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Kevin Zimmerman writes about how the theatrical production “Sanco: A Guyanese Thriller!” came about. The play will be performed on April 10 – April 19 (Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30pm, Sundays at 5 pm) at the Springfield Gardens Church of Christ, located at 144-04 Farmers Boulevard., Springfield Gardens in Jamaica, New York.

In April 2014, Hillcrest High School theater teacher Harlan Penn traveled to Guyana as part of a church mission, but took time to meet with several acting companies while there. His grandparents emigrated from the Bahamas and his wife, Claudette, had come to New York from Jamaica, so Penn, 38, always had an interest in Caribbean culture.  And his career in stage design — he works at Hillcrest High’s Theatre Institute as technical director as well as a freelance designer — plays to his interest in what happens behind the curtain.

He was impressed with the burgeoning theater scene located in the country’s capital city of Georgetown, but quickly noticed something was missing. [. . .] Back home in Elmont, L.I., Penn decided his first step should be to raise money for the effort. So he set about to co-produce a show with the Theater Guild of Guyana. Unfortunately, his work proved futile. [. . .] So, the deacon at the Springfield Gardens Church of Christ figured he would start his own.

Within a couple of months of his trip, Penn formed and received non-profit status for his American-Caribbean Theatre Alliance. By August of last year, the group had staged its first production, “Uncle Joe’s Patty Shop.” The original comedy, written by Penn, was set in a patty shop — the Jamaican version of an empanada, a patty comes with a variety of fillings and baked in a flaky shell — and focused on the employees, customers and owners of the Chinese restaurant next door.

[. . .] That’s a theme Penn carried over to the group’s second show, “What Goes Up, Must Come Down,” which it performed in January. In that play, also set in Jamaica and also written by Penn, a young married couple basically prove they are willing to do anything to get to the United States. The wife even ends up buying a U.S. visa.

[. . .] “Sanco: A Guyanese Thriller!” begins with the murder of a young Indo-Guyanese woman, the daughter of one of the country’s political ministers, and follows two police detectives, the veteran Afro-Guyanese and rookie Indo-Guyanese, as they attempt to find her killer before the country collapses into a racially charged civil war.  Although purely fiction, Penn’s new play draws on the real history of racial conflicts that continue to divide Guyana’s two largest ethnic groups. [. . .]

For more information, call (347) 551-7468 or see www.actashows.com

[Reach News Editor by e-mail at kzimmerman@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4541.]

For full article, see http://www.timesledger.com/stories/2015/13/play_2015_03_27_q.html

Posted by: lisaparavisini | April 1, 2015

Marc Anthony, Carlos Vives announce joint tour

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Latin Superstars Marc Anthony and Carlos Vives are all set to team up to embark on a North American Tour.

The singers are hitting the road with the UNIDO2, a play on the word “United”, and performing in cities throughout the US and Canada, reported Billboard magazine.

The duo will kick off the trek on September 11 in Anthony’s native Puerto Rico.

Anthony, 46, and Vives are continuing their success from the hit single Cuando Nos Volvamos a Encontrar (When We Meet Again), which won the Latin Grammy Award for Best Tropical Song last year (14), and also earned nominations for Record and Song of the Year.

Posted by: lisaparavisini | April 1, 2015

Better lives sought for larimar miners in Dominican Republic

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The men in ragged clothes, many barefoot and covered in grime, scramble deep into the earth, searching for veins of a blue-green stone believed to exist only in the southwestern mountains of the Dominican Republic, Ezequiel Abiu López reports for the Associated Press.

The stone is larimar, and its existence under these wooded slopes has been both a boon and a curse for men such as Juan Pablo Feliz, who says there is no other work in the impoverished region. Few strike it rich, but the gem has provided modest incomes for about 1,000 miners and their families since they began working the deposits four decades ago.

Now, Dominican officials are trying to make mining safer and more profitable for the men who toil in roughly five dozen makeshift tunnels that pockmark the forested mountains of Barahona province like ugly scars.

In March, authorities celebrated the completion of a 400-yard tunnel meant to make the work safer. And the government opened a school last fall to train locals to cut and polish larimar and turn it into jewelry, hoping to increase their meager income. Prices for larimar jewelry can vary from a few dollars for a bauble sold on a Dominican beach to thousands of dollars in an upscale store or abroad.

“The idea is to give some added value to the stone, and to see that value stay in this region,” said Brunildo Espinosa, director of the school, which now has 130 students whose works will be sold at a state-sponsored store in the Punta Cana resort complex and in the capital, Santo Domingo.

The new projects are part of the government’s efforts to promote tourism in Barahona and neighboring Pedernales province, which share some of the most beautiful seascapes of the country, including the pristine Bahia de las Aguilas.

The view of the Caribbean from the mountains where miners toil inspired the stone’s name — “mar” coming from the Spanish word for sea and “Lari” from “Larissa,” the name of the daughter of local craftsman Miguel Mendez. He is the man who found the larimar deposits in 1974 with help from Norman Rilling, a geologist who was in the Dominican Republic as a Peace Corps volunteer.

“It was a big deal,” Mendez told The Associated Press. “It was the only new thing to happen for local crafts.”

Mendez recently reopened a crafts shop in Santo Domingo to create sophisticated designs with the colorful stone. He said demand is also strong in China, India and Russia, but he hopes the opening of the local jewelry school may help keep more larimar in the Dominican Republic, meaning greater profits for the local community.

“The country has had a shortage of good jewelers. The school is a good start,” he said.

State involvement in the mines grew out of the bleak conditions underground and a pair of deadly accidents. In 2006, four workers died from asphyxiation, and two others were lost in 2013.

The mines can run as deep as 400 feet. Mud-covered men squirm through tight spaces in suffocating heat with only a string of dim lightbulbs in some parts of the passages. There are no helmets or protective goggles in sight.

Wooden support planks protect the miners from collapse and snaking lines of perforated tubes deliver oxygen to them as they dig underground. Even these innovations are relatively recent, workers say.

“Of course there’s risk, but there’s no other work so you have to do it,” Feliz said as he repaired a ventilator needed to supply oxygen to a dozen men waiting to dig about 200 feet below ground.

The new tunnel is intended to provide safer working conditions in the mines and some order to the chaotic sector. It was built with European Union aid at a cost of $5 million dollars, including construction of a local road and school.

The tunnel, which will be open for use in April, will also help miners reach more significant veins of larimar, said Jose Gomez, vice president of one mining cooperative.

The local mining cooperatives have held the right to dig since the early 1980s. They don’t pay taxes and there are no official statistics about the economic impact of this growing informal industry.

But for the miners, digging for larimar is worth the risk.

For the original report go to http://www.sltrib.com/home/2355321-155/better-lives-sought-for-larimar-miners

Posted by: ivetteromero | April 1, 2015

New Book: “Islam and the Americas”

61RVtAchQ9L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_Islam and the Americas (University Press of Florida), edited by Aisha Khan (New York University) will be launched at the Hagop Kevorkian Center for Near Eastern Studies at New York University on April 9, 2015, 5:00-6:30pm.

Islam and the Americas—described by Dr. Walter D. Mignolo as “A tour de force that underwrites and shifts the petrified image of Islam disseminated by mainstream media”—includes chapters on Islam in Suriname, Puerto Rico, Guadalupe, Mexico, Brazil, Trinidad, and the Bahamas. I can’t wait to read this one! Congratulations to Dr. Khan and all the contributors, and a special shout out to my former colleague Jerusa Ali (“Bahamian and Brazilian Muslimahs: Struggle for Identity and Belonging”).

Description: In case studies that include the Caribbean, Latin America, and the United States, the contributors to this interdisciplinary volume trace the establishment of Islam in the Americas over the past three centuries. They simultaneously explore Muslims’ lived experiences and examine the ways Islam has been shaped in the “Muslim minority” societies in the New World, including the Gilded Age’s fascination with Orientalism, the gendered interpretations of doctrine among Muslim immigrants and local converts, the embrace of Islam by African American activist-intellectuals like Malcolm X, and the ways transnational hip hop artists re-create and reimagine Muslim identities.

For more information, see http://www.amazon.com/Islam-Americas-New-World-Diasporas/dp/0813060133

Also see http://neareaststudies.as.nyu.edu/object/kc.events.khan and http://neareaststudies.as.nyu.edu/page/home

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Costa Rica announced Wednesday that it began operations to repair damages caused by Nicaraguan ships dredging an island disputed by the two countries, The Tico Times reports.

A statement from the Costa Rican Foreign Ministry said that the operation to close the canals in Isla Portillos, a small wetland in the far eastern border with Nicaragua, could last several weeks.

Both countries claim Isla Portillos, which is at the center of a dispute at the International Court of Justice at The Hague, as their own.

According to the Foreign Ministry, the project began after notifying the world court, the Nicaraguan government and the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands.

The case dates back to September 2013, when Costa Rican authorities discovered that Nicaragua had been dredging canals through the area to connect the San Juan River with the Caribbean Sea despite the fact that the court had declared the territory “disputed.”

San José asked the world court to order an immediate cessation of all construction, which was accepted by The Hague. The court authorized Costa Rica to develop plans to avoid further damages to the island in coordination with the Ramsar Convention.

In its statement, the Foreign Ministry noted that it was forced to rent a helicopter to transport material required for the work after Nicaragua blocked its access to the site via the San Juan River.

For the original report go to http://www.ticotimes.net/2015/04/01/costa-rica-begins-repairing-damages-on-island-disputed-by-nicaragua

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As Harlem continues to shift into a new era, plans are slated to renovate a local firehouse on 120 East 125th Street to serve as the new home for the historic East Harlem Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute (CCCADI).

To celebrate CCCADI’s next chapter in its existence in the community since 1976, the institute will host its First Annual Spring Gala in Harlem’s historic Alhambra Ballroom on April 25, 2015. Long established as a major cultural force in the community, the CCCADI gala will take participants back in time to the big band era of the 1950’s featuring entertainment by the acclaimed Mambo Legends Orchestra in celebration of Graciela, known as the first lady of Latin Song with guest artist vocalist Cita Rodriguez who will present a special evening’s tribute to Graciela.

The Center’s gala also honors the contributions of several highly esteemed community member including:

Lorraine Cortes Vazquez, Vice President of Multi-Cultural Markets and Engagement at AARP; Eugene Giscombe, President and chief executive of The Giscombe Realty Group in Harlem; Mario Baeza, Esq. Founder, Baeza & Co.; and Chairman, TCW/Latin America Partners, L.L.C.; Lucky Rivera, Community organizer and founder of Positive Workforce in El Barrio.

CCCADI’s Impacts Cultural Landscape

While Harlem continues to experience an ever expanding demographic shift, the CCCADI has maintained a foundation which honors the artistic, intellectual and cultural brilliance of the African Diaspora. Dr. Marta Moreno Vega, President and Founder of CCCADI, has diligently worked to spearhead programming which produces culturally-grounded, purpose-driven and activist-oriented works. For nearly four decades, CCCADI’s history has proven the center to be an incubator and springboard for artistic and intellectual brilliance, community-building initiatives and cutting-edge academic works presented in engaging ways.

Over the decades, CCADI has presented transcendent talent including: Celia Cruz, Max Roach, Amiri Baraka, Tito Puente, Dizzy Gillespie, Wynton Marsalis, Cassandra Wilson, Hugh Masekela and Ladysmith Black Mambazo. In addition, CCCADI has hosted international gatherings and curated countless groundbreaking shows, such as Transforming the Crown: African, Asian and Caribbean Artists in Britain, 1966-1996 (1996), which amassed more than 100 works into an exhibition that was simultaneously on-view at CCCADI, The Studio Museum in Harlem, and The Bronx Museum of the Arts. The landmark exhibition became a model for institutional collaboration.

Next Chapter – A Harlem Firehouse & Gala to Celebrate The Move

And now, for the next chapter of the institute’s direction, is the move to the renovated firehouse on at 120 E. 125th Street in El Barrio. Renovations will begin April, 2015 and expected to end in late 2016.

“We’ve established a solid footprint in the community,” says Moreno Vega. “This move places us strategically amidst the communities we serve and extends the rich cultural throughway of 125th Street eastward. Our forthcoming gala celebrates our forward move…it will centralize the programs in the heart of the community.”

The gala in April celebrates 39 years of serving the community and expects to fill the Alhambra ballroom with nearly 300 supporters, community members, those from well-established Caribbean and Latino families as well as philanthropists, corporate and financial executives, educators and young professionals. Proceeds from the event will start CCCADI’s new chapter for its move to the state of the art renovated firehouse. It is the start of a new phase which will further solidify CCCADI as a major cultural landscape stakeholder.

“Crafting a momentous symbolic bridge, this new location will allow CCCADI to connect the African and African American communities of West and Central Harlem with the Latino populations historically residing east of 5th Avenue,” notes Moreno Vega. “Our gala promises an array of sharing, celebration and source of energy for the next leg of our journey.”

CCCADI values, connects and advocates for the traditions, history, culture and advancement of the African Diaspora. Through the dual tenants of arts and advocacy, CCCADI aims to create a paradigm shift within the global community toward cultural equity and social justice via new standards, policies and language. The Center is an accessible community resource, which produces culturally grounded, purpose-driven and activist-oriented works, while simultaneously serving as a beacon of motivation and inspiration for many.

The gala will be held on Saturday, April 25th, 2015. Reception @7pm | Dinner & Program @ 8 PM at the Alhambra Ballroom, 2116 Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvd. | Harlem. Call 212-307-7420, email info@cccadi.org or visit cccadi.orgfor more information.

Dr. Marta Moreno Vega (President and Founder, CCCADI) established the center in 1976, inspired by a vision to create an international organization to promote and link communities of African. She has guided the capital campaign for the renovation of the landmark firehouse at 120 East 125th Street that will be the Center’s new home. Dr. Moreno Vega has been an advocate for cultural equity cultural studies and education. As the second director of El Museo del Barrio, one of the founders of the Association of Hispanic Arts, Network of Centers of Color and the Roundtable of Institutions of Colors. Dr. Moreno Vega has contributed to assuring that the contributions of African and African descendants are integral to the lives of civil society in the Americas.

Dr. Moreno Vega has conducted research in Yoruba belief systems in the African Diaspora and has organized international conferences uniting scholars and leading traditional experts focused on expanding the knowledge and importance of sacred African Diaspora traditions. Moreno Vega is co-founder of the Global Afro Latino and Caribbean Initiative (GALCI), a former program of Hunter College/Latin American and Caribbean Studies Program. She is chief editor ofWomen Warriors of the Afro-Latina Diaspora (Arte Publico Press) and author of The Altar of My Soul (One World/Ballantine, 2001). She is director and co-producer of the documentary When the Spirits Dance Mambo: Growing Up Nuyorican in El Barrio and has written a personal memoir by the same name (Three Rivers Press, 2003). Dr. Moreno Vega also co-edited Actualidad de las Tradiciones Espirituales y Culturales Africanas en el Caribe y Latinoamerica with Maria Elba Torres Munoz and A SNAP SHOT: Landmarking Community Cultural Arts Organizations Nationally with Dr. Sonia Bassheva Manjon.

Dr. Moreno Vega was a professor at El Centro de Estudios Avanzados Puertorriquenos de Puerto Rico y El Caribe in San Juan, Puerto Rico, is an adjunct professor at the Inter American University of Puerto Rico and an adjunct professor at New York University’s Department of Arts and Public Policy. Previously, she was an adjunct professor of Afro-Caribbean Religions and Afro Latinos in New York City at Hunter College, City University of New York where she was acting director of the Latin American and Caribbean Studies Program.

Posted by: lisaparavisini | April 1, 2015

Book helps girls love their natural hair

My Hair Grows Like A Tree

This review of Tamika Phillips’ My Hair Grows Like a Tree appeared in Trinidad’s Guardian.

It always perturbs me that in the 21st Century in the Caribbean many women are still negatively criticised about their hair. I am particularly astounded by the way people treat women who have tight curly hair that is not chemically straightened.

Some women have been told that natural hair is not professional. Some have been told that they do not have “good hair,” and some forms of hairstyles have been outright banned in institutions.

While I cannot recall a recent reported incident in Trinidad of women being shamed for their natural hair, there was an incident last year in Barbados which made regional news of a school that forbid natural hairstyles and told a senior student that her hairstyle was too “unsettling and flamboyant” for school.

The constant policing of women’s natural hair has become such a point of concern that I wonder why women are taught to hate the hair that they are born with. However, one author is attempting to celebrate women’s natural hair by linking natural hair to the majestic beauty of trees.

When I first picked up Tamika Phillip’s book My Hair Grows Like a Tree, I was truly excited. Finally, I thought, a book that aims to empower young girls to love their hair.

My Hair Grows Like a Tree is a workbook-styled children’s book that helps teach young girls how to love their natural hair. In her note to the readers, Phillip says the book series is “for young girls and women to learn about themselves and the Earth.”

The book is printed back to front, and I suspect it is her attempt to invert the way natural hair is perceived in society. Each page has a picture of a young girl with her hair growing like a tree.

One picture shows a girl depicted as a tree, comparing the girl’s body to the different properties of a tree.

It reads, “Like the pipelines of a tree trunk my cells feed energy from my body to my hair. The Earth in and around you, the outer layer of a trunk is to a tree as your skin is to your body.”

The body positive perspective of Phillip’s book is very admirable as she deals with both the many different types of hair and ancestral heritage many women with naturally curly hair come from.

One picture shows a girl whose hair is depicted as Africa and inside of the continent there are pictures of different women, both sculptures of women and women from different tribes.

Phillip asks the readers what they have in common with the women in the picture in an attempt to get girls to appreciate their cultural and historical ancestry. “Like trees, our hair grows from our roots.”

However, while Phillip’s ideas around body positive imagery were brilliant, her execution left much to be desired. The workbook literally felt like an essay-type question on each page, and I wonder if children look forward to extra work after they come home from school? As a child the last thing I would want is more homework in my leisure reading.

I also wonder if young girls are able to appreciate her work. While the layout of the book may appeal to young children, the level of questions and metaphors in the book may be too advanced for children and some young adults.

I also do not think Phillip gave much thought into her readership and the impact her book would have on them. In the preamble of the book, Phillip said the book was written with mothers and daughters in mind so that the adults could help young girls learn about themselves and the Earth.

While it is great to have a book that helps mothers encourage their daughters to love their hair, I think she neglects to acknowledge that some of these women may have gone through decades of self-loathing towards their own hair and thus found it difficult to help their daughters along. I hope parents, particularly mothers, pick up the book and together discover the love of their own hair, but we do live in a society where older women frequently tell younger women to maintain the status quo when it comes to their hair.

Despite the shortcomings, I hope people read and appreciate My Hair Grows Like a Tree. I grew up on books that depicted only white girls with blue or purple eyes who have straight hair that was either red or blond. I never saw myself in a literary character as a child, and still rarely see the representation of women with different shades and hair textures as an adult, especially in pop literature. Representation matters and I hope that more authors follow Phillip’s example and write more stories celebrating the natural beauty of all different types of women.

My Hair Grows Like a Tree is available in Trinidad at all Cher-Mere locations, Body Beautiful on Ariapita Avenue and RIK Bookstores from April.

For the original report go to http://www.guardian.co.tt/lifestyle/2015-04-01/book-helps-girls-love-their-natural-hair

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It’s just fascinating to see how the Caribbean can be depicted, reflected, translated, distilled, reinterpreted and re-presented through so many lenses and layers. Next week, on Wednesday, April 8, at 9:00pm, the Caribbean will be shown in Criminal Minds in an episode set in Barbados, and representations of the Caribbean within the episode will appear through the tropical paintings of Maine artist David Clough‘s watercolors, which he painted in the British Virgin Islands, St. Lucia, Haiti, and the Bahamas.

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“It’s a thrill,” the Cumberland Foreside resident said March 27. “Artists go through episodes in their lives; sometimes they get some recognition, sometimes they don’t.” It’s particularly exciting for Clough, 83, who said he has always been infatuated with movies and Hollywood.

His Caribbean works caught the eye of “Criminal Minds” set director K.C. Fox while she toured a gallery in the British Virgin Islands. She brought a few of them home to California, Clough said, and Fox later contacted him about including his paintings in an episode of the show to be set in Barbados.

“When it happened, I thought, ‘well, this is my moment,'” said Clough, whose paintings also hang at Town Landing Market in Falmouth. The former longtime Falmouth resident has been painting for 40 years. Prior to going into art full-time 25 years ago – “I threw in the towel and picked up my paint brush,” he recalled – his career included advertising and the travel and hospitality industries.

Along with painting scenes from the Caribbean, where he was once marketing director for Holiday Inn, he also captures scenes from Portland and coastal Maine on canvas.

Clough said he watches “Criminal Minds” – a series in its 10th year about a team of FBI profilers – “from time to time.” Of course, he will be tuning in next Wednesday, and anticipates that a few of his friends will, too. [. . .]

See more work by David Clough at http://davidclough.com/CaribbeanOriginals.htm

For original article, see http://www.theforecaster.net/news/print/2015/03/31/cumberland-artists-work-appear-network-tv-show/228698

Posted by: ivetteromero | April 1, 2015

Art Review: ‘EN MAS’ Traces Common Roots at CAC

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John D’Addario (The New Orleans Advocate) reviews “EN MAS’: Carnival and Performance Art of the Caribbean,” which is now on view through June 7, 2015, at the Contemporary Arts Center (CAC), located at 900 Camp Street in New Orleans, Louisiana. Co-curated by Claire Tancons and Krista Thompson, “EN MAS” incorporates objects, video and sound to explore contemporary, performance-based Carnival culture. D’Addario writes:

It isn’t clear who was the first to call New Orleans “the northernmost city of the Caribbean.” But the sentiment has been repeated so often it’s become a cliché. Like most clichés, it contains a certain truth. And few things provide more evidence of New Orleans’ close cross-cultural relationship to places on the other side of the Gulf of Mexico than its common Carnival traditions. Several of those traditions are the focus of an exhibition at the Contemporary Arts Center. “EN MAS’: Carnival and Performance Art of the Caribbean.” Co-curated by Claire Tancons and Krista Thompson, “EN MAS’ ” incorporates objects, video and sound to explore the complex layers of contemporary performance-based Carnival culture.

[. . .] For Tancons, “EN MAS’ ” is the culmination of years of travel research and curatorial experiments and grew out of her and her colleague Krista Thompson’s relationships to the places explored and the artists featured in the exhibition. “I originated the idea of an exhibition looking at the relationship between Carnival and contemporary art in 2009 when I was associate curator at the CAC,” she said. “My life and experiences in New Orleans and the Caribbean have greatly contributed to shaping my outlook about how Carnival and other popular festivals have given way to contemporary performance and art practices at large.”

[. . .] But if you go to the CAC expecting to see a distinctly New Orleanian Carnival tradition mirrored in places as diverse as Trinidad, Martinique and the Bahamas, you may be in for a jolt. “EN MAS’ ” doesn’t so much link New Orleans explicitly to its Caribbean counterparts as it shows how the performative aspects of different Carnival practices are distinct to individual cultures and to individual artists in the show. So while many of the general motifs on display in “EN MAS’ ” may be familiar — masking, parading, and music making — the ways they’re manifested are continually surprising.

The performances documented in the exhibition were commissioned by its organizers and took place over the 2014 Carnival season, and their documentation forms the basis of each of the nine sections of the show. (Exhibition designers usually go unnoticed, but Gia Wolff’s stunning design for “EN MAS’ ” deserves a special commendation: This is the best-looking and most intelligently presented show to appear at the CAC in recent memory.)

Like Carnival itself, “EN MAS’ ” is visually and sonically dense, and there are a lot of highlights here — starting with the startling masked assemblages by Trinidad’s Marlon Griffith that confront you at the entrance to the exhibition.

[. . .] Those issues are also explored in a performance by Jamaica’s Charles Campbell, in which upper- and middle-class participants were led through a traditionally “volatile” area of Kingston in a procession that culminated in the spectators donning geometric-styled masks and becoming part of the spectacle themselves.

[. . .] Other highlights include Cauleen Smith’s melodic deconstruction of New Orleans’ own “sonic landscape” and a display of elaborately decorated coffin-shaped objects by Ebony G. Patterson that commemorate the victims of a series of police and government security raids on Kingston’s urban Tivoli Gardens community in 2010.

They represent a more explicitly politicized Carnival vernacular than New Orleans audiences are used to seeing (Krewe du Vieux notwithstanding), and in the context of “EN MAS’ ” become a succinct visual distillation of the often contradictory elements that make Carnival culture so provocative — no matter where in the world it takes place.

For full review, see http://www.theneworleansadvocate.com/entertainment/11947402-171/common-roots-traced-in-carnival

Also see http://cacno.org/

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 A post by Peter Jordens.

Jamaican-American poet Claudia Rankine has won the 2014 National Book Critics Circle (NBCC) Award for Poetry with her book Citizen: An American Lyric (Graywolf Press, 2014). Citizen was also a finalist in the criticism category, making it the first book in the award’s history to be a double nominee. The winners were announced during an evening ceremony at the New School’s Tishman Auditorium in New York City.

“In Citizen, Rankine maps the uneasiness and charged space of living race now, miraculously breaking racism’s intractability down into human-sized installations, accounts of relationships and examples of speech,” said a release put forward by the NBCC on this year’s winners.

Jeffrey Shotts, Executive Editor at Graywolf Press, attended the ceremony. “Claudia Rankine’s double nomination for the National Book Critics Circle Awards was historic,” he said. “That her book, Citizen, has gone on to win one of them is remarkable. Citizen is becoming that truly unique kind of book: a defining text for our time. Graywolf is immensely proud to be Claudia’s publisher, and to celebrate the achievement that this award represents.”

Through poetry, essay, cultural criticism, and visual images, Claudia Rankine explores what it means to be an American citizen in a “post-racial” society. Citizen was published in October 2014 to wide acclaim, and went on to be a National Book Award finalist, a New York Times best seller, and an NAACP Image Award winner. The New Yorker, Boston Globe, The Atlantic, NPR, Los Angeles Times, Slate, and many other publications named Citizen one of the best books of the year.

Claudia Rankine was born in Jamaica in 1963 and moved with her family to New York when she was 7. She currently serves as chancellor of the Academy of American Poets and teaches at Pomona College in California.

Sources: http://www.susumba.com/books/news/claudia-rankine-receives-national-book-critics-circle-award-poetry and https://www.graywolfpress.org/news/congratulations-claudia-rankine-wins-national-book-critics-circle-award-poetry

For more about the award-winning book, go to https://www.graywolfpress.org/books/citizen or

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/11/29/books/claudia-rankine-on-citizen-and-racial-politics.html (review).

For more about Claudia Rankine, visit http://www.poetryfoundation.org/bio/claudia-rankine and

http://www.pomona.edu/news/2015/03/12-rankine-nbcc.aspx.

Also see our previous post Poet Claudia Rankine: ‘Racism works purely on perception’ in America.

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