September 29, 2019

Funny, You Don't Look Jewish

geoffrey philp

About eighteen months after my post about DNA testing, my life took an unexpected turn. I was contacted by a cousin in Canada, who revealed to me that my maternal grandmother was Jewish. I never knew about that part of my family‘s history because my grandmother died when my mother was still a child and my grandmother’s story went with her to the grave.

Since then and through a series of fortuitous events, I have been working with the New Voices Project, which focuses on the moral lessons of the Holocaust, and my poem “Flying African,” has become part of their PSA for a forthcoming book, New Voices: Contemporary Writers Confronting the Holocaust.

The research has been harrowing, but I’ve been using the work of Gregory H. Stanton, The 8 Stages of Genocide, as a conceptual guide. I’ve also been fortunate enough to receive a residency in “The Writer’s Room” at The Betsy Hotel, where I will be able to devote myself fully to research and writing.

Then, on October 3, 2019, as part of The Betsy Hotel’s “Meet the Artist” series, I will be reading some more of the poems that I’ve written.

So, if you’re in town, please join me at The Betsy Hotel at 5.p.m. as I embark on this new phase into my genetic history.

Here is another of the poems--which seems appropriate for today--that I've written so far.

The Shofar of Auschwitz

Rosh Hashanah, 1944
For Chaskel Tydor

It may not be a miracle like on Hanukkah,
but finding the shofar days before Rosh Hashanah,
when the Talmud teaches that Joseph was freed
from prison on the first day of the new year,
when the impossible is possible if we stay open,
made us think that maybe, this was a sign
Hashem had not abandoned us to our murderers.
So, in spite of the death, disease, and torture
that plagued the Lager, where to perform a mitzvah,
like a mishloach minot or teaching the Pirkei Avot
could be rewarded by the fascists with a bullet
to the back of my head. But I didn’t care.
The shofar on my lips, I blew as if my life depended
on it, and then, a year later, three miles off the coast
of Palestine, as if to say, "We are still here. The tribe lives on."


September 16, 2019

MAKE IT REAL: Writers Clinic With Caribbean Authors

Louise Bennett-Coverley’

The Louise Bennett-Coverley-Heritage Council, as part of the centenary celebrations of Jamaica’s cultural icon, the Honourable Louise Bennett-Coverley, will host a one-day writers clinic - Make it Real- on Saturday, October 5, 2019, 10:00am– 5:00pm.  The Clinic will be held at  Broward County West Regional Library,  8601 West Broward Boulevard, Plantation, Florida 33324. 

Make it Real  will help writers take the ideas they’ve been wanting to write about, shape, polish and breathe life into them so they can become real stories or poems.   Two workshops, Fiction, and  Poetry will be held concurrently. A third workshop on Performance Poetry will  be open to all participants.  The sessions will cover: character and plot development, stage craft and delivery, playing with rhyme and rhythm and editing for publication. 

To celebrate Louise Bennett-Coverley’s iconic contribution to Caribbean literature, the Writer’s Clinic will be taught by three outstanding Caribbean writers who live in Florida.

Christine Craig will host the Poetry clinic. She was born in Jamaica and is a graduate of the University of the West Indies. Her short stories and poems have been published in British, American and Caribbean journals. Described as “One of the Caribbean’s most original and innovative poets” - her poetry collection All Things Bright…and Quadrille for Tigers was published by Peepal Tree Press, UK. Her short story collection Mint Tea and other Stories, and children’s fiction Bird Gang, were published by Heinemann Caribbean. 

Geoffrey Philp will host the Fiction clinic. He has written two novels, Benjamin, my son and Garvey's Ghost; two collections of short stories, Who's Your Daddy? and Uncle Obadiah and the Alien, and three children’s books, Marcus and the Amazons, The Christmas Dutch Pot Baby, and Grandpa Sydney's Anancy Stories. His work is represented in nearly every anthology of Caribbean literature including the Oxford Book of Caribbean Short Stories and the Oxford Book of Caribbean Verse.

Malachi Smith is the presenter of the Performance Poetry clinic. He is a fellow of the University of Miami’s Michener Caribbean Writer’s Institute, an alumnus of Florida International University, Miami-Dade College and Jamaica School of Drama. Malachi was a founding member of Poets in Unity. He has recorded seven CD collections of his poetry and has read and performed his poetry internationally. 

The writing clinic is sponsored by the Louise Bennett-Heritage Council, Broward County Public Library, Friends of the South Regional Library and Friends of the West Regional Library. The Writers Clinic is free and open to writers in all genres.  For applications email Malachi at or log on to