The Antigua and Barbuda Review of Books Volume 11 Number 1 Summer 2018 (ed. Paget Henry)
This annual journal has been around for 11 years and is launched annually during the Antigua Conference which has run just a little bit longer. I wanted to say a word about it to sort of remind those outside of academic circles of the existence of both the conference and the journal. The conference was first held after the 28 year rule of the Antigua Labour Party ended in 2004. Many of Antigua and Barbuda’s scholars from institutions around the world gathered to discuss topics related to our existence from a research-oriented position; in a talk radio environment that went from too silent to too loud and not particularly mindful of facts, it was a treat. I was invited to present on that media environment at that first conference, but I mostly enjoyed listening. And one of the presentations that tickled my brain was one on the Antiguan and Barbudan literary tradition, an area of clear interest to me as my work with Wadadli Pen indicates.
Anyway, I wasn’t the only one inspired by that Edgar Lake presentation as Paget Henry, an Antiguan-Barbudan professor of Africana studies at Brown University used it as the impetus to launch the Antigua and Barbuda Review of Books. And here we are.
Initially, the review was focused exclusively on literary reviews – and I have to admit that I preferred that version. More recently – beginning I would say most emphatically with its Tim Hector commemorative issue, an interesting issue reproducing many of the late writer’s Fan the Flame editorials focused on aspects of Antiguan and Barbudan art and culture, or perhaps earlier with the issue reflecting on the 1968 political break that heralded the arrival of two dominant political parties in Antigua and Barbuda – the Review expanded its coverage to political, social, economic, and other issues related to development. Some of these articles are too far in to the weeds for me, but perhaps others feel that way about the literary reviews I so enjoy reading. This edition is a mix of both though, unfortunately, the space allotted to literary reviews continues to contract. This time there were technically only three articles, more celebration and exploration, than critical reviews, focused on creative writing (by Marilyn Sargent, Claytine Nisbett, and me – written, respectively, by Max Hurst and Valerie Combie), four if you stretch that to the article on an aspect of the Bible. There’s a sort of free floating interview with former UWI Open Campus (i.e. University Centre) Edris Bird which reads a bit like a preliminary interview, not the final interview; and the feature essays – of which I took particular interest in Lawrence Jardine’s WANTED: Offspring, Talent, Inheritance and Assets Management, which was re-posted with his permission on the Wadadli Pen blog. There was, finally, the usual abridged booklist.
I support the Review because critical reviews of art is important to the development of an artistic culture, and I hope there is more not less of it going forward – though I know people like me are at fault as I haven’t written a review for the Review in a while. Whatever my own criticisms of this latest review, I do encourage Antiguans and Barbudans and institutions, wherever, interested in the study of Caribbean literature to discover and read The Antigua and Barbuda Review of Books. Reviews and/or subscription requests can be sent to Paget_Henry@Brown.edu
The main page of my Blogger on Books VII can be found here. Other pages are sub-linked from there. To check out my books and see what reviewers and readers have been saying about them, go here and here.