“Writing is a solitary activity. Caribbean writers sometimes experience this even more profoundly, because reading and writing is still regarded an oddity in our countries, which makes it even harder to find like-minded souls in one’s physical surroundings.”I am on intimate terms with this feeling of isolation, and the despair that can come of stumbling in the dark. But because writing is a part of who I am more than just something I do, I have weathered this isolation, not to mention the rejections and perpetual quest for access and validation, striving to grow stronger, to become better, to learn and to flourish; in this new virtual reality, writers don’t have to do this alone – and so, as a side bar – you have in Antigua, the Expressions open mic where writers gather to share physically and the Expressions open mic facebook group where they gather to share virtually and now featured spots on the popular hub 365antigua.com where writers get their first taste of entering the impenetrable land of the published. One of the things I like about CLS is that it takes it a step further, by giving critical feedback that can help in the crafting of future works; no small thing given how few and how costly actual workshops can be. Anouska saw – perhaps still sees, though she’s now handed over the reins – possibility to take this further; for instance an online conference with all the features of a physical conference, minus the prohibitive cost, in a virtual space. As a sidebar, I’ll mention that when I referenced this conference on Facebook, an interested person suggested recording and sharing maybe even live streaming the sessions. For my part, I’m blogging daily Postings from Paramaribo at shewrites.com
But to circle back to the point unlike the physical world, or perhaps more like it than we’d like to think, the virtual world requires input from its community to thrive – funding is important but even more than that is action and that lack of action, as the time commitments overwhelmed the founding moderator, is what had CLS’ head on the chopping block so recently. But it lives because it fills a void. “I have discovered,” Anouska said, “that despite the geographical distances between us, we can still foster a sense of Caribbeanness.”
Amen to that.
This is an excerpt from the presentation I did in 2012 at the Association of Caribbean Women Writers and Scholars conference in Paramaribo, Suriname. I live blogged about the experience here. I invite you to check it out – it’s in five parts, one for each day I was there.
Read my full conference paper ACWWS presentation
And here are some pictures from Paramaribo: