Volume 30 of the Caribbean Writer was set to drop this month (December 8th, I believe). I haven’t seen any post-launch reports, including the cover, as yet; but I can tell you that the anniversary edition is entitled Journeys and Pathways and I look forward to seeing and reading it.
It seemed timely to share what I wrote when asked to submit, for inclusion in the issue, what the journal has meant to me as a Caribbean writer. I don’t know how much of this they actually used but here’s what I wrote:
My first piece published in The Caribbean Writer was Rhythms in 2004 (also Ah Write! that same year) and, as I reflected in my book Dancing Nude in the Moonlight 10th Anniversary Edition and Other Writings, where you can find, in addition to the original novella, many of my journalled pieces, there was a sense of “finally, finally” about it. I had submitted my first piece maybe six years before and finally cracking the Caribbean Writer felt like one of those moments, not quite but almost like getting my first publishing deal (for my first book The Boy from Willow Bend) which had happened shortly before The Caribbean Writer let me in. Point is, the Caribbean Writer, the only international peer-reviewed Caribbean-focused literary journal that I was aware of then, has been, at least for me, one of those critical bars to get over as a writer in the Caribbean. The standard over the years has been high to daunting, and I know people who’ve submitted, been rejected, and given up –not given up writing, necessarily, I hope not, but on submitting certainly. There are so few avenues for writers in the Caribbean; and the Caribbean Writer remains one of those credits that any Caribbean writer would be fortunate to have, an early credit for some who’ve gone on to do great things and at the same time a space where the greats have shared via interviews and fresh writing. When I read it, I wish more of the stories were being shared via popular media platforms and even in our classrooms because it’s often filled with pieces that are at once topical and inventive, a reminder that Caribbean lit is a living vibrant entity. The standards, frustrating as it has been, grumble though we have, have largely ensured the quality of much of the work found in its pages. The Caribbean Writer isn’t perfect but I think it’s fair to say that it’s a good indicator of some of the best of what’s happening in the Caribbean canon now and for the last 30 years (and what can you say about that type of longevity in these abbreviated times). The new voices and the established ones, new writing to critical reviews of books, can be found on the pages of the Caribbean Writer. As a reader, I usually find much to enjoy and be inspired by between its covers. As a writer, and especially a Caribbean writer, it’s a solid writing credit to have; the one you want to have, really. And it’s a privilege to be selected every time I’ve been selected (2010, 2012, 2013, 2015 including my selection for the David Hough Prize in 2011 and the flash fiction prize win in 2015) and a challenge every time I’ve been rejected. Because it may be a high bar to clear but, I kept submitting, I think because I’m all-in on this writing thing and if you’re serious about seeing if you have what it takes you’ll take a running jump at the high bars until you get enough speed and wind behind you to get over.
The call has already gone out for submissions to volume 31 of the Caribbean Writer. Will you take a running jump at it?