Posted by: ivetteromero | May 8, 2015

Anguilla Lit Fest 2015: A Literary Jollification


ETN Global Travel Industry News calls it the Caribbean’s “smartest” festival.  The fourth annual “Anguilla Lit Fest: A Literary Jollification” runs from May 21-24, 2015, at Paradise Cove, Anguilla, honoring the literary heritage of the island. The three-day event brings together an accomplished list of celebrity authors and speakers with book lovers and literary connoisseurs to celebrate and explore the creative process.

Featured speakers for this year’s event include authors, poets and publishers from a variety of fields, including celebrity novelist, Zane; award-winning author and former Editor-in-Chief of Cosmopolitan Magazine, Kate White; best-selling author, lecturer and philanthropist, Elizabeth Nunez; world-renowned author Benilde Little; Grammy-award-winning performance poet, author and motivational speaker, J. Ivy; debut Antiguan author, Joanne Hillhouse; award-winning author and associate publisher of The Sun magazine, Krista Bremer; as well as celebrated author, professor of Creative Writing, and co-founder of the Calabash International Literary Festival in Jamaica, Colin Channer.

The publishing panel features Books Editor of O: Oprah Magazine, Leigh Haber; Editor-in-Chief of Writers’ Digest, Jessica Strawser; Senior Publicity Manager of Atria Books/Simon & Shuster, Yona Deshommes; and critically-acclaimed author, educator and publisher, Dr. Rhoda Arrindell of House of Nehesi Publishers in St. Martin.

A number of Anguilla’s leading literary giants will also be featured at this year’s Lit Fest, including the author of a Fortunate Member of a Caribbean Diaspora, Phillip Arnell; author and host of Positive Living, Marilyn Hodge; noted poet, Lena Gumbs; and performance poet, Timmie Webster.

This year’s event will also celebrate the 2015 Malliouhana Poetry Competition winners, under the theme, Jollification in the 21st century, which is coordinated by the Anguilla Community College and the Department of Youth and Culture in memory of cultural activist, the late Linda Lake; as well as presentations by poets of Anguilla’s soon-to-be-released foundational anthology of poetry, “Where I See the Sun – Contemporary Poetry in Anguilla”, which includes more than 90 poems from 42 seasoned poets and up and coming writers from Anguilla. A selection of books of the featured guest authors, poets and publishers will be available for purchase on-site from The Anguilla Lit Fest Book Table, which is coordinated by the Anguilla Library Service. [. . .]

For full article, see


I can hardly keep up with all the enthralling articles coming out in ARC Magazine, so I highly recommend a daily visit to that spectacular site. Today, I would like to share a review by Varala Maraj of the exhibition “Jamaica Hidden Histories” (JHH) at gallery@oxo, Oxo Tower Wharf, London (UK), curated by Jamaican-born, UK-based Lorna Holder. This exhibition is on view until May 17, 2015.

As Maraj points out, the exhibition stems from years of ongoing archival research gathered from the UK and Jamaica, and the creation of new, original archives through workshops held with UK residents with Jamaican roots. The exhibition shows images documenting plantation life, post-emancipation days and the many ways that Jamaicans have flourished since independence.

Varala Maraj writes: “An ill-mannered young man who walks with pride and is up to no good might be the typical Jamaican ‘rudeboy’ image. The ‘rudeboys’, in addition to other popular Jamaican exports, like Bob Marley, Usain Bolt, Rastafarianism and jerk chicken, formed a stereotypical snapshot of Jamaican culture over the years. But like most stereotypes, we know that there is more to it than the media portrays. So what else is there? For Jamaica, the Caribbean island has such a culturally complex past that it seems only fitting to tell its story through an exhibition. This is the inspiration behind Full Spectrum Productions’ multimedia exhibition, Jamaica Hidden Histories (JHH).”

For full article, see

[Photo above: Maroon Boys collecting wood 1908. Image by H. H. Jonston.]


Cate McQuaid reviews “Drapetomanía: Grupo Antillano and the Art of Afro-Cuba,” which is on view in the Ethelbert Cooper Gallery of African & African American Art at the Hutchins Center for African & African American Research at Harvard University through May 29, 2015:

Grupo Antillano has largely slipped through the cracks of Cuban art history. The movement, active from 1978 to 1983, celebrated African and Afro-Caribbean influences in Cuban culture. [. . .] It’s a strong show, woven with turmoil and hope.

Communist rule in many ways honored Cuba’s ethnic diversity, but it espoused atheism, and Grupo Antillano artists often used religious symbols. Maybe that’s why it was written out. Then, the movement was run over by another, known as New Cuban Art, which brought to the fore younger artists concerned with installation, performance, and conceptual art. The artists of Grupo Antillano were mostly painters and sculptors.

“Drapetomanía,” organized by Alejandro de la Fuente, director of Harvard’s Afro-Latin American Research Institute, takes its name from a diagnosis applied to enslaved workers in the American South. It describes a pathological urge to escape. Slavery was abolished in Cuba in 1886.

Issues of oppression, liberation, and redemption play throughout the exhibition. Santiago Rodríguez Olazábal’s powerful mixed-media painting “La suerte del mayoral / The Foreman’s Luck,” which depicts a ragged black figure tied to a tree, a geyser of blood spurting from his chest, hangs strikingly beside Oscar Rodríguez Lasseria’s “Inframundo /Underworld,” a painting of a supine black man, apparently interred. A white echo of the man rises above him; a snowy scrim joins the two.

[. . .] Elio Rodríguez Valdés’s “Selva en las Paredes / Jungle on the Walls” visits the same contradictions. Soft sculptures, abstracted figures made of white leather, dance across the wall. Look closer, and you’ll see chains and padlocks. Are they dancing now?

Most of the art — by the original Grupo Antillano artists and younger ones working in the same vein — was made in this century. Only a handful of pieces date to the organization’s heyday. Manuel Couceiro’s untitled painting from 1977 sports a design of abstracted, interlocking figures — a recurring motif here, depicting a tight-knit community.

Leonel Morales, another original member, paints brilliant, patterned, symmetrical renderings of Yoruban deities. “El mar de las Antillas / The Antillean Sea” likely portrays the sea goddess Yemaya, floating amid polka-dotted waves and smaller figures who carry offerings. [. . . ]

For full article, see

Also see

Posted by: lisaparavisini | May 7, 2015

Caribbean Writers Series Explores Ancestry and Culture


Focusing on the centuries-old legacy of history, immigration, and race in the Caribbean, award-winning authors Robert Antoni and Gaiutra Bahadur discussed their latest works with members of the St. John’s community at this year’s Caribbean Writers Series on Monday, April 27.

More than 100 students, faculty, and staff attended the reading, question-and-answer session, and book signing in the D’Angelo Center on the Queens, NY, campus. According to Raj Chetty, Ph.D., an assistant professor of English who helped organize the event, the speakers reflected the intellectual vitality and cultural variety of St. John’s University and New York City itself.

“Our intention,” Chetty explained, “is to spark conversations about continued forms of oppression like racism, ethnic divisions, colonialism, sexism, and homophobia—issues that writers confront in their work, including today’s speakers, Antoni and Bahadur.”

Antoni’s most recent novel, As Flies to Whatless Boys, has received critical acclaim for its portrayal of West Indian folklore and history. “While my writing is rooted in very personal family stories,” Antoni told the audience, “it’s also about the history of the West Indies and the language, culture, and mythology of that part of the world. My hope is to make students more familiar with a history that might belong to them.”

Bahadur noted that a large Guyanese community flourishes in the metropolitan area. “We’re not far from the heart of the Guyanese community in New York,” she said. “The most exciting part of today’s event is having the opportunity to meet so many students and readers who see their own stories reflected in my work.”

Reading passages from her book, Coolie Woman: The Odyssey of Indenture, Bahadur detailed her great-grandmother’s experiences as an indentured laborer in British Guyana in the early 20th century. “She traveled there by boat from Calcutta, India, in 1903, and gave birth to my grandfather during her journey,” she said. “Because her story is representative of the accounts of so many women who were indentured workers in plantations across the globe, I was curious to know what sparked her journey.”

The issues raised by this year’s authors, Chetty noted, have special relevance for many St. John’s students. “So many have personal connections to the Caribbean, either being from there or having family from the region,” he said.

Pharmacy student Saara Nasruddin ’20Pharm.D. echoed his sentiment. “I do not know her personally, but Gaiutra Bahadur gave me a voice,” said Nasruddin. “She writes about those who struggle between their American and Guyanese identities and, within that, struggle between their Indian and Caribbean identities.”

The Caribbean Writers Series is part of the University’s ongoing Academic Lecture Series, which was created in 2006 and focuses on topics including science, healthcare, religion, education, media, business, and the arts, with the goal of stimulating academic discourse outside the classroom.

For the original report go to


I am now a fan of Culturego Magazine (and hope to write about it in the near future). For now, I’d like to share the announcement of an upcoming exhibition by Trinidadian artist Kenwyn Murray–his first solo exhibition. The exhibition opens on June 13, 2015, at 19 Alcazar Street, St. Clair, Port of Spain, Trinidad. Culturego describes the show:

In this series of large paintings he delves into colour, form, light and texture to explore the idea of the angel and to translate into the visual realm the concepts associated with these beings. He creates for us a space to question the notions of what goodness looks like, what shape purity takes in our minds, what we view as divine, and ultimately how the beauty and ideals we aspire to define as well as shape us.
Granting us the context of his own journey, he invites us to look into ourselves and our humanity while we explore his forms of the divine. [. . .]

Kenwyn Murray is a Caribbean artist and arts educator. Born in Trinidad in 1979 his career is currently distinguished between his work as a professional painter and his engagement with the Carnival arts. Kenwyn graduated with honours from the University the West Indies in 2006 and is currently a member of staff at the University of the West Indies’ Department of Creative and Festival Arts. [. . .]

For more on his work, see the artist’s page at

For full article, see

Posted by: lisaparavisini | May 7, 2015

Jeremy Taylor: A Personal View of V.S. Naipaul

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In “Guerrilla: V.S. Naipaul,” published in Caribbean Beat,  Jeremy Taylor offers a personal view of the man and his work. Here’s a brief excerpt, with a link to the full article below.

V.S.Naipaul has not been much liked in Trinidad since he published his first travel book, The Middle Passage, in 1962. Trinidad, he wrote, was “unimportant, uncreative, cynical.” Trinidadians substituted intrigue for talent. In the entire British West Indies, “nothing was created . . . no civilization as in Spanish America, no great revolution as in Haiti or the American colonies. There were only plantations, prosperity, decline, neglect . . .”. These judgements were remembered; his kinder observations were forgotten.

Naipaul does not temper his judgements or his language. He is not in the business of sparing anyone’s feelings. Over the years, he has called people monkeys, infies (inferiors), bow-and-arrow men, potato eaters, Mr Woggy. He has described whole countries as “bush”. Oxford University, where he earned his degree in English, was “a very second-rate provincial university”. Africa “has no future”, and as for African literature, “you can’t beat a novel out on drums”. He once recommended that Britain should sell knighthoods through the Post Office (this was before he became Sir Vidia Naipaul).

He can make interviewers squirm; his intolerance of unprepared questioners is legendary. He has trashed many of the great names in literature, from Jane Austen to James Joyce. He savaged British Prime Minister Tony Blair for cultural vandalism. “He has this image of being irascible,” says his second wife Nadira, “but that really isn’t true.”

Naipaul’s many detractors have accused him of racism, snobbery, misogyny, eurocentricity and perfidy, among other grievous crimes. Derek Walcott, who won the Nobel in 1992, complained about “that self-disfiguring sneer that is praised for its probity”. Jamaica Kincaid cried, “He just annoys me so much, all my thoughts are intemperate and violent”. Edward Said called him “a purveyor of stereotypes and disgust for the world that produced him”.

The sharp-tongued celebrity is only one of Naipaul’s roles. He can reduce an audience to helpless laughter with his readings. He can play the charming and cultured English gentleman with his cottage in the Wiltshire countryside, his apartments in London, his ripe English accent and his pipe, his “beautifully accented French”. He knows about fine wines, snuff, cricket, 1940s movies, Indian art, printing and typography, and likes to deduce personality from handwriting.

He professes to hate Trinidad’s Carnival and the sound of pan, but he can sing Sparrow and Invader calypsos. He can be a marvellous friend and teacher, and a ruthless enemy. He suffers from asthma, insomnia, anxiety, bad dreams and bouts of depression.

Read the full article at


A post by Peter Jordens, to whom we are particularly grateful for gathering into one post the most salient tributes marking the death of St Lucia’s much loved painting.

Sir Dunstan St. Omer was one of many West Indians who came to Curaçao to work at the oil refinery. He lived there between 1946 and 1949, reportedly bought his first box of oilpaints and got to work with painter Pandelis. He also lived in Puerto Rico for one year, 1957/1958, where he studied art on a scholarship.

Here is an 8-minute video by HTS News 4orce that includes a February 2015 interview with the late Sir Dunston St. Omer and interviews with two of his sons, Giovanni and Alwyn:

National Hero Sir Dunstan passes

Alison Kentish, HTS News 4orce, May 6, 2015

Other online tributes to Sir Dunstan:

Renowned artist Sir Dunstan St. Omer dies

CARICOM Today, May 7, 2015

Sir Dunstan St. Omer Passes. Island’s Greatest Artist, National Flag Designer Dead at 87

The Voice (St. Lucia), May 7, 2015

Saint Lucia mourns the passing of a giant

Cultural Development Foundation, May 7, 2015

Llwellyn Xavier pays tribute to Sir Dunstan

Radio St. Lucia, May 7, 2015

One of Saint Lucia’s Greats – Sir Dunstan St. Omer – Passes On

Ode by his son Giovanni St. Omer

Nobbie’s Blog, May 6, 2015

The Dolor Factor Honours Sir Dunstan St. Omer

Delia Dolor, The Dolor Factor, May 6, 2015

Opposition Leader Offers Condolences on Death of Sir Dunstan

St. Lucia Times, May 6, 2015

Condolences to the Family and Friends of Sir Dunstan St. Omer

Allen Chastanet, United Workers Party, May 6, 2015

PM Anthony says Sir Dunstan St. Omer’s legacy will live on

Office of the Prime Minister, May 6, 2015

Government of St. Lucia, , May 6, 2015

Folk Research Centre (FRC) Pays Tribute to Sir Dunstan St Omer

St. Lucia Times, May 6, 2015

A man – more than a man

Cultural Development Foundation, May 6, 2015

Breaking News: Sir Dunstan St. Omer passes away

St. Lucia News Online, May 6, 2015

National icon and National Cultural Hero, Sir Dunstan St Omer, has died at the age of eighty seven

Caribbean Hot FM, May 6, 2015

Sir Dunstan St. Omer Dies at 87

Radio St. Lucia, May 6, 2015

Posted by: ivetteromero | May 7, 2015

Relocating Home: Sofia Maldonado in Conversation


Nicole Rodríguez interviews Puerto Rican muralist Sofia Maldonado Sofia Maldonado for Art Slant. Here are just a few excerpts:

Sofia’s work has always been almost immediately recognizable as Caribbean—its undulating, entangled lines, bold graphic colors and vibrant portraits of local personalities are quickly identified by both Puerto Ricans and outsiders alike as steeped in this very specific culture. But for almost a decade now she had been living and working in New York City, with the occasional stint in Miami, L.A., or elsewhere abroad. Her trips home had been short and planned. Now, she’s returned for an indeterminate amount of time, set up a local studio, and started teaching at La Escuela de Artes Plásticas in San Juan.

Six months after beginning the conversation we picked up the topic again remotely while she was traveling in L.A. Having re-settled the artist talked about her anxieties about “returning home”—and her evolving notion of what it means to be local. [. . .]

NR: What has been people’s reaction to you returning and beginning to work in San Juan again?

SM: When you are living and working between two places, people always expect you to pick up and leave soon. You get a lot of “When are you leaving?” questions. I guess you just have to make it official like I did through Instagram. [Laughs]

NR: As a Puerto Rican—particularly a traveling artist and cultural producer—one is always caught startling lines, being a semi-local, only half involved in a conversation. How would you define local? What has that come to mean for you?

SM: It’s complex. We live on an island and are a colony, so we have this very strange colonial mentality. We are American but not. We are Puerto Rican but not. From my perspective as an artist there are many ways of being a local. There is the localization, sure, but it is entirely different to have a local mentality.

[. . .] NR: Do you think there is room for this conversation in Puerto Rico?

SM: Artists like Juni [Figueroa], Chemi [Rosado], Bubu [Negrón] or myself—artists that are traveling all the time—often feel like they are not part of the local schema because the community might no longer understand where you are trying to go. So all of a sudden you don’t have space in your own country because institutions and patrons want to cater to just what’s happening there. This is an education problem. People seem comfortable with only a certain type of artwork and set of topics. Additionally, there aren’t many spaces to exhibit; there are only maybe two galleries that have an actual international dialogue and if you are none of those then you have to escape. And make your own path.

[. . .] NR: What is needed in order to make your own path?

SM: We need creatives with different mentalities. After six months I can say that I feel pretty comfortable and engaged in what’s happening on the island. Though I’m not rooted to the local discussion like I once was, I’m creating my own space. I think that’s important. And in the end that’s the nice thing about Puerto Rico. You have that possibility. So for the moment I’m creating projects, documenting, all with the idea of having it exported. I’m looking into giving a course at the University of Puerto Rico with a cycle of international conferences about the “public” and the “ephemeral”—a conversation that still does not exist here. I’m also pitching for a project in Caguas—actually I have a meeting with the Caguas city major coming up. My plan is to take an abandoned building before it gets remodeled and do a painting and installation project alongside a series of workshops touching on themes of the local economy and how prevalent abandoned buildings are on the island. This will be sometime this summer.

Puerto Rico is a studio for me—a project generator. So for now: to be continued. Let’s just wait and see.

For full interview, see


A post by Peter Jordens.

The New York State Assembly recently approved Resolution K376 calling on the US Congress to adopt House of Representatives Resolution 443 of December 12, 2013, condemning actions of the Dominican Republic’s Constitutional Court that strip hundreds of thousands of Dominicans of Haitian descent of their citizenship.

The Resolution K376 was sponsored by Assembly member Rodneyse Bichotte, a Haitian-American who represents the 42nd Assembly District in Brooklyn that has a strong Caribbean-linked population.

For the text of the New York State Assembly, go to

For the text of the original House of Representatives Resolution, go to

For more information, see the articles ‘Bichotte ends hunger strike’ by Nelson A. King of Caribbean Life News, and ‘Bichotte Urges NYS Assembly to Condemn DR Ruling’ by the Haitian Times,

Posted by: ivetteromero | May 7, 2015

Art Exhibition: Paul Kain’s “From the Streets”


Paul Kain’s exhibition “From the Streets” opened on April 24 Sand will continue until May 23, 2015 at the Soft Box Gallery in Trinidad. David Cave reviews the exhibition for Caribbean Journal. Cave writes:

[. . .] “Kain’s From the Streets is an unapologetic view of the pathos that exists in urban Trinidad.  It is a vista into a harsh reality; an existence that is omnipresent, but somehow unseen, because it is the reality that Trinidadians don’t want to display in their tourist brochures, and also don’t want to show themselves as they strive to attain a nebulous foreign-influenced idealism that could look more like an HGTV-renovated house in Miami.

This is the quotidian, banal Trinidad that anyone who takes a maxi-taxi to work every day witnesses; the conversations, the inter-personal exchanges, the scenes that are seen by some, whether one wants to see them or not.  It is this lack of choice that Kain asserts on the viewers of his latest body of work.  Kain’s art also displays the extensive desperation and gross inequality that currently defines Trinidad and Tobago Society.”

Paul Kain has been residing in Trinidad since 1998 after studying at Open Window Art Academy, Pretoria South Africa and Rhodes University, Grahamstown, South Africa. He was awarded Eistsanford Bronze Medal in Fine Arts at Kingswood College, Grahamstown South Africa. He has participated in numerous group exhibitions and collaborations.

For full article, see

Also see

[Image above: Paul Kain’s From the Streets (2015): “The Absence of Pretense”]

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