Interview (2014)

In advance of the Commonwealth Writers event The Untold Story: By Our Own Tongues on Friday 11 April, Joanne C Hillhouse talks to the British Council Literature Team about Antigua, inspirations and languages.

(This interview seems to have been removed from the British Council website but is uploaded here FYI; and FYI the image below is from 2014, the Untold Story event at the Aye Write! festival in Scotland, referenced in the intro)

Aye Write Festival April 2014

Why did you become a writer, and what inspires you?

It’s not so much a why did I become as a how could I not… I’ve always been the girl with her head in a book and, when not in a book, whose vision turned inward to the stories in her head…soaking up the world around her, processing everything that happens to her through the ‘pen’…I don’t feel like I had a choice about being a writer and I don’t feel like I’d want to be anything else …not when I have this freedom on the page to interpret and imagine my world.

When I think about when I started writing in earnest, in my teens, I realize that what inspired me then was trying to make sense of my world, trying to cope with the confusion of becoming…what’s inspired me since is everything …everything I can’t shake …an emotion or a question or a notion…and I write through it…I often describe writing as journeying, discovering…because for me it is a sort of adventure, every time, into territory at once familiar and unknown…like driving down a path…it’s bumpy and narrow and there are trees and grass, things familiar like that…but there’s a bend at the end of the path and you don’t know what’s around the bend, and you’re curious… and you’re both scared and excited…do you turn back or do you keep going…if I keep going I get a story out of it…but that uncertainty is the driver.

Everything I write is rooted in being a child of Ottos, Antigua…yet so much of what I write these days, and I just picked up on this, is about how much it’s all changing, and trying to figure out what those changes mean. So, there’s that uncertainty again.

Your story Amelia at Devil’s Bridge was featured in the new anthology Pepperpot: Best New Stories From the Caribbean. You write in your blog that you hope that the modern Caribbean reader will have access to this anthology. How important is it to you that your writing reaches a global audience?

Okay, here’s the thing, I never approach any story or poem thinking about the audience, local or global; during the writing process, I just want to honour the characters and their story – I want to hear their voices without interference from the outside.

But, of course, I’m also a working writer and on the back end of the process I hope what I write finds an audience.

Growing up in Antigua, so much of what I had access to as a kid from Ottos came from other places; and as a reader and writer, I feel there’s a lot happening in contemporary Caribbean fiction that your average Caribbean person, before we even get to the world reader, is not aware of. Books from other places are the popular fiction even in our spaces. The writing in Pepperpot is really good, and it’s really modern, fresh and sometimes startling; it would be a shame if readers didn’t know it existed or had difficulty sourcing it as they so often do with Caribbean books. So that’s what I meant by that, I think.

As for the global audience, what writer doesn’t want that? But to return to the original part of my answer, it’s not what’s on my mind when I’m writing, but I grew up reading enough fiction from other places to know that if the story is true, if the characters are real, and the plot moves in interesting ways, the unfamiliarity of the world is incidental; I believe in writing my world, authentically, and hope that people from other places will come into that world and visit – on the page.

You write in English but dialogues are often written in Caribbean creole. How important is this for your work?

I write it as I hear it. In fact, one of the pieces I’ve been working on on and off has a very non-standard narrative voice. That will probably make it unpublishable …but like I said I don’t think about that too much when I’m writing as I don’t want to be restricted.

Thankfully, so far I haven’t been.

I think the dialogue in most of my work as written is important if I want the reader to hear it, to truly hear the character’s voice. The acceptance and the use of our mother tongue is still a struggle in the Caribbean where we’ve been colonized into this idea where it’s nothing more than bad English. Thankfully that way of thinking is changing, albeit slowly…but for me it’s never been a case of bad English, not when you’re talking about a language with a vocabulary and rules and history all its own, born out of a fusion of cultures, like so much else that makes us Caribbean.

I love when a non Caribbean reader hears it so well they forget they don’t know it and when a Caribbean reader hears it and it feels like home to them. Two reader reviews come to mind – this from a non Caribbean reader: “Even though the dialect wasn’t something I was used to at the end of the book I felt that I could go to Antigua and carry on a conversation with the best of them.” – and this from a Caribbean reader: “This book took me back home to Antigua and was very real to me. I enjoyed the use of language as the author placed her characters. In many ways the choice to use the island’s language is a statement about claiming one’s own identity.”

More than that though, it matters to me to get the characters’ voices right, since so much of what I write is from character.

In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges that writers face today?

The challenges are as they’ve always been: time, money, space, more time, access, opportunity; though perhaps a little more so if you’re a black woman writer from a small island in the Caribbean sea…the biggest challenge then, in the face of insurmountable odds – including a rapidly transforming publishing landscape – is not losing hope, holding on to that thing some might call persistence and others might call obstinacy.

… And More Book Recs (Sort of)

I was recently asked to rec my summer read for a regional publication. I’ll share that once it’s published. In the meantime, the idea and format for this post of Book Recs (sort of) was borrowed from the Brooklyn Book Fest interview – how come they didn’t do this when I was participating (or maybe they did with the top tier authors). Well, no reason I can’t ‘participate’ here on my blog – where talking books is what I do.

Me, left, in yellow, with other Caribbean Writers at the Brooklyn Book Fair 2015.

Where is your favorite place to read?

I’ve been reading quite a lot on the bus lately. I don’t know that it’s my favourite place but it’s certainly become my most frequent place. But my realest answer is anywhere; I must have a book with me at all times.

What is your favorite book to give an adult or a child?

For adults, books I’ve read that I can’t stop talking about mostly. In the last year or so, for instance, I’ve passed on Edward P. Jones’ The Known World and Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers to the same person for just this reason, hoping to continue the conversation. In the past, I gifted a friend Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird because it is one of my favourites, I wanted her to read it, but I didn’t want to part with mine, which is my copy from Secondary School. I also gave that friend Maya Angelou because we were both fans of her memoirs.

What books are currently piled in your “To Be Read” stack … and where can the stack be found in your home?

There’s a shelf of books to be read on my bookshelf in my office and there’s an active reading pile within arms’ reach of my bed. The former is too lengthy to mention and the latter is too damn long (11 books long, plus the ebooks on my hard drive). the one I’ve been most actively reading this past week, since we started reading it during my Jhohadli Summer Youth Writing Project July sessions, is Imam Baksh’s Children of the Spider, a Burt award winning Caribbean teen/young adult fantasy adventure novel. Fun fact: this is the book that won the year I served as a judge; so it’s sort of my second time reading it but I can tell it’s been revised as there’s stuff that feels very new.

What book do you return to most often, whether passages or whole?

Writing Fiction by Janet Burraway. It’s been a resource since my college years. Beyond resource books, with rare exception, I don’t typically return to books once I’ve read them.

What’s the last book that had you reading past your bedtime?

I fell asleep listening to an audio book version of Jonathan Kellerman’s Heartbreak Hotel recently, does that count? That’s not a commentary on the book so much as a commentary on my relationship with audio books. Kellerman’s whodunits have kept me up a time or two though so it seems a fair choice here.

Who made reading important to you?

Hard to say as I was obsessed with reading before I could read, according to my dad.

What’s your favorite children’s book?

I’m going to say Charlotte’s Web (not because it’s my forever favourite – my favourites are not fixed but) because it’s the first book to pop to mind. Of course, it popped to mind because the question about my favourite book to give reminded me of the time I gave Charlotte’s Web to one of my kids after I told her she could choose any book from  my shelf – thinking it would encourage her to read. She didn’t read it, of course, and now when I remember that I’m just aggrieved…because the book is with someone who will never know how wonderful it is.  This is why you don’t give away books you love!

Behind the exhibition aiming to move Caribbean art ‘away from trauma’ — Repeating Islands

I have to admit, when I saw Antigua and Barbuda’s name pop up in this article, I hoped one of our artists might be included (you know how I am about representation). That mention:

‘“After that hurricane season happened, we asked ourselves, how can we think about our future?” said [co-curator Maria Elena] Ortiz. “I think the Caribbean has been marked by traumatic things, it’s a source of inspiration that is valid and true. But how to move beyond that, is it possible, needed? How can we have autonomy? It’s often forgotten or not talked about.”

It ties into the recent announcement from Antigua, which has a “Chinese colony” plan to build resorts, homes and factories, sparking outrage from local activists and environmentalists.

Last summer, Antigua and Barbuda was the first country in the region to sign up for China’s Belt and Road initiative, which will see infrastructure built across the islands, including one area that is a marine-protected reserve.’

Issues at the intersection of investment and ownership and autonomy and independence and development and the environment and resources/lack of resources and China’s expanding influence in the region (among other things) are definitely part of the conversation – some on the news, some in the street, some whispered. I would like to think our visual artists are engaging with these issues as well – but art has so little impetus here: no national gallery, no endowments, no grants, limited opportunities (whether workshops, apprenticeships, or opportunities to BE an artist), none of the network of agents and managers that can assist with accessing off island opportunities, no real clear interest in the non-Carnival arts on the part of the powers that be.But also no lack of talent and unique point of view (and let’s be clear the artists are still putting in the work and from Wadadli Pen – which has now and again included visual arts challenges to The Black Exhibit to Spilling Ink and others, the community tries to shore up its own). I would just like to see more opportunity that’s all, especially when we are specifically part of the conversation.

That said, this looks really interesting and really relevant and I like the idea of moving away from the traditional themes, techniques, and perspectives (as Antigua and Barbudan artists like Mark Brown, X-Sapphair King before his untimely death, Guava  de Artist, Emile Hill, and others have been doing) – and, if you’re in the area (see details of The Other Side of Now after the link), I encourage you to check it out. Participating artists (I looked it up because I was hoping there was an Antiguan-Barbudan artist involved) are Jamaican artists Deborah Anzinger, Charles Campbell, and Jamilah Sabur; Andrea Chung who is American of Chinese, Trinidadian ,and Jamaican descent and Nyugen Smith who is American of Trinidad descent; Hulda Guzman of the Dominican Republic; Deborah Jack of St. Martin/Netherlands; Louisa Marajo from Martinique; Manuel Mathieu of Haiti; Trinidad and Tobago’s Alicia Milne, who, per the article, had the interesting concept of appropriating and subverting those cliche touristic plates; Lavar Munroe of the Bahamas; Angel Otero and Cristina Tufiño of Puerto Rico; and the one whose work and whose arc as one of the region’s young, distinctive, emerging voices I’m most familiar with Sheena Rose of Barbados.

A review by Nadja Sayej for London’s Guardian. In The Other Side of Now, 14 young artists are looking to the future of the region rather than focusing on the past “Is it possible to move Caribbean art, or art of the Caribbeandiaspora, away from trauma and catastrophe?” asks María Elena Ortiz, who has co-curated a new […]

via Behind the exhibition aiming to move Caribbean art ‘away from trauma’ — Repeating Islands

She’s Royal – Extra

I’m done with my She’s Royal series but you know how movies have DVD and/or Blu-Ray extras – well…

Meet Queen Anacaona 

ana

Hispaniola, you may remember from your history books, is the island where Christopher Columbus made first contact with the people of the hemisphere which would come to be known as the Americas (a geographic space encompassing north and south America and, little as it’s mentioned, the Caribbean) – you might also have heard it referred to as the ‘new world’ (though of course it was hardly new to the people already living there). Among those people were the Taino, and Hispaniola (then only part of the Taino terrain as there were Taino elsewhere in the Caribbean) is now divided between the French Caribbean country of Haiti and the Latin American Caribbean country of the Dominican Republic. We won’t get in to the complicated and contentious history between these two countries sharing this singular land mass, but we will venture in to the complicated and contentious relationship between Queen Anacaona’s people and Columbus’ people (meaning broadly the Spanish).

Columbus landed on Hispaniola in 1492. Anacaona (born in 1474) is on record  as meeting him in 1496 along with her brother, the Jaragua chief, Bohechio. “In Bartolomé de las Casas’ Historia de las Indias, he reports the meeting as cordial and friendly” (Source). That, of course, didn’t last. “The Spaniards as we know, pillaged the island through massacres and slavery.” (Source)

In the contentious years that followed, Anacaona’s brother died and she became chief of the Jaragua. The Spaniards also captured her husband – Caonabo, chief of the Maguana – who subsequently died making her also chief of the people of Maguana territory. His territory was in present day DR and hers in present day Haiti, making her influence span the mass of the island of Hispaniola. She and her people outnumbered the Spaniards but acknowledging their superior weaponry, she took a diplomatic route to stabilizing relations between the interlopers and her people.

“As she saw it, rebelling against the invaders would be like signing a death sentence.” (Source)

Blending houses, figuratively speaking, was the route taken – with intermarriage between Taino royalty and elite members of the Spanish military. The peace, however, lasted only as long as the leadership – and with the arrival in 1502 of a new governor, it collapsed with the massacre of many influential Tainos, and the capture and torture of others. Queen Anacaona herself was tried (for treason ostensibly) and sentenced to be hanged.

“…she was offered the chance to save herself. She would be granted clemency if she agreed to become a concubine for one of the high-ranking officials. However, she refused the deal and was hanged.” (Source)

She was 29 at the time.

The fate of the so-called new world was written – later the indigenous people would be all but extinct (not all extinct as we would have been taught in history class years ago), and Africans (my ancestors) would be enslaved up and down and across the Americas (the USA, across Latin and South America, the Caribbean – again little as it’s told one of the most brutal forms of chattel slavery was experienced in the Caribbean) for hundreds of years financing the western empires that would go on to dominate the world (hence the rising tide of call for reparations – sparked in the Caribbean and credibly part of the conversation as the Democratic primary in the US gets going).

In Haiti, though, Queen Anacaona remains a symbol of rebellion and pride.

This extra is the last of my She’s Royal series though clearly I could go on and on the full has never been told.

Mailbox Monday Meme (MMM…M)

This is a Mailbox Monday post which begs the question ‘What good books did you receive to curl up with this week while the storms blow through?’

I’m in the Caribbean, so no storms…yet. And, as it happens, no new books either. But I would like to share some new reading if that’s okay.

This week I finished …

Evolution: Weaving in and out of Consciousness while the Truth is Somewhere in the Middle by Felene M. Cayetano – Here’s my review of the poetry collection by the Belizean-American/Garifuna writer – and here’s an excerpt of that review: “That she left in the lumps and the pulpiness made for a richer experience as we almost voyeuristically watched this young woman wrestle and come to terms with herself and her lineage.”

So that’s all of one whole book down for April so far (can you feel the momentum slipping?)

This week I read…

Beneath the Lion’s Wings by Marie Ohanesian Nardin – in which an Italian gondolier courts an American tourist in Venice (so far…I’m only 35 pages in)

New Daughters of Africa (which has some 200 writers and is edited by Margaret Busby) – it’s a thick one but riveting…I’m only about three stories in so I’m still deep in the historical section (the history of African people in America) – it’s not pretty but it’s not dull.

Inferno by Dan Brown – they’re still in the gardens outside of Florence, they’re still running, there are drones and symbols and impossible odds…I still don’t care…but I’m still reading.

I probably would’ve read more if I hadn’t started a new editing assignment this week and, Murphy’s Law, my eyes hadn’t started acting up around the same time (and yet I still watched …what’d I watch… Game of Thrones, John Oliver, Train to Busan (without English subtitles and I still dug it because, zombies), and every episode of that new Netflix zombie series because I can never turn off a zombie show… when I should’ve been sleeping)

This week I also read…

This amazing review (it’s so fun finding reviews!) of my book Musical Youth…in French. I had to use google translate to decode it (so fun!)… and I shared it here on the blog; it ends: ‘To my knowledge, there is no French translation available, much less Creole, but I hope that “Musical Youth” will become a classic of literature for generations to come. And why not an audiovisual adaptation to immortalize this illustration of our time?’

Woah! I actually really appreciate this…it’s been a challenging week…but this was good; this was good

Another writer’s recollection of a visit to Claude McKay country which I posted on my other blog with her permission – don’t know who Claude McKay is? You should. He was a key figure in the Harlem Renaissance in addition to being at the vanguard of Caribbean literature…also I love the idea of a poetry garden (what am I talking about? read the post)

Some other interesting stuff (poems, short fiction, lectures, interviews) I added to the Wadadli Pen Reading Room and Gallery 33rd edition

Oh and I grabbed…

A Callaloo journal I’ve had since 2012 from my shelf…so the pile in progress has not gotten any shorter…and I’m still scouting for new books…it’s a sickness I tell you.

 

#MeToo in the Caribbean

I’ve been thinking on and off about writing about #metoo But what more is there to be said? It’s been a watershed moment (with story after story, and the re-examination of stories previously whispered about)poy-2017-cover_vert-f1543ad0e414ef2a31d9b0e95c3d100a62eeee91-s900-c85, at once triggering and cathartic for many women who for the first time feel like they can speak some uncomfortable truths. Truth is – from street harassment to rape – most if not all women have waded through this in some shape or form at some time or other.  That means my mother, me, my nieces – likely my grandmothers, God rest their soul – have our #metoo stories. And that sucks.

The backlash has begun, inevitably. And it makes me shake my head. Obviously, the reckoning is uncomfortable but charges of witch hunt have been thrown around from the very beginning by men whom I have to assume would rather this conversation just go away. But I’m with actress America Ferrara on this.

“We’ve gone from not listening, hearing, or believing women and how are we going to skip over the whole part where women get to be heard and go straight to the redemption of the perpetrators. Can’t we live in that space where it’s okay for perpetrators to be a little bit uncomfortable with what the consequences will be.” – America in this interview/panel with Oprah

This reckoning is just since late last year, when the articles about Harvey Weinstein, especially Ronan Farrow’s in the New Yorker, had women saying metoometoometoo. Incidentally, one of the first men to express concerns about a witch hunt is Ronan’s father Woody Allen, whose daughter Dylan has long alleged childhood sexual abuse.

Already we’re saying too much? Well, I say too soon. Is there a spectrum of behaviour? Obviously.  Being catcalled in the street, even being touched inappropriately or sexual innuendo on the job is not the same as being sexually coerced or raped. But it’s all part of a culture in which men feel entitled to speak on, touch, even claim a woman’s body, a culture in which women are their bodies before they are human, a culture in which women are routinely silenced and/or shamed by men and women. That way of thinking needs to be unpacked and dismantled. And in the conversations I’ve had with myself and others around the stories coming out of #metoo there have been revelations (I’ve shared a few experiences of, not rape, but sexual inappropriateness, in conversations with my father, for instance, that I never shared before as we’ve tried to get past what has been a sticking point for him, why not say something sooner, when it happens). I think actress Evan Rachel Wood’s discussion (of rape culture, abuses of power, and the patriarchy) here is one of the more illuminating on this latter point:

“You’ve kicked a hornet’s nest and you have a target on your back…(and) sometimes the act is so traumatizing or you’re so ashamed of it, or you’re so confused by it, or you’re so afraid of your perpetrators, you’re silenced”.

Within these conversations, there has been confusion and contradictions; we’re all trying to figure out the new rules of engagement, but more immediately, we’re getting it out and trying to figure out how we feel about all of it. But (speaking broadly, because #metoo has male victims as well) it begins with men listening, hearing and acknowledging women’s experiences. Hear that, Matt Damon?

I don’t have answers, but I am glad that these conversations are happening. It’s necessary conversation.

In our Caribbean societies, it’s a harder nut to crack. Some call it culture. Some cite our size and our politics – gender politics but also politics-politics. I don’t know. It is what it is but before #metoo and #timesup there were movements working to interrogate that culture. This in spite of the familiarity and fear that keeps certain predators moving in plain sight, and the ways the system – we the people, the politicians, the courts, the police, the media, the boardrooms, the classrooms etc. treat incidents of harassment, assault, abuse, and rape – our inaction, our tendency to blame/shame the victim, the pushing of poor behavior involving powerful men under the carpet, the silencing, the reality that so much of our outrage aligns along political lines (not that different from America in this moment actually). There has been movement online and on the streets.

Movements like Life in Leggings

“The movement first took off when (Life in Leggings founder, Barbadian Ronelle) King took to social media to share her experience of a man trying to force her into his car after she refused his offer for a ride. The police were indifferent, so she told the story on Facebook with the hashtag #lifeinleggings. Soon, women from all over the region, including Jamaica, the Bahamas and Trinidad and Tobago, were sharing their own stories of sexual assault, harassment and domestic violence.” (March, 2017; telesurtv.net) Among the issues that Life in Leggings’ facebook page has drawn attention to are the mental health act in St. Vincent and the Grenadines (an issue which became topical after a former contestant on Caribbean’s Next Top Model was confined to a mental ward on a charge of abusive language), marital rape in the Bahamas, and sexual offences against minors in Guyana after an alleged serial abuser (a teacher) and the inaction of the system was exposed. #lifeinleggings

Movements like the Tambourine Army.

“…a 15-year-old girl… had allegedly been raped by the church’s pastor a few weeks earlier. The 14 activists entered the church and sat in silence, but angry words broke out when they were approached by a different pastor; the confrontation culminated with him being struck in the head by a tambourine. The incident marked the beginnings of the Tambourine Army, a new organization to fight gender-based violence in Jamaica.” (March, 2017; guardian.com) ‘“We want to change the culture we have of assigning blame and shame to survivors,” says Latoya Nugent, co-founder of the Tambourine Army. “We want to place it at the feet of perpetrators and change the current narrative.”’ #tambourinearmy

In Antigua, credit has to be given to the advocacy work of several groups over the years. Groups like the Professional Organization for Women in Antigua and Barbuda (I remember their marches against the child sex ring/child sexual abuse), Women Against Rape (who made headlines for its objections to a popular soca song, Kick een she back Doh), the official body responsible for Gender Affairs (for among other activities its Orange days of activism), and Women of Antigua (stagings of Eve Ensler’s Vagina Monologues and capturing Antigua and Barbuda stories ranging from sex abuse to sex positivity in When a Woman Moans).

Vagina_Monologues__40_

That’s me in red acting in the first Antigua staging of Vagina Monologues. I call it theatrical activism. Shout out to Women of Antigua for stoking the conversation, beginning 2008.

Just last week, I spoke to an artist touching on this issue in his art, as I have. Examples in my writing include stories like the sexual assault of a reveler in Carnival Hangover, a story called Carnival Blues in the Caribbean Writer and Something Wicked in The Missing Slate that saw a character triggered by that ‘Kick’ song due to a past experience, and the story of a social worker who has her own history of sexual assault (Genevieve found in Dancing Nude in the Moonlight 10th Anniversary Edition and Other Writings). Even my story of the sex worker who makes a bold move to give her daughter a different life after the men on the corner start taking notice of her in The Other Daughter is a part of this conversation, as is the fact that a character in my book Oh Gad! needs her husband’s permission to have her tubes tied at risk of her life, that a character in Dancing Nude deals with uncomfortable sexual-power dynamics on the job in part because of being an immigrant, and the fact that a main character is sexually assaulted by the husband (a pastor) in the family she lived with in The Boy from Willow Bend.

June sucked her teeth, “He shoulda think about that before he lay hand on me.”

These are all stories ripped, in some way or other, from life.

So, #metoo #timesup by another name has been a part of the conversations in the region, and with #metoo #timesup new conversations are happening, though, perhaps not enough of it, and not enough in public spaces. There needs to be more, uncomfortable as it is, because we can’t act like girls and women – and some boys and men, but especially girls and women because of gender dynamics in the culture at large – in our region don’t have reason upon reason to say #metoo

Love, 5 Books for the Child in Your Life

I am one of five authors recently invited to submit on the theme of love in the context of the writing of our children’s picture books.

There is US based Puerto Rican author Anika Denise, who in discussing the young diva in her book Starring Carmen!starring carmen, writes, “Carmen may be the star of the book, but it was in writing the character of Eduardo (Carmen’s brother) that I came to the heart of the story. It’s about the unconditional love that exists in families.”

There is US author Matt Taveres,who, in telling the story of baseball player Pedro Martinez in Growing Up Pedro, noted, “I realized that it was impossible to tell Pedro’s story without telling the story of his brother, Ramon. And maybe that is the message of love in Growing Up Pedro: all of our stories are intertwined, and it’s impossible to tell one person’s story without also telling the stories of their loved ones.”

There is Canada based Jamaican author Olive Senior who untangles black girls relationship with their hair in Boo-noo-noo-nous Hair, illustrated by US based artist of Antiguan descent Laura Jameshair-their second project together, I believe, after Anna Carries Water. For anyone who doesn’t understand our complicated journey to love, after the diseases of slavery and colonialism and the still pervasive messages that privilege other standards of beauty, as black people (the relationship with our hair being only one symptom of this), consider Senior’s statement that her book is about “a mother’s love for her child and her gracious way of healing the wounds of inferiority imposed by racial difference or images of ‘beauty’ that don’t reflect who we are.”

There is Puerto Rican Lulu Delacre’s whose book, one of many, is How Far do You Love Me? who through a game she played with her daughters explores the expansiveness of parental love, so expansive not even death could kill it. She writes, ” it wasn’t until my youngest daughter died, that I realized that I love her as much in death as I did in life. For me, this means that she still is.”

And then there is me, and as I write in my piece, I was really trying to write myself back in to a positive space after a negative encounter. “In the end, I believe writing this story helped me shoo some negative energy (creative expression is nothing if not cathartic) and reminded me of the power of love (and the pen) as a curative for (and a shield against) bad mind, bad energy, and bad soil.” My book is With Grace.with-grace

You can read all the authors’ musings in Anansesem (the Caribbean children’s ezine’s) special Love issue here.