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Our thanks to Peter Jordens for bringing this item to our attention.

Mexican author Guilie Castillo Oriard’s The Miracle of Small Things (Truth Serum Press, August 2015) will be launched in Curaçao at Mensing’s Caminada on Saturday February 13th at 4:00 pm, the Curaçao Chronicle reports.

The Miracle of Small Things tells the story of Mexican lawyer Luis Villalobos, lured to Curaçao with the promise of a fast track to the cusp of an already stellar career in tax planning. But then he sleeps with his boss, takes in a monster mongrel, loses corporate brownie points for insisting on doing the right thing, and discovers the paradise we expect is only very, very rarely the paradise we find.

Since its release in August last year, reader opinions have been enthusiastic:

The Miracle of Small Things is an ode to the stark contrasts and subtle beauty of island life.” — Lynne Hinkey, author of Marina Melee and Ye Gods! A Tale of Dogs and Demons

“Curaçao is lovingly rendered, past and present, as a character itself — post-colonial, starkly beautiful, and captivating. You cannot read this book without checking airfares to Curaçao.” — John Wentworth Chapin, author of Alexandrite and founder of 52|250 A Year of Flash

“A richly enchanting story of lives and loves unfolding against the backdrop of the Caribbean.” — Silvia Villalobos, author of Stranger or Friend

Read more opinions, reviews at Amazon.com and the Internet Review of Books, or get a taste of Miracle.

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Guilie Castillo Oriard is a Mexican export herself; she transferred to Curaçao “for six months” — and, twelve years later, has yet to find a reason to leave. Her work has been published online and in print anthologies, including Pure Slush’s 2014 A Year In Stories (full listhere.)

Besides reading choice excerpts from Miracle and signing books at the launch event, the author aims to start a conversation about some of the themes in Miracle: Are there two — or more — Curaçaos? Does this island project the same reality to everyone, local or immigrant, who lives here? Does anywhere? What impact does our sense of place have in how we define ourselves?

The book is available in paperback as well as e-formats (ePub, iBook,Kindle, etc.), and can be purchased at select bookstores in the United States. In Curaçao, it’s available exclusively at Mensing’s Caminada.

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Politicians and pundits in the Caribbean country are unhappy about the Peruvian Nobel laureate’s comments about a law that stripped thousands of citizenship, Sibylla Brodzinsky reports for London’s Guardian.

The decision to grant a literary prize in the Dominican Republic to Nobel laureate Mario Vargas Llosa has prompted protests from politicians and pundits, angered by what they say has been the Peruvian writer’s “disrespect” of the Caribbean country.

A group of Dominican and foreign academics chose Vargas Llosa, who won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2010, as the recipient of the Pedro Henríquez Ureña literary prize in April.

But Gustavo Montalvo, the Dominican minister of the presidency, said in a statement that the prize would be inappropriate because of the author’s comments about a controversial Dominican court ruling on immigration in 2013 that stripped thousands of people born in the Dominican Republic – mostly of Haitian origin – of their citizenship.

Montalvo said that while he did not question Vargas Llosa’s literary merits, it would be inappropriate to give him a prize because of his “aggressive and false comments about laws and their application in the country.”

In a 2013 article published in the Spanish newspaper El País, Vargas Llosa called the ruling by the Dominican constitutional court that stripped many ethnic Haitians of their Dominican nationality a “legal aberration” inspired by Hitler-era legal sentences that denied Jews German citizenship.

Montalvo called Vargas Llosa’s attitude toward the Dominican Republic “disrespectful and offensive”.

At the time that Vargas Llosa’s article was published, many Dominicans staged protests in the country burning copies of the author’s book Feast of the Goat, based on the dictatorship of Rafael Trujillo, who governed the Dominican Republic from 1930 until his assassination in 1961.

The publication of the novel in 2000 was not entirely well received in the Dominican Republic because many felt it painted the country in a dim light.

In a letter to the Dominican minister of culture Vargas Llosa said he was grateful for the prize. “The fact that, despite that incident, I am given this prize, speaks well of the democratic, tolerant and open spirit that luckily seems to prevail in the country.”

Dominican author Junot Díaz, whose novel The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao won the 2008 Pulitzer, was also heavily criticised for speaking out against the constitutional court’s decision and what he called the persecution of immigrants – mainly Haitians – in the Dominican Republic.

He was called “anti-Dominican” by the Dominican Republic’s consul in New York, who also stripped Díaz of the order of merit award given to him in 2009.

Posted by: lisaparavisini | February 11, 2016

VETERAN TRINIDADIAN BANDLEADER ‘PAL’ JOEY LEWIS DIES

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An obituary by Sean Edwards for World Music Central.

Joey Lewis, who, for 6 decades, led the longest -running, and last of Trinidad’s popular dance orchestras, died in the early hours of February 8, at 78. Diagnosed with colon cancer in 2011, he effectively stopped playing with the band (originally called the Teenagers) in 2012, weakened by the effects of chemotherapy.

Born on October 26th, 1937, in Gonzales, east Port of Spain, into a family of musicians (his father played guitar, and his mom sang), he began in the bands of elder brothers, Randolph, and Sonny.

Able to play any instrument, he first took to the piano – his electric keyboard riffs on an instrumental version of 1974’s “You’ll Always Be A Friend” by British group, Hot Chocolate, stand out- but the guitar made him popular.

In 1955, the Teenagers became the Joey Lewis Orchestra; its sound distinctly Trinidadian/calypso, but with strong Latin and jazz influences and elements.
He and the orchestra added the nickname ‘Pal’, after (seeing) the 1957 American film, ‘Pal Joey’, starring Frank Sinatra and Rita Haywood.

His 1960 hit, “Joey’s Saga”, in support of the ‘Saga Ting’ dance craze, introduced his unique guitar-strumming style, and saw them as the 1st to play on local television (as resident for the ‘Dance Party’ series).

In the golden era of dance bands (late 1940s to late 1970s), the Pal Joey Lewis Orchestra, with loyal members(, including, for 52 years, until his death in 2009, saxman, George Boucaud), took its place at the top, alongside those led by ‘Sir’ Sel Duncan, Clarence Curvan, the Dutchy (deVlugt) Brothers, and Fitz Vaughn Bryan.

It produced music for and to accompany the costumed masquerade bands on carnival parade days, and worked and recorded with established calypsonians such as the Mighty Sparrow, the Mighty Terror, the Mighty Duke, and soca (or party calypso) pioneer, Lord(later Ras) Shorty, as well as Barbados-born Singing Francine.
And, at a time when radio restricted the airplay of calypsos after carnival (especially in Lent), Joey Lewis’ instrumental versions helped maintain the genre’s profile, and, in the dances, popularity.

He toured North America(, meeting Harry Belafonte and jazz legend, Dizzie Gillespie, in 1964, briefly setting up base in Canada, in the early 1970s), the Caribbean and Europe, won the ‘Brass-o-Rama’ contest(, in which bands rendered instrumental arrangements of calypsos) in the carnival of 1979, and, in 2002, as Trinidad andTobago celebrated 40 years of independence, received a national award (the Humming Bird Medal) for his ‘services in the field of music’.

In all, the Joey Lewis Orchestra issued 83 albums, 142 singles and 12 CDs, (some, early on, for the RCA label) of originals like “ Pint of Wine”, “Bound To Dance” and “Debbie”, and covers (Kris Kristofferson’s “Why My Lord” and the Cuban classic, “Peanut Vendor”, among them), vocalists engaged sparingly; and continued entertaining sold-out audiences and lovers of ballroom dancing across the country all year ‘round to the present.

Clarence Curvan met Joey Lewis in brother, Sonny’s, band, before both went off to form their own. The two teamed up, a few years later, to create JoVan records. Now based in, and working out of New York City, USA, he remembers Joey ” …recommending that promoters hire me, even before I had a record. That…says a lot about his character. We maintained our relationship to the end“.

Another long-standing musician, saxophonist, Roy Cape, leader, from the late 1970s, of the All Stars, that backed calypsonians in the tents, and fetes (parties) but records mostly soca tunes, started with Curvan, after failing a 1961 audition with Lewis. He described him as “…a Rock of Gibraltar…with a huge influence on local music“.

‘Pal’ Joey Lewis ( October 26, 1937- February 8, 2016) leaves to mourn his wife of 52 years, Julia, children, Gerry (part of the orchestra since the 1980s, eventually assuming leadership), Joanne, Charmaine, Debra (about whom “Debbie” was written), Benedict, Judy and Gail, 8 grandchildren, 4 great grandchildren, and sister, Jean.

Posted by: lisaparavisini | February 11, 2016

Some of World’s Oldest Biblical Artifacts on Display in Cuba

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Cuba now hosts a collection of some of the rarest biblical texts and manuscripts in the world, cbn.com reports.

For the first time since the United States and Cuba restored their diplomatic relations, a cathedral in Santiago displays one of the largest private collections of ancient biblical artifacts.

The collection which contains historical biblical texts, manuscripts, and art is on display in Cuba until March 13.

The artifacts are pieces from the Museum of the Bible Collection, an organization that encourages people around the world to engage the Bible through exhibits containing authentic biblical artifacts.

The exhibit has given Cuba’s 11.2 million residents unique access to interact with the Bible up close and through the eyes of their own culture.

The Cuba exhibit entitled La Biblia: The Way of God in the Way of Man is a unique exploration of ancient biblical history and the Bible’s relevance in the Caribbean nation’s culture. The Cubans who attend the free exhibit view special artifacts from the Museum Collection, along with biblically themed art from Cuban artists.

Attendees will view a prized painting from Cuban priest Jesús Rivera of Bartolomé de las Casas. The priest is especially important to the nation’s history because of his celebrated devotion to human rights activism and the abolition of Caribbean slaves of the Spanish Empire.

The exhibit also displays anicent biblical texts on papyrus, a replica of one of the Dead Sea Scrolls, and the first Bible in the Spanish language.

David Trobisch, the collection director for Museum of the Bible said, “More than 30,000 peopple visited a similar exhibit in Havana in 2014, and we are thrilled to return to this vibrant country to share access to such a diverse collection of rare biblical artifacts with other Cubans.”

 

“Museum of the Bible’s vision is to invite all people to engage with the Bible,” Trobisch added.

The Museum of the Bible is advancing its vision to bring unity through the Bible by bringing pieces of the Cuba exhibit to the United States in 2017.

Next year many of the same artifacts from the Cuba exhibit will be on display in the 430,000-square-foot, $400 million museum on the Bible in Washington.

The Museum of the Bible plans to continue bringing the Bible and ancient biblical texts to people and nations around the world.

Posted by: lisaparavisini | February 11, 2016

Caribbean Whales Have an Accent

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Research shows Caribbean sperm whales share a unique regional call, Geoffrey Giller reports for Haiku Magazine. Go to the original report to hear the whale’s call.

If you want to know where someone comes from, you might listen to how they speak. Their accent or use of particular words may give you clues to their provenance. As it turns out, the same is true for whales. In a new study, scientists show how sperm whales from the Caribbean share a distinct call that whales from elsewhere in the world don’t make. And that’s not all: besides saying where they’re from, these whales also have specific calls for their family units, and even unique calls for themselves—names, of a sort.

Shane Gero, the lead author of the study and a research fellow at Aarhus University in Denmark, has been recording sperm whale calls in the Caribbean for more than a decade. Gero and his colleagues had previously suggested that whales may have individual calls, but that earlier work only involved a few whales. They also knew that whales in the Caribbean sounded different from Pacific sperm whales. Now, Gero is back with nearly 4,000 sperm whale calls recorded between 2005 and 2010. The large number of recordings in this study confirmed the existence of individual calls and showed that the Caribbean whales all share a call.

Using the huge number of calls—which sound like a series of clicks, and are also called codas—the scientists show how whales from across the Caribbean use a particular coda that doesn’t vary from whale to whale. When they make that call, “even using computers, we can’t tell individuals or [family] units apart,” says Gero. This uniformity, even among animals that don’t ever interact, indicates that this is a socially learned call across a shared culture, he says.

Gero contrasts the whales’ unwavering Caribbean coda with the calls that are distinct to each individual or family group. These three levels of codas—highly variable individual calls, shared family calls, and uniform regional calls—match the complex hierarchy of sperm whale communities in that they support the “social complexity hypothesis,” which says that species with more complex social structures should also have more complex communication.

“It’s an amazing data set,” says Stephanie King, a behavioral biologist at the University of Western Australia who discovered that bottlenose dolphins can learn each other’s “names” and was not involved in this research. Now that they have identified these codas, King thinks the next step should be playback experiments to see how whales respond to the various calls, something she’s done in her research on dolphins.

Besides the codas identified in this study, Gero says that there are about 20 other types of codas with roles they haven’t yet deduced. Figuring it out is no easy task: Gero compares it to suddenly being dropped in a foreign land and trying to understand the local language with just a microphone. But Gero hopes to figure it out before it’s too late: the Caribbean population of sperm whales is declining by about three to five percent every year.

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Lucas Iberico Lozada reviews “The Illusive Eye” is on view at El Museo del Barrio, New York, since February 3 and will continue through May 21, 2016. [Image above is by Cuban artist Lolo Soldevilla (Dolores Soldevilla, 1901-1971)]. Here are excerpts of the review:

An exhibition set to open at El Museo del Barrio in New York on February 3rd, “The Illusive Eye” takes as its point of departure a landmark 1965 show at the Museum of Modern Art, “The Responsive Eye,” which claimed to catalogue a “widespread and powerful new direction in contemporary art”—that of kinetic and op (or optic) art. But there was something absent from that iconic survey: the numerous contributions to geometric abstraction by Latin-American artists who went virtually overlooked by MoMA.

In recent years, other museums and galleries have revisited the history of geometric abstraction and, more specifically, op art. But according to Jorge Daniel Veneciano, the executive director of El Museo and the show’s curator, these shows have largely followed MoMa’s lead by focusing only on the formal elements of abstraction, rather than their intellectual origin. “There are all these other sources that inform geometric abstraction that are not accounted for in French Impressionism,” Veneciano says. “El Museo, as a museum free to take another point of view, can challenge that received history.”

But while this shift in curatorial philosophy may not be immediately apparent within the works on view in “The Illusive Eye,” Veneciano’s expansive vision ultimately results in the long-overdue celebration of over 35 pioneering Latin-American artists working within the realm of op art. They appear alongside a few choice works from their European and American contemporaries and peers like Frank StellaJosef Albers, and Victor Vasarely.

The exhibition, which has been in works for roughly a year, is divided into four sections across three galleries. The first of these, “the optical sublime,” contains works that prevent the viewer’s eye from settling on a single focal point. Argentine artist Eduardo Mac Entyre’s 1966 Seis Formas en Dos Circunferencias (Six Forms in Two Circumferences) is a gorgeous painting whose looping forms braid atop one another to create an array of circular shapes within a unified whole.

[. . .] Another section of the show, “Mandalas and dervishes,” demands less from the viewer but is no less transfixing; the pieces included whirr and spin, recalling the ascetic ecstasy of spinning Sufi mystics. In “Kinetic cascades,” works like Norberto Gómez’s 1964 sculpture Untitled (1967), in which hollow rectangular blocks twist downward in a helix-like motion, mimic motion from a single perspective.

One of the show’s highlights is a video presentation by Argentine-Italian artist Ana Sacerdote, in which she breathes new life into a series of her own abstract geometric paintings from the late ’50s and early ’60s by having them melt together and drift apart over the course of an animated video sequence entitled Pattern, Color and Volume (1958-1962).

In the end, one comes to appreciate the optical delight provided by so many of the works on display, along with the realization that within every epochal museum show, some pockets of that history will be marginalized. “The Illusive Eye” takes the theme of seeing what is not there and applies it both practically and theoretically, giving the artists included their due place alongside European-American counterparts. [. . .]

For full review, see https://www.artsy.net/article/artsy-editorial-a-show-of-latin-american-op-artists-rebukes-moma-s-eurocentrism

Cimarron Spirit

Cimarrón Spirit (United States, 2015) is a documentary film directed by Rubén Durán and Michael Brims. The film explores African-based cultural elements, religious celebrations, and customs that survive in the Dominican Republic. Andrew S. Vargas (Remezcla) reviews the film:

From Palenque in Colombia to Yanga in Veracruz, Latin American history is filled with glorious stories of runaway slave societies where Africans stolen from their homes coalesced far from centers of colonial power to live out their traditions in freedom. Oftentimes these cimarrones mixed with local indigenous groups, who shared knowledge of the flora and fauna that was essential for survival, leading to syncretic cultures and languages forged on the margins of Spanish authority.

In the Dominican Republic, three towns in particular are known for their origins as cimarrón societies: Elías Piña, near the Haitian border; Cocoricamo and Las Tifuas in San Juan de la Maguana; and las Cachuas de Cabral in Barahona. Over the centuries, these three regions developed distinct cultural practices deeply rooted in their African origins that have earned the fascination of scholars and artists alike.

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A new ethnographic documentary entitled Cimarrón Spirit brings together individuals from both sides of this spectrum: professors, designers, and filmmakers; Dominican and American, to document the idiosyncratic customs of these three centers of cimarrón culture in the Dominican Republic. Led by Dominican-born, Houston-based filmmaker Rubén Durán, the collaborative project doesn’t seem to boast many artistic pretensions, acting instead instead as an almost anthropological exercise that seeks to document and share the story of Dominican cimarrones and their descendants.

A short trailer for Cimarrón Spirit showcases the filmmakers’ eye for the colors, rhythms, and frenetic dances that characterize communal celebrations in these towns and villages. Blocks of text provide context about the history of cimarronaje, while talking-head interviews reinforce the point. Overall, Cimarrón Spirit promises to be a rather straightforward look into some of the Dominican Republic’s deepest cultural practices, filled to the brim with impressive costumes and exuberant celebration.

See trailer and full review at http://remezcla.com/film/trailer-cimarron-spirit-afro-latino-documentary-dominican-republic-runaway-slaves

For more information on the project, see http://www.loscimarrones.com

 

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The Institute of Caribbean Studies at the University of Puerto Rico-Río Piedras presents “Crisis, ¿qué crisis?: La deuda y la vida cotidiana” [Crisis, what crisis? Debt and everyday life”], a discussion on the economic crisis in Puerto Rico with Dr. Juan Lara (UPR-RP, Dept. of Economics) and Dr. Emilio Pantojas (UPR-RP, Centro de Investigaciones Sociales).

This event takes place on Thursday, February 18, 2016, from 1:00-3:00pm at the Manuel Maldonado Denis Amphitheatre (CRA 108) of the Carmen Rivera de Alvarado Building, School of Social Sciences, UPR-RP.

Description:  A discussion of the economic crisis of public debt, seen in terms of the daily life of the Puerto Rican middle and lower middle class. How do we change consumption patterns? access to credit? ¿interests and mortgages? ¿jobs? the quality of life in general? Will Puerto Rico’s relationship with the rest of the Caribbean change? The themes of e / in / migration, legal and illegal, tourism, trade and cultural exchanges emerge as starting points for the discussion.

Live transmission via: http://ustream.tv/channel/cc71

Most of the previous Caribbean Conferences are available online at InternetArchive.org

For comments and suggestions, feel free to write to ICS director Dr. Lowell Fiet at: iec.ics@upr.edu

See the Institute of Caribbean Studies on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#%21/pages/Instituto-de-Estudios-del-Caribe- UPR/146169468754542?ref=sgm\

For image above (photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images) and related article, see http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/puerto-rico-debt-crisis-drives-exodus-u-s/

UntitledJamaica’s Ministry of Youth and Culture is moving to have reggae inscribed on the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization’s (UNESCO) representative list of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

Principal Director of the Culture and Creative Industries Policy Division in the Ministry of Youth and Culture, Dr. Janice Lindsay [shown above], says the ministry has set up a committee to prepare the documents expected to be submitted in March 2017.

[. . .] Dr. Lindsay said the global appeal of reggae was why it should be inscribed on UNESCO’s list. “We need to protect that distinctive history of reggae as an intangible heritage and we need to do this before someone else presents the elements in some other form as theirs,” she stressed, adding that the move would have far more bearing on future generations. “[The young ones], 50 years from now, would not have forgiven us if they lived to read in bits and pieces that there was a music emanating from our country and that it was lost over time, because there was no proof of the origin and distinctiveness being uniquely Jamaican.”

Dr. Lindsay argued that important stories of Jamaica’s music must be safeguarded “since it is the only sure way of protecting the integrity of the music.”

For full article, see http://www.caribbean360.com/news/jamaica-begins-process-to-get-reggae-inscribed-on-unesco-cultural-heritage-list

Posted by: ivetteromero | February 11, 2016

Barbados makes big marketing push for Crop Over in Trinidad

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According to Caribbean 360, quoting Minister of Culture Stephen Lashley, Barbados should expect “good numbers” out of the twin island republic for Crop Over 2016, thanks to increased marketing efforts during Trinidad and Tobago’s Carnival celebrations.

“The National Cultural Foundation teamed up with the Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc. to launch the ‘Crop Over We Go’ promotion, which targets television, radio and entertainment events during and after Carnival,” [Minister of Culture Stephen] Lashley said [adding that] Trinidad offered a great target market for Crop Over because of the large numbers of persons attracted to its carnival.

[. . .] Describing the reception of the Crop Over marketing efforts as “great”, the Culture Minister disclosed that several television and radio interviews were booked, and specific Crop Over marketing drives were undertaken at all-inclusive fetes during Carnival.

Lashley also revealed that his team held talks with Trinidad and Tobago’s Minister of Community Development, Culture and the Arts, Dr. Nyan Gadsby-Dolly, and her delegation which included officials from that country’s Ministry of Tourism. [. . .]

For full article, see http://www.caribbean360.com/news/barbados-makes-big-marketing-push-for-crop-over-at-trinidad-carnival

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