This is a repost about Lynn Sweeting's new WomanSpeak collection out of the Bahamas, but featuring the fresh voices of contemporary female writers from across the Caribbean. Including yours truly. You can read samples of the chosen pieces at Tongues of the Ocean including Trinidadian Simone Leid Etiquette for Fine Young Cannibals - which Sweeting describes as "one of the most important pieces in the collection" and "a disturbing depiction of Caribbean rape culture"; American Anita McDonald's…
Resurrecting this blog to post my draft poems for Seven/Seven. PFFA’s still having issues and I don’t have time to play with them. So I’ll crosspost my poems for June Sevens here.
In 1963, a sixteen-year-old San Diego high school student named Bruce McAllister sent a four-question mimeographed survey to 150 well-known authors of literary, commercial, and science fiction. Did they consciously plant symbols in their work? he asked. Who noticed symbols appearing from their subconscious, and who saw them arrive in their text, unbidden, created in the minds of their readers? When this happened, did the authors mind?
To balance our emphasis on nonfiction in this issue, we have new poems from Fred D’Aguiar, Kemar Cummings, Nicolette Bethel, Yannick Giovanni Marshall, and dub poet Malachi Smith with an audio sample of Smith performing “Papine”. We are also happy to announce in this issue the winners of the 2011 Small Axe Literary Competition:
I’m also working, with Sonia Farmer and Nic Sebastian, on a nanopress project. We’re calling it Lent/Elegies, and it’ll be ready to go soon. But more on that later.
I want to do this, but here goes.
It’s Lent, and my mother died barely two months ago, and her brother died eight days before her. I didn’t give up anything else for Lent, but vowed to write a poem a day. A sevenling a day, to be exact.
As Lent started in March and Easter comes in April, this meant that some of the discipline would cross over into NaPoWriMo, when I usually commit to the poem-a-day business.
I must admit I missed a week at the end of March, and will have to catch up. But the goal for Lent is forty sevenlings to lay the foundation for one long elegy. Taking inspiration, not surprisingly, from Tennyson’s In Memoriam; similar, but not the same.
So there’s the big thing: our mother’s illness and death.
This time last year she was fine. Or seemed fine, though the cancer that would kill her was quite probably growing quite happily and quietly inside. This time last year she decided for the first time in years not to attend the annual Thinking Day Service because she was tired. She wasn’t diagnosed till June, and she died one week ago.
*moment of silence*
Some little things:
My chapbook, Mama Lily and the Dead, was published in December.
The Avatar Review accepted four of my poems for publication in this year’s issue.
More stuff? Nothing really comes to mind. Death has a way of shutting out all the frivolous. Not entirely a bad thing, IMO.
This blog has been on hiatus for the last five months because we have been nursing our beloved mother through her final illness.
She died last week, on February 15th.
In the coming days and weeks, I’ll resume my blogging schedule; but I can’t say that it will be the same as it was before. We shall have to see what will be.
So here’s the thing.
I mentioned a while ago that my husband, who doesn’t give frivolous gifts like jewellery or flowers (*stop changing my spelling to American, WordPress!!*), does give gifts that DO stuff. Like computers. Like iPhones. Like iPads.
I mentioned that he had given me an iPad. Not exactly against my will (who could turn down such a gift?) but far earlier than I thought I ought to get one.
I have been enjoying it as an e-reader, having finished both The Girl who Played with Fire and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest on it, and dipping into Ulysses off and on, reacquainting myself with Winnie-the-Pooh, even importing PDFs to read in the iBook app.
Yes, it has been a while.
But I’m back, if only fleetingly, to announce that Nic Sebastian has picked my poem ‘The Carpenter Seals Lily’s Widowhood 1943’ to read on Whale Sound.
Feel free to check it out!
Nic Sebastian’s Whale Sound. Not to be confused with Blogsphere, though it looks the same. It sounds entirely different.
Dear Poet X – I am writing to ask your permission to record and post recordings of your poems A & C, which appear online in locations Y & Z. The recordings will form part of a larger project, the idea for which evolved generally out of a recent interview series on “Poets & Technology” and specifically, out of a suggestion made by Amy King in her responses to those interview questions.
At least for plenty of the so-called “New” world it has. Enough of us still recognize in some fashion or another the landing of Europeans in our part of the world, that revolutionary mistake by good ol’ Christobal, to commemorate October 12 or the nearest Monday to it for me to title this post that way. In Canada it’s Thanksgiving; in The Bahamas it’s what we still officially call “Discovery Day” despite heroic efforts to change it, and in individual American states it’s Columbus Day.
The point? Well, if anybody’s at all bored this fall and has a lump of spare cash hanging around just asking to be spent, consider coming to Nassau in the first week of October to catch Shakespeare in Paradise and Carifringe (the artists’ answer to CARIFESTA, which I’ve posted about in many other places). The official schedule will be released this week, and all things are conspiring to make a holiday at that time reasonably affordable and a good bang for the buck: accommodation at an all-inclusive on Paradise Island for $150 a night, and a buy one, get one free offer through the Ministry of Tourism for airline tickets.
So. October has a holiday too. And whatever Columbus may or may not have “discovered”, come to Nassau make your own discoveries.
Hardsell done. Over and out.
Well, I don’t know if there are still people who drop by and read this blog, which has become dormant for a little while.
This is a post to say that I’m not giving up on it altogether, but rather taking a sabbatical. I am thinking how to reform this so that it can work best for me in my new, more active and strangely fulfilling life these days.
In the meantime, enjoy the archives, and go and have a look at what else is keeping me busy these days:
In particular, have a look at tongues of the ocean, where Issue 5 is coming to a close. This time, Issue 5 took a qualitatively different approach, reproducing a very exciting exhibition from this spring online. It worked! Go check it out.
So here’s the thing.
Yes, I got a degree in literature lo these many years ago.
Yes, we were exposed to the Great Books in English. And because I studied in Canada, they were really English, most of them. I have great gaps in my reading of American literature — no Moby Dick (we did Bartleby instead), no Twain or Hawthorne or Wharton or Dickinson or Frost. We read Henry James and called it a day, And believe me, I did read James from cover to cover — particularly The Golden Bowl, don’t ask why (Portrait of a Lady got itself skimmed).
So I hate to brag but I’m writing this post from the iPad.
Many people will not know this but I’m married to a man whose idea of a romantic gift is a sexy piece of technology. Do you see me complaining? The only issues are: 1) the learning curve that comes along with the new piece of technology and 2) the frustration that accompanies that learning curve.
So far, though, so good with this one. There are things I’m figuring out about the iPad like taking work on the road etc etc and doing it from this little, light touchscreen object that are pretty exciting. Maybe I’ll keep a record here.
But maybe not. I like to be original. But let’s see whether this changes the way I write and read poetry. In keeping with Nic’s 10 Questions.
The internet, Facebook, Twitter, blogs, websites, iPad, iPod, podcasts, digital video and who knows what else. What do they all mean for the poet qua poet? For Poetry? Is it still pretty much where the Gutenberg press left it? Is Poetry technology-proof? In our fearless ongoing quest to exploit other people’s wisdom on poetry-related subjects, we are posing ten questions to a group of illustrious contemporary poets on this topic. This week’s responder is Cati Porter.
via Very Like A Whale.
The June 2010 issue of tongues of the ocean went live at midnight today.
This one’s a little different. We’ve taken a cross-disciplinary exhibition and put it into cyberspace. Instead the customary two pieces of writing a week, we’ve got a literary piece and a piece of visual art. This is how the exhibition—”A Sudden and Violent Change”, created for The Hub in Nassau for the Transforming Spaces Art Tour—was set up: writers creating pieces that artists used as inspiration for other pieces.
The internet, Facebook, Twitter, blogs, websites, iPad, iPod, podcasts, digital video and who knows what else. What do they all mean for the poet qua poet? For Poetry? Is it still pretty much where the Gutenberg press left it? Is Poetry technology-proof? In our fearless ongoing quest to exploit other people’s wisdom on poetry-related subjects, we are posing ten questions to a group of illustrious contemporary poets on this topic. This week’s responder, bringing us a UK perspective, is Chris Hamilton-Emery.
via Very Like A Whale.
Anybody else notice that the world has exploded with damn good poetry? That everyone’s publishing all of a sudden, and that a lot of the stuff that’s getting published is not half bad?
It’s not really all that surprising. The internet, access to print on demand, and so on, have liberated people’s ability to write, and have allowed people who had never read a poem outside of an academic institution (and come to think of it, I was one of those people — I just happened to spend a lot of my life within an academic institution) to read, write, critique, and discuss poetry in ways that I don’t think have happened since the turn of the last century.
The internet, Facebook, Twitter, blogs, websites, iPad, iPod, podcasts, digital video and who knows what else. What do they all mean for the poet qua poet? For Poetry? Is it still pretty much where the Gutenberg press left it? Is Poetry technology-proof? In our fearless ongoing quest to exploit other people’s wisdom on poetry-related subjects, we are posing ten questions to a group of illustrious contemporary poets on this topic. This week’s responder is Ren Powell.
via Very Like A Whale.
Find your own pose!
Did it again, and got a different pose. Am I changing like the seasons or is this a test that lacks repeatability? I wonder.
The internet, Facebook, Twitter, blogs, websites, iPad, iPod, podcasts, digital video and who knows what else. What do they all mean for the poet qua poet? For Poetry? Is it still pretty much where the Gutenberg press left it? Is Poetry technology-proof? In our fearless ongoing quest to exploit other people’s wisdom on poetry-related subjects, we are posing ten questions to a group of illustrious contemporary poets on this topic. This week’s responder is Collin Kelley.
via Very Like A Whale.
This is kickass. It’s a lot like what I’m feeling right now. Time is moving too fast and too slow and the things that you should do don’t get do. The gardens of the dead, or the gardens associated with the dead, are some of the most heart-rending places in the world.
from Laurels by Julie Carter
I would take it somewhere else to die. I know
that it takes the acid of deep Ohio soils but I
have killed the others–mowed them or let them
drown in burdock–before the pink beads of their
flowers could pop open like peppermints, spiraling
out in red and white. Because my husband
gave me three and I killed two. Because he
gave me three and nothing sent me to the back
yard and the yellowjackets and the yellowsun to guard
them and two died …
I blink emerald.
I blink sea glass green.
One of the things I like about blogging here on wordpress.com (don’t worry, there are some things I don’t like too) is that sometimes I come across really cool blogs that I like to follow. Saeed Jones’ is one of them, and today, when checking the blogs I surf, I found this reference. Followed it, and ended up at The Collagist, a journal I’d never heard of before.
**edited to fix the man name.
Since I last posted, I have finished 21 of the 30 poems of NaPoWriMo, been stuck in Belfast owing to volcano ash, helped bury my husband’s mother (yes: sombre news, and we are still grieving), got two new Lilies accepted for publication, rounded out the fourth issue of tongues of the ocean (well OK, the last two posts are not yet live but they will be, as soon as we hit 00:01 EST), finished another semester, begun the drafting of an Academic Paper (important for increments, promotions, tenure and the like), finished (overdue) one of the books on both my lists of African and Caribbean books, begun reading another book that will suit the Caribbean Reading Challenge (even though 2009 is well away) … whew.
Been a busy little bee, me.
Just thought you’d like to know. Maybe I’ll even bring us up to date on some of these in detail.
In the meantime, go check out tongues of the ocean. It’s a solid issue, this one. Go spend some time.
The internet, Facebook, Twitter, blogs, websites, iPad, iPod, podcasts, digital video and who knows what else. What do they all mean for the poet qua poet? For Poetry? Is it still pretty much where the Gutenberg press left it? Is Poetry technology-proof? In our fearless ongoing quest to exploit other people’s wisdom on poetry-related subjects, we are posing ten questions to a group of illustrious contemporary poets on this topic. Our first responder is none other than our very own Amy King. Thanks for kicking off the series, Amy!
So here goes nothin’. Sharing poems by week. Understand (1) they are rough drafts and (2) they come from who knows where.
So let’s start it off with the April 1 offering:
On Smelling Yellow Elder for the First Time
I heard a wasp humming dozy
on the flower, drunk with nectar, bumble-heavy.
A wasp, nosing deep in plain flowers. The flowers
tremble in wind-breath, yellow
as sunshine, bright like butter,
hardy as billygoats, Their roots suck
water from tarmac. From limestone.
From rock and from sand. The wind
spreads new bushes like weeds.
Yellow elder, nation-flower,
not made for a woman’s ear like hibiscus,
or picture postcards like the poinciana,
or for a lady’s table like sprays of bougainvillea,
but small, soft and golden, tumbling in breezes.
I know you now. I have learned the sweet
scent of you, yellow elder:
lemon, and milk, and vanilla.
This week, two womanish poems again. C. S. Bhagya, from India, and yours truly (aka Nicolette Bethel) are featured, sharing the voices of two oddly similar and yet infinitely different women. Bhagya’s “fishmonger’s wife” speaks to an invisible man (not her husband, clearly):
on summer mornings
I smell of conches, their smooth
white glide and sound of sea.
– C. S. Bhagya
“Island Girl”, meanwhile, explains how to get blood out of cotton:
… you need a lime, some salt, and sun.
Don’t wash it first, cause blood will set, and stain
and give the thing away. So cut the lime
and rub it on the blood, and cover that
with salt and lay it flat, and let the sun
shine on it.
– Nicolette Bethel
Intrigued? Want more? Go to tongues of the ocean.
Spoken word by Anku Sa Ra (Bahamas) and prose by Paul Hadden (Trinidad and Tobago/France).
Spoken Tone (Anku Sa Ra) – you need to watch/listen to the piece
Blackbirds sit on electric wires, and the distant mountains are dotted with bright pink and yellow Poui trees. The grass, wet with morning dew, is teeming with sugar ants and grasshoppers.
Yellow breasted Kiskadees sing out their morning salutations.
Kis-kee-dee, Kis-kee-dee, Kis-kee-dee,
The old folks say they sing in French.
Qu’est-ce qu’il dit? Qu’est-ce qu’il dit? Qu’est-ce qu’il dit?
The Best of CaribbeanTales Film Festival is set to launch in Barbados next week, screening some of the best Caribbean films made in recent years, alongside a symposium on Global Distribution, a Caribbean Film Market, workshops, master classes, and youth screenings.
Other celebrated films are Maria Govan’s stunning critically acclaimed Bahamian feature Rain; Nurse. Fighter. Boy. by Jamaican/Canadian Charles Officer, award-winning documentary feature The Solitary Alchemist by T&T’s Mariel Brown, Coolie Pink and Green, an experimental short exploring Bollywood images in a Caribbean context by Pat Mohammed, award-winning shorts by Yao Ramesar, and Lisa Wickham and many more!
It’s Lent, and that means contemplation. Even for one such as me who schedules church like dentist’s appointments. Lent and Easter are time for introspection, meditation. Perhaps it’s the light.
Anyway, I’ve begun a peculiar, rough, organic project: a poem a day in contemplation of the season. These are different from teh Lilies that I will need to do for the Seven/Seven Challenge in March, but they are also far more spontaneous, far less fashioned, far more open to inspiration (and far more likely to fail.
I shall post them here for the nonce. They’ll be removed quickly too, and I doubt that they’ll be posted daily, though there will be a poem a day. Still. It’s Lent, it’s Spring, and all things renew, even poetry.
In honour of Valentine’s Day and of love, two new poems: “Oboe” by Nic Sebastian and “Opaque” by Nancy Devine.
(Please note that if you click on the above link after February 21, it’ll take you to two more poems — the content of that link doesn’t remain static.)
He wants to kiss
“the tip of the tongue
taking a trip of three steps…”,
use it as his cup
for coddled cream.
you are the beauty of bound
reed or better
numen’s breath passing
through reed into African
blackwood or better
Or went live on Sunday past. Featuring entry art by Steve Cartwright, and beginning the issue with two very cool and contrasting poems: “In the Bay” by Changming Yuan (China, USA), and “12 Notes for a Light Song of Light” by Kei Miller (Jamaica, UK).
As I said in my earlier post, the history of our country and of Haiti are intertwined and deeply connected. Although we don’t recognize the connections often enough, or think of them with much positivity all too often (Haitians are often labelled as “illegals” even when they are perfectly legal immigrants and residents), this tragedy has made far more Bahamiams than ever before deeply aware of the long, long relationship of exchange, mutuality and kinship between our two countries. But we have a long way to go.
A small group of us have worked together to set up a group expressing our solidarity with our neighbour-cousins, and the website’s here on wordpress.com:
Silence on this blog compounded by the earthquake(s) in Haiti and the resulting tragedies.
For those who don’t know Caribbean geography, The Bahamas lies between Cuba, Hispaniola (Haiti and the Dominican Republic) and Florida, with the Turks and Caicos Islands at our tail.
One of our greatest challenges is managing the constant influx of Haitian migrants seeking a better life. We have no solutions, and have hitherto not managed it all that well. We anticipate even more challenges in the months to come. In my free time all my focus falls on Haiti and on the Bahamian response.
Keep our neighbours in your thoughts, y’all.
Today I’ve got two things I want to share with you all. The first is that round here we’ve been sleeping with the Canadian covers. When I tell you why you will all want to move here, but I caution you: what you think of as balmy round here is a little different for two main reasons. (1) We are (literally) Hemingway’s (Bahama) islands in the (Gulf) stream, which means that all temperatures here must be imagined in terms of wetness — wet and cool in the winter, wet and hot in the summer. and (2) WE HAVE NO HEATING SYSTEMS. Except in our cars.
That said, this past week’s average temperature at night has been about 60 degrees F (16 C). (I can hear you now: that’s nothing!! I’d kill for 60!!) Fine, but then add the wind chill (our cold fronts are not still, but arrive on the backs of northern winds), dewpoint and humidity, and then remember: *no heat*. And for most people, no woolly sweaters — just cotton hoodies, unless you’ve been living, like me, in the far far north. All my Canuck friends and transplants are freezing. So think again.
I love it!! The tourists, not so much.
So. This blog (Scavella’s Blogsphere) is now going for five years old, having been established sometime in 2005 over on Blogspot. In that time much has changed. In the beginning, I walked anonymous in cyberspace, using my Scavella moniker as a cloak to my real identity, not sure how to use the blog, nor what for (it was mostly for poetry back then). Since then, this has become one of five blogs that I administer, each of them for a different purpose, and each of them more and more time-consuming.
This being a new year, and time being one of those commodities that is easy to waste and impossible to keep, I’m changing the way I deal with this blog. What was once a refuge is becoming a burden; I really don’t have the time to write down the cool things I once put here on Blogsphere, and I don’t have the application to develop the poetry of the blog in a way that can rival Rob’s Surroundings, or Aditi Machado’s Blotting Paper or the fascinating trivia that can compete with Harry’s Heraclitean Fire, or the confessional-made-great-reading of Julie’s Carter’s Little Pill.
I just don’t have the time.
Again from Aditi Machado.
So, I’m trying out something new. This is perfectly silly and supposed to be fun. Serious and/or whiny people, please go away (for the time being). I owe Tom and Lorenzo from Project Rungay for the idea. They have this contest/game-type thing called Virgins versus Vixens, in which a classic Hollywood starlet is pitted against another classic Hollywood starlet, except one has a ‘virgin’ image and the other a ‘vixen.’
I want to do a literary version of that with dead white male canonical writers. (We can try dead white female writers, suicidal poets, dead Beats and Dan Browns later, I promise.)
Why dead white male? Because it’s a list long enough for this to go on for a while. And really, these guys get it so easy, faffing around in syllabi across the world. Let’s make them work a little for their fame.
From Aditi Machado:
There is nothing like the genre fiction/literature divide to ruin friendships. ‘You’re an elitist bitch!’ ‘You read trash!’ ‘Your a slut for Proust!’ ‘You can’t spell!’ ‘I SED UR A SLUT.’ ‘I SAID YOU CAN’T SPELL!’
One of these arguments erupts around me every month or so, and I’m frequently involved, even when I try hard to stay away. It’s tiresome. Like getting your period.
There are various kinds of arguments (in the ‘fight’ sense of the word) related to genre/literature, but the most annoying kinds are with (a) people who refuse to even consider something generic as worth reading and (b) people who use all kinds of theories to say ‘genre fiction is better than literature.’
Two weeks ago, when I was told to stay at home to weather a bout of the dizzy-flu (don’t ask), I decided to watch The Lord of the Rings again. Now I am a mild Tolkien fan, and was one of those people who was of the opinion that his books were unfilmable, and so Peter Jackson’s achievement was something in which I invested.
Since watching the movie in its initial extended version (we didn’t buy the complete, extra-extended version that was released after The Return of the King was released, figuring that we already owned enough of what would be included in the Big Package to make the purchase of another package indulgent), I then moved on to watching the supplementary information for the last film. I went through everything the first film had to offer, and thought I’d viewed the appendices of The Two Towers, but was pretty sure I hadn’t done so for ROTK (I was right). Continue reading
Geoffrey Philp has a cautionary tale on the dangers of unregistered creative property:
… a few years ago, my son and I were walking through Blockbuster and we saw this movie, XYZ, that was set on a Caribbean island, so we decided to rent it.
As we settled back in our seats, a sickening feeling overcame me. This was my movie. A few changes had been made, but it was my movie. I’d been ripped off.
I called all my friends and then we contacted a lawyer, who after reviewing the case told me that because we couldn’t prove a “material connection” between he agent and the production company, we couldn’t bring a law suit. Plus, he added with the costs of expert witnesses, etc, the costs made it impossible to win.
I asked him about “Poor Man’s Copyright.”
It’s time I got my life in order. This semester was a good one, not too hectic, with manageable courses and reasonable marking. Next semester I may be back to teaching English which is a far heavier load when it comes to marking — no group presentations and papers, and you have to read each word carefully and help students figure out their weaknesses.
I have been suffering from online snafus for the better part of a year now and have decided to take control. So I’ve begun! I’m going through my emails and am streamlining, streamlining. I’m gonna make enable the checking of mail from my iPhone at last (been ducking that because of all the high-class JUNQUE that I have been getting in my email boxes). I’m reconsidering my subscriptions to various RSS feeds and rethinking how I’m gonna follow them. I may even retool how I’m going to deal with the various blogs I have, which are mushrooming. Addicted to blogging, that’s what I am.
OK, so if you’ve been following my other social networks, you’ll have heard somewhere, somehow, that Derek Walcott’s in town. (If you’re not sure where “town” is, it’s Nassau, Bahamas, where I am too). He’s got here through the actions of two groups, one of which happens to be the School of English Studies at the College of The Bahamas, where I also am. I used to be in the School of English, but now I’m where I figure I actually belong according to my terminal degrees, in the School of Social Sciences. But the School of English still treats me like I’m with them, and I don’t mind. I pinch-hit some of the courses on that side every now and then and still enjoy myself.
Here’s the thing. A year ago I was still beginning the vacation that marked the end of my indentureship for the Government of The Bahamas. It was all new for me. I’d forgotten what it was like to control one’s own daytimes — to not have to engage in the absurdity of rush hour traffic if one could choose, to be able to sit in a coffee shop (we shall not say the name b/c I’m mad at them) and write for as long as one liked, to be able to finish a thought without having to answer a telephone with someone panicking at the other end because they had no clue what working for government meant, and they’d encountered The Wall and wanted to know what to do about it.
Life was better, but I was afraid I was going to be bored.
and the cool weather is a-comin-in.
I’m noticing a pattern now. I tend to post about the weather in October and in March. That’s because seasons are different year — hot and wet and cool and dryish are the main two, and the hot and wet seems to dominate (starting in May and running to September). Or maybe it seems that way because it’s been summer for so long. When it’s summer you don’t remember what it’s like when it’s winter (which means that we don’t need air conditioning to function as people are expected to do in this twenty-first century world) and when it’s winter you don’t remember what it’s like in the summer but in October and March no day is predictable, no day is the same. Continue reading
Check it out here: