April 8, 2024

Caribbean Book Blogs: Shining a Light on the Region's Literary Gems

Caribbean literature is a mosaic of stories, histories, and voices that often struggle to gain global recognition. In this challenging landscape, Caribbean book blogs play a crucial role, serving a vital function in bridging the gap between talented authors and potential readers. These blogs go beyond simple book reviews; they create connections, encourage discoveries, and support the growth of both readers and writers, making them essential to the Caribbean's literary ecosystem.

Connecting Readers and Writers

Book blogs in the digital space serve as bridges, connecting Caribbean authors with global audiences. Blogs like Jhohadli (https://jhohadli.wordpress.com/) provide a platform for underrepresented Caribbean writers. One notable example of Jhohadli's commitment to showcasing underrepresented Caribbean voices is its feature of emerging Antiguan and Barbudan poets. Through dedicated poetry showcases, Jhohadli has introduced readers to talents like Brenda Lee Browne, whose poems explore themes of identity, history, and resilience in the Caribbean context. By spotlighting poets like Brenda Lee Browne, Jhohadli provides exposure to individual writers and contributes to the broader representation of Caribbean literary traditions. By fostering a supportive online community around their work, Jhohadli encourages dialogue and engagement, amplifying these voices' impact beyond traditional publishing channels' confines. In doing so, Jhohadli and similar blogs are vital hubs for celebrating and promoting underrepresented Caribbean literature, ensuring its continued vitality and relevance in the global literary conversation.

Discovering New Literary Treasures

For readers exploring Caribbean literature, blogs act as guides, leading them through the diverse range of narratives and styles that characterize the region. The Peepal Tree Press Blog (https://www.peepaltreepress.com/blog) is a notable example of curating an eclectic selection of works across various genres and themes within Caribbean literature. One specific example of the blog's commitment to introducing readers to new authors is its spotlight on emerging Caribbean playwrights. For instance, recent posts have featured playwrights like Natalia Ramanaden, whose provocative dramas challenge conventional narratives and explore pressing social issues in the Caribbean context. By showcasing Ramanaden's work alongside that of established playwrights, the blog provides a platform for emerging talents to gain visibility and recognition.

Supporting Literary Growth

Preelit stands out for its commitment to providing critical analyses, commentaries, and discussions that challenge established perspectives in Caribbean literature. One specific example of this is its series of in-depth book reviews, where contributors offer nuanced insights into works by both established and emerging Caribbean authors. For instance, recent reviews have explored novels like Kei Miller's "Augustown" and Marlon James's "A Brief History of Seven Killings," exploring themes such as colonial legacies, identity, and resistance. Through these reviews, Preelit evaluates individual works and situates them within broader literary, historical, and socio-political contexts, encouraging readers to engage critically with Caribbean literature. Preelit fosters a culture of intellectual inquiry and dialogue within the Caribbean literary community by offering critical analyses, commentaries, and discussions. Also, by creating a platform for dialogue and exchange, Preelit fosters a sense of community among writers, readers, scholars, and critics, facilitating the sharing of ideas and promoting collaboration.

Uniting the Caribbean Literary Community

The combined efforts of these blogs create a network of literary exploration, with each blog representing an island connected by the shared heritage of Caribbean storytelling. Feedspot's curation of top Caribbean book blogs (https://blog.feedspot.com/caribbean_book_blogs/)  is significant in bringing these diverse platforms together, providing readers and writers with a central hub to access the wealth of Caribbean literary content online. This amplifies the reach of Caribbean literature and strengthens the sense of community among those who create and appreciate these stories.

Looking to the Future

Caribbean book blogs are essential in narrating the ongoing story of the region's literary identity. By showcasing the diverse voices of the Caribbean, these blogs ensure that the region's literature thrives in the digital age. As we move forward, the importance of these platforms and the support from aggregators like Feedspot will continue to grow, guaranteeing that the Caribbean's literary heritage will enrich the cultural landscape. Through their collective efforts, we are reminded of the power of stories to connect us, broaden our horizons, and nurture personal and communal growth.

June 29, 2023

New Book: "I-ROY" by Eric Doumerc

Geoffrey Philp

“I Roy” is a tribute to the late great Jamaican deejay, who died in tragic circumstances in November 1999 and is rightfully considered one of the greatest Jamaican deejays and innovators in reggae.

The book delivers a history of the Jamaican toasting tradition, an overview of I-Roy's career, and the different aspects of his artistry.

It also includes chapters by the former Beat journalist and reggae enthusiast Michael Turner analyzing I-Roy's 45 rpm records, by James Danino, a reggae activist and deejay living in France on the Mento and Calypso roots of I-Roy's music, and the bawdy or smutty side of his toasts and by David Bousquet about the musical feud between I-Roy and another well-known 1970s deejay, Prince Jazzbo (Linval Carter).

’I-Roy’ is available in hardcover and paperback from APS Books (www.andrewsparke.com) and in hardcover, paperback, and Kindle editions from Amazon worldwide.


Eric Doumerc teaches English at the University of Toulouse-Jean Jaur├Ęs, southwestern France. His research interests include Caribbean poetry, music, and the Caribbean oral tradition. In addition to ‘I-Roy,’ he is the author of ‘Dub Poets In Their Own Words’ (2017), Jamaican Music In England From the 1960s to the 1990s (2018), and ‘The Life And Times Of Joseph Hill and Culture’ (201.9), all published by APS Books.

He is currently working on a critical examination of the recordings of Burning Spear.

For further information, please contact andrewsparkauthore@gmail.com

May 15, 2023

Why I’m Switching to Vocal

Geoffrey Philp

I have always been concerned about the erasure of Black memory. That's why I began blogging at Geoffrey Philp's Blog Spot.

In some of my earliest blog posts, "Why I Continue to Write" and “Why I Continue to Blog,” I explained the reasons for starting the blog and what I hoped to achieve. The blog has served as an important platform for Caribbean literature and culture, connecting Caribbean writers, artists, and a wider audience. It has played a significant role in raising awareness of Caribbean literature and culture.

I'm particularly proud of several posts that I have written:

·         Posts About Marcus Garvey: https://geoffreyphilp.blogspot.com/search?q=Marcus+Garvey

·         Posts About Bob Marley: https://geoffreyphilp.blogspot.com/search?q=Bob+Marley

·         Posts From Caribbean and South Florida Writers: https://geoffreyphilp.blogspot.com/search?q=In+My+Own+Words

·         Posts About Caribbean Writers: https://geoffreyphilp.blogspot.com/search?q=Caribbean+Writers

·         Interviews With Caribbean Writers: https://geoffreyphilp.blogspot.com/search?q=Five+Questions+With

·         A Conversation With: https://geoffreyphilp.blogspot.com/search?q=A+Conversation+With

·         Birthday Posts: https://geoffreyphilp.blogspot.com/search/label/Happy%20Birthday

I have also participated in a few podcasts, although some of them have been lost in the ether: https://geoffreyphilp.blogspot.com/search/label/podcast

In the next few days, I will switch many posts to Vocal, where I have written haiku, a short story, and a few bad limericks. I've decided to make this switch for several reasons:

·         Active community:

Vocal has a large and engaged community of writers and readers, meaning others are likelier to see and read my posts. It provides me with a broader reach than I would have on a personal blog.

·         User-friendly interface:

Vocal's interface is designed to be easy to use, making it simple for me to create and publish my content. But most importantly, Vocal compensates writers for their work. For every 1,000 views my posts receive, I will earn $3.80. Additionally, I will earn $0.10 for every share my posts receive. Vocal also offers readers the opportunity to actively support writers by tipping. I plan to use the earnings to help with my travel expenses for research, book promotions, and especially for Archipelagos.

I will continue writing One Minute Book Reviews, announcements about book publications and fairs, and interviews with Caribbean Writers. You can find them on my blog at the following links:

·         One Minute Book Reviews: https://geoffreyphilp.blogspot.com/2023/05/one-minu

·         Book Publications and Fairs: https://geoffreyphilp.blogspot.com/search?q=Book+launch

·         Interviews with Caribbean Writers: https://geoffreyphilp.blogspot.com/search?q=Five+Questions+With

In the meantime, I invite you to visit my page on Vocal. If you enjoy a haiku or story, you can subscribe, share it on social media, or leave a tip.

See you on Vocal!







May 5, 2023

One Minute Book Review: On Poetry


Roger Robinson

What is the name of the Book?

On Poetry

: Roger Robinson

Who is Roger Robinson?

Roger Robinson is a writer, musician, and performer who splits his time between England and Trinidad. He won the T. S. Eliot Prize in 2019 for his book A Portable Paradise published by Peepal Tree Press. He is the second Caribbean writer to win this prestigious UK poetry award after Derek Walcott in 2010. In May 2020, A Portable Paradise became only the second poetry book to win the Ondaatje Prize.

Publisher: Roger Robison

What is the book about?

On Poetry focuses on the art of creating poems and presents fresh perspectives on the writing process. Roger provides candid and pragmatic guidance on pursuing poetry as a calling and includes prompts to inspire creativity.

Why am I reading this book?

I am always looking for new ways to think about the craft of poetry, and veteran poet Roger Robinson has a lot to offer, especially in structuring and orchestrating poems.

Favorite quote from On Poetry:

“Poems Are Empathy Machines Poets don’t get into poetry for money, they do it for vocation at least I feel like that anyway. Poets can touch hearts and minds; they can translate trauma into something people can face. Sometimes there’s a cost for the poet to do that as it takes looking at the trauma right in the face and then allowing others to bear the idea of trauma safely. That’s why I write poetry. It is a chance for me to practise being radically vulnerable and as a result poems can become empathy machines. Poetry when it's read is a valuable chance to practise empathy towards the stories, sensation and concerns of the writer and with that practice of empathy hopefully one can go out in the wider world and be more empathetic. Poetry is my serious attempt to create change in the world.”

Where to buy:
https://rogerrobinson6.gumroad.com/l/wrbcu or visit his web page: https://rogerrobinsononline.com/

February 13, 2023

Earth Day Launch of Archipelagos


I am thrilled to announce the release of my eighth book of poetry, Archipelagos. Published by Peepal Tree Press, Archipelagos explores the effects of climate change on the Caribbean and the Global South, specifically focusing on my home country of Jamaica.

The archipelagos of the Caribbean and Global South are already feeling the devastating impacts of climate change, from rising sea levels to more intense hurricanes and storms. Through my poems in Archipelagos, I hope to raise awareness about the existential threat of climate change and the importance of taking action to mitigate the effects on our vulnerable communities.

Here is Peepal Tree Press’s description of Archipelagos: “Philp’s powerful and elegant poems span past and present and make it very clear that there cannot be a moral response to the climate crisis that is not also embedded in the struggle for social justice, for overcoming the malignancies of empire and colonialism and the power of global capitalism.”

But what has me screaming from the roof tops is the praise from Roger Robinson, winner of the T.S. Eliot Prize in 2019: “This may well be the book that Geoffrey Philp is remembered by. Get it.”

I cannot wait for you all to read Archipelagos, and I am eager to hear your thoughts on the poems.  

Archipelagos can be preordered from my favorite Indie bookstore,  Books and Books, which will be hosting the official launch of Archipelagos on Earth Day (April 22, 2023)  at 7 p.m. during National Poetry Month: https://shop.booksandbooks.com/book/9781845235505 or from Peepal Tree Press: https://www.peepaltreepress.com/books/archipelagos

Thank you for your continued support, and I hope you enjoy the book!

#Archipelagos #PeepalTreePress #ClimateChange #Caribbean #GlobalSouth #Jamaica  #SocialJustice #NationalPoetryMonth #EarthDay2023 #BooksAndBooks #PeepalTreePress #OfficialLaunch #SupportPoetry #EnjoyTheBook

August 28, 2022

Sacred Rivers in Jamaica?

Rio Cobre

A few weeks ago, I read Diana McCaulay’s pilgrimage to find the source of the Rio Cobre, “which had suffered a devastating fish kill on July 30 -31 due to an effluent release from the bauxite-alumina refinery at Ewarton, currently owned by UC Rusal.” (https://jamaica-gleaner.com/article/focus/20220821/diana-mccaulay-search-rio-cobre)

The article led to an interesting discussion on Twitter about her idea of “sacred rivers” in Jamaica and her observation, “Wondering if we have a sacred river - it's definitely not the Rio Cobre!” Kimberly John replied, “I think the closest thing to a sacred river in Jamaica is the Rio Grande, and even so, it's not a mainstream idea. We're more afraid of paganism than environmental destruction.” And I responded, “Our rivers, lakes, streams, @dmccaulay, also don’t figure in our imaginations.”

I could give a million and one reasons why we don't consider our waterways to be holy, sacred, or worthy of veneration and respect. Or why we don't wax poetic like the English do about the Thames or how the awestruck Japanese poet Basho wrote haiku about the Mogami River.

But I prefer to talk about solutions. For if we are going to have a fighting chance against projected environmental degradation due to climate change, we must engage our people’s imaginations.

But then I wondered, how will we engage our people’s imagination?

Drawing on my experience of writing haiku, which according to Tricycle, is “the most popular form of poetry in the world,” I proposed a haiku contest with the following rules:

Name of the place, either in the #haiku or title (yeah, I know)
17 syllables
A turn of thought.
The winner from each parish receives USD 50

In my enthusiasm , I omitted the seasonal reference that traditional Japanese haiku usually contain. I reasoned that we only have two seasons in the Caribbean, a dry and a wet season, and I wanted to highlight our waterways.

I was misguided.

A pearl of ancient wisdom is buried in traditional Japanese haiku, which is a meditation on time and space. It’s a way of paying attention to the planets, seasons, the earth, holidays, plants, and animals. And as Simone Weil notes, “Attention, taken to its highest degree, is the same thing as prayer. It presupposes faith and love.”

So here is my revised proposal:

17 syllables.
Season or seasonal words like “mango blossoms” or “guinep.”
Name of the place either in the haiku or title. I’m sticking with this because many of us don’t know a lot about our island.
A turn of thought.

No entry fee.
Open to anyone who has never published anything.
Best entry from the parish of residence
The judges, ideally from each parish, will select the best entry from the parish where they live. The judges would also have the latitude to ignore the seasonal word. What matters is the skill of the poet in recording a fleeting moment in the natural world--critics, like me, be damned. The judge’s decision is final.
The winners would receive USD 100.

I’d love for Isis-Semaj-Hall’s suggestion to be implemented, “I support this. And it would be good to see CatherinesPeak, Wata, Island Mist, Life Span, 876 Blue Mountain, or any other Jamaican water brands come on board to support/educate consumers/ citizens too.”

I’d take it a step further. Isis. The winning haiku could become a regular feature on their products and advertising campaigns.

According to the poet and translator William J. Higginson, “Haiku teach us not only to respect the experience of others, but to recall and treasure our own experience.” I hope this project will help us not only to treasure places in Jamaica but to appreciate the everyday beauty we often take for granted.

#haiku #environment #Jamaica #climatecrisis #climateemergency

November 10, 2021

"Rastafari in the 21st Century" @ the Miami Book Fair

I Jabulani Tafari

 “Rastafari in the 21st Century – What Life has Taught I&I”

Comes to the 2021 Miami Book Fair

Join Priest Douglas Smith and Ras I. Jabulani Tafari at the 38th annual Miami Book Fair as they host the South Florida launching of their new book "Rastafari in the 21st Century: What Life has Taught I&I.” The Book Fair takes place at the Wolfson Campus of the Miami Dade College in Downtown Miami from November 14 to November 21, 2021.

The Book Fair presentation by Priest Douggie and I-Jabulani and the launch of “Rastafari in the 21st Century” is scheduled for Saturday, November 20 at 5.00 p.m. in Room 8106 (the Magic Screening Room) on the first floor of Building 8.
Rastafari 21st Century Vol 1 Front Cover-smallest.jpg
Volume One of the new book by Priest Douggie and I-Jabulani contains the previously unwritten history of the First Generation of Rastafari Elders. Today, many of that First Generation of Rastafari Elders are transitioning on to become Ancestors, and as they do so, their colorful and important life stories are already starting to fade from the collective memory of the people of Jamaica and the world.

This well-illustrated and thought-provoking volume was written as a literary tribute lest the world forget to highlight and honor those Rastafari Elders who sacrificed everything and endured so much with so little in order to establish a new Cultural Tradition and Way of Life.

The presentation by the Rastafari authors at the Miami Book Fair on Saturday November 20th will include music, videos and book signings before and after the event. Click the following link for more detailed information about “Rastafari in the 21st Century” at the Miami Book Fair.  


Looking forward to seeing you all at the 2021 Miami Book Fair!
2021 save the date.


#MiamiBookFair #MBF21

Facebook https://facebook.com/MiamiBookFair/

Instagram  https://instagram.com/miamibookfair/

Twitter https://twitter.com/miamibookfair



November 7, 2021

Book Review: “Anthropocene” by Sudeep Sen


Sudeep Sen

ANTHROPOCENE Climate Change, Contagion, Consolation by Sudeep Sen is a harrowing account of living with the effects of climate disruption during a pandemic. Using various literary techniques such as haiku, free verse, and prose poems, Sen from a “panoramic picture window” from his study in New Delhi, India, captures the sense of dread from the unpredictability of weather patterns and his isolation during the city’s lockdown. And while the theme of hope resonates throughout the collection, Anthropocene is a harbinger of a possible future if the trajectory of climate disruption remains unchanged.

Divided into nine sections, Anthropocene begins with “Prologue| Meditation,” in which Sen acknowledges his position of privilege. As he states later in the collection, “Solitude is something that most creative writers and artists crave, and yet when it is forced on you –how does one cope?” (“Poetics of Solitude, Songs of Silence”). In wrestling with this paradox, Sen relies on his dedication to his craft and epigrams from Eliot, Yeats, Beckett, and especially Kurosawa, “The role of the artist is to not look away,” to guide his inquiry.

Underscoring the second section, “Anthropocene| Climate Change,” with a quote from “Easter 1916”: “a terrible beauty is born,” Sen in “Climate Change 2,” puts his stamp on the memorable phrase with a haiku: “climate change: changes/ the terrible beauty of/ unbearable heat.” With an acute awareness of his environment, Sen records the disruptions that are already taking place in India: “Tap water scalds everything it falls on—turning all furnace hot. Heat rises from everywhere—surfaces, terraces, walls, linen, food, water—everything is vaporous” (“Summer Heat”). The dryness of the land leads to heatwaves, and in “Drought, Cloud,” Sen prays for rain, “It is bone dry--I pray for any moisture/ that might fall from the emaciated skies.” However, Sen’s prayers do not have the consequences he intends: “Rain where there never was,/ no rain where there was” (“Global Warming”). Riffing on the idea of the “terrible beauty” of climate change, Sen recognizes the rain’s seductive ability to “douse and arouse” (“Rain Charm”). Yet, ironically in “Shower, Wake,” he describes a frightening scene: “The September showers came too late, giving ample time for a prolonged drought. But when they eventually arrived, they brought with them the full fury of an unstoppered monsoon — the rain pelting down hard, cracking open newly laid tarmac, exposing the earth and the elements once again.”

Opening the third section, “Pandemic| Love in the Time of Corona,” with an homage to Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Sen combines Indian mythology “Krishna’s love for Radha” with a fixed focus on the effects of climate disruption on the poor: “In thousands migrant workers march home--/ hungry footsteps and empty highways” (“Love in a Time of Corona”). Then, in “Corona Haiku 5,7,5,” Sen documents some of the routines that predominate his life: “endless handwashing, /sanitisers, gloves, masks—a/ new apocalypse,” and his impotence in the face of the pandemic’s advance, “dread of death, death of/loneliness--our choices/ out of our hands.” As the death toll rises, Sen laments the loss of his friends, “One by one they are dropping dead/at the rate of a heartbeat,” and later in “Black Box: Etymology of a Crisis,” he confesses, “Where are you?” I can’t hear you, touch or feel you. All senses have evaporated. I have nothing. I have everything.”

In sections four to nine, Sen contrasts the sprawling view of the city with his solitude by juxtaposing photographs taken from the poet’s terrace, “day after day,” with prose poems arranged in columns that resemble silos. Still, despite the expansiveness that the photographs suggest, Sen is increasingly driven in poems such as “Fever Pitch” into an interiority that comes close to solipsism, “All around me is a vacuum--and beyond that glass--and beyond that a semblance of life and world.” As an antidote, Sen retreats to his library for companionship and consoles himself with quotes from Aldous Huxley, Thomas Mann, and John Milton. Perhaps, as a refutation of Milton’s Satan in Paradise Lost, “myself am hell,” Sen’s reaction to isolation is discovery, “And yet in this isolation and solitude, there is an inherent yogic sense of centredness, where being with oneself is both wholesome and multitudinous” (“Poetics of Solitude, Sounds of Silence”).

Yet, hope, whether or not warranted, arises from the poet’s “inherent yogic sense of centredness.” His practice grounds him: “Through years of untutored regimen, this process has become second nature, like any meditative practice” (“Poetics of Solitude, Sounds of Silence”). Another way that Sen’s “centredness” shows up is in his fearlessness, which sometimes, as in “Preparing for a Perfect Death,” borders on gallows humor: “Then, the most difficult part--/how and where to die, what to wear.” In a fitting metaphor for his hope, Sen asserts in “The Gift of Light’: “The gift of light/ is life’s benediction/ in these dark times--/no matter what or where/ there is always light.” The final poem of the collection, “Om: A Cerement,” concludes with an invocation from the Upanishads, which Eliot used in the last lines of “The Wasteland,”: “Om’s celebration now/ an unceasing requiem. Yet we chant in hope, / for peace; Om Shantih, Shantih, Shantih.”

ANTHROPOCENE Climate Change, Contagion, Consolation, a timely meditation on the effects of the pandemic and climate disruption, offers readers an opportunity to delve into a world of a poet who is attuned to the changes in his body and environment. His focus on the plight of the migrants and his attention to the lives of his friends rises to the level of prayer as Simone Weil in Gravity and Grace muses, “Attention, taken to its highest degree, is the same thing as prayer.” In this sense, Anthropocene is both a prayer and a jeremiad. I hope we will listen.  

About the Author


Sudeep Sen

Sudeep Sen’s [www.sudeepsen.org] prize-winning books include: Postmarked India: New & Selected Poems (HarperCollins), Rain, Aria (A. K. Ramanujan Translation Award), Fractals: New & Selected Poems | Translations 1980-2015 (London Magazine Editions), EroText (Vintage: Penguin Random House), Kaifi Azmi: Poems | Nazms (Bloomsbury) and Anthropocene: Climate Change, Contagion, Consolation (Pippa Rann). He has edited influential anthologies, including: The HarperCollins Book of English Poetry (editor), World English Poetry, and Modern English Poetry by Younger Indians (Sahitya Akademi).  Blue Nude: Ekphrasis & New Poems (Jorge Zalamea International Poetry Prize) and The Whispering Anklets are forthcoming. Sen’s works have been translated into over 25 languages. His words have appeared in the Times Literary Supplement, Newsweek, Guardian, Observer, Independent, Telegraph, Financial Times, Herald, Poetry Review, Literary Review, Harvard Review, Hindu, Hindustan Times, Times of India, Indian Express, Outlook, India Today, and broadcast on bbc, pbs, cnn ibn, ndtv, air & Doordarshan. Sen’s newer work appears in New Writing 15 (Granta), Language for a New Century (Norton), Leela: An Erotic Play of Verse and Art (Collins), Indian Love Poems (Knopf/Random House/Everyman), Out of Bounds (Bloodaxe), Initiate: Oxford New Writing (Blackwell), and Name me a Word (Yale). He is the editorial director of AARK ARTS, editor of Atlas, and currently the inaugural artist-in-residence at the Museo Camera. Sen is the first Asian honoured to deliver the Derek Walcott Lecture and read at the Nobel Laureate Festival. The Government of India awarded him the senior fellowship for “outstanding persons in the field of culture/literature.”