Posted by: lisaparavisini | January 23, 2016

Jamaica to Honor Reggae Icon Peter Tosh with a Museum

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A report from Cuba’s news agency Prensa Latina.

Jamaica will open in the summer a museum in recognition of the life and work of the raggae singer Peter Tosh, who, along with Bob Marley, is considered an icon of reggae and illustrious figure of the national culture.

According to the newspaper The Gleaner, the Peter Tosh Museum will be located in this capital and will open its doors to coincide with the 40th anniversary of the launch of its famous song “Legalize It.”

The Museum, for the first time, will display a complete collection of treasured objects of Peter Tosh, as the M16 rifle-shaped guitar and the monocycle he used to move by his homeland.

In the Museum, visitors can also learn about the concerns of the artist through audio and video recordings.

Niambe McIntosh, daughter of the singer, described the opening of the institution as an important step in the preservation of the heritage of Tosh, as it will allow to spread his message of equal rights and justice in the new generations.

Peter Tosh, whose real name was Winston Hubert McIntosh, was one of the stars of reggae and the rastafari movement.

Together with Marley and Bunny Wailer, he formed the world-famous reggae band called The Wailers, and later, he had a successful career as a solo singer.

With his songs, Peter Tosh made his rejection to the use of nuclear weapons and apartheid public all around the world, defended human rights and the struggle for depenalizing marihuana, which is sacred for the rastafari community.

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In the middle of December 2015 a cake was cut at the Little Little Theatre, Tom Redcam Drive, St Andrew, to mark a diamond jubilee. It may well have been dubbed the celebration of the successful transformation of a colonial tradition to a Jamaican and regional theatrical institution.
The Little Theatre Movement (LTM) launched its 2015-2016 National Pantomime, Runeesha and the Birds, and it was also a celebration of 75 years of the National Pantomime Christmas tradition.

Henry Fowler and Greta Bourke (later Fowler) founded the LTM and staged the first National Pantomime, Jack and the Beanstalk, in 1941. ever since then, opening day has remained fixed, while all else has been transformed.

As is stated on the LTM’s website: “The Pantomime opened on Boxing Day – December 26 – as was the custom in England. Times have changed, but in Jamaica, Boxing Day remains constant as the opening day for Pantomime. That is perhaps the only thing from the British tradition that has remained unchanged. European folklore has given way to lusty tales of the Caribbean, with dialogue in patois and humour reflecting the robust sense of comedy of these ‘islands in the sun’.”

Stamping Jamaican Identity

Since Jack and the Beanstalk, the titles of the annual Boxing Day opening of an acting and music spectacle have been as engaging as the productions themselves.Jack and the Beanstalk was followed by Babes in the Wood. After the consecutive fairytale titles Cinderella (1947), Beauty and the Beast (1948), the 1949 productionBluebeard and Brer Anancy indicated a definite influx of Jamaican identity on the National Pantomime.

Tradition can be hard to break, though, as the 1950 title was Alice in Wonderland. Still, the writing was literally on the wall as after Dick Whittington (1951), Aladdin(1952), and Robinson Crusoe (1953), there were three Anancy titles in a row –Anancy and the Magic Mirror (1954), Anancy and Pandora (1955), and Anancy and Beeny Bud (1956). The decade was rounded out by Busha Bluebeard (1957),Quashie Lady (1958), Jamaica Way (1959), and Carib Gold (1960).

There was no turning back after that.

The Anancy titles came with a name that would come to be perennially associated with the National Pantomime, Louise Bennett, who co-wrote Bluebeard and Brer Anancy with Noel Vaz, who also directed the production.

While Greta Fowler wrote and directed Anancy and the Magic Mirror, Louise Bennett penned the following three National Pantomimes.

Another name also appeared in those early days of writing the ‘Panto’ – Ranny Williams did Robinson Crusoe, as well as Quashie Lady and Jamaica Way.

Barbara Gloudon, the most prominent public face of the LTM, said that Bennett and Williams “literally led a small revolution”. She pointed out that Williams was a Garveyite, while Bennett had her training in England.

The writing credits for the 1963 National Pantomime, Queenie’s Daughter, reads like an all-star roster – Greta Fowler, Louise Bennett, Henry Fowler, Ranny Williams, Lois Kelly, and Dennis Scott. It indicates a co-existence of the old and the new. Also, directors who would become staples of Jamaican theatre started appearing – Lloyd Reckord (Finian’s Rainbow – 1962) and Rex Nettleford (Morgan’s Dream – 1965).

Music In The Mix

A connection with Jamaican popular music was also concretised. The name of a repeat musical director in the 1950s came with a rank – Major R.G. Jones, the Jamaica Military Band also getting credit on occasion.

By 1961, Banana Boy Carlos Malcolm (whose popular band was Carlos Malcolm and His Afro-Jamaican Rhythms) was in charge of the music, while Sonny Bradshaw (who marshaled the Jamaica Big Band) became head of the Jamaica Federation of Musicians.

Also in the formative Pantomime years, Mapletoft Poulle was responsible for the music at many pantomimes, starting in 1955. He would go on to be part of shaping Jamaica through his contribution to the national anthem.

Other names that would become entrenched in Jamaican culture worked in the National Pantomime – Albert Huie did design for Soliday and the Wicked Bird, while Ivy Baxter handled the choreography of Aladdin (1952), as well as other productions later in the decade.

By 1969, a name that is now synonymous with Pantomime got top billing as Barbara Gloudon did the book and lyrics for Moonshine Anancy that year as she subsequently did again and again, Gloudon crediting Greta Fowler, Ranny Williams, and Louise Bennett especially for her development in the company.

The outstanding Jamaican musicians Harold Butler, Dr Noel Dexter, Peter Ashbourne, Grub Cooper, and Calvin Cameron have all been involved with the National Pantomime.

Gloudon pays special tribute to the musicians over the years, noting that in this season’s production, “we have dancehall plus everything in this one”.

Dr Brian Heap and the late Wycliffe Bennett and Eddy Thomas have also had extensive involvement in the theatrical tradition.

Along with the insistence on reflecting Jamaican and Caribbean stories came a ‘darkening’ of the National Pantomime’s cast, the dominant hue of the cast now in stark contrast to the white of earliest years.

“Little by little, the colouration and the business of where you draw your culture cues from began to change,” Gloudon said.

Naturally, as character changes from imports like Aladdin to Anancy became rooted in the regional imagination, the costumes have grown on the public. Gloudon is especially proud that her daughter, Anya, (who was born at the height of a Pantomime season) has been doing costuming duties with fervour.

The current National Pantomime, Runeesha and the Birds, combines the costumes and currency of issues. As The Gleaner reported from the December launch, “it is the story of a young girl who wants to take part in the upcoming ‘limpics’. Training takes her in the path of a colony of local birds such as baldpates and parrots. The cow birds enter the picture, with chaotic results. Barbara Gloudon said that the script has no bearing on the Pantomime’s anniversary but is a return to nature. The cast was taken to the hills to observe birds and their behaviour.”

From those hills and fields to the stage, the LTM will claim its place on The Gleaner’s list of honorees in a more placid setting.

Gloudon is pleased, noting that The Gleaner has been a long-standing supporter of the LTM, including contributing to funding the Little Theatre. And, she emphasises, the award “is not about me. Is about a whole heap a we”.

Posted by: lisaparavisini | January 23, 2016

Woolcock cartoon exhibition opens in Bermuda

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An exhibition about the life and work of popular cartoonist Peter Woolcock has opened at the Bermuda National Gallery, Adam Zacharias reports for The Royal Gazette.

Peter Woolcock: A Tribute, which runs until May 28, showcases the Argentinian-born artist’s stellar career in chronological order.

Among his achievements were illustrating Disneyland Magazine, publishing numerous children’s books and working at London’s Amalgamated Press for 38 years. After moving to Bermuda in 1981, he created Woppened, the popular weekly cartoon in The Royal Gazette that ran for more than 20 years. He died in 2014 at the age of 88.

To accompany this exhibition, the gallery has publishedWoolcock’s Wonders, a compilation of previously unseen children’s illustrations.

Entry to the exhibition will cost $5 for non-BNG members, with seniors, students and members granted free admission.

Posted by: lisaparavisini | January 23, 2016

Pamela Mordecai on the power of Jamaican Creole

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An interview with Shelagh Rogers for CBC Radio. You can listen to the audio of the interview here.

Pamela Mordecai has published poetry, short stories, children’s books and essays. She’s also written a play and published numerous anthologies. Now, at 72, she’s written her debut novel, Red Jacket. As a writer, Mordecai is very interested in the musicality of language. She was born and raised in Jamaica before moving to Canada in 1993, and often uses the syntax and rhythm of the Caribbean in her writing — you don’t have to read her words out loud to feel like you can hear her characters’ voices.

Mordecai spoke to The Next Chapter host Shelagh Rogers in Toronto.

ON CHARACTERS WHO SPEAK CREOLE

I grew up speaking English. In any home in the Caribbean where parents have aspirations for their children, especially when I was growing up, if you spoke Creole people would say “you won’t get anywhere talking like that.” So I grew up bilingual, essentially. I always say that Creole gives me stories and characters and poetry. It’s an amazing language, especially Jamaican Creole, which has any number of levels — some closer to English and some that are really Creole. And it’s natural for us to range across that continuum of language, and so it’s very natural for me to write in that way. You can’t write a Caribbean character who speaks exclusively English unless you want to mark that character as a particular kind of person.

ON THE “GRAND MASH-UP” OF THE WORLD

My children taught me that the world is one. They saw that long ago. I disagree with the whole business of discrete worlds — especially for black people, who came across the Atlantic and took their world with them and injected that world powerfully into the new world. I think we have reached that point in being human where we understand that it’s one world. It’s not that Canadians are Canadians and Jamaicans are Jamaicans and never the two shall meet. Young people especially appreciate this. There’s the whole idea of a mash-up — the world is one grand mash-up, but we need to enter the mash-up of the world. If we don’t, then we’re not going to save it, we’re just going to let it trickle away.

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The Clément Foundation [Fondation Clément] will host a new exhibition by Hervé Télémaque, in collaboration with Paris’s Pompidou Centre, from January 24 to April 17, 2016.  Curator Christian Briend calls it “the most ambitious exhibition ever devoted to the Haitian artist” in Martinique. [Also see a fascinating article by Aica Caraïbe du Sud on the new space in which this exhibition is housed at Fondation Clément, designed by architects Reichen and Robert & Associates.] Briend writes:

The “Hervé Télémaque” exhibition [. . .] at Fondation Clément is a result of the retrospective that the Pompidou Centre and the Cantini Museum in Marseille successfully presented last year. The exhibition in Martinique proves to be quite different in terms of the selection of works as well as its “conception.”

According to the artist’s wishes, the double exhibition in France, turned the spotlight on French public collections. Remembering his first status as immigrant, in this way, the Haitian painter wanted to show his gratitude to his host country, whose cultural officials had, early on and regularly, provided entry to the public collections. However, national and regional collections were unable to gather a fully representative array of Télémaque’s work. Therefore, of the seventy-four paintings, graphic works, and sculptures that made up the exhibition in Paris and Marseille, only thirteen were from private collections. At the Clement Foundation, the proportion was reversed, since only twenty-two works are from public collections out of the fifty-three exhibited.

Practical reasons (incompatible formats paints with the conditions of air transport, but also conservation requirements for drawings and collages) led, not only to tighten the selection, but also to replace pieces that had become unavailable with twenty-three new works. So the starting project was greatly modified. Having had to abandon works on paper as well as the “thin sculptures” of 1968 and 1969, however important in Télémaque’s trajectory, the exhibition in Martinique, with a few exceptions, a retrospective centered on his paintings.

[. . .] Peppered with intimate references, the Télémaque’s complex work naturally invites, as it always has, commentary and exegesis. Among those who merrily attempted it, notably critic Anne Tronche authored a remarkable monograph published in 2003. A few years earlier she conducted one of the most insightful interviews with the artist. It is to this great observer of contemporary art, with her sensitive and generous gaze—who abruptly passed away last October—that we wish to dedicate this exhibition.

For full article, see http://www.fondation-clement.org/martinique/376_-herve-telemaque-

[Photo above from http://culturebox.francetvinfo.fr/expositions/peinture/la-peinture-dherve-telemaque-au-centre-pompidou-212799.]

Also see http://aica-sc.net/2015/12/29/herve-telemaque-a-la-fondation-clement/

Posted by: ivetteromero | January 22, 2016

Art Exhibition: Firelei Báez’s “Trust Memory over History”

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Gallery Wendi Norris will be featuring a solo exhibition by Dominican artist Firelei Báez, “Trust Memory over History.” The exhibition will open on Wednesday, January 27, 2016, with a discussion between Báez and María Elena Ortiz, associate curator at the Pérez Art Museum Miami, followed by a public reception. “Trust Memory over History” will be on view through March 5, 2016. The gallery is located at 161 Jesse Street, San Francisco, California.

Description (from Gallery site): The works featured in Trust Memory Over History investigate socio-political movements of black resistance across the global diaspora. By illuminating underlying links between seemingly disparate experiences, Báez traces shared iconographical systems of rebellion, ranging from the Latin American azabache, to female resistance in 18th-century Louisiana, to 19th-century socialism, to the 1960s civil rights movement in the United States. On view will be paintings and drawings made this year, including select works from the artist’s recent solo exhibition at the Utah Museum of Contemporary Art as well as new portraits and works from her ongoing series titled Carib’s Jhator.

Báez’s vibrantly-colored gestural paintings on paper and linen depict female subjectivity in its varied forms, through the tropes of patterned textiles and ornamented bodies. Patterns of Resistance, a large scale painting on paper, features a crumpled piece of what appears to be blue-and-white colonial toile wallpaper. Upon careful study, it becomes apparent that the imagery is in fact an amalgam of contrasting symbols. In her portrait series, Báez uses outlines of her own silhouette to communicate the figure of the everywoman, who has no discernible features beyond omniscient eyes that directly confront the onlooker. The Carib’s Jhator works are wildly colorful and patterned figurative paintings. “Jhator” refers to the Tibetian Buddhist sky burial, the ultimate bodily release; here, Báez presents an imagined Caribbean version.

For more information, see http://www.gallerywendinorris.com/a.php?view=upcoming&event_id=157

Posted by: lisaparavisini | January 22, 2016

70’s Singer Returns To Billboard Reggae Charts

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A Jamaican reggae singer who has been active since the 1970s has proven she is still relevant with a spot this week on the Billboard Reggae Top 10 charts, newsamericasnow.com reports.

Carlene Davis, who began performing at age 15, and went to have hits with songs “Like Old Friends Do,” “It Must Be Love,” “Winnie Mandela,” “Stealing Love on the Side,” “Dial My Number” and “Going Down to Paradise,” is now on the Billboard reggae charts with her new gospel-reggae hit “Dripping Blood.” The song is all about Jesus Christ dying on the cross.

It was released in 2014 and debuted at number 3 on the Billboard reggae charts recently.

Davis was named Minister of music for The Family Church on the Rock in Kingston. In 2006 she gained a doctorate in pastoral counseling from the Trinity Theological Seminary in South Florida. She has her own recording studio, Judah Recording, and the Glory Music productions record label, which she runs with her husband Tommy Cowan.

Posted by: lisaparavisini | January 22, 2016

Harry Belafonte interview: what counts is your legacy

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An article by Martin Chilton for London’s Telegraph.

Harry Belafonte, who was born on March 1, 1927, is one of the most successful singers in American history. His 1956 album Calypso was the first million-selling album. He has won three Grammy Awards. He also starred in numerous hit films, including Carmen Jones (1954) and Island in the Sun  (1957) and in 2014 was awarded an honorary Oscar. He was also one of the key figures in the Civil Rights Movement. D uring a visit to the Hay Festival, he talked to Martin Chilton about some of the great artists he has met including Charlie Parker, Louis Armstrong, John Steinbeck and Woody Guthrie.  This article was originally published in May 2012.

Harry Belafonte is a part of history and the people he has met – across musical, political, social and acting boundaries – are like a who’s who of 20th-century history.  Eleanor Roosevelt, President Kennedy, Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela have all sought his counsel. 

On 8 November 2014, the man who studied acting with Marlon Brando received an honorary Academy Award at the film academy’s Governors Awards, along with Maureen O’Hara.  But what, I wanted to know when I met him at the 2012 Hay Festival, did Ray Charles make of his version of Hallelujah I Love Her So?  He laughed before replying: “That was on my 1958 album Belafonte Sings The Blues [which also included the Charles songs A Fool for You and Losing Hand] and I guess I was once arrogant enough to dare to record an album of Ray Charles. But Ray was very generous… and I think he looked at his bank account and saw the increase and was then even more generous in his praise.”

Belafonte, a compelling, fluent talker and utterly charming man, had made a self-deprecating joke about being a singer in his speech at the Telegraph Hay Festival, saying he considered himself to be the world’s greatest actor “based on the fact that I’ve convinced so many people in the world that I’m a singer”.  He was, of course, underplaying his own legacy.

In the Fifites, this black singer became the first artist in history to sell a million copies of an album, with Calypso in 1956.  Music is woven into the very fabric of his personality, as he put it: “I made a joke about my career as a singer but my approach to life was essentially as an actor. That was the major part of my imprint. There is an arc in my musical albums, going through the music of the second half of the 20th century, from the early Calypso to working with world musicians such as Miriam Makeba and Hugh Masekela, through gospel and a Capella albums, up to working on the great We Are The World fundraising single.”

One of his real passions is jazz and few musicians have meant more to him than Charlie Parker. Belafonte says: “He was playing in an incredible time for civilisation, when culture was leaping ahead. Lots of things that will always endure came from that period, including jazz. I knew Charlie Parker and he gave us such a gift with his music. He put so much into so little space and it was tragic that he died so young. Thousands came after him.

“I grew up in the Great Depression and the jazz artists and Dixieland musicians were at the core of our communications and enjoyment. They were not passing fancies. They are something that is, and will be, listened to again and again. I have a space of reverence for some of those old jazz stars such as Sydney Bechet and Louis Armstrong. I knew Louis, and we were both on in Las Vegas shows at the same time once. He was such a delightful man, a great raconteur with wonderful stories. And what a body of music. His jazz albums were magnificent but he wasn’t in a narrow spectrum. He could move across and make wonderful records with someone like the opera singer Robert Merrill. There was something fundamentally decent in the jazz of that whole period that has sustenance. It will always have great force.”

Belafonte’s vast career not only spans music, of course, because he was an accomplished actor who studied acting in a class which included Walter Mattheu and Marlon Brando.  One of his first roles was as the singing-talking Troubadour in a John Steinbeck production.  Does he worry that some of the great figures from his time as a young man are being forgotten?  Belafonte says: “John Steinbeck is one of the most under-discussed and under-written-about of all American writers. He is way up there and should stand on a par, or even above, Ernest Hemingway and William Faulkner.

One of the true pleasures of my life has been the work of John Steinbeck. He was one of the people who turned my life around. I had no direct relationship with him, unfortunately. When I worked on a play where I had to be the troubadour I was just asked off the street. I couldn’t even read for a while as a youngster and it was Steinbeck and Sean O’Casey who got me into a lifelong love of literature.”

Steinbeck’s Grapes Of Wrath was a seminal artistic work of the Thirties and inspired Woody Guthrie, whose centenary was celebrated in 2012.  Belafonte remembers the folk singer well, saying: “Woody was impossible – and by that I mean impossible to match. You could not keep up with his mind, his choices, his rages and intensity and the force of such a brilliant mind.”

Belafonte no longer sings or acts, of course. He gave up performing after a show in Berlin in 2006. He said: “I just thought it was time to leave rather than be dragged away leaving claw marks on the walls.” His artistic energy in the period after giving up acting was on writing his book My Song: A Memoir of Art, Race & Defiance. He says that writing the autobiography was “excruciating” adding that the first sentence alone of the book alone took a month to write. “The process so intimidated me,” he added. Thankfully he stuck with it, because it’s a thoroughly rewarding read.

But with all his experience what does this now 85-year-old make of the future of the world? Belafonte said: “Life will not be without difficulty for lots of people but you have to be optimistic and believe in the human spirit. We are put here to achieve what we must achieve. It’s just sad that, at the moment, we are at a regrettable time in our evolution. If the world ends at the moment it will end because we end it through our arrogance as a species.”

With all the advances he has seen in his lifetime, would he swap his time for the modern world of culture?  Belafonte said: “I wouldn’t trade my time at all. There was a creed when I was a young man that the best was yet to come – be that in space, human evolution, the arts. Radio was in its infancy and television was just starting, there was a new wave of advances in electronic technology that was helping recorded music.

“The curse of this time, and the biggest evil that has has contaminated the arts, is commercialisation. The banks run culture and the artist often capitulates. I preferred a time when you were surrounded by independence and what counted was the vastness of the opportunity. Many artists and writers and musicians died broke but they left a rich artistic legacy.”

Belafonte needn’t worry about his own legacy. It’s truly memorable, and it was a joy to meet him.

Posted by: lisaparavisini | January 22, 2016

The Caribbean Writer Announces Its Volume 29 Prize Winners

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The Caribbean Writer has announced its 2015 annual prize winners for Volume 29, which highlights contradictions and ambiguities in the Caribbean space, The St. Thomas Source reports.

Topping the list of prizes is The Marvin E. Williams Literary Prize ($500) for a new or emerging writer. This annual prize is donated by Marvin’s widow, Dasil Williams, in honor of her late husband who served as the editor of The Caribbean Writer from 2003 – 2008. This prize was awarded to Richard Georges, an up-and-coming Caribbean poet from the British Virgin Islands.

The Cecile de Jongh Literary Prize ($500) was awarded to Shona V. Jamadi-Jabang, a Jamaican-born writer now living in the UK. This prize is awarded to an author whose work best expresses the spirit of the Caribbean. It is donated by former Gov. John P. de Jongh, Jr. in honor of Cecile de Jongh’s abiding commitment to literacy in the territory, especially among the young Virgin Islanders.

The David Hough Literary Prize was awarded to Breanne Mc Ivor, a writer who currently lives in Trinidad where she teaches English, history, drama and citizenship at Rosewood Girls. This $500 prize is awarded to an author who is a resident of the Caribbean. It is donated by Sonja Hough, owner of Sonja’s Designs, the handmade jewelry designer in Christiansted, St. Croix, in memory of her late husband.

The Canute A. Brodhurst Prize for short fiction ($400) was awarded to Bibi Sabrina Donaie, a fiction writer born in Guyana, who currently resides on St. Croix, V.I.

The Charlotte and Isidor Paiewonsky Prize for first-time publication ($250) in The Caribbean Writer went to D’Yanirah Santiago, a writer from St. Croix, V.I.

The Marguerite Cobb-McKay Prize to an emerging Caribbean fiction writer ($200) went to Tammi Browne-Bannister, a writer from Barbados.

The biographies and photographs of these winners will be featured in the 30th anniversary issue of The Caribbean Writer.

For more information on The Caribbean Writer, visitwww.thecaribbeanwriter.org.

Posted by: lisaparavisini | January 22, 2016

Renowned author Jamaica Kincaid visits Seton Hall

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In celebration of Black History Month, the Africana Studies program andPoetry-in-the-Round host renowned author, Jamaica Kincaid on February 17 at 6:30 p.m. in the Atrium in Jubilee Hall, Simone A. James Alexander reports on the institution’s website.

Born in St. John’s, Antigua, Jamaica Kincaid is widely praised for her works of fiction, essays and novels in which she explores the tenuous mother-daughter relationship as well as themes of migration, anti-colonialism, and Caribbean tourism.

Kincaid is the author or editor of 13 books, including five novels. Her most recent novel, See Now Then (2014) was published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. Kincaid’s 1983 collection At the Bottom of the River that includes the most-discussed short story, “Girl,” won the Morton Dauwen Zabel Award from the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters.

Kincaid is the recipient of The Center for Fiction Award, the Prix Femina Etranger Award, and the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award. Her writings have appeared in several collections including Stories from Blue Latitude, Caribbean Women Writers at Home and Abroad (2006); Snapshots, 20th Century Mother-Daughter Fiction (2001). She is an elected member to the American Academy of Arts and Letters (2004). Kincaid has also received honorary degrees from Amherst College, Tufts University, Colgate College, Middlebury College, Williams College, University of the West Indies, just to name a few. She currently teaches in the departments of English and African and African-American studies at Harvard University.

The lecture is free and open to the public. All are welcome.

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