April 29, 2014

Writers wanted - Annual Jamaica Creative Writing Competition 2014 now open

Professional and amateur writers are being encouraged to submit their work for the annual Jamaica Creative Writing Competition 2014, organised by the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission (JCDC).

The deadline for entry is Wednesday, April 30, and forms and guidelines are available at the JCDC's website www.jcdc.gov.jm or at any JCDC parish office.
Writers wanted - Annual Jamaica Creative Writing Competition 2014 now open - Entertainment - Jamaica Gleaner - Monday | April 28, 2014:

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April 28, 2014

‘Whatless Boys’ wins it for writer Antoni - Stabroek News - Georgetown, Guyana

Winner of the 2014 One Caribbean Media (OCM) Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature, Robert Antoni, said he will share the US$10,000 prize money with the other finalists.
Antoni was announced as the winner from the top three writers for his book As Flies to Whatless Boys at an awards ceremony at the National Academy for the Performing Arts (NAPA), Port of Spain, on Saturday.
‘Whatless Boys’ wins it for writer Antoni - Stabroek News - Georgetown, Guyana:

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April 17, 2014

International Poet Christine Craig to Mentor Inaugural Writers’ Retreat in Highgate, St Mary

May is the season for the Literary Arts  and Highgate, St Mary is bearing new fruit with the Drawing Room (DRP) Association’s hosting of a three day Writers’ Retreat (Genre: poetry), from May 23rd to 25th 2014.

Aimed at new to early and mid-career writers and featuring the internationally acclaimed Christine Craig, the retreat will be held at “Country Thyme” agro cottages in Highgate, in the heart of St. Mary.

With writers such as the Honourable Louise Bennett- Coverley, aka Miss Lou, Erna Brodber  and Velma Pollard hailing from Highgate, and with English writers  like Ian Flemming and Noel Coward, who spent years writing in St Mary, the location has become almost synonymous with literature and prestigious writers.  The DRP intends to extend this tradition and become part of the location’s unique identity. 

Craig, a multifaceted writer who focuses on poetry and fiction (both adults and children) leads this inaugural residency, where 12 participants will be guided in their craft towards publication.

“Christine was a natural pick” says Sonja Harris one of three trustees  of the Drawing Room Project Association as “her poetry, collected in the anthology, Quadrille for Tigers, Mina Press, Berkeley CA, is praised for its flair for language, evocative descriptions of the Jamaican landscape, and dramatic imagery of the poignancy and pain of life for many Jamaican women.” (www.amazon.com).,.

The retreat stands to gain from Highgate’s rich culture and history, stimulating the creative process with landscape, architecture, community living and the documenting of indigenous practices that have sustained the area for generations.  But there are also benefits to the community as two low-residency fellowships – The DRP Writers Fellowship and the Bookophilia Young Poets Award – are being offered to students in Highgate. 

Additionally,  on Saturday, May 24 at the venue, from 7pm to 10pm. The public is invited to enjoy readings by the participants, to share their own work and see displays by the Jamaica Hardanga Heritage Trust, Highgate Agricultural Producers Enterprise (H.A.P.E.) and local craftsmen.

It is this unique twist on the literary residency that has enticed corporate visionaries such as the JN Foundation, Jamaica Tourist Board, Jamaica Producers and Bookophila.  As proud sponsors of the event, they are giving gravitas to the idea that rural development and community living are at the heart of corporate responsibility and their organisations’ ethos.  Other sponsors include Poetry Society of Jamaica and Peepal Tree Publishers whose dedication to Caribbean writers needs no proclamation.

Founded by writers Millicent Graham and Joni Jackson, with trustees— Sonja Harris, Hyacinth Hall and George Davis—the Drawing Room Project Association has brought persons together and engaged them in a series of creative conversations through workshops, productions and exhibits. Their goal is to build a better society through introspective art and collaboration.  For the association, this is another stem on Highgate’s literary tradition, following in the footsteps of Brodber’s Black Space and the achievements of past luminaries.


April 15, 2014

RESPECT: Honoring the Life and Legacy of Marcus Garvey.

I left the 40th Annual Florida Caribbean Students Association Leadership Conference on April 5, 2014, with a renewed sense of hope for the future leaders of the Caribbean.

After my presentation, RESPECT: Honoring the Life and Legacy of Marcus Garvey, many of the students expressed a desire to learn more about the  exoneration efforts: https://www.causes.com/campaigns/71936-urge-president-obama-to-exonerate-marcus-garvey

They were also interested in the connection between Marcus Garvey and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. For many, this was the first time they had learned about the values that formed the basis of Garvey’s message: Redemption, Education, Self-Reliance, Purpose, Economics, Community and Tradition.

Give thanks to Miguel Murphy and the organizers of the 40th Annual Florida Caribbean Students Assn Leadership Conference. I am now, more than ever, convinced of the necessity of this cause.


The Coalition for the Exoneration of Marcus Garvey is petitioning President Barack Obama to exonerate Marcus Garvey:


Thank you for your support.

April 14, 2014

An Evening With Donna Aza Weir-Soley

Originally from Jamaica, Dr. Weir-Soley is currently an Associate Professor of English, African & African Diaspora Studies and Women's Studies at Florida International University. A Mellon and a Woodrow Wilson Fellow, Dr. Weir-Soley is the author of a poetry collection, First Rain (Peepal Tree Press, 2006), a scholarly text, Eroticism, Spirituality and Resistance in Black Women's Writings (University Press of Florida, 2009), and co-editor (with Opal Palmer Adisa) of Caribbean Erotic (Peepal Tree Press, 2010), an anthology of poetry, fiction and essays which includes the work of 62 writers from the English-speaking, Spanish-speaking and French-speaking Caribbean. 

An Evening With Donna Aza Weir-Soley
6:00-8:00 p.m.
Room 2151
Miami Dade College, North Campus

April 8, 2014

Poetry and Race: A Reading and Discussion

Poetry and Race

Poetry and Race: A Reading and Discussion with Jaswinder Bolina, Mia Leonin, Geoffrey Philp, and Donna Weir-Soley, presented by O, Miami and the Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science in conjunction with the exhibition, RACE: Are We So Different? 

Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science (map)
3280 S Miami Ave
Miami, FL 33133
Thursday, April 10, 2014
6:00pm – 8:00pm

Jaswinder Bolina is an American poet and essayist. He is author of the collections Phantom Camera, winner of the 2012 Green Rose Prize in Poetry from New Issues Press, and Carrier Wave, winner of the 2006 Colorado Prize for Poetry from the Center for Literary Publishing at Colorado State University. His poems have appeared in numerous literary journals, including being selected for The Best American Poetry. Bolina currently teaches on the M.F.A. faculty at the University of Miami.

Mia Leonin is the author of two books of poetry Braid (Anhinga Press) andUnraveling the Bed (forthcoming from Anhinga Press). She has been awarded an Academy of American Poets Prize and her poems have been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Leonin’s poetry has been published inNew Letters, Indiana Review, Prairie Schooner, Chelsea and Witness.

Geoffrey Philp, author of the e-book, Bob Marley and Bradford’s iPod, has also written five collections of poetry, two children's e-books,and two short story collections. An award winning writer, whose work explores the themes of masculinity and fatherhood in a Caribbean context, Philp is one of the few writers whose work has been published in the Oxford Book of Caribbean Short Stories and the Oxford Book of Caribbean Verse. His popular blog, geoffreyphilp.blogspot.com, covers literary events in the Caribbean and Miami, where he lives with wife, Nadia, and their three children, Anna, Christina, and Andrew.

Dr. Donna Aza Weir-Soley is originally from Jamaica. She is currently an Associate Professor of English, African & African Diaspora Studies and Women's Studies at Florida International University. Dr. Weir-Soley is both a Mellon and a Woodrow Wilson Fellow. She is the author of a poetry collection, First Rain (Peepal Tree Press2006), a scholarly text, Eroticism, Spirituality and Resistance in Black Women's Writings (University Press of Florida, 2009), and co-editor (with Opal Palmer Adisa) of Caribbean Erotic (Peepal Tree Press, 2010), an anthology of poetry, fiction and essays which includes the work of 62 writers from the English-speaking, Spanish-speaking and French-speaking Caribbean. 

April 7, 2014

April 2, 2014

The Caribbean Digital

The Caribbean Digital
a small axe event

The transformation of the academy by the digital revolution presents challenges to customary ways of learning, teaching, conducting research, and presenting findings. It also offers great opportunities in each of these areas. New media enable oration, graphics, objects, and even embodied performance to supplement existing forms of scholarly production as well as to constitute entirely original platforms. Textual artifacts have been rendered literally and figuratively three-dimensional; opportunities for interdisciplinary collaboration have expanded exponentially; information has been made more accessible and research made more efficient on multiple levels. Scholars are called upon, with some urgency, to adapt their research and pedagogical methods to an academic climate deluged by a superabundance of information and analysis. This has created opportunities for open-ended and multiform engagements, interactive and continually updating archives and other databases, cartographic applications that enrich places with historical information, and online dialogues with peers and the public.

The need for such engagements is especially immediate among the people of the Caribbean and its diasporas. Information technology has become an increasingly significant part of the way that people frame pressing social problems and political aspirations. Aesthetic media like photography and painting—because they are relatively inexpensive and do not rely on literacy or formal training—have become popular among economically dispossessed and politically marginalized constituencies. Moreover, the Internet is analogous in important ways to the Caribbean itself as dynamic and fluid cultural space: it is generated from disparate places and by disparate peoples; it challenges fundamentally the geographical and physical barriers that disrupt or disallow connection; and it places others and elsewheres in relentless relation. Yet while we celebrate these opportunities for connectedness, we also must make certain that the digital realm undermine and confront rather than re-inscribe forms of silencing and exclusion in the Caribbean.

In this unique one-day public forum we intend to engage critically with the digital as practice and as historicized societal phenomenon, reflecting on the challenges and opportunities presented by the media technologies that evermore intensely reconfigure the social and geographic contours of the Caribbean. We invite presentations that explicitly evoke:  

  • the transatlantic, collaborative, and/or interdisciplinary possibilities and limitations of digital technologies in the Caribbean metaphorical linkages between the digital and such Caribbean philosophical, ethical, and aesthetic concepts as "submarine unity," the rhizome, Relation, the spiral, repeating islands, creolization, etc.
  • gendered dimensions of the digital in the Caribbean 
  • the connection between digital technologies and practices of the so-called Caribbean folk
  • specific engagements with digital spaces and/or theories by individual Caribbean artists and intellectuals
  • the ways in which digital technologies have impacted or shaped understandings of specific Caribbean political phenomena (e.g. sovereignty, reparations, transnationalism, migration, etc.)
  • structural means of facilitating broad engagement, communication, and accessibility in the Caribbean digital context (cultivation of multilingual spaces, attentiveness to the material/hardware limitations of various populations)

Both traditional papers and integrally multimedia papers/presentations are welcome. We also welcome virtual synchronous presentations by invited participants who cannot travel to New York City to attend the event. Selected proceedings from this forum will be published in the inaugural issue (September 2015) of sx:archipelagos – an interactive, born-digital, print-possible, peer-reviewed Small Axe Project publication.

Abstracts of 300 words and a short bio should be sent to Kaiama L. Glover and Kelly Baker Josephs (archipelagos@smallaxe.net) by 1 June 2014. Successful applicants will be notified by 1 August 2014.

April 1, 2014

And then, there were three

Two writers from Jamaica and one from Trinidad and Tobago have made the shortlist for the 2014 OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature. They will vie for the US$10,000 cash award. Sponsored by One Caribbean Media (OCM), parent company of the Express and TV6, the prize is presented as part of the annual literary festival, the NGC Bocas Lit Fest.

From a long list of ten titles in poetry, fiction, and non-fiction, the prize judges have chosen a winning book in each category.
Kei Miller’s Writing Down the Vision was chosen from the non-fiction list, and fellow Jamaican Lorna Goodison’s Oracabessa was selected from the poetry category, while Trinidadian Robert Antoni’s As Flies to Whatless Boys was chosen from the fiction list. 

Miller’s work, Writing Down the Vision, is a collection of essays that present a range of experiences—personal and public—which the writer uses to articulate his vision and understanding of the realities of life in Jamaica and the Caribbean.

The judges praised Miller, saying: “Miller is an original thinker, a writer who knows his own mind and is wary of orthodoxies. He is uncompromising and honest in his interrogation of issues and his experiences of the worlds he inhabits, cutting through the normalcy to reveal the realities of these worlds.” 

Oracabessa by Goodison is a book of risky journeys, mappings and re-mappings through Spain, Portugal, Canada and her homeland of Jamaica as the poet navigates place, history and imagination.

According to the judges: “In Oracabessa the distinctive voice of Lorna Goodison—an elegant, captivating fusion of international English and Jamaican Creole—presents segments of autobiography as a series of travels. Goodison’s persuasive art is a many-sided celebration of spiritual search.” 

Antoni’s novel, As Flies to Whatless Boys, is accented with West Indian cadence and captivating humour. It provides an unforgettable glimpse into 19th-century Trinidad and Tobago.

The judges added: “With mischief, ingenuity and linguistic verve, Antoni reinvents the idea of the region’s islands as zones of perilous fantasy, where dreams come to grief but still make history.” 

The winner of the overall OCM Bocas Prize will be announced on Saturday, April 26, as part of the fourth annual NGC Bocas Lit Fest.

The 2013 prize was won by Monique Roffey for her novel Archipelago; the 2012 prize was won by Trinidadian Earl Lovelace for his novel Is Just a Movie; and Nobel Laureate Derek Walcott was winner of the inaugural 2011 prize for his poetry collection White Egrets.

The final cross-genre judging panel, headed by celebrated Jamaican poet Linton Kwesi Johnson, will include poet and academic Mervyn Morris, writer and academic Hazel Simmons-McDonald, literary critic and academic Ken Ramchand and Marjorie Thorpe as representative of the prize administrators.

For further information, visit www.bocaslitfest.com/ocm-bocas-prize


FICTION: Robert Antoni – As Flies to Whatless Boys – Akashic Books 
POETRY: Lorna Goodison – Oracabessa –Carcanet
NON-FICTION: Kei Miller – Writing Down the Vision – Peepal Tree Press