The Voices From Inside event was one of those really nice and hopeful events that make you believe in the potential of us all to do good things. It was a showcase of the prisoners’ poetry, and a reading from Dr. Baz Dresinger’s new book Incarcerated Nations. She had travelled all over, looking at our prison systems. Too many of them are holding cells for people, and do very little to reform or treat their ills. Too many are soul-destroying cages.
It was nice listening to the prisoners’ poetry. It was really nice to see how their fellow inmates responded to the work. One guy was clearly the prison saga boy, with shades and ting. I wish I was able to take a picture, but we had to hand in our cell phones to security.
It was also nice that for Baz’s book, they drafted local celebrities Kees Dieffenthaller, Machel Montano and Anya Ayoung-Chee to read excepts. Kees also performed, and Mohammed Muwakil, singer and well-known spoken word artist, opened the proceedings. It was a great showcase for the prisoners.
As a journalist I knew that I was going to talk to as many people as I could. Since the event was a Bocas Lit Fest event, I decided, let’s ask people what their favourite books were. So that’s what I did, and here are their answers.
Here’s a list of the books mentioned:
Mohammed Muwakil: Seed to Harvest by Octavia Butler
Anya Ayoung-Chee, Kees Dieffenthaller & Machel Montano: The Alchemist by Paulo Coehlo
Kees Diefenthaller: The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran
Machel Montano: The Long Walk to Freedom by Nelson Mandela, The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle
Dr. Baz Dresinger: Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
If you were to ask me that very same question, my books are The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison, and Like Water For Chocolate by Laura Esquivel. And an honourable mention to Wine of Astonishment by Earl Lovelace, because I felt like I was buzzing while reading it. I was simply overcome with the sensation that it was meant to be read aloud.
In the 7 years it’s been around, Bocas has grown from strength to strength. The annual literary festival has hosted some of the most successful and interesting writers, publishers and poets of Caribbean, and World literature. And because it’s in Trinidad, there’s a non-pretentiousnessto the proceedings that may make your faves seem significantly more approachable.
I’ve always been a fan of Bocas. Especially as a formally voracious reader, who has slowed down significantly. I use Bocas to get me excited about reading again. And it has, not to my old standards, but I’m on the path to being a real reader.
I also got to experience Bocas as a journalist. Just before the festival began, I spoke to Founding Director Marina Salandy Brown about the growing influence Caribbean writers is having worldwide. Perhaps, we should be looking towards developing Caribbean literary industry.
And as I mentioned in that piece, the Prime Minister was featured on special panel to discuss his autobiography From Mason Hall to Whitehall. A smart move from a festival that has just been recognised by Penguin Publishing as being one of the 20 best literary festivals in the world. It also allowed them to put the Prime Minister on the spot about his book tax.
It’s also a strategic move from the festival organisers. Because many good things are allowed to whither and die, because they can’t get the support they need. Bringing the Prime Minister, into the festival may help it win some support for it’s projects.
I’ll have more on Bocas, in another post. I may even share my book haul. See you soon.
‘Tell Desperadoes when you reach that hill
I decompose, but I composing still.’ ”
A statement so timely on the rot that pervades Trinidad that I had to double check the year it was written because I thought he was talking about our current state. We’ve been doing this nonsense for years.
I sit high on this bridge in Laventille,
watching that city where I left no will
but my own conscience and rum-eaten wit,
and limers passing see me where I sit,
ghost in brown gabardine, bones in a sack,
and bawl: “Ay, Spoiler, boy! When you come back?”
And those who bold don’t feel they out of place
to peel my limeskin back, and see a face
with eyes as cold as a dead macajuel,
and if they still can talk, I answer: “Hell.”
I have a room there where I keep a crown,
and Satan send me to check out this town.
Down there, that Hot Boy have a stereo
where, whole day, he does blast my caiso:
I beg him two weeks’ leave and he send me
back up, not as no bedbug or no flea, but in this…
Local designer Ryan Chan has just released an adult colouring book. You know that I’m obsessed with them. Especially Caribbean colouring books. To the point where I had promised myself that I’m only allowed to buy Jade Gedeon’s Carnival Escape colouring book. I going to break that promise to include this gem.
Because I’m a cliché, I have an obsession with colouring and colouring books. It’s fun, it’s art with training wheels, because I haven’t drawn a thing in years. I needed an outlet and colouring books are it.
I’ve been dying to find books that are more my style, so fashion themes are a fave. As are pop culture, and abstract patterns. But what I really, want are books that are more representative of where I live, the Caribbean, and the type of woman I am, Black. So I made a list of Caribbean colouring books for all ages.
Some of the adult colouring books I own, will own soon (Amazon is processing the order), or would like to own. A few are no longer being printed, which is sad, but I have a thing for history, so I included them. I will separate my list of colouring books for children, from the list for adults.
Adult Colouring Books.
Escape Colouring Books. Jade Gedeon’s lovely series, book 4 is coming out in February, and I can’t wait, because I’ve been longing for a Carnival colouring book. I can’t wait to get my hands on it. I’ve finally ordered her first 2, and they are on their way. The reviews are amazing! The books are Island Escape, Rainforest Escape and Carnival Escape.
Dear:… A Healing Colouring Book: I literally harassed Danielle for her colouring book. Actually no, she was pregnant at the time, so we just spoke via Facebook messenger and I rushed over to Paper Based Bookshop in the nick of time to snag my copy. If she reprints the Wildflower Series Colouring Book I will get one because her illustrations are gorgeous.
James Hackett: It’s not out yet, but he says one is coming. I can’t wait.
Children’s Colouring Books
ZW Colouring Book: I discovered Zaidee Walker’s book randomly during a Sunday morning breakfast run to the San Antonio Green Market, which is right by me. Her drawings are simple, but the possibilities are endless. I bought 2. One for me, and gave the other to my co-worker’s daughter. It’s simply done, and you can probably beg her to produce a copy for you.
MacMillan’s Caribbean Colouring Books: The series still pops up, offering false hope, but the Caribbean Flowers book is out of print. The entire series seems to cater for a wide range of skills, like the Caribbean Carnivals book is suitable for a younger child but the Caribbean Flowers books seems more advanced.
The problem in the Caribbean is single print runs, so books go out of print very quickly even though the interest has far outlasted supply. To be fair though, interest can be a slow burn. I blame that on insufficient marketing, but I digress.
Talented artist Danielle Boodoo-Fortune is the winner of the Wasafiri New Writing Prize- Poetry for her poem Portrait of my father as a grouper.
Wasafiri is a UK-based international magazine on contemporary writing. It is published quarterly. The name comes from the Kiswahili word for ‘travellers’.The magazine was formed out of a deliberate initiative to introduce a more diverse set of books to British school libraries and reading lists.
She’s also a brilliant artist. I have one of her colouring books, but her watercolours are stunning. She’s just really very talented.
The new edition was edited by Danielle Delon, whose previous work includes The Letter’s of Margaret Mann. This is a re-publication of the 1907 edition of the book which takes you into the kitchens of named Creole and British immigrants living in Trinidad at the time.
The National Trust is selling the book for $425.00
Ian Fleming’s James Bond Based on Porfirio Rubirosa According to New Research by Forensic Historian Daniel J. Voelker.
Through a series of connections that include Noel Coward, Errol Flynn, Doris Duke, Rita Hayworth and a host of Caribbean locations, litigator and forensic historian Daniel J. Voelker has made a compelling case establishing mid-19th century playboy Porfirio Rubirosa as the primary model for Ian Fleming’s James Bond. Voelker is known for his groundbreaking findings that rewrote the history of the 1919 Chicago Black Sox scandal. The research has been gathered into an article: “Will the Real James Bond, Please Stand Up.”
Although Rubirosa’s name has been floated for years as a potential role model for Bond, Voelker traced the intersections of multiple early to mid-20th century personalities to add factual validation to the case. The reason Fleming may have never publicly admitted this is because he feared a racial…
This imaginative book throws new light on the closing years of Caribbean slavery and the lives of enslaved people of African descent before emancipation in Trinidad in 1834. The book centres on the drawings of plantation life by Richard Bridgens, an English-born artist who became a planter and slaveholder in Trinidad, and examines these in […]
Raymond’s book was launched earlier this year during the Bocas Lit Fest, I missed her launched and readings then. Then the Carnival Institute hosted it’s Emancipation Lecture which featured Raymond talking about Bridgens work as an artist whose drawings of Pre-Emancipation Trinidad are used to illustrate Caribbean Slavery, but how he isn’t respected as an artist, and his work is often used without acknowledging his ownership.
I missed the Carnival Studies lecture, but I sent my cameraman to cover, and was able to watch it after and write a story based on her talk.
I was really taken with Raymond’s belief that we might be able to identify the people in Bridgens drawings, despite his limited skill. He wasn’t drawing imaginary beings, or representations. He was doing portraiture, and a detailed examination of the records may help us identify some of his subjects.