Tonight just as the reading event, Celebrating Ourselves (or, as I’m calling it, the barefoot readings because literally we were barefoot on the wooden floor which is often used for yoga) at the Shed (at Sugar Ridge, Antigua), an intimate open venue with views of both the sea and the hills, ended fireworks exploded across the night sky. It was as if we’d ordered it. Which of course we hadn’t. Good timing though.
Earlier, the venue had provided a bird’s eye view of the sun as it did its slow slide down to the horizon – we didn’t actually see it hit the horizon nor catch sight of the elusive, mirage-y green flash due to cloud cover, but the haze was part of the show. Just beautiful. So beautiful we couldn’t help remarking as we mingled pre-reading on more deeply and frequently appreciating living where the world vacations.
This was the event
I was second in the line-up behind Kimolisa Mings who read from her collection She wanted a Love Poem. In addition to the readings she did from the book and her work in progress, she shared at my request the first chapter of her samurai narrative poem Dark Warrior. Her poems shared were moments in a relationship, moments we recognize or are seduced by because of their mood and flow, and her delivery was the easy, seductive warm tones to which Antiguan open mic regulars have become accustomed.
I read from all but two of my books plus one of my published poems using a musical theme to connect the readings. This included Ode to the Pan Man published in The Caribbean Writer, excerpts from Musical Youth, The Boy from Willow Bend (my first real reading of my first book if you can believe that), With Grace (complete with an audience sing-a-long) and one of the other writings from Dancing Nude in the Moonlight 10th Anniversary Edition and Other Writings (Soca Night). I think it went well…I hope the audience agrees.
The young lady that followed, Sherona, a teen and recent Christ the King High School Queen of the Form winner was a bold and new addition. Always great to hear young voices coming in to their own.
Brenda Lee Browne, a co-organizer of the event with Janis Hough, read from her debut novella London Rocks which I wrote about recently in my CREATIVE SPACE series and from the Althea Prince edited collection So the Nailhead Bend So the Story End – a strong end to the night’s presentations.
Post-intermission we had a brief Q & A.
… and then the fireworks.
ETA: It was technically Sunday (foreday morning as we say in Antigua) when I posted this so I’m going to go ahead and make it my Sunday Post (shout out to fellow coffee lover the Caffeinated Reviewer for hosting this meme). It’ll give me the opportunity to rec the books of my fellow authors from the barefoot reading Celebrating Ourselves. You can find all of their books listed in the bibliography of books by Antiguans and Barbudans I maintain at my other blog. But for our purposes here today I’m going to shout out Brenda Lee Browne’s London Rocks which is an immersive experience of London Afro-Caribbean life of the late 70s/early 80s through the experiences of a lost youth who finds his way through the dub culture of the day. I rooted for Dante all through this and appreciated the window to another world, plus for capturing the moody dark corners of life and the dance floor, London Rocks is a must. Also shouting out Kimolisa Mings’ She Wanted a Love Poem which as I wrote in my review here “moves through the stages and variations of love. The best pieces are the mini-stories; the details of mood and moments, character and plot, things observed and things unsaid laced through her seductive flow, helping to lift some of those stories above the easy clichés of love poetry.” I also have to link up her narrative poem Dark Warrior Vol. 1 (Manga in verse) because it was the first part of this that I requested and now I need to read the rest. What else? Well obviously I hope you’ll check out my books as well. These are the ones I read from at the event . All listed books are available online and remember one of the ways to get a book in to your local brick and mortar bookstore is to put it on their radar by asking them for it (demand leads to supply).
Re blogs mine and others I wanted to share from the past week, there’s the review of Trinidad’s Lisa Allen-Agostini’s book Home Home at Did You Ever Stop To Think, Bookshelf Fantasies’ review of Stephen King’s The Outsider (Agostini’s was already on my radar but King’s sounds super interesting and as you might remember from my King post, I haven’t read him in a while though I reference him often in my workshops), and my review of the Rogue and Gambit comics mini-series…and it’s a hazy kind of sunny in Antigua today, the kind of Sunday where you just want to laze about. So in between reading prep for a workshop I’ll be attending this coming week, I’m doing that – listening to music and reading. Today’s read Elaine Spires’ Singles Holiday which I think I have a shot at finishing today. Fingers crossed.
Event photos by Janis Hough.