February 29, 2012

Now Online: sx salon, issue 8

Welcome to sx salon’s first issue of 2012. As we have in past issues, here we offer you a variety of writings: reviews, interviews, poetry, and prose. Our discussion in this issue is perhaps even more varied than usual, bringing together a collection of pieces that consider the in-betweenity of Haitian identity. Of course, the mention of Haiti since 12 January 2010 is often, if not always, associated with the devastation of the earthquake, and our first two pieces address the then/now split created by that tectonic shift. First, Martin Munro discusses the first post-earthquake Haitian novel and includes a short interview with its author, Marvin Victor. The interview is also available in the original French. In the second discussion piece, Colin Dayan writes evocatively of the impossibility of return as she navigates between the shadows of remembered geographies (her mother’s and her own) and the new landscape of Haiti in the summer of 2011. Our second two pieces in this issue’s discussion explore the complexity of Haitian identity beyond the earthquake. In our third piece, Edwidge Danticat, with her characteristic lyricism, considers the “fellow urban nomads, reciters, and ambient voyagers” she encounters in the liminal world of cab rides, perhaps the most paradigmatic in-between space. Our fourth discussion piece is a short story from Roxane Gay exploring how personal trauma can shift identity as completely as national events. The title of Gay’s story, “What After Looks Like,” could perhaps be the title of the entire discussion.

In our interview section of this issue we publish part 2 of an interview with Caryl Phillips, along with the first of a series of interviews with female scholars of Caribbean literature. The series, conducted by Sheryl Gifford, will consist of four interviews exploring the contributions of these scholars to work on Caribbean writers, particularly Caribbean women writers.

We also have a mix of reviews in this issue, with essays on Rahul Bhattacharya’s The Sly Company of People Who Care, Colin Grant’s The Natural Mystics: Marley, Tosh, and Wailer, Christopher Schmidt-Nowara’sSlavery, Freedom, and Abolition in Latin America and the Atlantic World, and Louis Parascondola’s recent edited collection of Eric Walrond’s later writings. In Prose and Poetry we have new poems from Cynthia James, Nicholas Alexander, and Soyini Forde, as well as a stirring preview of Diana McCaulay’s upcoming novel,Huracan, in the excerpt “Zachary’s Arrival, Part I.”
This issue marks our shift to quarterly publication, so our next issue will be in May. We hope you enjoy sx salon8 (table of contents below).

Kelly Baker Josephs


February Roundup: The Top 20 Posts

February has been a busy month ! I've had approximately 79, 029 page views--10,000 more than January's totals. I have no doubt that the increase had to do with Black History Month celebrations in the US, but I will always welcome new readers no matter how they find the site.
Here are the Top 20 Visited Pages for February 2012:
What Can Bob Marley Teach Bloggers?
The Meaning(s) of Bob Marley's Songs
"Epitaph" by Dennis Scott: An Appreciation
New E-Book: Bob Marley: Memories of Jah People By Emmanuel Parata
A Fable of Freedom: "I Shot the Sheriff"
Bob Marley and the Seven Chakras
Call for Papers: The Caribbean Poetry Project
Black History Month @ MDC, North Campus
Marcus Garvey's Influence
Shoot the Sheriff: How to Overcome Writer's Block
Happy Birthday, Marcus Garvey (2010)
Exonerate Marcus Garvey: Petition on the White House Site
A Rubric for Poetry?
About Geoffrey Philp's Blog Spot
Dub Poetry: A Primer
"Colonial Girls School" by Olive Senior: An Appreciation
"Little Boy Crying" by Mervyn Morris: An Appreciation
Voices of Haiti: A Post-Quake Odyssey in Verse
Dust (For Kwame Dawes)
The Top Ten Things Every Writer Should Know
And the Top 20 Search Terms and the corresponding landing page:
Bob Marley: "Happy Birthday, Brother Bob"
Marcus Garvey: "Marcus Garvey's Christmas Message, 1921"
Black History Month : "Black History Month in Jamaica"
Dennis Scott: "'A Biography' by Dennis Scott"
Rastafari: "The Future of Rastafari"
Valentine's Day Poems: "Valentine's Day 2008"
Famous Black Women; "Black History Month @ MDC, North Campus"
Emancipation; "Happy Emancipation Day"
Middle Passage: "Annual Sunrise Ancestral Remembrance of the Middle Passage Ceremony"
Derek Walcott : "Derek Walcott Wins TS Eliot Prize"
Esther Anderson; "Bob Marley: The Making of a Legend"
Anancy: "Marcus and the Amazons @ Anancy Festival"
Geoffrey Philp : "'La Sirene' by Geoffrey Philp"
House Slaves: "House Slaves, Field Slaves & Dead Slaves"
Malachi Smith : "New CD: Hail to Jamaica by Malachi Smith"
Caribbean women: "Caribbean Authors @ Miami Book Fair International 2011"
Junot Diaz: "Junot Diaz Wins Pulitzer Prize for Fiction"
Louise Bennett; "Miss Lou Reading Festival Celebrates Jamaica’s 50th Anniversary"
Women's History Month: "Six Female Poets for Women's History Month @ MDC"
Oneness: "Celebrating the Global Oneness of Life"
With the changes that I made to the template, I have not been able to link to the archives and some of the posts that I enjoyed writing, but don't seem to be as popular as I thought they would have been. But it seems as if readers are landing on the referenced landing page and then, finding other pages by clicking on the labels or following the links under "You May Also Like."

Ah, well. Enjoy!


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February 28, 2012

Launch of Caribbean Literature Action Group

The NGC Bocas Lit Fest, British Council, and Commonwealth Writers have announced a new partnership that will work towards enhancing the Caribbean literary scene and help kick-start an infrastructure to support writers, writing, and publishing. The Caribbean Literature Action Group (CALAG) will be launched in Port of Spain at a one-day brainstorm workshop on Wednesday 25 April, on the eve of the 2012 NGC Bocas Lit Fest.

The Caribbean has produced some of the world’s greatest contemporary writers, including three Nobel Prize laureates. Its literature is one of the region’s most celebrated cultural products. But Caribbean writers continue to migrate to North America and Europe in order to obtain financial support for their work and to achieve the highest level of international recognition. Literary publishing within the region remains in an embryonic state, and talented writers who choose to stay “at home” often find it difficult to access international publishers, or find opportunities for local publication and promotion.

In light of these common interests, the British Council and Commonwealth Writers have now developed a plan to work in partnership with the NGC Bocas Lit Fest and other literary professionals in the region. The first stage is to assemble a small, results-oriented action group of professionals from all areas of the Caribbean literary sector: writers, publishers, editors, teachers, booksellers, and organisers of festivals and writing programmes. (See a full list of participants below.)

Facilitators for the action group include Nicholas Laughlin (editor of The Caribbean Review of Books), Linda Leith (founder of Blue Metropolis Bleu in Quebec), Anita Sethi (writer), and Susie Nicklin (Director of Literature, British Council).

“The NGC Bocas Lit Fest was established to promote Caribbean writers and writing. Joining forces with the British Council and Commonwealth Writers, two entities dedicated to advancing literature in many other regions of the world, presents a real opportunity to help push forward development in the region’s publishing sector. We are delighted to be able to work with fellow Caribbean people who share the same ambition.”
—Marina Salandy-Brown, Festival Director and Founder, NGC Bocas Lit Fest

“The British Council is privileged to have been invited to join such a distinguished group to address issues of concern, not just to the Caribbean but to writers across the Americas. With the Council’s global remit I hope that my experience and expertise will be helpful, but I expect to learn far more than I can teach from such vibrant and accomplished people.”
— Susie Nicklin, Director of Literature, British Council

“Commonwealth Writers is excited to be part of this timely action group to generate practical ideas to help shape a dynamic publishing infrastructure across the Caribbean. We hope that the initiatives which emerge from CALAG will in the longer term be transferable to other regions where opportunities for writers are scarce.”
— Lucy Hannah, Programme Manager, Culture, Commonwealth Foundation

Participants in the inaugural CALAG meeting, 25 April, 2012:

Lisa Allen-Agostini, Trinidad and Tobago: writer, founder of the Allen Prize for Young Writers
Ellah Allfrey, UK: deputy editor of Granta
Funso Aiyejina, Trinidad and Tobago: writer, Dean of Humanities at UWI St. Augustine, co-ordinator of the Cropper Foundation Writers' Workshop
Donna Benny, Trinidad and Tobago: editor, head of StarApple Books
Nicolette Bethel, the Bahamas: writer, editor of tongues of the ocean, head of the Shakespeare in Paradise theatre festival
Alwin Bully, Dominica: writer, co-founder of the Nature Island Literary Festival
Gracelyn Cassell, Montserrat: chair of the Alliougana Festival of the Word
Shruti Debi, India: literary agent, Aitken Alexander Associates
Justine Henzell, Jamaica: co-founder of the Calabash International Literary Festival
Kendel Hippolyte, St. Lucia: writer, co-ordinator of the Word Alive Literary Festival
Mitchell Kaplan, US: bookseller, founder of Books and Books, co-founder of the Miami Book Fair
Antonia MacDonald-Smythe, St. Lucia/Grenada: senior associate dean, School of Arts and Sciences, St. George's University
Kellie Magnus, Jamaica: writer, head of Jackmandora Publishing, executive member of the Book Industry Association of Jamaica
Kei Miller, Jamaica: writer, professor of creative writing at the University of Glasgow
Esther Phillips, Barbados: writer, editor of BIM, head of the BIM Literary Festival
Jeremy Poynting, UK: founder of Peepal Tree Press
Monique Roffey, Trinidad and Tobago/UK: writer, writing instructor
Patricia Saunders, Trinidad and Tobago/US: professor of literature, University of Miami
Lasana Sekou, St. Martin: writer, founder of House of Nehesi Publishers, co-founder of the St. Martin Book Fair

Linda Speth, Jamaica: head of the University of the WI Press


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February 27, 2012

"A Song for Lent" by Geoffrey Philp

How many times have I sung these hymns
that promise salvation, but still the dread
of heaven's closed dome. Do I have to be dead,
to be washed clean of the burden of my sins,
pray until blood drips from my head?

How many times have I sung these hymns
ash smeared on my forehead, salt beaded into my skin
to make me worthy of the blood that was shed
so that I, worm of the dust, could be saved...
How many times have I sung these hymns?


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February 24, 2012

Marcus and the Amazons @ Emerson Elementary

I really can't explain the soul-joy I felt when I read from Marcus and the Amazons for the children at Emerson Elementary . And especially when they did work like this!

Thank you Ms. Encina, Ms. Defreitas, Mrs. Acosta, Ms Fuentes and Ms. Zayas for inviting me to read for your students.

(L. to R)Ms. Encina, Ms. Defreitas, Mrs. Acosta, Ms Fuentes and Ms. Zayas 


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February 22, 2012

National Caribbean-American Heritage Month Essay Competition

Transforming America Through Interaction (“TATI”), Inc. has once again joined the Greater Caribbean American Cultural Coalition (GCAC Coalition) and the Greater Caribbean American Chamber of Commerce (“GCACC”) to partner with the Institute of Caribbean Studies’ (“ICS”) National Commemorative Committee on its seventh annual National Caribbean-American Heritage Month Youth Essay Competition.

This competition is a national activity and is geared toward high school students of the 11th and 12th grade level.

“This is a very important year as two great Caribbean countries prepare to celebrate their 50th Anniversary of Independence,” says Tanya Ragbeer, President of TATI, Inc, Past President of the GCACC and ICS Liaison. “We are proud to not only to commemorate this fact, but to also engage our youth in dialogue so that they can feel a part of the celebration. Through the essay competition, we continue to create venue for the youth of the Diaspora to pay homage to the forerunners of our past, to honor our outstanding leaders of the present, and to create an awareness that paves the way for potential leaders of tomorrow.”

“As Jamaica and the Republic of Trinidad & Tobago celebrate 50 years of independence, we want students of Caribbean heritage to recognize and appreciate this milestone achievement by both countries,” said Andrew Azebeokhai, President of the Greater Caribbean American Cultural Coalition, and Director of UNIFEST.

“As Caribbean Americans we need to be aware of the impact of migration on our home country and the United States. This will allow us to make informed decisions about the interaction of the Caribbean Diaspora in this country and our country of origin,” said Albert Lettman, President of the Greater Caribbean American Chamber of Commerce, Inc.

Also on board the ICS alliance is State Representative Hazelle Rogers of District 94.

National Caribbean American Heritage Month Youth Essay Competition

The Institute of Caribbean Studies announces the sixth Annual, National Caribbean-American Heritage Month Youth Essay Competition.

The competition is designed to commemorate the historic passage of a Congressional Resolution declaring June as National Caribbean-American Heritage Month.

The Institute is partnering with area schools and colleges and organizations such as Transforming America Through Interaction (“TATI”), Inc., the Greater Caribbean American Cultural Coalition (“GCAC Coalition”), the Greater Caribbean American Chamber of Commerce (“GCACC”), the University of the West Indies Alumni Association and others across the country to organize regional/local competitions.

The essay topic is "Over the past 50 years, the net-migration rate for the Caribbean has been one of the highest world-wide. As we approach the 50th Anniversary of the Caribbean countries of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, and the island of Jamaica, how do you feel this migration may have positively impacted both the US, and the countries of origin?"

The competition is open to 11th and 12th grade students who reside in Broward, Palm Beach and Miami-Dade counties and who are of Caribbean heritage as defined by the competition rules.

The closing date for the competition is Friday, May 4, 2012 and winning entries in the local/regional competition will be announced at UNIFEST in Lauderdale Lakes, on Sunday, May 20, 2012.

Information about the Institute and national Caribbean-American Heritage month activities may be obtained at WWW.ICSDC.ORG.

Essay Competition Rules

1. The essay competition is open to 11th and 12th grade students who reside in Broward, Palm Beach and Miami-Dade counties and were either born in the Caribbean and/or have at least one parent or guardian who was born in the Caribbean.
2. Entries must be submitted as an individual effort, and must be original unpublished work. Essays should not be concurrently submitted for other competitions. Only one essay will be accepted from each author.
3. Entries in this essay competition must be titled: “Over the past 50 years, the net-migration rate for the Caribbean is one of the highest world-wide. As we approach the 50th Anniversary of the Caribbean countries of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, and the island of Jamaica, how do you feel this migration may have positively impacted both the US, and the countries of origin?" While the content of the essay is of primary concern, proper grammar and spelling will also be factors in the judging.
4. The essays should be between 1,000 to 1,500 words, typewritten, double-spaced, 8 ½” by 11” (letter-size) paper with all pages numbered. Margins must be 1 inch. The absolute minimum or maximum number of words must be observed.
5. The essay must be written in English and all entries must include a bibliography.
6. Entries that do not comply with any of the competition rules will be disqualified. A separate entry form and cover sheet with the following details must be included: essay title, writer's name, gender, grade, and word count. Neither writer's name, nor the writer’s country of Caribbean heritage should appear in the main essay.
7. The editorial board of the Institute of Caribbean Studies and/or TATI, Inc. reserves the right to edit essays selected for publication. All essays become the property of the Institute and/or TATI, Inc. and will not be returned.
8. The essays will be assessed in confidence by an independent panel of judges. No appeals will be entertained. Results of the local competition will be announced on May 20, 2012.
9. Prizes* will be awarded for first, second and third place entries. Fourth and fifth place entries will be recognized with an honorable mention award. All awards and recognition will be solely at the discretion of the judging panel.
10. Award winners will be informed by mail and appropriate presentations of prizes* made.

*Prizes: 1st place: $500.00; 2nd place: $250.00; 3rd place: $100.00
Essays should be mailed, or emailed in MS Word format to attn: Student Affairs Director, TATI, Inc. Entries must be submitted no later than May 1, 2012.

Contact: Student Affairs Director, TATI, Inc.
P. O. Box 100104, Ft. Lauderdale, FL 33310
Telephone: 954-802-4291

February 21, 2012

"Cutting Lent" by Cynthia James

Cutting Lent

We’d cut lent, little finger hooked like chain link, 
talk for-fended; and if you couldn’t or forgot 
to hold it in, you’d face the consequences 

mouth open, jackass jawbone dropping, 
better say it safe, unsaid in the roaming mind, 
self-witness only to itself, than witless in the wind;

one day respite, thank St. Joseph;  but if you were really good, 
you did the whole forty days, Palm Sunday, Passion Week,  
waited for the hot cross buns and image of a ship-shape forming

on the hot stone of a cracked Good Friday egg. But first the ashes;
you had to hang Shrove Tuesday’s clang of cowbells on a crossed stave. 
New dispensation; carne vale; that long time Lent is here again.

© Cynthia James, February 2012

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.


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Call for Papers: The Caribbean Poetry Project

The Caribbean Poetry Project, is a pioneering collaboration between Cambridge University Faculty of Education, the Centre for Commonwealth Education, and the University of West Indies at Mona (Jamaica), St Augustine (Trinidad) and at Cave Hill (Barbados). Through a joint research and teaching programme, this three-year project will encourage engagement with Caribbean poetry, and improve the teaching and learning of Caribbean poetry in both British and Caribbean schools.

Peepal Tree Press is delighted to be a partner and associate member of the CPP team, collaborating on a poetry anthology. This will focus very much on contemporary caribbean poetry, the aim of the collection is to introduce young people to Caribbean poets and new work. Students and teachers taking the Teaching Caribbean Poetry Course in Jamaica, Trinidad, Barbados and the UK will participate in the selection of work. The anthology will be edited by Jeremy Poynting, Peepal Tree Press, and Dorothea Smartt, poet and Peepal Tree's CPP advisory panel representative.


The Power of Caribbean Poetry - Word and Sound
A conference on Caribbean poetry,
Homerton College, Cambridge University, Faculty of Education
Thursday 20 – Saturday 22 Sept 2012

Speakers / performers include: John Agard, Beverley Bryan, Kei Miller, Mervyn Morris, Grace Nichols, Velma Pollard, Olive Senior, Dorothea Smartt

The first two days of this international gathering will take the form of an academic conference, the final day having a more educational focus and therefore likely to appeal to teachers as well as scholars. Members of the Caribbean Poetry Project from Cambridge University Faculty of Education and the University of West Indies will be hosting the conference and disseminating its outcomes. Marilyn Brocklehurst’s bookshop will be available throughout the conference and some project partners, such as the online Poetry Archive and Peepal Tree Press, will be represented.


·      Caribbean poetry and the word
·      Origins and histories of Caribbean poetry
·      Particular poets e.g. appreciation of the work of Derek Walcott / Kamau Brathwaite
·      Re-reading Caribbean poetry
·      Caribbean poetry and music
·      Ecocriticism and Caribbean poetry
·      Caribbean landscapes
·      Poetry as emancipation
·      Caribbean British poetry
·      Approaches to learning and teaching Caribbean poetry
·      Migration and location in Caribbean poetry
·      Gender in Caribbean poetry
·      Caribbean poetry and postcolonial theory
·      Caribbean poetry and the curriculum

Abstracts (300 words approx.) should be sent to Bryony Horsley-Heather (bsjh2@cam.ac.uk) by the end of MARCH 2012.

Conference fees including lunch, dinner, tea & coffee will be £200. Day rate £75 for 20th, £100 for 21st and £70 for 22nd for bookings before May 1st 2012. Accommodation available at Homerton College at £60 per night. Online registration will be available via the website from November 2011 - See http://caribbeanpoetry.educ.cam.ac.uk/ for updates.

For further information, contact Morag Styles (ms104@cam.ac.uk) or Bryony Horsley- Heather (bsjh2@cam.ac.uk) or visit http://caribbeanpoetry.educ.cam.ac.uk


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February 15, 2012

Call For Submissions: CaribbeanTales 2012

For the 3rd consecutive year CaribbeanTales will be holding a festival in beautiful Barbados.

The Caribbean Diaspora's most dynamic film festival group --- with bases and events in Toronto, Barbados and New York, and partnerships across the region and the globe --- showcases Caribbean themed films of all genres. Our programming celebrates the unique voice of the Caribbean in all its shapes, incarnations and diversity, including: culture, comedy, animation, sci-fi, diapora stories, stories of cultural identity and multicultural relationships.
We are looking for short films and features for our Barbados Showcase, which this year will take place between April 11-15th 2012.

Please fill in the guidelines attached below and send to our Programming Director, Penny Hynam, at pennyhynam@gmail.com.

Please send us your film via a password protected Vimeo account or other secure online carriage.  We look forward to seeing and screening your work.
The CaribbeanTales Barbados Team.
Guidelines for Submission

FINAL DEADLINE: Monday, March 12, 2012 (NO ENTRY FEE)


• All lengths and genres accepted.
• CT seeks works made by filmmakers from Caribbean backgrounds and/or that celebrate and explore Caribbean themes, and themes of interest and relevance to people from the Caribbean Diaspora.
• Preview copy must be sent through secure online storage for example a password protected vimeo account. Submission should be sent via email to: Penny Hynam, Programming Director, CaribbeanTales @ Island Inn Barbados 2012,  pennyhynam@gmail.com. Please also adress any questions or concerns here.
• Label previews with director’s name, film title, length, country, contact info, genre and year
of completion, as well as 150 word Synopsis.
• Films in foreign languages must be subtitled in English.
• The participant must pay print shipping costs to Barbados. The festival will pay the cost of shipping
exhibition prints back to the participant.
• Please do not send preview or screening copies by courier to Barbados, as often they charge large customs and duties charges. CT will not cover the resulting customs and duties charges, and will refuse the package.
• All preview tapes will be added to CT's archives for considertation to our year-round international
programming, unless filmmaker indicates in writing that they do not wish it so.
About CaribbeanTales

CaribbeanTales is a group of companies that produces, markets and exhibits Caribbean-themed films for regional and international distribution. These include:  CaribbeanTales Worldwide Distribution, that links producers and buyers of quality filmed entertainment; the CaribbeanTales Film Festival Group that produces annual events in Toronto, Barbados and New York;  the Caribbean Incubator Program for Audio Visual Entrepreneurs that delivers training for filmmakers, and CaribbeanTales.ca, a non profit that promotes citizen participation through the medium of film, contributing to an inclusive Canadian society.

Founded in 2010, the CaribbeanTales Film Festival @ Island Inn Barbados is a multi facetted event that includes a Film Festival, an Industry Symposium, and a Content incubator, all aimed at stimulating the development of a vibrant world class Caribbean film and television industry.

CaribbeanTales Worldwide • 38 Concord Avenue • Toronto, M6H2P1

February 14, 2012

"My Crazy Valentine" by Geoffrey Philp

I could tell you stories about morning skies
That held trees wider than the span
Of your arms, but this would be a lie.
For you would prefer tales about hurricanes
That split hulls, rip masts like kites,
dreams trapped in rotting galleys
splintered on the skin of limestone. 
I could tell you fables from deep in the earth
Circular as caverns that reach upward to slivers
Of light. But you'd prefer tales dark as the stains
Of pomegranates on my fingers that awaken
The desire of fruit bats from soundless berths,
Red as the hunger that drives them into the night.

February 13, 2012

Jacqueline Bishop: Conversation Quilts @ Meredith Art Gallery

Virginia State University’s Meredith Art Gallery will host The Conversation Series, a collection of 24 quilts by Jamaican visual artist and writer Jacqueline Bishop, on loan to VSU from Jan. 30 through March 8, 2012. The artist will speak about the exhibition at an Opening Reception on Monday, Jan. 30, 2012, at 5:30 p.m. in the Meredith Gallery, located in Harris Hall.

Bishop blends poetry and textiles as she celebrates the landscape of her homeland and the creative life of her great grandmother and other women. While visiting VSU, she will visit several classes and make a presentation at the university’s Writing/e-Portfolio Studio (Harris Hall 113) on Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2012, at 2:00 PM. The Bishop exhibition and presentations are being sponsored by the department of music, art and design, Honors Program, Quality Enhancement Plan and the Dr. George H. Bennett Office for International Education.

The Conversation Series began with several quilts originally stitched by Bishop’s great grandmother and repaired or finished by Bishop as a tribute to her great grandmother after death. The pieces in Odes to the Mountains of Jamaica celebrate the landscape of the artist’s native country and facilitate a means of communicating with the unknown textile makers of Jamaica. The Hand of Fatima quilts incorporate Moroccan women’s embroidery as Bishop pays tribute to the unseen and unsung work of women. The Homage Series utilizes both African and French textiles as the artist traces the Triangular Trade Route from Africa to the Americas to Europe and back to Africa as she focuses on women’s collective experiences. The pieces are paired with poignantly written odes and together serve as an extended conversation among women across generations.

Born in Kingston, Jamaica, Bishop currently teaches writing at New York University. She is a former Writer-in-Residence for the Teachers and Writers Collaborative of the New York City Department of Education and founding editor of CALABASH: A Journal of Caribbean Arts and Letters. She earned a MFA in Creative Writing and a MA in English from New York University; she also attended the L’Université de Paris in France and Concordia University in Montréal, Canada. Her visual art has been exhibited in New York City as well as in Belgium, Italy and Morocco.

The former Fulbright Scholar has authored five books: Snapshots from Istanbul (Poems), Writers Who Paint/Painters Who Write: Three Jamaican Artists (Non-fiction), The River’s Song (Novel), Fauna(Poems), and My Mother Who Is Me: Life Stories From Jamaican Women in New York (Non-fiction). She is completing a documentary film entitled “I Came Here by a Dream: The Jamaican Intuitives,” which explores a talented group of untrained Jamaican artists, and is writing a novel.

For more information contact Dr. Thomas Larose, Department of Music, Art & Design (tlarose@vsu.edu); or Dr. Maxine Sample, Director, Dr. George H. Bennett Office for International Education, (msample@vsu.edu).

February 10, 2012

Jourdan Anderson: A Letter to His Old Master

On August 7, 1865,  Jourdon Anderson, a former slave of Colonel P.H. Anderson, respoded to his former master's request to return to work on the farm for a wage.

Here is  Jourdon Anderson's reply, which was published in The New York Daily Tribune.


[Written just as he dictated it.]

Dayton, Ohio, August 7, 1865.

To my old Master, Colonel P. H. Anderson, Big Spring, Tennessee.

Sir: I got your letter, and was glad to find that you had not forgotten Jourdon, and that you wanted me to come back and live with you again, promising to do better for me than anybody else can. I have often felt uneasy about you. I thought the Yankees would have hung you long before this, for harboring Rebs they found at your house. I suppose they never heard about your going to Colonel Martin's to kill the Union soldier that was left by his company in their stable. Although you shot at me twice before I left you, I did not want to hear of your being hurt, and am glad you are still living. It would do me good to go back to the dear old home again, and see Miss Mary and Miss Martha and Allen, Esther, Green, and Lee. Give my love to them all, and tell them I hope we will meet in the better world, if not in this. I would have gone back to see you all when I was working in the Nashville Hospital, but one of the neighbors told me that Henry intended to shoot me if he ever got a chance.

I want to know particularly what the good chance is you propose to give me. I am doing tolerably well here. I get twenty-five dollars a month, with victuals and clothing; have a comfortable home for Mandy,—the[266] folks call her Mrs. Anderson,—and the children—Milly, Jane, and Grundy—go to school and are learning well. The teacher says Grundy has a head for a preacher. They go to Sunday school, and Mandy and me attend church regularly. We are kindly treated. Sometimes we overhear others saying, "Them colored people were slaves" down in Tennessee. The children feel hurt when they hear such remarks; but I tell them it was no disgrace in Tennessee to belong to Colonel Anderson. Many darkeys would have been proud, as I used to be, to call you master. Now if you will write and say what wages you will give me, I will be better able to decide whether it would be to my advantage to move back again.

As to my freedom, which you say I can have, there is nothing to be gained on that score, as I got my free papers in 1864 from the Provost-Marshal-General of the Department of Nashville. Mandy says she would be afraid to go back without some proof that you were disposed to treat us justly and kindly; and we have concluded to test your sincerity by asking you to send us our wages for the time we served you. This will make us forget and forgive old scores, and rely on your justice and friendship in the future. I served you faithfully for thirty-two years, and Mandy twenty years. At twenty-five dollars a month for me, and two dollars a week for Mandy, our earnings would amount to eleven thousand six hundred and eighty dollars. Add to this the interest for the time our wages have been kept back, and deduct what you paid for our clothing, and three doctor's visits to me, and pulling a tooth for Mandy, and the balance will show what we are in justice entitled to. Please send the money by Adams's Express, in care of V. Winters, Esq.,[267] Dayton, Ohio. If you fail to pay us for faithful labors in the past, we can have little faith in your promises in the future. We trust the good Maker has opened your eyes to the wrongs which you and your fathers have done to me and my fathers, in making us toil for you for generations without recompense. Here I draw my wages every Saturday night; but in Tennessee there was never any pay-day for the negroes any more than for the horses and cows. Surely there will be a day of reckoning for those who defraud the laborer of his hire.

In answering this letter, please state if there would be any safety for my Milly and Jane, who are now grown up, and both good-looking girls. You know how it was with poor Matilda and Catherine. I would rather stay here and starve—and die, if it come to that—than have my girls brought to shame by the violence and wickedness of their young masters. You will also please state if there has been any schools opened for the colored children in your neighborhood. The great desire of my life now is to give my children an education, and have them form virtuous habits.

Say howdy to George Carter, and thank him for taking the pistol from you when you were shooting at me.

From your old servant,
Jourdon Anderson.

Newspaper: http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7035/6790780585_466117fe88_o.jpg

Source: http://www.gutenberg.org/files/38479/38479-h/38479-h.htm#Page_265

The Project Gutenberg EBook of The Freedmen's Book, by Lydia Maria Child

This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with
almost no restrictions whatsoever.  You may copy it, give it away or
re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included
with this eBook or online at www.gutenberg.org

Title: The Freedmen's Book

Author: Lydia Maria Child

Release Date: January 3, 2012 [EBook #38479]

Language: English

Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1

Produced by Suzanne Shell, Henry Flower and the Online
Distributed Proofreading Team at http://www.pgdp.net (This
file was produced from images generously made available
by The Internet Archive/American Libraries.)

Image Source:http://web.gc.cuny.edu/ashp/toer/whowastoer.html

February 8, 2012

Maddie’s Story: The Power of Social Media

We’ve all heard about how protestors in Tahrir Square and in the Occupy movement have used social media as a tool to achieve their goals. And some of us might have concluded, “That’s great for big political causes that excite others, but that doesn’t affect me at all. Social media can never be used in my small circle.” But you would be underestimating yourself and the power of social media.

Recently, my daughter was brought face to face with animal cruelty. She posted her experience on Facebook and shared it with her family and friends.

“Hello, Facebook! Sending out feelers: we need someone who is willing to foster the dog we found yesterday at my school. Her medicine would be taken care of, but I need someone with the space and most importantly, time, to help get this girl back to full speed.” 
28 January at 19:40

Then, she did a Google search for  American Bulldog Rescue, Florida Chapter. In between posts, she cared for Maddie’s ailments:

Calling yourself an animal lover during the daytime is sweet and all. But, at three in the morning, it's money where your mouth is time, LOL

29 January at 03:37 via Mobile ·

Maddie’s Story soon circulated around the net and was picked up by our ABC affiliate:

WPLG Local 10
Just received this from a Local10 viewer. Incredible case of animal cruelty.

I work at an elementary school in North Miami and yesterday, I and a few other teachers happened across a dog that we suspect someone was trying to hang from the fence. I ended up in primary care of her and took her to the vet.

They’ve told me in very simple terms that she has a very bad case of demodectic mange and probably be put down upon admittance at any shelter.

The money isn't that huge of a barrier, as I, and two of the other teachers will be pooling to pay for treatment for her, but none of us (myself included) have the time or the space to foster her for the time it would take for her to be back at 100% (three weeks).

Even if she weren't an incredibly sweet animal, I would struggle with just taking her to a shelter, and was wondering if anyone on the site could help.

Thanks for reading, and even if the answer is no, I appreciate your time in responding with any haste you can spare. :)

30 January

The post on the WPLG Facebook had 80 shares and 32 LIKES, and that’s not counting the shares of her friends and family. My daughter became so attached to Maddie, she worried that if she took the dog to a local shelter, the dog would be euthanized. 

Then, the miraculous happened:

MADDIE'S GOT A HOME!!! Details to come.
30 January at 16:01

Which was quickly followed by:

So, here's the story:

On Friday, I had e-mailed the American Bulldog Rescue Chapter in Florida and waited Saturday and Sunday for a response. Today, they not only contacted me, but also contacted a local news station who put the pup's story up on their Facebook.

I didn't get one, or two, but a couple DOZEN e-mails from people who wanted to help, even just by sharing the story with friends.

But the best part of the story is that the pup got placed! She will be going out (hopefully soon) to Big Dog Ranch Rescue in Wellington where she will be rehabbed and then placed in a forever home.

Thank you so much to everyone who commented, liked and texted me about the situation. Her situation was a sad one, but tonight, it's infinitely better, thanks to you. ♥

30 January at 18:59
On Tuesday, she took Maddie to Big Dog Ranch Rescue in Wellington. Maddie and my daughter lived happily ever after.

Still think you’re powerless? Find your passion and share it on the web. You are not alone.

February 5, 2012

African-American Read-In @ Miami Dade College, West Campus

As part of our Black History Month celebrations, Miami Dade College in association with the Black Caucus of NCTE will host our Sixth Annual African American Read-In at the West Campus.

Theme:  Black Women In American History and Culture.

Date: of Event:  February 6, 2012

Time:  10:00 AM - 12:00 PM

Location:  Miami Dade College West Campus, 
Room #:  1101
3800 N.W. 115th Avenue, 
Doral, Florida 33178

February 3, 2012

"La Sirene" by Geoffrey Philp

Whenever her song from the first time
I rowed to where the horizon was as wide

as my despair, rises with bubbles that froth
the tips of the surf and lap the sides of my boat,

I feel like flinging my body beyond the luminous
fish that glide away from the light (such beauty

I know I will never possess) desperate
as her pleas, the promise of wholeness

beneath the waves that knot my tangled
lines in the roots of her hair. But the scent

from star-apple stormed valleys
that ache with the strain of desire

and cripple, like my love,
anchors me to that distant shore.

Graphic: Christina Philp

February 2, 2012

Voices of Haiti: A Post-Quake Odyssey in Verse

The initial shock of the earthquake has passed but Haiti continues its struggle to overcome both man-made and natural disasters.

Poet Kwame Dawes presents his multimedia exploration of Haiti's earthquake through the lives, and voices, of Haitians confronting the ongoing consequences of this disaster, especially those living with HIV/AIDS.

Event date:
February 6, 2012 - 6:30pm

Performance Venue:

Victor E. Clarke Recital Hall

University of Miami, Florida

Reception to follow
Space is limited, please RSVP by February 1st.


Kwame Dawes (featured poet)
Kevin Simmonds (composer and performer)
Valetta Brinson (soprano)

With the photography of Andre Lambertson

And multimedia by Robin Bell, Nathalie Applewhite and Maura Youngman
Voices of Haiti is a multimedia performance based on poems by Kwame Dawes, set to music by composer Kevin Simmonds. The work grew out of a year-long Pulitzer Center commission to report on Haiti after the earthquake with reporter/poet Kwame Dawes, reporter Lisa Armstrong, and photographer Andre Lambertson. While in Haiti Dawes wrote poems in response to the stories he heard. These poems are at the heart of Voices of Haiti: A Post- Quake Odyssey in Verse. The work explores the lives of people living with HIV/AIDS after the devastating earthquake. It is a celebration of their lives and their survival. The project also encompasses reporting featured in USA Today, The New York Times, The Daily Beast,The Atlantic, and PBS NewsHour. Voices of Haiti premiered at the 2011 National Black Theater Festival in August 2011.

Voices of Haiti premiered at the 2011 National Black Theater Festival.
Learn more about this reporting initiative, After the Quake: HIV/AIDS in Haiti

Watch the featured video poems, set to music.

The Performers:

Kwame Dawes, a Ghanaian-Jamaican writer and poet, is the author of sixteen collections of verse, as well as the Emmy Award-winning, Pulitzer Center-sponsored, Hope: Living and Loving with HIV in Jamaica, which explores the experiences of people living with HIV/AIDS in Jamaica. Dawes is also the author of numerous plays, essays and books. He is a professor at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and the editor-in-chief of Prairie Schooner and a former Distinguished Poet in Residence at the University of South Carolina. He is the executive director and founder of the South Carolina Poetry Initiative. He is the director of the University of South Carolina Arts Institute as well and the programming director of the Calabash International Literary Festival, which takes place in Jamaica in May of each year. His most recent work Bloom of Stones: A Tri-lingual Anthology of Haitian Poems After the Earthquake collects the work of more than thirty Haitian poets, many who live in Haiti and others who are part of the large Haitian diaspora.

Kevin Simmonds is a poet, musician and performance artist originally from New Orleans. He has three forthcoming books: the poetry collection Mad for Meat (Salmon Poetry), the edited anthology Collective Brightness: LGBTIQ Poets on Faith, Religion & Spirituality (Sibling Rivalry Press) and the edited collectionOta Benga Under My Mother's Roof (University of South Carolina), by the late poet Carrie Allen McCray-Nickens. His gene-defying short film feti(sh)ame, based on interviews with gay men, premiered at 2011 San Francisco's Frameline Festival and Provincetown International Film Festival. His newest multimedia project ORIENT: a new anthropology, about Asian-Black relations, will debut in San Franciso and Los Angeles in 2012, the twentieth anniversary of the LA Riots.

Valetta Brinson. A native of Memphis, soprano Valetta Brinson has performed in the UK, Japan and throughout the US. She specializes in the music of Bach, Mozart and Strauss and has performed with the Nashville Opera Association, Mississippi Opera Association and Opera Memphis in such productions as Der Rosenkavelier, Madama Butterfly and Gianni Schicchi, Die Zauberflöte and Falstaff. In 2004, she created the role of Coretta Scott King in the opera, The Promise, by composer John Baur. She is currently completing the Doctorate of Musical Arts at the Rudi E. Scheidt School of Music where she is a Hohenberg-Scheidt Scholar. She received the Bachelor of Arts degree from Morris Brown College and the Master of Arts degree from Middle Tennessee State University. She teaches at Southwest Tennessee Community College.