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Trinidad-based artist Peter Doig set a sales record this May whenSwamped, a painting of his from 1990 that alludes to both the climactic scene from the horror film Friday the 13th and the death by drowning of Group of Seven painter Tom Thompson, was sold at a Christie’s auction for $26-million (U.S.) Terence Dick reports for the CBC.

According to news reports, this made him the highest selling living British artist of the moment. Last year his painting of a rainbow-decorated tunnel familiar to anyone who has driven Toronto’s Don Valley Parkway set the record. The year before, it was his painting of Eaton Centre architect Eb Zeidler’s home in Toronto’s upscale Rosedale neighbourhood. In each case he was celebrated as a British or European artist, but the nationality of his most valuable paintings has a lot more to do with our home and native land.

Changing studios, changing temperatures, changing humidity — all these things affect paintings, but you don’t really realize it until you move.

Born in Edinburgh in 1959, Doig spent his formative years growing up in Canada. He moved to England in his twenties to study painting, but the breakthrough work he created in London was inspired by his memories and the natural imagery of Ontario. He is quick to distance himself from our national art history and only admits to sharing with the Group of Seven a sympathy for American and European artists like Whistler and Munch, but when prodded will acknowledge his artistic roots.

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“The effect of a place is not necessarily immediate,” he tells me over the phone from a stopover in London on his way home from Düsseldorf where he teaches at the Fine Arts Academy. “Sometimes it takes some time. Sometimes it takes some distance. In the case of my so-called Canadian paintings, it wasn’t until I left Canada that they started happening.”

These paintings effectively blur the line between representation and abstraction by magnifying the atmospheric effects of melting snow or emphasizing the Jackson Pollock-like web of branches in a forest. Nature is portrayed not as an idyllic harmony, but a chaotic complexity contrasted with humanity in the form of modern architecture or ambiguous figures – often in canoes – who aren’t clearly on one side or the other of that divide.

There is a definite Northern sensibility to these early works that has disappeared now that he calls Trinidad home. For a painter so tied to landscape, moving studios from England to the Caribbean had an inevitable effect.

“Changing studios, changing temperatures, changing humidity, all these things affect paintings, but you don’t really realize it until you move. Travelling from the atmosphere in London to one where it’s much more humid, the canvas itself behaves in a very different way.”

His recent works are currently on view at the Palazzetto Tito in Venice and, while they maintain his psychedelic colour scheme and fascination with subtly surreal scenarios, the influence of his new home is unmistakable. “The colour combinations I’ve seen in Trinidad have influenced me. The palette becomes brighter. The picture plane becomes less fractured, less muted.”

Whether these works will one day fetch the same high prices as his Canadian landscapes is a question, like the matter of his nationality, that the artist does his best to dodge.

“It all remains quite abstract to me really,” he says as our conversation ends, “and I try to keep it that way because it’s not really my world. That’s another Peter Doig.”

Peter Doig’s work is being exhibited at the Fondazione Bevilacqua La Masa, Palazzetto Tito in Venice, Italy through October 4, 2015, and at the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Humlebæk, Denmark until August 16, 2015. 

For the original report go to


This article by  appeared in London’s Guardian.

Dark-skinned and nappy-headed, I fit the profile of a person of Haitian descent. Since the 1990s, the Dominican state has made a habit of denying papers to descendants of Haitians born in the Dominican Republic (and even people who look Haitian). And in a now-infamous ruling handed down in September 2013, the Dominican Constitutional Tribunal left hundreds of thousands of people – many of them born in the DR – effectively stateless.

Despite this, I wasn’t too concerned when I rode the subway to the Dominican Consulate in New York City to renew my passport 16 months ago. I’d completed this routine errand several times before without incident. On this visit, my lack of acédula, the national identification card for Dominican citizens, became a problem. Having lived in the US almost my whole life, I’d never possessed or needed a cédula. I admitted as much to the consular officer, and prepared myself to be chastised in bureaucratese. Instead he looked me in the eye and asked: “Are you Haitian?”

At that moment I realized just how much trouble not having that flimsy card might cause me.

Behind the officer’s question I sensed a threat: if he declined to renew my passport on the grounds that I was “Haitian”, I would be deprived of the documentation I needed to prove my nationality. After being undocumented for much of my childhood in the US, I’d been granted F-1 student visa status to pursue my doctoral studies at Stanford. If the DR rejected my passport renewal request, I’d be cast into an immigration limbo.

Dominican birth certificate in hand, I remonstrated with the officer. An hour and a half later, I walked out of the embassy with my new passport. My patria’s determination to isolate and remove Haitians through the refinements of immigration policy had not harmed me. I was lucky.

Back home, many are not. In the year since my consular visit, the Dominican government’s enforcement of the ruling and the new “Regularization Plan” implemented in its wake has created nightmares worthy of Kafka. Those suspected of being “Haitian” and who cannot produce satisfactory evidence of two Dominican-born parents are now subject to deportation unless they succeed in regularizing their status with the Dominican authorities. To do so, many applicants must obtain documentation from both the Dominican and Haitian governments. While difficult and costly for actual Haitian migrants, this undertaking is near-impossible for Dominican-born applicants with no connections to Haiti. No surprise, then, that only 4,600 of the approximately 290,000 men, women and children who have registered to begin the process of obtaining residence permits from the Dominican Interior Ministry had received them by this year’s June 17 deadline.

This immigration policy has enjoyed broad support from the Dominican public and from the country’s most prominent politicians. Former president of the Dominican Republic Leonel Fernández recently penned an op-ed that dismissed concerns voiced in American and European media outlets as “an effort to degrade and smear us before the international community, something that we as a generous and caring people do not deserve.”

Directly attacking international reporting of the plan, op-eds in other national publications make much fuss about the differences between Haitians and Dominicans but conveniently downplay or dismiss the role of anti-Haitianism and racism in the reification of these “differences.” These same op-eds also show no awareness of the long history of withholding documentation in order to keep marginalized people excluded – by making their daily lives ever more precarious, their bodies ever more vulnerable to the state’s violence.

The predicament of hundreds of thousands of Haitians and Haitian descendants in my home country resonates with me because I know what it is like to be black and undocumented: to be rendered doubly marginal. In my forthcoming memoir, I’ve tried to show how America’s inflexible and punitive immigration policies result in absurd and unjust outcomes.

It has been dismaying to see the Dominican government adopt a similar approach to immigration while making use of American border-policing expertise. It has been equally dismaying to see the Dominican government take up another American practice: lobbying. In the aftermath of the ruling, the Dominican government enlisted the services of the Washington law firm Steptoe and Johnson LLP for the purposes of “consolidating and strengthening the image of the Dominican State in the eyes of the international public opinion [sic] regarding the Decision.” In the carefully curated talking points being circulated to members of Congress, the Dominican government has sought to minimize the extent of the dislocations and upheavals inflicted on immigrants and descendants of immigrants through its policies.

May this effort at spin fail.

For the original report go to


Treasure hunters off the Florida coast recently pulled up the haul of a lifetime: nearly $1 million worth of gold coins and elaborate gold chains, as well as an extremely rare Spanish coin known as a “Tricentennial Royal,” Elizabeth Palermo reports for

The treasures were hidden on the seafloor for 300 years before the crew of a salvage vessel brought them to the surface last month, on June 17. The riches were found just 1,000 feet (305 meters) offshore of Fort Pierce, Florida, according to Eric Schmitt, captain of the aptly named salvage vessel, Aarrr Booty, which was used to locate the treasure.

The ships that once carried the valuables set sail from Cuba on July 24, 1715, when the island was a Spanish colony. The ships’ mission was to transport the riches below deck to Spain, which at the time was waging a war against France and was desperately in need of money to fund battles. [Shipwrecks Gallery: Secrets of the Deep]
But the ships never made it to Spain. A hurricane off Florida sank all but one of the 12 ships on July 30, 1715. The so-called “1715 Fleet” has been a treasure-hunter’s fantasy ever since. In 2010, Brent Brisben and his father, William, obtained permits to explore the wrecks in search of sunken riches.

The lucky haul off Fort Pierce was the work of the entire Schmitt family, which includes Eric and his wife, as well as Eric’s sister and parents. The Schmitts were subcontracted to explore the 12 different shipwrecks for Brisben’s company (1715 Fleet Queen Jewels, LLC), which owns salvage permits.

Included in Aarrr Booty’s recent haul were 51 gold coins and 40 feet of golden chain. But the real treasure salvaged from the deep was the rare Tricentennial Royal, one of very few gold coins minted for King Philip V of Spain, according Schmitt, lead diver of the Aarrr Booty vessel’s treasure-hunting expeditions.

The coin is “very round” compared to most coins salvaged from the wrecks, said Schmitt, who told Live Science that the royal coin was die-cast (made by pouring molten gold into a coin mold). Most Colonial coins from this period were made using cruder methods that resulted in less uniform shapes, according to the coin-collecting website Coinquest. The round royal coin, which is about the size of a silver dollar, is worth an estimated $500,000, according to Brent Brisben.

And even though Brisben and Schmitt are excited about the discovery of this precious coin, both remain hopeful that even more treasure lies hidden off Florida. Brisben’s company owns the salvage rights to five of the 11 ships that sank on July 30, 1715, he told Live Science. He estimates that $440 million worth of coins and other treasures have yet to be recovered from these centuries-old wrecks, which include

Among the treasures that are still at large are the elusive queens jewels, which belonged to Philip V’s second wife, Elizabeth Farnese, Duchess of Parma. The elaborate jewels were to be a part of the queen’s dowry and were supposed to be brought to Spain by the 1715 Fleet. Because jewelry wasn’t a taxable commodity in Spain at the time, details about the jewels weren’t entered on any official documents, but a few ornate items were allegedly aboard the fleet when it sank, including a 74-carat emerald ring and 14-carat pearl earrings, according to Brisben.

For the original report go to

Posted by: lisaparavisini | July 28, 2015

Are you Haitian?


American media upped its coverage of the Dominican Republic’s internment and deportation practices, but the repression of Haitians continues, Greg Grandin reports in this article for The Nation.

“Are you Haitian?” That’s the question the Dominican consular officer in New York City asked of Dan-el Padilla Peralta, a Dominican writer living in New York who describes himself as “dark-skinned and nappy-headed,” when he recently tried to renew his passport. Padilla, who eventually did get his renewal, writes about his experience in The Guardian. Having managed to break out of the stifling US immigration system (which he writes about in Undocumented: A Dominican Boy’s Odyssey from a Homeless Shelter to the Ivy League, published tomorrow), Padilla says that it has “been dismaying to see the Dominican government adopt a similar approach to immigration while making use of American border-policing expertise.”

Padilla is referring to a series of recent actions taken by the Dominican Republic that make life miserable for the hundreds of thousands of Dominicans of Haitian descent: revocation of their citizenship; a June 17 deadline for leaving the country if they couldn’t prove they were born in the DR; and the threat of mass deportation.

In mid-June, on the eve of that deadline, there was almost no coverage at all in the US media of the impending expulsion, apart from an excellent essay by Rachel Nolan in Harper’s Magazine. Then Arian Terrill, who works with an aid organization in poor urban Dominican communities, contacted the The Nation to report on increased police and military harassment of Haitian migrants and Dominicans of Haitian descent. The Nation posted Terrill’s observation and offered to put US reporters in touch with him. The post circulated widely and many journalist responded, jumpstarting the coverage. Here’s Terrill’s follow-up:

As the online machine picked up after the original post, I got information out through the Daily Kos, Jet magazine, RYOT and a few others. The mainstream media soon caught on, and I started giving interviews on background to reporters from The New Yorker and The New York Times Magazine. Couldn’t get to everyone, though. As the registration deadline hit on June 17, big outfits started sending teams down over the second half of June, and I ended up taking a number of crews out to neighborhoods where I work and live in Santo Domingo and Puerto Plata. Vice’s crew was pretty good, if a bit sensational. Al-Jazeera’s folks were quite professional. The piece that I’m proudest of, though, was an A1 front page article in The New York Times on Saturday, July 4, that did a more in-depth look at my multi-ethnic neighborhood in Puerto Plata and the complexities of relationships and sentiments at the community level. Their Bureau Chief and a photographer spent an entire week with me.

So, where are we now? The mass detentions and deportations that the government had threatened have thankfully not yet come to pass. Although it is of course impossible to measure a counterfactual, I would like to think that our efforts made some small contribution in stirring up the international attention enough to put the authorities on notice that they were being closely watched. Whatever the case, the worst-case scenario has been staved off, at least for now.

Does this mean Haitian migrants are in the clear? No. What I have seen since the deadline passed is a sharp uptick in so-called “self-deportations,” in which undocumented Haitian migrant families pack up all of their household belongings into rented pick-up trucks and head back to Haiti, ostensibly of their own volition, rather than risk getting picked up on the streets, detained and summarily transported across the border without getting a chance to get their affairs in order.

On the ground and behind the lines, though, a more sinister picture continues to emerge. At the crossings, Haitian border guards tasked with registering returnees have only two options for classification: “Voluntary” (i.e., ‘self-deporting’) or “Involuntary” (i.e. officially arrested, detained, and deported by the security forces and/or migration officials). However, Haitian border guards at the Dajabon, Beladere, and Jimani border crossings all told me that many of the returnees are actually leaving under harassment, intimidation, and threats of violence by the security forces and Dominican street gangs acting as plainclothes proxies. This recently happened in an abandoned hotel named Jardin Deportivo in my neighborhood in Puerto Plata, which had been occupied by Haitian squatters. Several hours before dawn on June 6, three unidentifiable men began pounding on occupants’ doors and demanding that they leave or else their houses would be burned down. Given the long history—and historical memory—of anti-Haitian violence in this country, these threats—notably of house burnings—reported at multiple locations, are credible enough to impel many families to leave, especially when coupled with the now-ubiquitous sight of security force patrols in pick-up trucks roaming the streets at night. In my assessment, self-deportations under these conditions don’t quite equate to a truly “voluntary” return.

You don’t have to just take my word for it, though. These observations were echoed a week ago on July 14 by the International Organization for Migration, which has been monitoring all major border crossings for the past month or so. Their initial findings from interviews with over 1,100 individuals from about 350 households are that about 36 percent of returnees said that they had been forced out. The IOM’s piece is here.

So instead of a short series of purgative mass deportation events, anecdotal evidence is mounting that the situation may be evolving into something more sophisticated, more behind the scenes and sinister. It involves constantly prowling police and military vehicles and strange men pounding on your door in the dead of night and threatening to pour gasoline under it.

Many reports confirm Terrill’s account, estimating that tens of thousands have “voluntarily” left Haiti. In early July, the DR’s Immigration Agency, headed by a military general with a long history of expelling dark-skinned people from the Dominican Republic, said that close to “37,000 undocumented Haitian immigrants had voluntarily left the island.” “They simply decided to go back to their homeland. How is it possible for us to impede their desire to return to their homeland?” the Dominican ambassador to the OAS, Pedro Vergés Ciman, said, at an emergency meeting to address the crisis: “In the Dominican Republic, there is no statelessness; nor has there been any deportations since November 2013.”

Haiti’s ambassador fired back: “You left them at the border like dogs.” According to Wade McMullen, a lawyer with the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights, “deportations, forcible removals are happening on a consistent and ongoing basis…. None of the things the Dominican government said they were going to do, like videotape every single case and make individualized decisions, are happening.”

Meanwhile, the Dominican Republic has hired a public relations firm, Steptoe & Johnson, to lobby the US Congress and counter negative press. Steptoe & Johnson has been passing out talking points describing DR’s immigration policy as “modern and transparent” and as a means of protecting the “fundamental rights” of everyone living in the Dominican Republic, pointsechoed by Dominican officials.

It’s important to counter the idea that this slow-motion, undercover pogrom reflects timeless, atavistic racism on the part of all Dominicans. It doesn’t. Rachel Nolan has done a follow up interview for Jacobin that discusses US immigration policies (“the US has helped to fund and train the Dominican border police”), a topic Todd Miller has described in detail here. I related the rise in anti-Haitian racism to the CAFTA-DR, a 2007 multilateral corporate trade treaty with the United States that includes Central America: Since the treaty went into effect, the DR has witnessed growing rural and urban immiseration, even as its economy has expanded. A “third of the country’s total population lives in poverty, and almost 20 per cent are living in extreme poverty.” In the cities, the number of poor people has doubled since 2000, from 1.2 million to 2.4 million, according to the World Bank.

Anti-Haitianism is pushed by the DR’s political right, which has grown in force in recent years as the country’s economy has liberalized, good jobs with decent wages have disappeared, and informal, migrant labor has grown. Jonathan Katz, in The New York Times Magazine, quotes Vinicio Castillo Semán, “a congressman from the ultra-right-wing National Progressive Force” as blaming DR’s “poverty on a ‘massive and uncontrolled Haitian invasion,’ supported by a Dominican ‘fifth column’ and bent ontaking over the country.” Meanwhile, Katz writes that the DR’s conservative president, Danilo Medina, “who is up for re-election in 2016, has to walk his own fine line: appearing tough enough to appease right-wing critics in his government without going further than his backers in Washington and Brussels will allow.”

And Anne Eller, an historian at Yale University, writes that the conventional wisdom that anti-Haitian sentiment in the DR can be traced back to Haiti’s 1822 occupation of the island is an “abject falsehood,” used as a highly politicized “historical memory” by those who want to preempt possible Haitian-DR working-class solidarity:

Unification between the two countries [in 1822] came at the invitation of numerous Dominican towns. It brought the end of slavery. All of the citizens of the island enjoyed and defended their independence for decades and decades, long after the countries formally split, as their nearby neighbors remained colonized (and hundreds of thousands, still enslaved). They did so, precisely, together. These facts were as immediately obvious to elite commentators seeking separation as they were to the great majority of the island’s residents, who manifested profound and dynamic interconnection. Decades after unification ended, Dominican-Haitian collaborators helped to win Dominican independence, for a second time, in 1865. The Dominican constitution changed that same year to jus soli citizenship; a handful of reformers called for dual citizenship across the island.

It took concerted ideological work, backed up by bloody, racist repression, by Dominican elites to first bury this history, and then distort it: “Xenophobic, racist, and hostile voices on and off the island” transformed a popular act of transnational solidarity into an “invasion.” Racism in the DR is no more timeless or cultural than it is in the United States: It has a past, but what keeps it up-to-date are present politics and economics.

Having managed to break out of the stifling US immigration system (which he writes about in Undocumented: A Dominican Boy’s Odyssey from a Homeless Shelter to the Ivy League, published tomorrow), Padilla says that it has “been dismaying to see the Dominican government adopt a similar approach to immigration while making use of American border-policing expertise.”

For the original report go to


A review by Jon Caramanica for The New York Times.

“Promise me that you’ll never let anyone steal your joy”: Sunday night at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, Nicki Minaj was convening her faithful, guiding them through whatever storms they’d been weathering.

From the beginning of her two-hour-plus set, she’d been weaving aphorisms and pep talks between songs. She was sure to remind the crowd of the significance of the moment, that all of them — herself included — were in “an arena being headlined by a little girl from Queens that raps.”

But perhaps Ms. Minaj’s greatest accomplishment is that it’s become easy to take her success as a given. She is an artist without precedent — a female rapper who’s an astounding technician, a style original and a pop superstar. And also one of her musical generation’s greatest advocates for self-reliance and grass-roots feminism, as seen in action last week during the tweet storm that began as a lesson in media acknowledgment and representations of black women and ended with an apology from Taylor Swift, pop’s leading light.

That blowup, though, threatened to become a distraction from the fact that Ms. Minaj is at the helm of the best hip-hop tour lineup of the year. In addition to Meek Mill, the rapper who is also Ms. Minaj’s boyfriend — this tour has become a working vacation for the couple, it seems — the bill also included the caffeinated Southern-brother duo Rae Sremmurd, the Janet Jackson disciple Tinashe and the modestly sly young female rapper Dej Loaf.

In total, the lineup reflected Ms. Minaj’s many parts — tough, sultry, exuberant, colorful, exaggerated. In her own herky-jerky set, though, she was toggling among approaches: street-wise songs, saccharine pop hits, collaborations, collisions of all these. Ms. Minaj’s catalog is so varied, she has colonized so much turf in so many spaces, that unifying it under one umbrella is a challenge.

What remained the same throughout the night was her verve. It was there in her life-coach lessons, it was there in her sassy but casual dancing (leaving the harder steps to her backup troupe), and it was there in her vocal approach. Ms. Minaj has a way of vocally heaving her most poignant lines — it’s part chest-puffery, part comic exaggeration. Often she’s rapping through a grin, striking a pose for the camera, but when she lets the facade down and focuses on the shape and pace of her words, she’s a bulldozer.

Ms. Minaj is such a dense rapper that the specifics can become lost in a show of this size. Other great technical rappers have dealt with this problem in different ways: Eminem began to gear his music toward the anthemic, filling arenas with big, brooding rock choruses; Jay Z, on the other hand, uses silence and stopping and starting for emphasis. Ms. Minaj has a simpler solution: Relying on her rabid fans, who rapped along so intensely to even her more obscure songs that she didn’t have to bother.

Near the end of the night, Ms. Minaj surprised the crowd with an appearance by Lil Wayne, the head of her label, Young Money, who has been embroiled in a sticky, possibly violent standoff with Baby, his longtime mentor. Just 32, Lil Wayne is a beleaguered elder at this point, and Ms. Minaj’s embrace of him was pointed — they called each other the greatest rapper alive, they held hands, they hugged.

Given the week Ms. Minaj and her boyfriend have had, a reminder of happier times was in order. Drake is also signed to Young Money, and the rift last week between him and Meek Mill most likely tested alliances and friendships. During his set, Meek Mill continued the attacks on Drake he started last week, accusing him of not writing the verse he contributed to Meek Mill’s album.

One of Drake’s most refined skills has been collaboration — nearly everyone of note in hip-hop over the past few years, large or small, has relied on his services at one point or another. Ms. Minaj and Meek Mill performed songs that they collaborated on with Drake — “Amen” for Meek Mill; for Ms. Minaj, among others, “Make Me Proud” and “Up All Night” (on that one she did emphasize Drake’s line, “I don’t really know who I’ma lose this year,” which was maybe a taunt).

Those were passing concerns — this was a night about the happy couple. Meek Mill sped through several of his blustery hits — a minute of one, then another, like a one-sided mixed-martial-arts bout. He’s a shouter, and an arena suits him well, even if his muscular rap is all but out of vogue these days. But part of his recent evolution has been a willingness to show his softer side. His set included a deeply moving segment in which he rapped at a photo of his father, who died when he was a boy, displayed on a huge screen behind him.

And as has become their wont on this tour, the couple shared the stage at the end of the night, performing their tepid collaborations from Meek Mill’s new album, songs that do neither any favors. That didn’t matter, though. They made eyes at each other. She kissed him, then playfully pushed him away. He called her “the girl that got me star-struck,” echoing an insult Drake sent in his direction on a song last week. Candid and not-so-candid photos of the two of them cycled on a screen.

This is hip-hop love in 2015 — public, provocative, not altogether unstrategic. “Anything you can think in your mind you can physically do,” Ms. Minaj had told the crowd earlier. “Everybody that doesn’t have your best interests at heart just falls away.”

For the original report go to

Posted by: ivetteromero | July 28, 2015

2015 Gulf Coast Prize in Translation

Translation_LogoWords without Borders has just announced that their partner, Gulf Coast (Journal of Literature and Fine Arts) is now accepting entries for the 2015 Gulf Coast Prize in Translation. In 2015, the focus is prose (fiction and nonfiction) in translation. In 2014, the prize was awarded to Kristin Dykstra for her translations of Cuban writer Marcelo Morales (see more on the writer and translator below).

The deadline for entries is August 31, 2015.

Description: In 2015, the contest is open to prose (fiction and nonfiction) in translation. The winner receives $1,000 and publication in the journal. Two honorable mentions will each receive $250. All entries will be considered for paid publication on our website as Online Exclusives. Entry to the contest also includes a one-year subscription to Gulf Coast, beginning with the issue in which the corresponding prize winners are published.

Guidelines (see additional details in the link below): Send one piece of prose (of up to twenty double-spaced pages) translated into English. Excerpts from longer works are welcome and preference will be given to contemporary work published within the last fifty years. As part of your submission, include the text in its original language, provide a brief synopsis (no more than 200 words) of the work and the author you are translating, and indicate whether you have, and can grant us, permission to publish the original work and the translation.

2014 Winner of the Gulf Coast Prize in Translation (Poetry) Kristin Dykstra is a Distinguished Scholar in Residence at St. Michaels College (Vermont). She holds a Phd in English from SUNY at Buffalo. She received a translation fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts to translate a 2006 collection by Cuban writer Reina María Rodríguez, Catch and Release. Among other collections of contemporary Cuban poetry that Dykstra has translated are two books by Omar Pérez, as well as three collections by Juan Carlos Flores, Ángel Escobar, and Rodríguez. Previously she also worked with Rodríguez on Violet Island and Other Poems (co-translated with Nancy Gates Madsen), an anthology culled from earlier phases of Rodríguez’s career when the poet first rose to international renown, as well as the bilingual edition Time’s Arrest/La detención del tiempo. Dykstra is Professor of English at Illinois State University. She co-edits the magazine Mandorla: New Writing from the Americas/Nueva escritura de las Américas with Gabriel Bernal Granados and Roberto Tejada. She won the prize for her translation of Marcelo Morales Cintero’s El mundo como ser (The World as Presence).

Marcelo Morales Cintero, born in Cuba in 1977, is a member of a generation of writers who came of age in Havana during the island’s “Special Period” of severe post-Soviet economic crisis. His influences range from international literature to readings in history and philosophy. Dedicated to the slow development of his book projects, Morales has earned many of his literary awards for segments of larger works in progress. For example, excerpts that would come together to form his 2006 poetry collection El mundo como objeto won the 2004 poetry prize presented by La Gaceta de Cuba, as well as an honorable mention in the national Julián del Casal prize competition and a coveted finalist position in the international Casa de las Américas competition. Morales is also the author of the poetry collections Cinema (1997, Pinos Nuevos prize) and Materia (winner of the 2008 Julián del Casal prize), among others. His novel La espiral appeared in 2006. Morales edited and introduced Como un huésped de la noche, an anthology of poetry by Roberto Branly, published in 2010.

For more on Gulf Coast Prize and how to enter, see

For more information on Morales and Dykstra, see

Posted by: ivetteromero | July 28, 2015

Callaloo Literary Lecture and Reading by Fred d’Aguiar

fred.6544322The University of Oxford has just shared the “Callaloo Literary Lecture and Reading by Fred d’Aguiar” in their latest podcast. In this podcast (added on 24 July 2015), the British- Guyanese writer and professor reads fiction and poems about his childhood in Guyana, remembering his father, and slavery.

Fred D’Aguiar is a poet, novelist, playwright, born in London of Guyanese parents and raised in Guyana. He teaches in the MFA and African Studies programs at Virginia Tech. His first novel, The Longest Memory, won the Whitbread First Novel Award and was made into a film by Channel 4 (UK). His essays and poetry have appeared in The New Yorker, Harper’s, The Guardian, Wasafiri, CallalooBest American Essays and other publications. His play, A Jamaican Airman Foresees His Death, was produced at the Royal Court Theatre in London. His radio play, Days and Nights in Bedlam, was broadcast by the BBC, along with several recent short stories. Continental Shelf, a U.K. Poetry Book Society Choice, was shortlisted for the UK’s T.S. Eliot Prize in 2009. His latest poetry collection is The Rose of Toulouse. His latest novel, Children of Paradise (HarperCollins, US; Granta, UK), is inspired by the events at Jonestown.

TORCH—The Oxford Research in the Humanities: The University of Oxford is home to an impressive range and depth of research activities in the Humanities. TORCH | The Oxford Research Centre in the Humanities is a major new initiative that seeks to build on this heritage and to stimulate and support research that transcends disciplinary and institutional boundaries. Here [they] feature some of the networks and programmes, as well as recordings of events, and offer insights into the research that they make possible.

For original post, see

For more on the writer, see

Posted by: ivetteromero | July 28, 2015

Marsha Gomes-McKie and the Caribbean Books Foundation

CBF.33072In “A showcase for Caribbean books,” Verdel Bishop (Trinidad Express) writes about the Caribbean Books Foundation (CBF) and its founder, Trinidadian Marsha Gomes-McKie. Bishops says, “Although the Caribbean book industry continues to face a plethora of issues, there is a new NGO offering help.” Here are excerpts—please see the full article in the link below:

Caribbean Books Foundation (CBF), founded by Marsha Gomes-McKie, offers the most critical assistance as well as provide a starting point to ensure that authors have a supportive platform to thrive and succeed. The CBF’s main focus is to support authors by providing a promotional platform for their books after they are published regardless of being traditionally published or self-published.

Through CBF, which Gomes-McKie established in 2013, she has been reaching out and getting to know other authors around the Caribbean. It all started when Gomes-McKie, who is an author herself, envisioned a place where Caribbean writers can showcase their books to the world in one place. Gomes-McKie described the Foundation as a creative force.

[. . .] The website,, catalogues books listed by genre, author and country. Each book has a separate page where a reader can see the book cover, the author’s name and book name, the publisher and a summary of the book. Links are included to where the books can be purchased online and bookstores. Books are reviewed and placed online for free. The website also provides an ISBN app to pull Goodreads reviews. Gomes-McKie noted that there is a lot more that the Foundation can offer. [. . .] This year cataloguing is the CBF’s main mandate. There are also plans to reach out to stakeholders for support to launch a one-of-a-kind folklore competition in addition to setting up an office.

Gomes-McKie is the regional adviser for the Caribbean South Chapter of the Society of Children Book Writers and Illustrators, an International NGO committed to children’s literature. She is a member of the Writers Union and Women in Art of Trinidad and Tobago. She is a published author of a line of children’s books, Aunty Marsha Children’s Books, which she writes and illustrates personally. She also writes romance and folklore fantasy fiction. She is a public relations innovator and avid Caribbean book reviewer.

[. . .] Gomes-McKie said Caribbean literature is alive and booming. “We aren’t just building a catalogue of books written by Caribbean authors, we are building a fortress of proof that Caribbean Literature is alive and thriving. The Foundation is the only NGO dedicated towards assisting authors after they have published their book. It is fast becoming an inventory for readers to find Caribbean books to read. Each author begins alone but when he joins the team his confidence rises, the probability that he’ll write another book rises. The author begins to look at his peers with admiration, competitively even. He wants to put his best foot forward, to have a better book cover, and superbly edited book to get better reviews,” she said.

[. . .] She singled out groups like The Writers Union of Trinidad and Tobago for their continued support.

For further information, visit, Facebook: Caribbean Books Foundation, Twitter: @BooksCaribbean, or e-mail

For full article, see

Posted by: ivetteromero | July 28, 2015

Rediscovery of Black-capped Petrels (Diablotins) on Dominica


Environmental Protection in the Caribbean (EPIC) finds one of the world’s most rare seabirds active on Dominica. Here is the joint press release dated July 28, 2015 from EPIC and BirdsCaribbean. Our congratulations to Adam C. Brown (senior biologist, co-founder and lead scientist at EPIC) and his team, as well as to the Forestry, Wildlife and Parks Division of Dominica’s environmental ministry. This news was released today at the BirdsCaribbean 20th International Meeting, which is taking place at the Knutsford Court Hotel in Kingston, Jamaica. Tomorrow will be the last day of the conference.

A team of scientists from EPIC and Dominica’s Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries have recorded – for the first time – 968 Diablotin, also known as the Black-capped Petrel, over the mountains of Dominica, a Lesser Antillean island for which the last confirmed date of nesting of that species is 1862. This rare seabird was once abundant on Dominica, but thought to be extirpated in the late 1800s due to overhunting and the introduction of mammalian species. Observations made with radar and supplemented by detection of vocalizations showed large numbers of petrels flying between the sea and potential nest areas in the island’s highest peaks. Details of the expedition are being released at the 20th International Meeting of BirdsCaribbean, taking place now in Kingston, Jamaica.

Adam Brown, Co-Founder and Lead Scientist at EPIC states, “Finding this colony of petrels on Dominica is a real game-changer for Black-capped Petrel conservation. For years we thought the only remaining colonies of petrels were on Hispaniola, where nesting habitat is diminishing at an alarming rate and pressures of human activity are significant. Dominica is an island-nation where nature conservation is a high priority and forests needed by petrels are well protected, so we now have a huge new opportunity to undertake conservation efforts to preserve this imperiled species.”

Biologists from EPIC and the Forestry, Wildlife and Parks Division of Dominica’s environmental ministry teamed up in January 2015 to do a systematic survey of the entire island of Dominica to locate Diablotin and determine its status. The Diablotin is a very difficult bird to study, as it is a seabird that comes to shore only for a few months of the year to breed, flying into forested mountains at night to underground burrows. A portable marine radar array and night vision scopes allowed biologists to locate, identify and count flying petrels in in the dark. This technique was developed and used successfully to study Diablotin on Hispaniola.

The next step is to confirm breeding by locating active nests. The team is confident that petrels observed on Dominica are breeding but the discovery of birds, eggs or chicks in burrows would make their presence a certainty. Biologists will make expeditions into the mountains in early 2016 when breeding petrels are expected to return to Dominica. Dominica’s forests, many pristine due to strong protections, would appear to offer prime nesting habitat to petrels, but also make locating burrows a challenge.

The Diablotin is considered one of the world’s rarest seabirds with an estimate of only 1,000-2,000 pairs remaining, and until recently, known to nest only on the island of Hispaniola (comprising the nations of Haiti and Dominican Republic). Biologists and others, who have formed an International Black-capped Petrel Conservation Group, held out hope that the species persisted on Dominica, buoyed by occasional findings of adult birds on the ground in coastal or inland areas. However, numerous searches to find evidence of nesting of this species on Dominica during the second half of the 20th century were unsuccessful. The dramatic re-discovery of Diablotin on Dominica gives that nation a huge role in securing the future of this species.

For full post, see

First accessed via Petchary’s Blog (Thanks Petchary! And thanks to Rod Fusco for bringing this item to our attention.):

Also see and


Anny Shaw (The Art Newspaper) writes that Trinidadian artist Zak Ové’s sculptures will be unveiled in the Great Court this week, before going on display in the African galleries. In the photo above (by the artist), Katie Morais from the British Museum reaches out to one of Ové’s Moko Jumbie sculptures installed for the museum’s “Celebrating Africa” festival.

Works by the Trinidadian artist Zak Ové on show in the British Museum’s Great Court will enter the institution’s collection later this year. Ové’s Moko Jumbie sculptures are on display at the London museum as part of the Celebrating Africa season (28 July-13 September), and are due to be installed in the museum’s African galleries in September. Ové is the first Caribbean artist to be commissioned by the British Museum.

Moko Jumbies are stilt-walkers who represent West African deities or spirits. The ritual was brought to the Americas where it was disguised in masquerade and incorporated into carnival celebrations. “The Moko Jumbies are rooted in the emancipatory traditions of Trinidadian carnival and represent the connection between past and future, ambition and possibility,” Ové says.

Ové, who grew up between London and Trinidad, works in sculpture, film, painting and photography. His Moko Jumbie sculptures are made from found, cast and recycled materials.

“It is an honour to be the first Caribbean artist to be commissioned by the British Museum; the Great Court is one of the most iconic spaces in London,” Ové says. “The sculptures will then be installed in the African galleries, my favourite part of the British Museum, becoming part of the permanent collection.” [. . .]

For full article, see

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