In praise of mystery novels | Blotting paper

From Aditi Machado:

In praise of mystery novels | Blotting paper.

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.’

Lord of the Dreams

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

Via Geoffrey Philp – Copyrights and Wrongs

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.”

Continue reading

Fall Cleaning

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.

Continue reading

On passing up my chance to eat with Derek Walcott

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.

Continue reading

Theatre Festivals and Other Things

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.

Continue reading

Moving back to normal (posting, that is)

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

Tongues of the Ocean Issue 2 closes

Over at tongues of the ocean, we’ve wrapped up the second issue.

Every Sunday, when the two new poems are published, I think we haven’t got all that much to show for the work. And then we come to moments like today, and the list of poems published speak for themselves.

Here are a couple of poems that have extra-special meaning for me:

Play Time with Nursery Rhyme – a spoken word piece I’ve always for its playfulness and for the confidence of the poet

Charles Town – not sure what it is about this one, but maybe it’s because it reminds me of Guyana, where I had such a good experience with the people that I will always remember it fondly

Forres Park – the week this one came out it was paired with another poem, one that elicited a whole lot of attention, and one that is clearly a fun poem to read. Forres Park was the dark side of the pair, and it certainly didn’t have a feel-good vibe. I liked it regardless.

On why this blog is slow to move


In my other lives, I’ve got myself into a whole bunch of things that make it difficult for me to keep up with my blogging. Something’s got to go, and of everything it’s the most personal, the most recreational of my online activities. Every other blog that I keep (and there are many) has a purpose and a function. Scavella’s Blogsphere was started to deal with my writing, with the stuff that is entirely personal, and that stuff has been put on hold for now; I’m not even keeping up with my responsibilities as a moderator at PFFA these days.

The reason?

If you want to find out what I’m really doing, go here:

I’ll be back online with some vague regularity after October 12.


Very Like A Whale – Ten Questions – Mary Biddinger

What goes on inside poetry editors’ heads? is a burning question for publishing and wannabe-publishing poets everywhere. With this third Ten Questions series, we are showcasing weekly answers from a diverse group of poetry editors to Ten Questions for Poetry Editors. Each editor’s responses will appear as a separate blog post and all posts will be linked back to the series’ standing page.

Our responder this week is Mary Biddinger, editor of Barn Owl Review.

Ten Questions for Mary Biddinger – Very Like A Whale

Douglas Basford on Anti-

Two sonnets I really like. Buffalonian Douglas Basford’s got some pretty cool stuff here, such as:

So arise and go shiatsu on it again,
jackhammer till pale-green static sparks flames.

–“Shoulder Rub


she’s still young and widely enough known

to minister to birds and those who lean
towards heaven for damn good reasons: lust, guns, rage.


I’m sure I shouldn’t have posted half a whole sestet of that last poem. But I just couldn’t help it, Mr. Basford. It was just that good.

And this is from a man who says this is what he’s anti- : “I hate poems that end with shimmering light.”

Ten Questions for Poetry Editors – Lindsay Walker

What goes on inside poetry editors’ heads? is a burning question for publishing and wannabe-publishing poets everywhere. With this third Ten Questions series, we are showcasing weekly answers from a diverse group of poetry editors to Ten Questions for Poetry Editors. Each editor’s responses will appear as a separate blog post and all posts will be linked back to the series’ standing page.

Our responder this week is Lindsay Walker, poetry editor of Juked

–Ten Questions for Poetry Editors – Lindsay Walker « Very Like A Whale

Ten Questions – Reb Livingston « Very Like A Whale

Nic Sebastian’s series continues.

What goes on inside poetry editors’ heads? is a burning question for publishing and wannabe-publishing poets everywhere. With this third Ten Questions series, we are showcasing weekly answers from a diverse group of poetry editors to Ten Questions for Poetry Editors. Each editor’s responses will appear as a separate blog post and all posts will be linked back to the series’ standing page.

Our responder this week is Reb Livingston, editor of No Tell Motel.

Ten Questions – Reb Livingston « Very Like A Whale

Rob Mackenzie’s back in Scotland – One Night Stanzas » The Opposite of Cabbage Tour

Little late to the party, but nevertheless — Claire Askew hosted Rob Mackenzie on her blog, One Night Stanzas, this Monday past.

Rob A. Mackenzie is a Scottish poet currently living in Edinburgh, and The Opposite of Cabbage is his first full collection of poetry. Published at the same time as Andrew Philip’s The Ambulance Box — and by the same publisher, Salt — The Opposite of Cabbage is currently on tour, and today One Night Stanzas is receiving a visit!

–One Night Stanzas » Blog Archive » The Opposite of Cabbage Tour — stopping at One Night Stanzas!

Continue reading

10 Questions for Poetry Editors – Very Like A Whale

Nic Sebastian continues her series, this time featuring James Midgley of Mimesis:

What goes on inside poetry editors’ heads? is a burning question for publishing and wannabe-publishing poets everywhere. With this third Ten Questions series, we are showcasing weekly answers from a diverse group of poetry editors to Ten Questions for Poetry Editors. Each editor’s responses will appear as a separate blog post and all posts will be linked back to the series’ standing page.Our responder this week hails from the UK: James Midgley, editor of the UK print journal, Mimesis.

–Very Like A Whale: Ten Questions for Poetry Editors – James Midgley

John Lundberg: Poetry Of The Revolution

Poetry is a far more important part of Iran’s culture than our own. In the Arab world, political and social movements have long adopted the art as a means of galvanizing support and bringing unity and focus to a cause. Thus, it’s no surprise that when the head of Iran’s Security Council threatened opposition candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi with death, his wife Zahra, who herself has become a powerful symbol for change in Iran, responded with a poem that she twittered out to millions:

Let the wolves know that in our tribe
If the father dies, his gun will remain
Even if all the men of the tribe are killed
A baby son will remain in the wooden cradle.

She wasn’t alone. Scores of Iranians have turned to poetry for expression and in an effort to make some sense of the revolution’s violence and chaos. Sholeh Wolpe, an Iranian-American poet, wrote “I am Neda,” one of many powerful poems inspired by the death of Neda, the now iconic figure shot during a protest by Basij:

Leave the Basiji bullet in my heart,
fall to prayer in my blood,
and hush, father–
I am not dead.

More light than mass,
I rise through you,
breathe with your eyes,
stand in your shoes, on the rooftops,
in the streets, march with you
in the cities and villages of our country
shouting through you, with you.
I am Neda–thunder on your tongue.

John Lundberg: Poetry Of The Revolution

So long, MJ?

I’m not normally starstruck. And when my husband told me, twenty minutes ago, that Michael Jackson had been found not breathing at his home, having suffered cardiac arrest, I didn’t feel a whole lot of sympathy for him.

The reason? I’ve been convinced for the last twenty years or so that Michael Jackson died after Thriller, and that the person we’ve been calling MJ is the clone.

But now that the word is out that they couldn’t revive him, that he might be dead, it’s hit me. This is the boy who sang me through my childhood. Fine, so he was four years older than me, and Randy is closer to my age, but Michael Randy ain’t, and fifty is way too young to die.

Course, if it was the clone … well, as anybody knows, copies lose quality as they replicate, and lose length of life. So fifty for a clone …

Ten Questions for Poetry Editors – Scavella’s Turn « Very Like A Whale

Nic Sebastian over at Very Like A Whale invited me to respond to her Ten Questions for Poetry Editors. You can read the result this week here:

What goes on inside poetry editors’ heads? is a burning question for publishing and wannabe-publishing poets everywhere. With this third Ten Questions series, we are showcasing weekly answers from a diverse group of poetry editors to Ten Questions for Poetry Editors. Each editor’s responses will appear as a separate blog post and all posts will be linked back to the series’ standing page.

Our responder this week is Nicolette Bethel [aka Scavella], editor of Tongues of the Ocean.

Ten Questions for Poetry Editors – Nicolette Bethel « Very Like A Whale

Flood Warnings and Steam Baths – the De-Cabbage Yourself experience flies south for summer

This week, Rob‘s in The Bahamas with me, Scavella, aka Nicolette Bethel. He hasn’t picked the best day for it — the birds are singing, they always do, but it’s overcast and going to pour. Still, the nice thing about rain in the sub-tropics (which isn’t like rain in Scotland, which I experienced one chilly day in Edinburgh on my way back from a conference in St. Andrews round the turn of the century) is that it’s drama at its best. And it’s warm. So hold on for flood warnings and steam baths.

••• Continue reading

Rob Mackenzie’s Cyclone Blog Tour

The last time I posted about this, I’d forgotten entirely that I’d agreed to host Rob on his tour, and had to be reminded by him. Since he started his tour on Very Like a Whale, he’s made two other stops: Marion McCready’s Poetry in Progress and Ivy Alvarez’s Dumbfoundry.

Blogsphere’s next. Check back on Monday coming for Rob’s next stop. And in the meantime, here’s a little taste of the UnCabbage:

  1. Never go into the cage
    without knowing
    what kind of day the poem is having.

–from “Advice from the Lion Tamer to the Poetry Critic”, by Rob Mackenzie

Ten Questions for Poetry Editors – Susan Culver « Very Like A Whale

Very Like A Whale gets inside Susan Culver’s head.

What goes on inside poetry editors’ heads? is a burning question for publishing and wannabe-publishing poets everywhere. With this third Ten Questions series, we are showcasing weekly answers from a diverse group of poetry editors to Ten Questions for Poetry Editors. Each editor’s responses will appear as a separate blog post and all posts will be linked back to the series’ standing page.

Our responder this week is Susan Culver, editor of Lily and Poetry Friends.

Go on. Go check it out.

Rob Mackenzie’s Virtual Book Tour Begins

Over on Very Like A Whale

Very Like A Whale is tickled pink to serve as the launching pad for Rob Mackenzie’s De-Cabbage Yourself Experience, his virtual book tour for The Opposite of Cabbage, his debut collection from Salt Publishing. You, of course, have either already purchased his stirling collection or are about to do so.

We thoroughly enjoyed reading this beautifully-crafted collection of poems which is infused with a whole range of desirables – intelligence, humor, satire, the surreal, the poignant and Scotland, to name but a few. We asked Rob ten questions about The Opposite of Cabbage. He answers half here and will be back towards the end of his tour to answer the other half. Thanks for being here, Rob!

I thought about offering to be a stop on Rob’s virtutour, and thought for some time about it, and then completely forgot. As things turned out, though, it’s probably a good thing I forgot. May found me swamped with work as usual — I seem to enjoy overexerting myself; ever since I plunged into depressions during the long Canadian summer vacations from university (April to September, no kidding) I’ve tried to keep myself busy so that I don’t think myself into a spiral, and now it’s June I have the biggest project I’ve ever taken on in my private life (curious? Check here and here — and if you want to book tickets and accommodations, check either website at the end of the month!) and little things like blogging are slip-sliding away.

But that doesn’t mean I won’t be following Rob’s tour as closely as I possibly can. Go, Rob, go!

Update on synaesthesia: everybody has it

We are all capable of “hearing” shapes and sizes and perhaps even “tasting” sounds, according to researchers.

This blending of sensory experiences, or synaesthesia, they say, influences our perception and helps us make sense of a jumble of simultaneous sensations.

Oxford University scientists found that people associate lower-pitched sounds with larger and more rounded shapes.

More here: BBC NEWS | Science & Environment | People may be able to taste words

My synaesthesia experiences can be found here:

Synaesthesia reloaded

Is syn sin?

PFFA’s discussion of synaesthesia and metaphor

More synaesthesia

My synaesthesia & colour themes

On why 2543 is a cool number

This one’s for Rob

Help save Salt.

Poetry press Salt has launched a viral marketing campaign in a bid to stave off closure, in the wake of the publisher’s “financial difficulties”. The publisher has asked for customers to “buy just one Salt book”. Director Chris Hamilton-Emery said the first day of his company’s ‘Just One Book’ campaign had “swept the web”, leading to more than 400 orders within 24 hours.

He said: “The response has been astonishing and heart-warming. Since June last year our family business has faced severe financial difficulties – the recession hit us hard. We’re almost at the end, it’s terrifically sad. Nine years of our lives has gone into developing this literary business.”

All right, Rob Mackenzie, Aditi Machado, Nic Sebastian, I’ve bought my book. It’s Katy Evans-Bush’s collection, Me and the Dead.

I’m a little bummed she took half my title (Mama Lily and the Dead – trust me, I had it waaaay before 2008) and I’m half-racking my brains to think of another.

Summer Rain

It’s one of those underwater days, when the rain has turned everything grey and wet, and thunder’s rolling somewhere off in the distance.

In tropical places and really wet places this would be called the monsoon. But here in Nassau, the rain’s not as predictable as monsoon rain (which rolls in and falls daily, often at specific times of the day); you know (or hope!) the rain’s going to fall in the afternoon most days, and the roads stay wet and puddles collect on the sides of them. Some years it’s like that. But some years there’s more rain (like this week’s rain — every day, most of the day) and some years there’s only clouds and stifling humid heat.

Days like today (which is a day like the day when I took my final G. C. E. O-level, way back when, at the beginning of June, a drippy, grey, swishy day when the rain dripped down the spears of the great big sisal plants that lived outside my parents’ front window until the hurricanes of the turn of the century knocked them flat, and when the end of the day was marked with the news of a scholarship to go to a very special school and a rehearsal for the entertainment on prom night) are days I treasure.

And today’s just that sort of day — three decades almost to the day later.

Christine Klocek-Lim on Static

Thanks to Nic, I had the pleasure of reading the following post on Christine Klocek-Lim’s blog November Sky, and was struck by how much I agree with her.

November Sky Poetry: Sonnets and Static

I recently bought Jack Gilbert’s new book, “The Dance Most of All,” and on first glance it seems to be more of the same. He’s one of my favorite poets and I’m certainly looking forward to reading his new poetry (it’s all so comfortable), yet I can’t help feeling as though he discovered one way to do something and hasn’t varied since then. His poems all look the same: like a herd of horses, they’re different colors and even breeds and beautiful, but still, all HORSES. I’ve noticed that other poets tend to do this, never changing that one style that works, that brings them recognition and awards. It’s a trap.

Both beginners and old-hands fall into this trap, in which there are two sides. On one side you write only for yourself, on the other you write only for other people. The best work of any poet straddles the sharp line in-between: where you understand how much information a reader needs to relate to your poem and you also understand that you must push the boundary of sameness and move into artistry. Continue reading

Literary Geek Meme

Harry tagged me.

On FaceBook, no less.

“You have received this note because someone thinks you are a literary geek. Copy the questions into your own note, answer the questions, and tag any friends who would appreciate the quiz, including the person who sent you this.”

1) What author do you own the most books by?
No clue. I would have to count and we really don’t have the time. Probably a writer of murder mysteries, though – possibly Christie or Sayers. They’re that prolific.

2) What book do you own the most copies of?
The Bible.

3) Did it bother you that both those questions ended with prepositions?
Not any more.

4) What fictional character are you secretly in love with?
Could I be more cliché? Mr. Darcy. Oh, you said secretly. Oh, well. That’s a different story altogether. That would probably be Strider/Aragorn. Or Lord Peter Wimsey. Or –

Hell and damnation. This multiracial Caribbean closet Marxist has a raft of crushes on upper class white Englishmen. What does that say about me, I wonder?

4a) What fictional character would you most like to be?

Not a clue, really.

4b) What fictional character do you think most resembles you?
Not a clue. I shall give this more thought and get back to you. Maybe. I would like to say Nancy Blackett from the Ransome books, but I would be lying. Continue reading

Online Literary Journals: Coming of Age

Edward Byrne, editor of Valpariso Poetry Review, notes that the most recent issue of Poets & Writers Magazine includes a discussion of online journals, which excites me.

One Poet’s Notes: Online Literary Journals: Coming of Age

The current issue May/June 2009 of Poets & Writers Magazine contains “a special section on the here and now of literary journals” devoted to information about the process of submission, editing, and publication of literary magazines. Sandra Beasley contributes a timely and insightful essay, “From Pages to Pixels: The Evolution of Online Journals,” among the articles included in the “Lit Mag Moment” feature.

The fact that online publications are growing in reputation, and are even being accepted as credentials for funding and for university tenure, is a happy one. The quality of online journals isn’t lost on me — the pool of submissions is larger, as is the pool of editors — which has a happy effect on the results that I’ve seen.  My most recent experience with print journals has been stuffier and less moving than my experience with online ones. Of course, in my country, the availability of print journals is entirely dependent on the post and the depth of one’s subscription-fee-paying pocket (in my case not so deep, believe me), and so my access to such journals is limited at best. I’m there are those out there that are different. But I know that what I have seen tends towards the conservative (in the sense of conserving, not in the sense of being close-minded), the cliquish, and the controlled, not towards (as with the online variety) the exciting, the fresh, and the unusual.

Maybe it’s just me, but maybe it isn’t. Any comments?

The thing about vacations

is that they disincline one from returning to work for a while. I’m currently suffering from this after a fabulous Easter vacation on Long Island, one of the islands in the middle of the Bahamas, one of those the Tropic bisects. (Well, it’s not an exact bisection, but the north is subtropical and the south is tropical, and you notice the difference, we found, if you’re driving in April with the car windows open.)

My head is full of images, emotions, and ideas for poems. I’ve written most of them out but there are a couple more.

In the meantime, some photos. I’ll be back to caption and arrange them later.

Because it’s no longer March

but April, it’s time for NaPoWriMo, that monthly madness where we write a poem a day.

Some certifiable folk are writing a poem a minute for 30 minutes. O joy. I leave to it and wish them best (and wonder how many will survive in the open, and how many will be institutionalized before their half-hour’s up).

In the past, I’ve listed poems of note from PFFA’s NaPo habit. This month I’m teaching once again, which means that marking is my lot. I cannot promise much — it’ll be a challenge to write the poem a day — but I’d like to kick off with the first thread to watch:

Jee Leong’s “A Lover’s Recourse”, which begins with a ghazal that I like. And I don’t like ghazals.

The bit I want to remember:

The cloudy pigeon, mutant dove, aches through the air,
nowhere safe to land, save the branches of the river.

Go see the lunacy for yourselves. Consider joining, if you must. But know this — PFFA’s changed its policy this year, so if you don’t post your first poem today, today, you will be disqualified from participating on the Poetry-Free-For-All.

Subtropic March

Tried to post this last week, when the air was still clear like bells and the sky was being washed not swaddled by clouds, when the birds hadn’t started their return journeys yet. It’s been unusually cool all season; but yesterday the weather broke and rain came. And not the rain that precedes cold fronts, but real summery rain complete with heavy air and thick sleepiness.

Summer is upon us now.

Where are the sounds of spring? Ay, where are they?

hearts are clouds « Very Like A Whale

Over on Very Like a Whale, Nic gives a headsup to tongues of the ocean.

I’m so glad someone’s noticed the power of Muhammad Muwakil’s work. The more I read that poem the more it grows on me — specially the bit Nic quotes.

Thanks, Nic!

And this week’s posts are up — a second poem by Ian Gregory Strachan, and an interview with Derek Walcott. No, I didn’t carry it out. It’s actually a link to an interview carried out in 2006 by Canadian litblogger Nigel Beale. Thanks, Nigel, for allowing us access to the interview!

And as for Strachan’s “National Anthem”, here’s a taste of it:

one hundred years ago
from this spot
a painter with a poet’s name
caught a coconut frond
in the wind and
brushed the white lighthouse

tongues of the ocean: why stop now?

Two more poems are up for the week:

The West Indies Haiku (#1) by Tim Tomlinson

heat lightning—
pages scattered

on an empty bed


The joy of planting banana suckers in your own land by Ward Minnis

I only want me own garden
a little patch where I can dig till I silly.
Plant banana morning, noon and night,
Open the hole and put in me fertilize,
fill it with sap
from nighttime ritual and early morning dance.

Not keeping up with the blogging

There are many reasons.

One is the return to full-time academia, and the fact that writing comes in many forms now, not just recreational and/or personal.

One is the desire not to be bored, which has resulted in my taking on several projects that are pretty doggone huge in size.

One is a lack of organization for the moment.

But don’t despair. I’m still blogging, just not as frequently.

Watch this space.

Jee’s Birthday Party

Song of a Reformed Headhunter: Virtual Book and Birthday Party on March 20
I am planning a Virtual Book Party to launch Equal to the Earth on my birthday, March 20. Everyone is invited, and you don’t even have to leave the comfort of your home, or wherever you find yourself that evening, at 8 pm (Eastern Standard Time). All you have to do is to visit the book blog or my Facebook page.

I agree with Nic — it is a good idea. So I’m spreading the word.

Two more poems on tongues

Seems that all I do is advertise the journal! Swing on over to check it out. And when I get some ideas beyond it I’ll jot them down.

This week’s offerings:

“Passing” by Sonia Farmer

The doctor knows the heart and all
its chambered petals. He is versed in
vestigial organs, but not the art of hidden


“(untitled)” by Sheila Brooke

cedar floats liquid down my throat
in extract of red, pooled in cliffside fissures
opened by roots
whose hunger cracks stone

Twenty-five writers meme

From Geoffrey Philp:

The deal is to name 25 writers who have influenced you, and then tag 25 people.

Hear ye the gospel according to Fragano: “Influence” does not mean the same thing as “enjoy a lot.”

(Just to note — this has been cross-posted with Blogworld so I can cross both my writing networks)

As with everyone else, before, in no particular order:

  1. T. S. Eliot – for blowing my mind
  2. Kamau Brathwaite – for blowing my mind again
  3. Ngugi wa Thing’o – for inspiring me to write plays
  4. Chinua Achebe – for Things Fall Apart and A Man of the People
  5. Toni Morrison – for just being
  6. William Shakespeare (no, for real) – what I said about Morrison
  7. W. B. Yeats – for channelling ghosts and writing great verse
  8. C. S. Lewis – for Narnia and concision
  9. Bronislaw Malinowski – for participant observation, the Trobriand ethnographies, and theory I can believe in
  10. Claude Levi-Strauss – for Tristes Tropiques Continue reading

It’s Sunday, so

two more poems went live on tongues of the ocean this morning.

They’re “Sunday” by Nicholas Laughlin (Trinidad and Tobago) —

Long Woodbrook afternoons when it never rained
—already this is another century—
the street agape, the households all asleep,
the smell of soap and orange peel under the stairs
—the smell of still having too long to wait—
and the aunts asleep, and the smothering patience of indoors.

and “Circles of Light” by Obediah Michael Smith (The Bahamas) —

landscape, moonscape, seascape

escape evening falling

sun into the sea
instead of upon your toe
or upon your head

and they’re both worth a look.


Books Read (from the BBC)

1) Look at the list and put an ‘x’ after those you have read.
2) Add a ‘+’ to the ones you LOVE.
3) Tally your total at the bottom.

1 Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen +
2 The Lord of the Rings – JRR Tolkien +
3 Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte +
4 Harry Potter series – JK Rowling X
5 To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee +
6 The Bible – +
7 Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte
8 Nineteen Eighty Four – George Orwell X
9 His Dark Materials – Philip Pullman X
10 Great Expectations – Charles Dickens X
11 Little Women – Louisa M Alcott X
12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles
13 Catch 22 – Joseph Heller X
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare – X (all the sonnets, most of the plays)
15 Rebecca – Daphne Du Maurier
16 The Hobbit – JRR Tolkien X
17 Birdsong – Sebastian Faulk
18 Catcher in the Rye – JD Salinger X
19 The Time Traveller’s Wife – Audrey Niffenegger
20 Middlemarch – George Eliot Continue reading

New poems on tongues of the ocean

“For the Trees” by Vladimir Lucien, from St Lucia:

The trees have always been our brothers.
The silk cotton tree that was forced to lynch us,
In those gardens that our mothers stooped to nurse
That grew with us, were our brothers.

But before they fell to the earth,
I grieved when they cried in autumn

and “I Am”, spoken word poetry by Amielle Major, from The Bahamas:

I am not the first to have had my heart broken by a white man I
probably shouldn’t have loved
I am not the first to have had my heart broken by a black
man I probably shouldn’t have loved
I am not the first to have not been loved because I was too black
I am not the first to have had sex in this darkness my blackness I hate it.

I am not the first ugly person.

CRC Review #1: “New Negroes From Africa”

roseanne1OK, so I had to read this for an assignment. I had to officially review it. Is that cheating? If it was, it was a pleasant cheat.

The full name of the book is “New Negroes From Africa”: Slave Trade Abolition and Free African Settlement in the Nineteenth-Century Caribbean and it was written by a friend, Roseanne Adderley, who’s also a pretty major historian on the Caribbean.

The fact is, though slavery and its aftermath is intrinsic to the way in which the Caribbean sees itself,  not all Africans who arrived in the Americas came as slaves.  Adderley’s study looks at another group of Africans — the more than 40,000 people rescued by the Royal Navy from illegal slavers after the 1807 abolition of the slave trade and settled throughout the British New World Colonies.

Continue reading