Alison Flood (The Guardian) reports that British-Trinidadian poet Roger Robinson won the Royal Society of Literature’s Ondaatje prize. A Portable Paradise is the second poetry collection to win the award for a book that conjures “the spirit of a place.” In his interview, he says, “I want these poems to help people to practise empathy.” […]
Bahamas Carnival just ended and Machel Montano and Bunji Garlin were there. It was the first time the pair performed their soca hit Busshead outside of Trinidad. The duo were interviewed about their collaboration, and careers, on ILTV’s chat show The Stew.
They’ve (the show’s producers) posted the entire episode online, so you can fast forward to the 19.28 mark for the Bunji and Machel interviews.
That said, I ended up watching the entire programme because they spoke about the epic failure that was Fyre Festival. In a nutshell Fyre Festival was supposed to be an ultra-exclusive music festival on the Bahamian island of Great Exuma. It failed miserably, with lawsuits being filed, but of particular concern for us here in the Caribbean is where it would affect the tourist interest in our music festival, like Tobago Jazz. I like this article in Billboard for exploring those concerns nicely.
I liked the conversation on The Stew, because it’s a Bahamian chat show, so it was nice to hear their perspective on the fiasco.
And I’ve just noticed something, last post I shared Dionne Jackson-Miller’s All Access, today I shared The Stew. I wish we had more local and regional content on our televisions in Trinidad. That’s something I want to discuss, and will probably do so in another post soon.
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.
There’s a conversation that takes place in Jamaica about Dancehall versus Soca very regularly. And that conversation gets very heated around Jamaica Carnival.
It’s a hard conversation for me to listen to, because having lived in Jamaica – I studied at UWI, Mona – I hear the xenophobia in the comments. Too often when Jamaican talk about soca, there’s shade and there’s the blatant attacks. The Jamaican who likes Soca isn’t in the majority. And this upsets me, because Trinidad plays Dancehall like if it’s we ting on radio. Local DJs love to talk in pseudo-Jamaican accents on the radio, but where the music we love is getting made, they scorning Soca. And why shoudn’t they, when we don’t love it enough ourselves.
I think it’s worthy of note that Jamaicans don’t seem to be as threatened by or condescending of Rap and Hip Hop, as they are of Soca.
Having said that, I think that it is funny that if you switch the accents and location, this is a very similar to the conversations we’ve had about Dancehall. Not as heated, but I am both amused and shocked to see Soca being spoken of as though it is a threat to Dancehall. And that has me wondering if something else is at play.
I want you to look at the current affairs show All Angles. Dionne Jackson-Miller hosted a panel that included Dr. Kai Baratt, Marlon Campbell and Dr. Donna Hope. At some point, while watching it, I started to realise that the way Soca was introduced to Jamaica was completely at odds with it’s origins. And that disconnect is jarring. I find Jamaica Carnival’s positioning as an elitist festival very disturbing. Always have. While Trinidad Carnival has created the all-inclusive model that contributes to it’s increasingly upper class tone, because it’s “we ting”, our lower classes feel entitled to it in ways lower class Jamaicans do not. So while there are attempts to make Carnival “all-inclusive” with the view to exclude; the Jamettes, the Saga boys and the Bwa Men who created de ting have the real ownership of the mas, and will find a space, always.
I think that Jamaica needs to re-visit it’s relationship with Carnival. They have to find a way to make it true to them, in a positive way. And that positive has to be more than benefits it may add to it’s tourism model.
That said, I’m way more interested in Trinidad Carnival and fixing what ails us. And for me, that’s such a difficult question to answer, I guess because it’s emotional.
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-pretentiousness to 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.
The Africa World Film Festival started today. Screenings will be held at UWI’s Film School in St. Augustine, and at the Caribbean Traveling Film School on Gordon Street in Port of Spain.
This is the 10 year anniversary of the film festival, so they’re doing a retrospective. Yesterday, I spoke to Festival Coordinator Wayne Cezair about the school and the film festival. The interview is below.
The full schedule is on their Facebook page.
Michiel van Hout created the Holy Week Art Exhibition to help him find a space in the local art scene for his work. Michiel is a religious artist, and for him his work is a reflection of his faith. It is also part of his spiritual practice.
The Holy Week Art Exhibition was created because when he moved Trinidad, he found that religious art didn’t really have a space here, which he found very surprising considering how spiritual this country is.
The 2017 exhibition ended on Glorious Saturday, but I did a story on it for the C News Report, have a look
I really his geometric, stained glass-like paintings the best. Antonio Figuero’s paintings of the Cathedral and the Church of the Assumption were lovely as well, as was Rebecca Foster’s “Stations of the Cross”. I hope that some of these find spaces in local churches and homes very soon.
Because when people can address an issue so clearly, you let them, and encourage others to read their thoughts.
On the Eve Of the Battle
Right on the eve of battle, there was dissent. While the Tambourine Army, a band of fierce Jamaican feminists, were getting ready to blow the abeng and stage their Women’s Empowerment March, the British/Jamaican Blogger and activist, Emma Caroline Lewis, took to her keyboard and blogged ‘Why I won’t be Shaking A Tambourine’. Shit got real very quickly. In the contentious Social Media back and forth that ensued, lines were drawn, names were called, people were trolled and people were blocked.
I say that lines were drawn, and they were, and yet it is not easy to make sense of the complexity of sides that people took. Many who read Emma’s blog – many women in fact – felt that she had bravely expressed their own misgivings – misgivings they had either been too afraid to say or had felt without having the…
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I have it. Jade Gadeon’s Carnival, adult colouring book.
Jade has realistically rendered the costumes, colour and music of Trinidad Carnival. You can tell that the book was made by a mas playing Trini.
I was surprised by the Minshall costumes that she included in the book. She clearly had access to his work.
I got mine from Caboodles on Long Circular Road. It’s signed by Jade. I’ll start colouring in it very soon.
Also I’m really enjoying Ryan Chan’s Pretty Bitch colouring book. It can take water, so I have used my watercolour pencils in it, images below.
I’m really happy with my collection of Caribbean inspired adult colouring books.
The Trinidad and Tobago Film Festival tries to showcase Trinbagonian and Caribbean films outside of the traditional festival period. Their Carnival Film Series (to diffrentiate it from its main festival) has been going on for a few years now. This year they decided to take a look back.
The Film Series will feature 3 feature length films, one from Brazil.
Black Orpheus is a retelling of the classic tale set in Brazil’s favelas. Bachannal Time is Kamalo Deen’s farcical story of two stickfighters trying to get to the finals in Skinner Park, and King Carnival is a documentary filmed during Carnival 1973.
Try to catch them before the series ends.