…because today I’m singing along with Pharrell. Look what came in the mail today!
Yeah, yeah, I’m a geek whatever but apart from the *grabby hands* can’t wait to read, I am so PSYCHED to be in both these collections. I was happier still about the one on the left when I opened it to find that local wordsmith Glen Toussaint was in it as well – and I was the one who got to tell him (look at Dat!). Happy! See? And, he informed me, it was his first time submitting to the Caribbean Writer, produced by the University of the Virgin Islands, which means that he got in on his first go… ask me how many times I had to submit before getting in. It’s a special kind of thrill when you do and it was nice seeing that first time glow on another’s face, a bit like living vicariously.
Of course, I also had my own publications to look forward to…I am soooo excited to have in this edition of The Caribbean Writer my poems An Ode to the Pan Man, On Seeing Euzhan Palcy’s Rue Cases-Negres, and Music; an excerpt from my screenplay Is Like a Like It; and my short story Carnival Blues (also published as Something Wicked in The Missing Slate). There’s also a review of a book by another Antiguan Dorbrene O’Marde, the review written by my girl D. Gisele Isaac. And that’s just the people I know, know. So much goodness. Looking forward to reading it cover to cover.
Not even the lecture from the Customs officer when I went to collect my copies of Pepperpot could dampen my excitement. Ah, pepperpot; not just my favourite food but the book that’s opening so many doors for me. After all, I’m like 98 percent sure that my participation in Pepperpot is directly linked to my invitations to participate in upcoming events in Glasgow and New York , My story Amelia at Devil’s Bridge proving to be more than an also-ran for the Commonwealth Short Story prize when it was selected for this collection, the first from new imprint, Peekash, a hybrid of Akashic and Peepal Tree. The preface is done by esteemed Jamaican born writer Olive Senior who was my workshop leader when I did the Caribbean Fiction Writers Summer Institute at the University of Miami a million years ago – the workshop at which I started writing my first book The Boy from Willow Bend – it’s a small, small, small, small world. And today with these collections now in my hands, I’m happy to be dancing in it.
Here’s what Senior wrote about this collection:
“…in the landscapes of Pepperpot, we find none of the stereotyped sea and beach idylls of the tourist brochure. 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” (sidebar: that’s a quote from Amelia), landscapes of swollen gullies and bush where monkeys can hide, where beauty and violence compete in scorpion fish and stingrays and captured, gutted shark… These are true, authentic voices speaking in a variety of tones, cadences, and rhythms, hiding nothing, releasing images that will continue to haunt us long after we have closed the book. Spoken in tones that are musical, mildly satirical, or hauntingly lyrical, cutting across various registers, allowing us to hear our own voices calling to one another.”
I haven’t even read these yet, but to quote the Pointer sisters, “I’m so excited and I just can’t hide it”… I hope our bookstores across the Caribbean will carry them (and our Customs not make that more prohibitive than it has to be), I hope the modern Caribbean reader will have access to them…and I hope our writers will continue to write our stories… and if you’re a young writer reading this…how do you get published? Write, write, write, research the best markets for your writing, and submit, submit, submit (you know who you are, I’m looking at you), submit de subben… don’t let the rejections stop you, rejections are inevitable,…well, if you’re like Glen you might be lucky enough to have your first submission accepted…then, forget happy, you’ll be euphoric.