And what have you been watching?

Time for another what I’ve been watching post. I actually had a conversation with a friend recently about this – as friends do – and the film I found myself reccing to him was Passing, directed by Rebecca Hall (in her directorial debut), and starring Tessa Thompson (Thor: Ragnarok), Ruth Negga (Loving), and Andre Holland (Moonlight).

You’ll remember, if you’re a regular here, that I recced the book a while back – having read it (finally) in anticipation of the movie coming out. The book is by Harlem Renaissance writer Nella Larsen and is set in the 1920s, on the cusp of the 30s, in Harlem, NY. It addresses the theme of racial passing but also touches on other forms of passing and it is immaculate. What a beautiful, sublime film – poetic even (I haven’t used that word to describe a film since Alfonso Cuarón’s Roma). It captures the mood and atmosphere of the book, and the quiet tensions at play; so, yeah, I really like this film and would like to see it pick up Academy award nominations for adapted screenplay, direction, score, art direction, costume/wardrobe, and lead and supporting actress – supporting and screenplay seem most likely though, unfortunately.

I also recently watched Akillah’s Escape, which is co-written by a Canadian (Wendy ‘Motion’ Brathwaite) with Antiguan roots – which is why I wanted to see it, because I was (am still) hoping to line up an interview for CREATIVE SPACE. Because of that, I don’t know how much I should say; except if you’re a fan of the urban action genre (and game for one within a Caribbean-Canadian context with a focus on how violence can perpetuate generation to generation depending on the environment), this might be up your alley.

Finally, there is Halle Berry’s directorial debut Bruised – I rec it.

I know you’ve heard mixed reviews (if you’ve heard of it at all) and yes, it is a bit overstuffed, but this is easily one of the best performances of Halle Berry’s career (Oscar-nomination worthy) and the little one who plays her son will have you ripping your heart out and stomping on it because it hurt too much. It’s the eyes, man. I don’t love fights or fight movies but I loved the emotional arc interwoven in the fight scenes in this movie, especially the one in the final act. Also the woman who plays her trainer and more is a magnetic presence. More from her.

Anyway, Passing and Bruised can be seen on Netflix – come back and tell me what you think.

I know people say he’s oversharing but…

I caught a few episodes of Will Smith’s ‘Best shape of My Life’ YouTube series which tracks the behind the scenes of him working on his memoir and on dropping X amount of weight in X number of weeks (I don’t know why the strict deadline except I think he needs it to push him, and I get that). He’s a braver soul than me, though, to pull back the curtain as he has – because there’s also some emotional work happening, very publicly.

It’s a journey to a healthier Will, I think. And good for him.

This episode was a tension point where he wanted to not tap out exactly but do what he do without focussing on making it ready for TV.

“Will tells the crew that maintaining appearance for the sake of the camera is no longer his goal. Now, the goal is authenticity.”

I caught some other episodes and the grind part of it is intriguing, in watching superman struggle to fly – being all too human. The most uncomfortable bits are probably the sex stuff – in one episode he reads to his children the section on how (i.e. the night of) one of them was conceived and, God bless ’em, they were all there for it – though like all kids they would probably prefer to pretend that their parents had never had sex, ever, not even to have them. LOL.

The therapist in the series says, “perhaps for the first time, Will is choosing himself. He is not hiding behind humor, or control, or the idea of winning; instead, he is giving himself space to process and deal with his past.”

My next CREATIVE SPACE is on mental health and the journey to wellness, and that sounds like what Will is on and good for him.

I may read that memoir…and I will mos def be checking out King Richard (just so I can prepare, if his perforrmance is as good as I hear it is, to be mad all over again when the Academy Chadwick Boseman’s him).

An Artist Appreciation Post

I wanted to join Caribbean Reads publishing in shouting out two of the artists in its roster. Actually, Caribbean Reads has been shouting out the writers and artists in its roster these past few weeks on its instagram (showing the kind of hustle any writer wishes all publishers would).

I’m singling out these two because of the exemplary work they did on my two books published with Caribbean Reads.

‘…Antigua and Barbuda artist, Glenroy Aaron.
We have worked with Glen on a number of projects, but the work we cherish most is his wonderful depiction of Zahara on the cover of the award-winning title Musical Youth. Aaron’s subjects vary as his style evolves and influences around him change. He has exhibited at the Sugar Ridge, Jumby Bay and Harmony Hall Art galleries. His solo exhibition “Local” has received national acclaim.’

“…Danielle Boodoo-Fortuné is a poet and artist from Trinidad. Her work has been featured in several international journals. She was awarded the Charlotte and Isidor Paeiwonsky Prize by The Caribbean Writer’s editorial board in 2009, nominated for a Pushcart Prize in 2010, and awarded the Small Axe Poetry Prize in 2012. Danielle’s first solo art exhibition, Criatura, was held in June 2013 at the Art Society of Trinidad and Tobago. You can view more of her images and writing at her blog Half-Broken Things. We loved the vision that Danielle brought to Joanne C. HIllhouse children’s book: Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure.”

Big up to them both.

CREATIVE SPACE Teaser

Next on CREATIVE SPACE

In an extensive November 8th 2021 chat with mental health advocate Chaneil Imhoff, I discuss among other things how we’ve both used art to cope (and what happens when we can’t access the art). This is the next installment of my award winning art and culture column CREATIVE SPACE which goes live on December 8th 2021. The print edition runs every other Wednesday in the Daily Observer newspaper, the online edition runs here on the blog (check out last Wednesday’s installment Antigua and Barbuda’s Jamaica and any of the 2021 or past instalments), and the video interview will be on the Antiguan Writer YouTube channel (here’s the CREATIVE SPACE playlist).

So follow/subscribe and come back.

Also if you’re in Antigua and Barbuda, be sure to get in on the column’s first ever Christmas promo. Follow the link to find out how.

Reading Journal 27.11.21

So apparently my last reading journal post was on October 5th 2021 (at which time I declared I’d finished 28 books so far this year…and there I still stand)…and I haven’t talked about books since? really? (makes sense, since, again, there I still stand) …oh wait, I did a mini-reading update in my About Jamaica post of November 14th 2021. But let’s do a proper update anyway.

Books (still) in progress – in order of most recently read.

Fireburn by Apple Gidley – p. 328 (up from page 266 at last report) – with a 341 page count, I’m almost done (famous last words!)

New Daughters of Africa edited by Margaret Busby – p. 489 (up from page 482 at last report) – with an 805 page count, I’m more than halfway there.

Among her first-generation American classmates from Haiti, Jamaica, Guyana, Guatemala, the Dominica Republic, Colombia, and Ecuador, she aggressively befriended the ones with the loosest curls and the straightest waves, the ones light enough to have freckles on their skin.

from After Edwin by Nana Ekua Brew-Hammond, New Daughters of Africa

The book I mentioned I’ve been asked to read and review in advance of its release, which I won’t name yet – p. 44 (just started reading so no previous page count) – page total is 428 in Word.

BIM: Arts for the 21st Century Volume 10 issue 1 edited by Esther Phillip – p. 22 (up from page 13 in August 2021) – I feel the need to say at this point that none of this is a reflection of the quality of anything I’m reading so much as…life, lifeing.

Catapult Resident Blogs issue 3 volume 4 – p. 14 (up from page 9 at last report) – of 59 total pages

My Stories have no Endings by Gayle Gonsalves – p. 161 (up from page 136 at last report) – of 274 total pages

The Angel Horn Collected Poems Shake Keane 1927-1997 Shake Keane – p. 122 (up from page 111 at last report) – of 184 total pages

an is so he feelin up the tree\fingerin up all the bottom leaf/and the top leaf/lovin dem up/touchin dem up/muchin dem up

Excerpt, The Angel Horn

Kirkus Reviews Best of Books of 2020 – p. 20 (up from page 5 at last report) – of 204 pages – I’ve had this since last year when Musical Youth was named one of the best books Kirkus reviewed in 2020 but only recently started reading it, reading it

The Mermaid of Black Conch by Monique Roffey – p. 54 (up from page 53 at last report) – of 159 pages

The unpublished Barbuda thesis – p. 214 (I don’t remember when I last updated) – of 287 pages – this is the most comprehensive history I’ve ever read of Barbuda when it was still a chattel slave colony and I want to talk about it, which is why I keep mentioning it though it is not published.

Occasionally some special activity was rewarded as in the case of Old Benny who, in 1787, was 52 paid 8s 3d. for killing a hundred cats

From the Barbuda thesis

Old Joe Mopps continued to live on Barbuda and was 88 in 1828, but he had died before the next slave list in 1832.

From the Barbuda thesis

All these families were coloured but there were black craftsmen too

From the Barbuda thesis

This strong family tradition is an important feature of life on Barbuda and is very unusual amongst slaves in the West Indies in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries where in general there was little chance of a stable family structure developing

From the Barbuda thesis

In 1833 one of the daughters of the slave doctor could have had her freedom purchased by a prospective husband, but both her parents pleaded with Winter not to let her be manumitted, as she could be provided for better on Barbuda as a slave than as a free wife, presumably on Antigua.

From the Barbuda thesis

Dangerous Freedom by Lawrence Scott – p. 27 (up from page 19 at last report) – of 288 pages

That’s where I am on the reading front.

How about you?

Alice Sebold Memoir Adaptation ‘Lucky’ Dropped After Losing Financing (EXCLUSIVE) — Variety

“Lucky,” the film project adapted from Alice Sebold’s 1999 memoir toplined by “You” star Victoria Pedretti, has been abandoned, Variety has learned. The movie was dropped after losing its financing months ago, according to a source close to the production. Pedretti is also no longer involved. In “Lucky,” Sebold depicts being viciously beaten and raped […]

Alice Sebold Memoir Adaptation ‘Lucky’ Dropped After Losing Financing (EXCLUSIVE) — Variety

Odd headline and lead-in. Anyway, three paragraphs in: “Anthony Broadwater, the man who is portrayed in her novel (under the fictional name of Gregory Madison) and was convicted with first-degree rape and five other charges in this case, was exonerated on Nov. 24 in New York State Supreme Court.” The story is …fascinating.

Why isn’t there more talk about this in the book world or am I just looking in the wrong places?

It’s a CREATIVE SPACE Christmas

CREATIVE SPACE, recent award winning CREATIVE SPACE, is exploring two ways to celebrate Christmas this December and if you live in Antigua and Barbuda, you can get in on this – if you’re not in Antigua and Barbuda, you won’t be able to get in on the action but you can cheer us on by sharing the posts when they go live. BC as in BEFORE CHRISTMAS.

1a – CREATIVE SPACE product review and recommendation – web exclusive – exclusive to the Jhohadli blog and my social media, I will be recommending up to 5 products created by local artists and artisans in time for your Christmas shopping list. It does not have to be Christmas themed but should make a good addition to someone’s shopping list. If you are an artist or artisan in Antigua and Barbuda and would like your product to be considered for review, you need to submit a sample (Contact me to do so) and an image of the product by December 10th 2021. If your product is selected from the products received, after review, for recommendation exclusively here on the blog, you agree (here’s the fine print) to gift a second sample to someone else based in Antigua and Barbuda in time for Christmas. It’s free advertising technically for two samples of product – if you want a logo share and/or link back to your site or social media, you can do so for a fee, otherwise you pay nothing out of pocket. The recipients (up to 5) will be selected by me from 1b…what’s 1b, read on.

1b – CREATIVE SPACE product review and recommendation gift bag – web exclusive – exclusive to the Jhohadli blog and my social media, provided the exercise indicated above in 1a is a success, I will be selecting up to 5 people to receive a second sample from the artists or artisans selected for positive review and recommendation. All you have to do to be in the running is boost any CREATIVE SPACE from 2021 by sharing on your social media of choice by December 15th 2021 and tagging jhohadli (that’s me). That’s all.

2 – CREATIVE SPACE Christmas traditions – I opened the post with the image of the snow-on-the-mountain plant because seeing it bloom is easily one of my favourite parts of the season. I’m crowd sourcing your favourite Antiguan and Barbudan Christmas traditions – I’m partial to favourite food and drinks traditions but share whatever says Christmas in Antigua and Barbuda to you in the comments (of this post) and leave your name if you don’t mind being quoted. Share a picture if you wish. I’m gathering ideas and would love to hear from you. Comment by December 15th 2021.

Climate Change Status Report (post COP26)

This post-COP26 article highlights where we are on climate change, and it’s not good.

“In island nations that are losing their homes to sea level rise, and in other highly vulnerable countries, there were bitter pills to swallow after global commitments to cut emissions fell far short of the goal to keep global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7°F).

Going into the Glasgow summit, countries’ commitments had put the world on a trajectory of warming about 2.9°C this century, well beyond the 1.5°C goal and into levels of warming that will bring dangerous climate impacts. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s announcement in the first days (much to the surprise of Indian observers) that India would reach net zero emissions by 2070 and generate 50% of its energy from renewables by 2030 helped lower that trajectory to 2.4°C.

Countries agreed to return for the next round of climate talks in November 2022 in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, with stronger commitments to put the world on track for 1.5°C.

Many developing countries already have national platforms to deliver on their commitments, but throughout Glasgow’s conference halls, officials complained that finance wasn’t flowing to help them succeed.

This isn’t just a climate finance problem. Many countries are also facing economic disruption from the COVID-19 pandemic and have chafed at the way international financial institutions fail to address issues of access to finance and trade. Advanced economies didn’t come to Glasgow ready to provide even the $100 billion a year in finance promised a decade ago, which shrank the landing zone for agreement on all issues.

In the end, governments agreed to reach the $100 billion annual climate finance target within the next two years and agreed that adaptation funding should double. But with the U.N. Environment Programme estimating that adaptation funds will need to quadruple by 2030 from today’s $70 billion, there’s a long way to go.

Loss and damage was mentioned an unprecedented 12 times in the final Glasgow texts, but without commitments to funding or mechanisms to secure funding. Loss and damage, or reparations, can be understood this way: you broke it (or endangered it), you pay for it. But, afraid of lawsuits in international courts – which the U.S. does not belong to – or afraid of the costs, developed countries have opposed progress on the issue in recent years.

Developing countries left Glasgow disappointed, but there was no escaping the debate. Watch for a design of a mechanism to help pay for loss and damage and plans to start funding it. With the next year’s U.N. climate conference in Africa, this will move center stage.”

You can read the entire article, COP26 left the world with a climate to do list: here are 5 things to watch for in 2022′, at The Conversation here.

Two speeches worth highlighting include this one – for visual impact – by Tuvalu

and this one for its no BS callout of bigger powers from the Caribbean, specifically Barbados

“Do some leaders in this world believe that they can survive and thrive on their own? have they not learned from the pandemic? can there be peace and prosperity if one third of the world literally prospers and the other two thirds live under seige and face calamitous threats to our wellbeing?” She asked.

Antigua and Barbuda (where I live) have teamed up with Tuvalu to launch “a commission on climate and international law to address loss and damage questions.”

A Commonwealth Foundation survey landed in my inbox that proposed (and invited support for proposals that) – countries

-decarbonize by rapidly phasing out fossil fuel extraction and ending fossil fuel subsidies;

-commit to climate finance or dedicated funding for small island states to mitigate and adapt to the effects of climate change;

-ensure international institutions push for greater cooperation and coordination, especially on the issue of climate finance; cancel developing countries’ debt so that they can deal with impacts of climate change, adaptation, and the pandemic;

-implement a climate damages tax to stop corporations from profiting from fossil fuels and compensate countries for climate-related damages.

It also suggested that the Commonwealth must champion the needs of small island states by committing to BELOW 1.5°C. #1point5tostayalive

We are encouraged in our various spaces to shine a light on the existential crisis the world collectively is experiencing and so I opted to share this.

Also in environmental news, this great news for the blog…ICYMI.

ETA: Me being a writer and this being an arts and primarily literary site, it would be remiss of me not to point to some books that engage wtih climate and/or environmental issues released in the past year. In the 2021 installation of my Blogger on Books series, you’ll find links to reviews of Daylight Come by Diana McCaulay – a teen/YA climate change dystopia, The Festival of San Joaquin by Zee Edgell – an adult novel which is not blatantly environmental themed but does have a sub-theme related to land use/rights and exploitative buyouts of traditional land, Skin Deep: Race and Culture – a journal out of the UK that has in a number of essays and creative pieces directly engaging with these issues, the speculative fic anthology Take us to a Better Place, and Barbara Arrindell’s children’s picture book Turtle Beach. I’ll throw in my own children’s picture books The Jungle Outside and Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure as well.

Belize

“One of my favourite places to go for vacation is Belize. The food, the water, the people.” – Simone Biles

So, what you’re saying is …I need to go there.

Live in Antigua and Barbuda, lived in Jamaica; been to Bahamas, Barbados, St. Eustatius, St. Maarten and St. Martin, Guadeloupe, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, US Virgin Islands (St. Croix and St. Thomas), Anguilla, Montserrat, Dominica, Grenada, Trinidad (but not Tobago), St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines (Bequia, Union Island, Palm Island, Young Island), and I’m counting Guyana and Suriname which leaves Cuba, Tobago, more of the Dutch/Netherland Antilles, and now Belize as stops on my Caribbean bingo card. Anyone want to invite me to a literary event? Like a for real, in person literary event… we’re doing those again soon right?