Poems from NaPo 2015 – Second Week, and …

April 8 2015: Bloodlist

April murder count: 40
———-and counting.
Most at risk from homicide: young men.
———-86% of homicides globally.
—————I want to disbelieve.
—————I can’t.
Per capita homicide rate: 3rd in the Caribbean.
———-I don’t ask who’s first and second.
Trees left standing: down by four today.
—————The chainsaws are at it again.


April 9 2015: Private islands

if you call them that you
think that they were empty
when you bought them and
you think that you are some
kind of lord or khan or potentate
or maybe you really are and
you are master of all you
survey and the little bits you don’t and
you shape the land to fit your
loves or lust or fantasy but
you really aren’t you really
aren’t the islands were there
before you they were used by
people before you the people
who knew them knew them
and money does not buy them
it only makes them orphans


April 12 2015: Double-Digit Dolour

just when april gets feisty, grows muscle, adds digits, turns ten
my muse grows silent. nothing comes from screen, page, or pen.


April 13 2015: Exercises (5 out of 6)

Pigs’ feet boil down to fat and bones.
The priest speaks low in monotones.

The ephemeral city builds along a beach.

They tell me that blank pink facade
is a new resort.

Its flat windows unblink
from sugarpink walls

and stare on neon vests, hard hats;

beyond the perimeter, an apocalyptic hotel squats.


April 23 2015: My definition of a line

A line is a feeling, a movement, a thought. Even if it’s part of a thought, ending a line at a particular place makes that part of the thought another thought. Turning the thought at the end of a line adds a new layer of meaning.

Poems from NaPo 2015 – First Week

April 1 2015: Words on Wood

you’ll paint the words on wood
you tell me ——— without doubt it will be done


we propose to collaborate
—-a bulldozer sat on lily’s house

———-“the wrong house”
———-“the agent ordered”

weave words
———-poems—————plans————— models
———-“I told him to wait”
———-The agent would not give a name
reincarnate————————–what was destroyed.
I doubt
—–pick up a brush anyway
———-and under the mango tree
—————————————-I write

what do lily fear
—–cold of grave
———-lily question, question, question


April 2 2015: Pictures at the exhibition

you set up the walls:
milled clapboard slipped together
with hammer and nails
not pegged shipwise
fitted together to strengthen in weather
but hammered

I paint them
paint no longer frightens me

you set up windows:
silkscreen frames
salvaged hinges
a shutter turned to mulch

I stack and order books
you lay straw matting

we fight
make up

arrange the pictures of the dead

April 3 2015: Caribbean Memory Project

Caribbean memory is held in heads
in hands
in bellies in hearts in feet
we have nothing to burn
but houses set on stones
cut by ancestors whose names
we cannot know
they burned initials
in the angles of houseframes
a private code
deciphered by demolition


we have nothing to burn
nothing to look at

nothing to see

our cultures fall


April 4 2015: Resurrection

1) Ruin

Take wood salvaged from shipwreck
pegged together with hardwood pegs
fitted tight to strengthen with age
and rip it.

History cracks. Wood becomes nostalgia.
The ripper rips. The great blade shoves.

Clapboard bleeds no blood.
2) Rescue

Stop the blades. Confront the teeth
and salvage windows, doorknobs,
shutters. Imagine restoration.
3) Remembrance

But stopping and salvage are not enough.
Desire and imagination are not enough
to rebuild. Thieves take the windows.
The doorknobs disappear.

4) Resurrection

The real thing comes with angels,
rolled-back stones, myrrh-smeared wrappings,
empty tombs.

This one fills a room
with salvage, trappings,
photos, charm.

Those who enter laugh. And weep.


April 5 2015: Thoughts on stained glass

Christ Church Cathedral
established 1670
Services in this building were first held in 1841

—–Easter Sunday service: this apostate
—–glances at the Dean high in the carven pulpit
—–and turns her eyes to the stained glass window
—–which burns with the eastern Easter sun

A stunning feature of the Cathedral:
the East windows which
depict the Crucifixion

—–The cross is grey. The stone of the tomb
—–is grey. (How does one stain glass
—–grey? In different tiles and sizes of grey?
—–How does one choose the shapes, design
—–the leading?) Around the crucifixion the sky
—–bleeds red. The red burns a redder red than skies
—–or roses or even blood. This red lives
—–although the Christ on the cross has died.
—–His mother is swathed in blue and gold.
—–The disciple he loved in sea-green and gold.
—–The skins of each one is conqueror pink.

the Empty Tomb

—–Mary Magdalene’s hair is long and gold
—–like sunshine on a morning sea; her robe
—–slips from her shoulders, red as harlotry.
—–But her shoulders are clad in a white chemise.
—–She kneels. There is plenty of white in this panel.
—–The angel’s robes are white. His wings
—–are white. Her skin is pink; his skin
—–is white. The wrappings spilling from the tomb
—–are white. The sky above is blue and pink. And white.

the Ascension

—–does not draw her eyes; it is a confusion
—–of blue, gold haloes, red robes, a Christ
—–with a face the bruised peach of a martyr
—–a halo the shape and colour of Mary’s hair.


April 6 2015

When we got to the graveyard there were parrots in the trees:
their acrylic green chests swelling and glimmering
as they clattered to one another high, high above us.

Parrots are terribly noisy birds. They clamour
at rest and while flying, sounding like bad tap dancers
on wings, irregular, without rhythm, so loud

one thinks of wooden trays tumbling downstairs.
Their hyperreal beauty: green breasts and red heads and blue tails.
Their gold hard beaks. Their castanet cries.


April 7 2015: Why I love graveyards

It’s not the presence of the dead. No; in-
stead it’s the presence of the trees, these
living, carbon-breathing guardians of our lives.

They grow big here, roots creeping through the earth,
sneaking under stone, crooking graves and cracking them,
fingering the sleeping underground, incarnating them

in wood, in rings, in bark and boughs, in whispers on the wind,
bursts of colour, the red of flowers, the rust of leaves
which fall and rot and sod and feed and fall again.

The leaves feed the earth. The earth
clothes the dead. The dead
feed the trees. The trees

the dead
the earth
the leaves
are why I love graveyards.


NaPoWriMo 2015

So I’m trying it again.

On Blogworld, I’m working on a long piece on immigration, and planning a second on Junkanoo Carnival. I’m working on two long-term research projects and overseeing smaller student projects. My cousin Margot and I created an installation at the National Art Gallery of The Bahamas based on our grandmother’s house. And every day this month, I’m supposed to be writing a poem.

Maybe I’ll let you know how it goes.

On That Island of Broken Penises

I follow Kei Miller’s blog. I saw this post pop up over on Facebook. It is something we must read and think about. The violence with which we live every day is endemic, is cultural, is inherited, and is fundamental to the way in which we see ourselves. The dancehall culture in Jamaica which engenders daggering is replicated in various ways around our region–Jamaica is a cultural engine in itself–but it is not always unpacked, not always understood, not always interrogated, most often not by those for whom it is part of survival. Here in the Bahamas we don’t deconstruct words like “jungless/junglist” and “ghetto” and understand that they are more than descriptions; here, the practice of “daggering” is similarly more than a dance. It is an enactment of something, something that may be beyond our collective comprehension but that at the same time re-enacts again and again our collective violent cultural subordination.

I got up in the middle of the night to write about Bahamian independence on Blogworld and will do so before I go back to sleep. But this post of Kei’s caught me and would not let me go. Read it, digest it, sleep on it. I did.

Under the Saltire Flag

Those apologists who make the spurious claim that it is always the violence of Caribbean society that spills over into the violence of dancehall music, and never the other way around, will not know about that curious time when Jamaica’s Kingston Public Hospital saw a sudden spike in cases of broken penises.

Note the x-ray is a comic exaggeration. Penises don't have bones. But 'Penile Fracture' is a bonafide condition. Note the x-ray is a comic exaggeration. Penises don’t have bones. But ‘Penile Fracture’ is a bonafide condition.

It was in the time of daggering – which is to say, not so long ago – and a friend was working as an anaesthesiologist at the hospital, applying icepack after icepack onto weeping men’s groins before wheeling them into surgery. But how did they get there? Well, in Jamaica’s Dancehall culture, Daggering was as bizarre as it was a perfectly natural culmination of what had always been a space in which an aggressive masculinity was affirmed and constantly performed…

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There is a new Year-long Artist-In-Residency Program in Toronto Canada…

watah school flyer inwards front page

The Watah Artists-In-Residencies (WAIRs) are year-long programs based in Toronto Canada, exploring the self, art, and community using The Sorplusi Method, facilitated by globally celebrated artist d’bi.young anitafrika. Each artist works diligently for the year, creating a unique work of art, catalyzed by their biographical experiences, supported by the womb of the Watah Residency.

Based in Toronto Canada, WAIR has 5 tributaries: BMI – Biomyth Monodrama Intensive, TAP – Transdisciplinary Artist Residency, PATI – Performing Arts Training Intensive, YAM – Youth Artist Mentorship and YEMOYA Intl Artist Residency (hosted globally for 3 weeks yearly).

The Watah School (womb arts and healing) is a w/holistic artist development institute, grounded in d’bi.young anitafrika’s Sorplusi Method, that cultivates and nurtures artists as healers, mentors, and keepers of the sacred. Watah is a conceptual and physical space where the potentialities of arts and healing flow into an ocean of the self with(in) community. Arts-education…

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Closed for business: Brazil 2014 and productivity

Well worth the read!!

Jamaica: Political Economy

Conventional wisdom has it that productivity declines during World Cup tournaments. Judging by what we usually see, with people looking to take time off work legitimately or without permission, for part- or all-day, we think that much less work gets done and what is done is likely to be half-hearted. However, a contrary view exists, which argues that interest in watching World Cup matches makes people more focused on the work they have to do, complete tasks faster to avoid missing matches, and avoid other distractions so that time is available to do what is necessary and also watch matches.

I am very sympathetic to that latter view, as it conforms with how I arrange my time. I work backwards from game time and make sure that the essentials are done and that I can rock back and get crazy in peace (that is an unintended oxymoron). It is…

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Leslie, man. No, man.

Under the Almond Tree

Last week, in the House of Assembly, Leslie Miller, the “honourable” member for Tall Pines, told a tale about how he used to beat his girlfriend, all the while his colleagues could be heard laughing in the background. When the Speaker of the House offered him an out, of sorts, Miller denied that he was joking, but affirmed that he was serious.

Leslie Miller, MP Tall Pines: “That’s like beating your wife or your girlfriend every time you go home. You just beat her for looking at her. I love ya. Boom, boom, boom. I had a girlfriend like that. When I didn’t beat her, she used to tell me I ain’t love her no more, ‘cause I don’t hit her. But seriously, I had one like that. I had one. She used to tell me…”

Kendal Major, Speaker of the House: “We know that you are joking with that…”

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I don’t come back to this site often because I am pretty swamped. But I’m coming to post a link to another blog, Wadadli Pen. Caribbean writers of the world, unite.

Wadadli Pen

UPDATE! (February 7th 2017) Edited to correct an error pointed out by one of the contributors. Also, I’m aware that the links to the referenced samples are broken as the site address seems to have changed. I may correct at some point (when able) but even if I don’t (or can’t), I do encourage you to check out the collection and the entire series.


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 Seized – of which Sweeting…

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Too Cool: Paris Review – Document: The Symbolism Survey, Sarah Funke Butler

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?

via Paris Review – Document: The Symbolism Survey, Sarah Funke Butler.


via Featherless Biped, PFFA.

Yes, I know it’s been months…

… but I’m surfacing to share a little good news for a change. New publication in sx salon, a literary platform for Small Axe:

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:

via Discussions » Blog Archive » sx salon, issue 7 December 2011.


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.

Not at all sure

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: March

Stuff that’s Happened since October

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.

Back After Too Long

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.



iPadding around

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.

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Oh. Wow. Nic’s on fire!!

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.

October has a holiday too

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.

Checking in

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:

Shakespeare in Paradise

tongues of the ocean

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).

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Learning Curve

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.

10 Questions on Poets & Technology: Cati Porter

Nic’s interview this week: Cati Porter.

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.

Tongues of the Ocean Issue 5

tongues of the oceanThe 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.

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10 Questions on Poets & Technology: Chris Hamilton-Emery

Nic’s got a new interview up: Chris Hamilton-Emery.

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.

Literary Explosion

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.

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10 Questions on Poets & Technology: Ren Powell

Nic’s third 10 Questions second interview went up last Thursday: Ren Powell.

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.

10 Questions on Poets & Technology: Collin Kelley

Nic’s got a 10 Questions second interview up. This time it’s Collin Kelley.

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.

Laurels | Carter’s Little Pill

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 …

via Laurels | Carter’s Little Pill

Discovered a new journal today

I blink emerald.
I blink sea glass green.

Saeed Jones, via THE COLLAGIST.

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.

Worth reading. And while you’re at it, visit some of my online favourites too: Anti-, qarrtsiluni, and, of course, tongues of the ocean.

**edited to fix the man name.

Bringing you up to date

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.

10 Questions on Poets & Technology: Amy King « Very Like A Whale

Nic is back! Over at Very Like a Whale, a new 10 Questions series on Poets and Technology.

*Happy dance*

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!

via 10 Questions on Poets & Technology: Amy King « Very Like A Whale.

NaPoWriMo time

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.


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Two more poems on tongues

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):

Because I am a fishmonger’s wife
you thought you could visit me at night,

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.

An interlude: two new pieces on 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

Me. Writing (Paul Hadden):




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?

tongues of the ocean » current issue.

The Best of CaribbeanTales 2010 : Film Festival, Symposium, Marketplace, Workshops.

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!

via The Best of CaribbeanTales 2010 : Film Festival, Symposium, Marketplace, Workshops..

I’m sure I’ll regret this, but

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.


tongues of the ocean: new poems

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
her arch:
“the tip of the tongue
taking a trip of three steps…”,
use it as his cup
for coddled cream.

“Opaque” by Nancy Devine (USA)

you are the beauty of bound
reed or better
numen’s breath passing
through reed into African

blackwood or better

“Oboe” by Nic Sebastian (USA)

tongues of the ocean issue 4 goes live

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).

A taste:

the waves surging towards the seashore
not unlike my spirits

the seashore embracing the waves
not unlike your arms

–Changming Yuan


A light song of light will summon daffodils,
bluebells and strawberries, humming birds;
will summon silver, the shine of sequins,
the gold of rings—and the dreadful luminosity
of everything we had been told to close
our eyes to

— Kei Miller

Haitian-Bahamian Solidarity

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.

A little encouragement goes a long way

And flattery goes even further. Thanks to Harry and Aditi, I’ve been encouraged to keep writing on this blog. So I will.

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.
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Happy New Year

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.

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Go Vote!

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.

Dead White Male Canon Wars: Part 1 | Blotting paper