Thou gavest to all mankind. We in our simplicity shall find refuge for Thee even in the land of Egypt. Yes, the world of sinful, wicked men cried out "Crucify Him! Crucify Him! But Lord because Thou art our Master, because Thou art our Prince of peace, because Thou art our Redeemer, we shall render unto Thee all help possible, even in bearing the Cross up the heights of Calvary, for in life Thou hast been our friend; in death we know Thou shalt remember us, and now that Thou art sitting at the right hand of God, the Father, now that Thou hast conquered death, the grave and hell, surely in Thy mercy Thou shalt remember us. So today even though hundreds of years have rolled by since Thy crucifixion, we know that there is in Thine heart, there is in Thy soul a warm spot for the Sons and Daughters of Africa whose forebears bore the cross for Thee up the heights of Calvary to Thy crucifixion.

We sing and shout with the angels; we ring our joy bells; we blow our horns in praise because Thou art indeed the Jesus, the Christ, the Emanuel to us, the Son of Righteousness, the Prince of Peace.

As sons and daughters of Africa, may not four hundred millions of us the world over on this Christmas morn pray for the redemption of that Motherland which sheltered our Blessed Redeemer when the wild, wicked men of the world sought His life; in the same manner wild, wicked men seek the lives of Negroes today, and burn, lynch and kill them because they have not the strength that makes man mighty. But with the Almighty Power of God and with the guidance and mercy of our Blessed Lord we feel that one day Ethiopia shall stretch forth her hand, and whether it be at the second coming or before, we shall all sing our Hosannas, shout our praises to God for freedom, for liberty, for life.

"For Christ is born of Mary,
     And gathered all above
While mortals sleep, the angels keep
     Their watch of wondering love.
O morning stars, together
     Proclaim the holy birth,
And praises sing to God our King,
     And peace to men on earth."

From The Philosophy and Opinions of Marcus Garvey


Exonerate Marcus Garvey

To be delivered to President Barack Obama

December 5, 2011

Broward Coronation Film Festival

Two brand-new, must-see documentaries filmed in Jamaica recently, “The First Rasta” and “Bad Friday,” will be premiered at the Broward Coronation Film Festival’s “Tribute to the Patriarchs” on Friday, December 9, 2011. 

The double-bill at the Joseph C. Carter Park, 1450 W. Sunrise Boulevard, Fort Lauderdale, starts at 7:00 pm with “First Rasta,” a documentary that gives an authentic and comprehensive account of the little known historical origins of the Rastafari Movement. 

Produced by award-winning French music journalist Hélène Lee, First Rasta, traces the exceptional journey of Leonard Percival Howell, a Jamaican revolutionary/religious figure who has virtually disappeared from the history books. Also known as the “Gong”, Howell established a Rasta community of 4,500 members at Pinnacle in the hills of St. Catherine, Jamaica, where the Rastafari philosophy and Way of Life was formalized, along the first agro-industrial enterprise devoted to producing marijuana among other produce. 

The second documentary film on the double bill, Bad Friday: Rastafari After Coral Gardens, starts at 9:00 pm. Bad Friday chronicles the history of state violence against Rastafari in Jamaica during the infamous “Coral Gardens Incident” of Easter 1963. The “Coral Gardens Incident" was a brutal moment in the history of Jamaica just after independence from Britain, when the Jamaican police shot and killed a number of Rastafarians and rounded up, jailed and tortured hundreds more all over the island. 

Bad Friday: Rastafari After Coral Gardens is directed by Deborah A. Thomas and John L. Jackson, Jr., who both have production credits along with Rasta musician Junior “Gabu” Wedderburn, and the late Rasta activist Junior “Ista J” Manning. The documentary was shot on location in Jamaica, and the original score features modern renderings of the traditional musical forms that comprise the roots of Reggae music. 

Admission to the Broward Coronation Film Festival is $10.00 at the door and Under-12s are free. Food and refreshments will be on sale. Part proceeds from the event will be in aid of the Anthony White Scholarship Fund. 

The “Tribute to the Patriarchs” will be the climax of a month-long celebration of the 81st Anniversary of the Royal Coronation of H.I.M. Emperor Haile Selassie I and Empress Waizero Menen of Ethiopia. The Film Festival Tribute is presented by the Rootz Foundation Inc. in association with the City of Fort Lauderdale Parks & Recreation Department. 

For more information at the Broward Coronation Film Festival call Rootz Foundation at 954-981-1176 or Carter Park at 954-828-5411.