Blogger on Books lV – BIM: Arts for the 21st Century 1, 2

Actually, this is a throwback  (I’ll share some of those from time to time) that was first written probably around 2008…

BIM: Arts for the 21st Century – Volume 1 Nos 1-2 (ETA: a journal, a couple of journals, not a book)

I’ve just completed the first two issues of BIM: Arts for the 21st Century. The first was a tribute issue to George Lamming which explored his writings, his philosophy, his impact…a fitting tribute. Lamming was one of the early writers in the earlier version of BIM. He along with others who saw their earliest works published in BIM (people like Walcott, Naipaul, Selvon, just about any major Caribbean writer that comes to mind during the first wave of Caribbean fiction; the 1940s forward) went on to international acclaim. He currently serves as patron and consulting editor of the revived publication.

Forgive my bias though in claiming the second issue of the new BIM, Celebrating Women Writers, as a personal favourite. It was dedicated to some of the female pioneers of Caribbean arts and letters Amy Jacques-Garvey, Louise Bennett, Una Marson, Edna Manley, Beryl McBurnie, and Daphne Joseph-Hackett. And it came alive for me on the July 26th when I got to share the stage with some of the contributing women writers at a symposium (Why I Write) organized by the publishers of BIM. These included The Swinging Bridge author Ramabai Espinet, talented young poet Danielle Boodoo-Fortune, and three others whose words can only be described as compelling Curdella Forbes, Angela Barry, and Dana Gilkes.

BIM 2008

Panelists at the BIM Symposium (2008) Celebrating Caribbean Women Writers: from left Ramabai Espinet, Angela Barry, me, Danielle Boodoo Fortune, and Curdella Forbes.

These women and others have amazing entries in the second issue of BIM and it was a treat hearing them read in person, much less getting to read alongside them. Also in this second issue of BIM and featured in a separate panel at the symposium were some of the Caribbean’s deepest thinkers – Carolyn Cooper, a former professor of mine, Margaret Gill, and Patricia Mohammed. Already, in my view, BIM’s impact is being felt and I look forward to it launching and re-launching other careers but more importantly providing a much-needed platform for the Caribbean literary arts.

For the purposes of this blog, however, perhaps the most important thing is that it’s a good (a really good) read. As I do with collections of any kind, I’ll list my favourite reads (selected, fyi, before I met any of these women): Goree, Point of Departure by Angela Barry (really look forward to reading the full novel), Boodoo-Fortune’s poetry Oleander and Mother in the Morning (symbolic, lyrical, beautiful), Margaret Brito’s The Rivers of Babylon, Unfinished Lives – a narration in parts by Patricia Mohammed (a very interesting look back at her parents’ lives in pictures), Death 1 and Death II by Ramabai Espinet, Ruth by Tanya Batson-Savage, and Say by Curdella Forbes. It’s the kind of collection where it’s hard to choose favourites (the editors did well in attracting high calibre work) but these are the ones that specifically spoke to me in some way.

To subscribe or maybe find out about submitting your own work to BIM (or order back issues), email the editors at etherphillipsBIM@gmail.com or cubest@uwichill.ebu.bb

p.s. I’ve since been published in BIM as well, ‘What’s in a Name’ in Volume 7 in 2015, and had the opportunity to participate in another BIM event – the lit arts festival – in 2016, which is where I picked up Volume 8 of the journal, which I am now reading (so you may hear about that soon-ish).

The main page of my Blogger on Books lV series can be found here. To check out my books and see what reviewers and readers have been saying about them, go here and here.

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