I’m really happy to have had the opportunity to have this conversation with Barbadian based activist Ronelle King who a year before #metoo started her #lifeinleggings hashtag for the sharing of stories related to gender based vioence. It has since become an on the ground project with regional scope and in April picked up an Island Innovations award for leadership. We covered the culture that feeds the region’s gender issues and ways her project is working to change that.
Going in to the interview I was more nervous than I remember being abut an interview in a long time (especially as I have training in and have worked for a long time in media and communications) and I think it’s because the interview topic – gender + culture – is so important to me and I wanted to make sure I hit the key issues. Usually going in to an interview, having done my research, I bullet some things to cue me. Well, this time my bullet list looked like this.
But I think it turned out okay in the end. Give the article a read and share, and share your thoughts if so moved.
Stumbled upon a new (to me) blog review of Pepperpot: Best New Stories from the Caribbean which showed the whole collection love, including ‘Amelia at Devil’s Bridge’ which, it said, would make readers “shiver” (goal accomplished). The review teased each story in the collection, which I liked, and ended quoting ‘Amelia’ (double-love). Check it out.
‘’Here in the rocky haunts of the islanders themselves are landscapes where ‘’the rocks are sharper than a coconut vendor’s cutlass, and the waters lash with a vengeance,’’ landscapes of swollen gullies and bush where monkeys can hide, where beauty and violence compete in scorpionfish and stingrays and captured, gutted shark. There are also the landscapes where lash fruit falls to the ground with the ease of summer ripening, where the clash of dominoes in the run shop provides the familiar auditory signal of men at play, and where preachers get the urge to go into the streets and warn of coming tribulations even as gunshots spatter.’’
The Whale House by Sharon Millar (Trinidad & Tobago): A beautiful, sad story about the immense…
What Cathy read Next prompted me to give a reading update with their entry to the WWWWednesday book blog meme. Hosted by Taking on a World of Words, the meme simply asks what are you currently reading, what did you recently finish reading, and what will you read next.
Giving the current state of my reading life, it’s not that simple at all but sure…
Currently reading… What a Mother’s Love don’t Teach You by Sharma Taylor which debuts next month…and which I’ve been trying to finish before then so that I can post my review. Aargh. I still have over 100 pages left. This last week or more, I’ve also been reading Maeve Binchy’s Heart and Soul…about 334 pages to go; and Monique Roffey’s The Mermaid of Black Conch…78 pages to go. I read a lot for work (as a writer, editor, and workshop facilitator) and have been having headaches of late. I am enjoying each of these books and only wish I could read them faster.
What did I recently finish reading… … uhm…nothing new. Not for lack of trying. But get caught up on the year’s earlier reads. All two or three of them.
What will I be reading next.. that too is a good question. I’d like to get back to Dangerous Freedom by Lawrence Scott which I started a while ago. I’d like to finally start Obeah, Race, and Racism: Caribbean Witchcraft in the English Imagination by Eugenia O’Neal which the author sent me forever ago. I feel horrible. I’ll leave it there but my active reading and TBR pile are unweildly at this stage. So much so that I’ve been meaning to ask at my library or (ask again at my) local bookstore for Kei Miller’s The Cartographer Tries to Map a Way to Zion, Things I have Withheld, Augustown; Natasha Lightfoot Troubling Freedom; and The Vanishing Half by Britt Bennett – lifted from my evergrowing list of books I’d like to read. And I haven’t dared. Just taking it as I can. Reading is my happy place; I refuse to make it a chore…but I will try to visit my happy place more often.
This is fourth in the blog’s music-only new-music No Repeats series (still deciding if to commit to it lol) in which I listen to a song I haven’t heard before and just vibe …or not.
The visuals for this one – and me trying to translate the lyrics in my head – were the more interesting parts of these first few listens (for me). It’ll likely be a summer jam (I mean, it’s Bad Bunny), especially with the ‘summer without you’ (un verano sin ti) and beat drop of it all … but…the vocal style might take some getting used to (for me).
This is me getting ready to go live, April 28th 2022 for a networking meet-up of Catapult Caribbean arts grant recipients from across the region – as one of the artists invited to speak on myself, my art, and the value of grants programmes to the arts community. The only grant programme of its kind (that I’m aware of) for artists in the Caribbean, sparked during COVID and supporting the creation and sharing of art for art’s sake. This year was the second round of grant disbursements. Catapult received hundreds of applications, selecting roughly 300 from, per one of the jurors, “unique and diverse” applicants, and dispensing, so far, roughly half a million US dollars in cash grants averaging US$500 each (with variations, especially in the first rollout). I received a grant in 2020 to share my work online and in 2022, a second no strings grant. I reiterated that artists need space and time, ergo money, to create and “just be” – which helps the blossoming of the arts to the benefit of society as a whole. I don’t have video of my roughly 3-minute presentation but I think it’s okay to share the under-a-minute feedback video grantees were asked to upload during the feedback process. It’s more or less what I said during the mixer.
Perhaps this twitter quote from Andrea Dempster Chung, co-founder of Kingston Creative, one of the administrators of the grant, best sums it up: “so powerful to hear them speak about how important this grant was to them. From producing art, to paying bills to helping other artists in their network to just the validation, being seen and respected.”
Veerle Poupeye hopped on the zoom to tease another initiative – the Caribbean Culture Fund which I will keeping an eye on and likely other Caribbean creatives will as well.
I caught some of the pavement poets, some of the session on Guyanese activist Andaiye, Opal Palmer Adisa’s introduction of her latest publication as editor 100 + Voices for Miss Lou, some of the Stand and Deliver readings from across the region and the session on the difference a word makes featuring newly commissioned pieces, some of the backchat session celebrating Caribbean lgbtqi+ stories, some of Merle Hodge’s reading and new author (When We were Birds) Ayanna Lloyd’s discussion with Shivanee Ramlochan, and Saturday was, of course, the occasion of the announcement of the winner of the Bocas prize. Go to the latest Carib Lit Plus on the Wadadli Pen blog for that news. There’s one more day of Bocas at this writing (it ends May 1st) and hopefully things will slow down enough for me to catch more of it.
I don’t claim British anything but I think I’m going to heretoforth make grog a thing again. No more beer and rum, grog meh say.
What is grog, you say?
Well, per this article, it’s the miracle drink that saved the Royal Navy from death by scurvy. More or less.
“The story of grog begins with the story of colonialism, British expansion and rum.”
They came, they saw, they conquered and enslaved…and alcohol was like water back then (cleaner too) apparently. But “…wine and beer weren’t readily available in the New World. Enter sugar and human kind’s natural inclination to turn anything fermentable into drinkable alcohol. By the 1700s, standard issues of sugarcane’s delicious fermented liquid (rum) were common on every British Royal Navy ship.”
Apparently the smadee who implemented this plan (twice daily savings of rum and water – with sugar and lime from their salt and bread savings for those who wished it) went by the nickname “old grog” and out of discontent with the whole thing, the sailors started calling the drink after him.
“Little did the sailors know at the time, however, that grog would eventually save the lives of thousands of sailors — at least the ones who gave up their salt and bread for sugar and lime.”
Scurvy was one of the first things I learned about sailors in primary school (don’t remember if the lesson was on pirates or our daily intake of vitamin C) and so I know that plenty-plenty of the colonizers an’ dem died from it. Something I, in my tropical climes of orange and lime and lemon trees aplenty, couldn’t quite wrap my mind around. But apparantly scurvy killed more sailors than anything (including war and you know how they loved their war) back when and those who gave up salt and bread for sugar and lime saved their own life. Unknowingly.
“Time moved on, but the grog remained constant. The Royal Navy guzzled grog through the Revolutionary War, World War I, and World War II.”
Actually the grog rations didn’t stop until 1970 – July 30th, “Black Tot Day” to be exact.
Links to artiste/writer pages (websites and/or blogs) from the Caribbean region – artistes listed here are either Caribbean born or Caribbean descended (in the latter case, they are listed under their country of lineage). I’ve opted to list per country of birth or origin, though the writer may have grown up elsewhere or claim multiple countries. If I am unsure of their country-designation I will list as N/A until corrected. Countries are listed alphabetically.
Please note, this page is a work in progress – links will be added over time – if you have a link you would like added, email firstname.lastname@example.org for consideration – if linked or if sharing this post, please link back.
This page does not link Antiguan and Barbudan writers, click link immediately below the picture.
From left, Antiguan and Barbudan writers S E James, Joanne C. Hillhouse, Brenda Lee Browne, AJ, Marie Elena John w/Kittitian…
Since we’re here, and as we’re currently having severe-lack-of-water woes on my perennially drought prone island, I’ll end with a reading list of some of my environmental themed articles and creative pieces (at least ones I can find online), as well as books I’ve reviewed in the Blogger on Books series that speak to the environmental concerns of our day. I’ll make this reading list my Sunday Post (in the Caffeinated Reviewer’s Sunday Post book blog meme) and end with a reminder to you/me/us to be less careless when it comes to the environment every day.
To quote my bestie who works in Environment, quoted in the paper this week, “One thing each of us can do towards reversing biodiversity loss is to determine how we can reduce negative impacts that our everyday choices have on the Earth. By choosing to recycle, choosing to dispose of our waste appropriately, choosing to clean up the spaces around us, and by choosing to invest in our environment, we can each play our part in protecting our biodiversity.”
If you haven’t already, I encourage you to view and share my Antiguan Writer YouTube live from last World Book and Copyright Day.
The books discussed in this live are:
Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventurewhich “opens the door for discussions on preserving our earth and wildlife” (Amazon reader review) and is “a fun and inspiring story” (Goodreads reader review), “appealing book, all the more so for being based on real life” (Kirkus Reviews).
The Jungle Outside, the story of “a boy who abandons the tv for the outdoors…with his grandmother! It weaves together information about many of the fruit trees and other food plants found in Antigua, some of their local names, all the while telling a story about a boy’s discovery” (Amazon reader review), in which “the illustrations really bring the story to life” (Goodreads reader review).
In the spirit of World Book and Copyright Day, I encourage you to boost this post, these books, this video. Thanks.