Posted by: ivetteromero | February 6, 2016

Nancy Anne Miller: Poet of the Month on “The Missing Slate”

nancyanne.headshot_1_29_edit_jpg-2_-2Bermudan poet Nancy Anne Miller was chosen poet of the month this January on the online journal The Missing Slate. The interview (published on 24 January 2016) reveals the effect of Bermuda on her writing both as subject and as forming her aesthetics. She also refers to other Caribbean poets, such as Kei Miller and Vahni Capildeo (see below). My favorite line from her interview with Afshan Shafi is: “For those of us writing about islands, there has been the thrill of naming what has been unnamed for too long, putting the complexity of island life into serious verse for the first time.” Here are excerpts; read the full interview here (or through the link below):

Nancy Anne Miller has lived in Connecticut and England, but her poems are informed and shaped primarily by her birthplace, Bermuda. As she explains to Afshan Shafi in the latest instalment of The Missing Slate’s Poet of the Month series, “being surrounded by an ocean, on an island where one could never be more than half a mile from the sea, gave me this profuse and profound sense of the force and power of a cyclical movement.” [. . .]

The first thing that strikes me about your poetry is your use of lush heightened imagery.  Does the use of the metaphorical hold more weight with you than the declarative? Do you think this is a result of your formative education, surroundings, or is it just an intrinsic inclination?

I have a real intention with my use of image metaphor. Firstly, I want to break down linear intentional poetry or what Woolf would refer to as the masculine sentence. I’m interested in feminizing language by creating a circular movement throughout the poem. I intend to disrupt the idea of the poem moving towards a climactic end. I want image metaphors to make the poem radiate out across the page, shimmer with many meanings. I am certain being surrounded by an ocean, on an island where one could never be more than half a mile from the sea, gave me this profuse and profound sense of the force and power of a cyclical movement.

There is a reaching in image metaphors of one thing towards another. W.S. Merwin said, “Everything is a metaphor for something else.” Hence, image metaphors reach out towards a community of things which is also a feminine arc and notion.

Secondly, I like how it creates a sense of flux by the comparison of one thing to another. This comparison sets up an emotional sub plot for the comparison of two countries which is at the crux of my work. In Bermuda my surroundings were so spectacular, they had to inform and shape my sense of reality. (It may be why Surrealism never impressed me, as I always think reality is strange enough.) Therefore it seems only right then that my tools match it, match the task of representing the opulence and the strangeness of a semitropical landscape. Not to mention jumpstarting the imagination of the reader who may have filed Bermuda away in a tourist brochure category.

[. . .] What do you feel about most of the postcolonial texts to which you have been exposed? Do you think a certain type of perspective pervades the genre, or is there a potential there for a highly personal idiom too?  

I am grateful to such texts as ‘The Empire Writes Back’ and ‘Colour Me English’ as they have helped me locate my work in a genre. For those of us writing about islands, there has been the thrill of naming what has been unnamed for too long, putting the complexity of island life into serious verse for the first time. However, noting the surge of Caribbean writing, the Jamaican-born poet Kei Miller said, if you have a mountain and a grandmother you have Jamaican Immigrant poetry, which means that a type of island poetry is now thoroughly visible, and possibly redundant. I agree with him that there is enough of a new canon written about the islands so as to now merit highly individualized responses to them occurring, such as in the work of the brilliant poet Vahni Capildeo. [. . .]

Nancy Anne Miller is a Bermudian poet with four books: Somersault (Guernica Editions), Because There Was No Sea (Anaphora Literary Press), Immigrant’s Autumn (Aldrich Press), Water Logged (Aldrich Press). Star Map is forthcoming in 2016 (Future Cycle Press). She is a MacDowell Fellow with a MLitt in Creative Writing from the University of Glasgow and is published in Edinburgh Review, Agenda, Magma, New Welsh Review, Stand, Postcolonial Text, The International Literary Quarterly, The Fiddlehead, The Dalhousie Review, The Moth, The Caribbean Writer, The Arts Journal, Wasafiri, Poetry Salzburg Review, and Journal of Postcolonial Writing, among others.

For full article, see

Posted by: ivetteromero | February 5, 2016

The Directory of Afro-Cuban Women


I have been meaning to write about this excellent resource, Directorio de Afrocubanas [Directory of Afro-Cuban Women], which gathers information on Cuban women of African descent who have contributed in a significant manner to Cuban culture and history. The site is managed and edited by Sandra Abd’Allah-Álvarez Ramírez, who also edits the blog Negra cubana tenía que ser []. Just as an example of the content, some of our readers will recognize the woman featured above: educator and journalist Consuelo Serra.

Consuelo Serra was the daughter of Rafael Serra Montalvo—a journalist and patriotic figure who fought for racial equality, and a close collaborator of José Martí. When she returned with her family from the United States, where her father had been forced into exile from 1880 to 1900, she founded a private school and worked as an English teacher at the Escuela Normal de Maestros [Normal School for Teachers] in Havana. She also wrote for several newspapers and magazines of the moment. Serra collaborated with the magazine Adelante (1936-1939), writing for the education section, “Pedagógicas.”

In the newspaper Diario de la Marina, she participated in the cultural project called “Ideales de una Raza” [The Ideals of a Race] stating that: “We must disseminate our values, since, fortunately, we do not have to create them [as we can be rightfully proud to say] as they have always existed in the minds and hearts of our elders [. . .]. A dignity through which we feel the rightful pride of being Cuban and of being black, because black Cubans have done many good and respectable things at all stages of Cuban life, and not always in a mediocre fashion, but rather in a distinguished and outstanding way. [. . .] Our elders have left us these virtues, these ethical values; it is up to us to gather them up and place them up high, for all the world to see and to achieve peace and unity among all Cubans.” [My own translation.]

[Photo above from the personal files of Dr. Alejandro Fernández, via El Directorio de Afrocubanas Also see where the photo is labeled as: “Consuelo A. Serra Heredia, vested in the robes of Doctor in Pedagogy and Graduated from the New York Normal College in 1905.” She must have been 24 or 25 years old at the time; I believe she was born in 1879 or 1880 (according to a biography of Rafael Serra, her father.]

For more information, see

Posted by: ivetteromero | February 5, 2016

Tessane Chin at One Love Music Festival Tonight!


Tessane Chin will be performing at the Rose Hall Aqueduct in Montego Bay, Jamaica, tonight (February 5, 2016).This is part of the One Love Music Festival—a two-day fundraising event to celebrate Bob Marley’s life and legacy by supporting ongoing charity projects through the Bob Marley Foundation (in partnership with Rose Hall Developments and Sandals Foundation). Other performers include Akon, Kymani Marley, Nico & Vina, and many more.

For tickets, see


The Gleaner recently (24 January 2016) published Laura Tanna’s review of A Reader in African-Jamaican Music, Dance, and Religion, edited by Markus Coester and Wolfgang Bender. Entitled “How an Anthology on African Jamaican Culture was Created,” the review focuses on comprehensive nature of the compilation (spanning a century of scholarship and covering a vast range of Jamaican practices) and the variety in styles and approaches of the essays, many of which have been previously difficult to access by the growing community of scholars of Afro-Caribbean and Jamaican studies. The reviewer underlines that the book took 10 years to compile and edit and it represents the only central source for the topics it covers. As Tanna points out, “The book encompasses everything from musical scores for songs, photographs of dance, drumming, religious rites, evolving understanding of Jonkonnu, Myalism, Revival, Bruckins, Tambu, Kumina, Rastafarianism and more in a tome that reaches 735 pages.” See excerpts below:

[. . .] In their detailed and insightful introduction to A Reader in African-Jamaican Music Dance Religion, Editors Markus Coester and Wolfgang Bender note: “It was our intention to make valuable contributions to what we know about Jamaica’s cultural past, like that by Martha Beckwith, available to the growing community of scholars working in African-Caribbean and Jamaican Studies, thus promoting and encouraging future research through easier access to these articles.” But what they have also done is to give Jamaicans a unique tool to learn more deeply about Jamaica’s heritage and the evolving understanding of it.

Some of the articles are incredible! Kenneth Bilby’s collaboration with Congolese scholar Fu-Kiau kia Bunseki, “Kumina: A Kongo-Based Tradition in the New World,” first published in Cahiers du CEDAF 8 in 1983 is superlative, while Monica Schuler’s highlighting of the Congolese/Angolan connection to Jamaica altered many scholars’ understanding of the African cultural contributions to the island. Maureen Warner-Lewis’ extremely valuable work in 1977 on Kumina and Cheryl Ryman’s investigations into the meaning of Jamaican dance are all featured, as is Edward Seaga’s material on Revival, complete with illustrations by Osmond Watson. Olive Lewin’s widely recognised work and that of Nigerian scholar Adiodun Adetugbo increase the reader’s horizons along with numerous others, including Franklin Knight, Barry Chevannes, Verena Reckord, and on the list continues of authors whose contribution to understanding African-Jamaican heritage has forever altered the world’s understanding of this nation.

The story of how the book came about is in itself fascinating. German scholar Markus Coester was in Jamaica digitalising the collection of African-Jamaican music at the Edna Manley School for the Visual and Performing Arts, preserving this material before the tape recordings disintegrated. Another German scholar, Wolfgang Bender, had already edited the book Rastafarian Art, which was published in English in 2005. They realised that in addition to the music, art, and religion which they were studying, there were numerous articles on other aspects of African-Jamaican music, dance, and religion, which had never been put into an anthology. [. . .]

We had a meeting with the executive director of the Institute of Jamaica, since many of the articles had first been published in Jamaica Journal, a brainchild of Edward Seaga’s when he was Minister of Culture before ever becoming prime minister. It was agreed that individual authors would retain their copyright and donate the use of their material in the anthology as long as the book included a message about the importance of the Institute of Jamaica in the preservation of Jamaica’s heritage. That’s why I was asked to write the foreword in the book.

[. . .] As I note in the foreword: “It is no surprise that German scholars are responsible for working with a Jamaican publisher. The articles reprinted demonstrate that American, Bajan, British, Congolese, Ghanaian, Guyanese, Nigerian, and Trinidadian scholars have worked with Jamaicans over the decades endeavouring to understand, preserve, and disseminate knowledge of Jamaica’s complex culture … always with the intention of bringing greater respect and insight into Jamaica’s African heritage.” [. . .]

For full review, see

For purchasing information, see and

Posted by: ivetteromero | February 5, 2016

Cuban Street Artist Turns City Walls into Gallery


CCTV America’s Michael Voss reports from Cuba about a Maisel López a portrait and mural artist who is brightening Havana’s streets, turning neighborhoods into outdoor art galleries . . . for free. See full article and videos showing his work here or in the link below.

Maisel Lopez is a portrait artist. But he doesn’t work on canvas. Instead, he has spent the past year painting giant murals on walls around his neighborhood of Playa in Havana. “As an artist, I prefer mural painting, I love it, and I think it has a closer relation to the public. Exhibitions in galleries are not the same. People can see the artwork here and interact with it,” Lopez said.

Passersby stop and watch as his portraits take shape. While the woman whose wall he is painting brings him lunch every day. Lopez paints portraits of children from his neighborhood. So far, he has completed 15 different murals, all with the blessing of the local authorities.

“I’m interested in children because I think that they are important for the construction and development of society. They are the future. The children all come from my community. After I get permission from their parents, I take photos of the kids and later turn them into the murals,” Lopez said.

Lopez isn’t paid for his murals. He does it for free, funding them through whatever other artworks he can sell. Each takes about a month from planning to completion.

Watch CCTV live anywhere at
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For full article and videos, see

negro._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_Negro Soy Yo: Hip Hop and Raced Citizenship in Neoliberal Cuba by Marc. D. Perry was published in December 2015 by Duke University Press.

Steven Gregory (author of The Devil behind the Mirror: Globalization and Politics in the Dominican Republic) writes: “In this much anticipated book, Marc D. Perry provides a nuanced and compelling analysis of how Cuban raperos are crafting new understandings of black selfhood and citizenship in the wake of the collapse of the USSR and Cuba’s ambivalent embrace of neoliberal capitalism. Boldly reflexive, Perry’s intensive, long-term ethnographic research yields a theoretically nuanced and historically attuned perspective on the politics and poetics of racialization, both within Cuba’s rapidly changing political imaginary and across diasporic fields of black cultural production. [. . .]”

Description: In Negro Soy Yo Marc D. Perry explores Cuba’s hip hop movement as a window into the racial complexities of the island’s ongoing transition from revolutionary socialism toward free-market capitalism. Centering on the music and lives of black-identified raperos (rappers), Perry examines the ways these young artists craft notions of black Cuban identity and racial citizenship, along with calls for racial justice, at the fraught confluence of growing Afro-Cuban marginalization and long held perceptions of Cuba as a non-racial nation. Situating hip hop within a long history of Cuban racial politics, Perry discusses the artistic and cultural exchanges between raperos and North American rappers and activists, and their relationships with older Afro-Cuban intellectuals and African American political exiles. He also examines critiques of Cuban patriarchy by female raperos, the competing rise of reggaetón, as well as state efforts to incorporate hip hop into its cultural institutions. At this pivotal moment of Cuban-U.S. relations, Perry’s analysis illuminates the evolving dynamics of race, agency, and neoliberal transformation amid a Cuba in historic flux.

Marc D. Perry is Assistant Professor of Anthropology and Africa and African Diaspora Studies at Tulane University.

For purchasing information, see and

Posted by: ivetteromero | February 5, 2016

Women Writers of the Diaspora presents Jacqueline Bishop

Jacqueline BishopWomen Writers of the Diaspora presents Jacqueline Bishop on Thursday, February 18, 2016, 6:00-7:15pm, at Calabar Imports Harlem, located at 2504 Frederick Douglass Boulevard (at 134th Street) Harlem, New York.

JACQUELINE BISHOP is an award-winning photographer-painter-writer born and raised in Jamaica, who now lives and works in New York City (“Jamaica’s 15th Parish”). She has twice been awarded Fulbright Fellowships, including a year-long grant to Morocco; her work exhibits widely in North America, Europe and North Africa. She teaches in the Liberal Studies Program at New York University; is the founding editor of Calabash: A Journal of Caribbean Art & Letters; and author of The River’s Song, a novel about growing up in Jamaica. The Gymnasts & Other Positions: Stories, Interviews, Essays is forthcoming in the fall from Peepal Tree Press.

WOMEN WRITERS OF THE DIASPORA is a reading/discussion series created and moderated by DR. CELESTI COLDS FECHTER, Exec. Director of Education Success Services and Prof., Org. Behavior, King Graduate School, New Rochelle.  WOMEN WRITERS OF THE DIASPORA features poetry, prose, memoir, essay, reportage, urban writing by African and African diasporan women.



Posted by: ivetteromero | February 4, 2016

Jamaica Music Museum Explores Don Drummond’s Work and Life

Don Drummond Collage

Tanya Batson-Savage (Susumba) writes about the Jamaican Music Museum’s focus this month on trombonist Don Drummond. The musician will be honored though musical performances, poetry and presentations. The Jamaican Music Museum’s Reggae Month series opens on February 7, 2016, with the launch of Heather Augustyn’s biography Don Drummond: The Genius and Tragedy of the World’s Greatest Trombonist at 1:00pm. Poets and scholars who will participate in various events through February include Lorna Goodison, Kwame Dawes, and Mervyn Morris. See original article in Susumba for full description of events.

The Jamaican Music Museum’s Reggae Month Groundation series breaks new ground in 2016, by focusing on a single musician. The 2016 series will pay keen attention to the legendary, enigmatic trombonist Don Drummond. Dubbed Ungle Malungu Man: Musings on Don Drummond, the series will combine musings on Drummond through music, poetry and academic explorations.

The Jamaican Music Museum has gathered an impressive cadre of presenters for the Reggae Month long event, including several of Jamaica’s leading poets whose pens have been fascinated by Drummond’s genius and tragic demise. These include Prof. Lorna Goodison, Dr. Kwame Dawes, and Poet Laureate Professor Mervyn Morris.

Musical interpretations of Drummond’s work will come via trombonists Steve Turre and Delfeayo Marsalis as well as The Wareika Trombone Quartet (featuring Nambo Robinson, Romeo Gray, Barry Bailey and Kemar Miller). The legendary Big Youth is also slated for the series.

The series will also include sociological, philosophical and psychological explorations of Drummond through presentations from philosopher, Dr. Earl McKenzie; psychiatrist, Professor Freddy Hickling, and cultural historian/political scientist, Dr. Clinton Hutton.

[. . .] The Reggae Month series opens on February 7, 2016, with the launch of Heather Augustyn’s biography Don Drummond – The Genius and Tragedy of the World’s Greatest Trombonist at 1:00 p.m.  The launch will be followed by ‘Margarita and Mulungu: The Victory and Tragedy of an Art Couple’. Hosted by Elaine Wint, the session will feature reasoning by Herbie Miller and musical performances by Big Youth and Sarina Constantine.

[. . .] Drummond will receive the full musical treatment on February 21, 2016, as Andre Murchinson, Delaeyo Marsalis, and Steve Turre reflect on and interpret Don Drummond’s music. The series closes on February 28, 2016, with ‘Don Cosmic: Mad with the Madness of a Great Maestro’. During this session, Dr. Clinton Hutton will host a conversation between Prof. Frederick Hickling and Dr. Earl McKenzie. There will also be a performance of the Wareika Trombone Quartet. [. . .]

For full article, see

Posted by: ivetteromero | February 4, 2016

Monty Alexander and Friends: Sinatra at 100


Howard Campbell (Jamaica Observer) writes about a special tribute to Frank Sinatra—“Monty Alexander and Friends: Sinatra at 100”—to be held at the Lincoln Center’s Rose Theater in New York on February 13, 2016. The article also focuses on how Alexander and Sinatra became acquainted.

Frank Sinatra and his close friend Jilly Rizzo were passing through a Miami spot called Le Bistro in 1962 when the playing of an 18-year-old pianist caught their ears.

The musician was Jamaican Monty Alexander. He made such on impression on ‘Ol’ Blue Eyes’ that the famed American singer/actor recommended him for a job at Jilly’s, Rizzo’s club in Manhattan, New York.

“Six months later, there I was…I remained on and off for three years, from 1963 to 1966. During that period, on many occasions I played with and for Frank Sinatra,” Alexander recalled in an interview with the Jamaica Observer.

“Throughout the following years, he would frequently drop in the various jazz clubs I would be playing around the United States. I was invited on occasions to his house parties and those of his friends, so I knew him in a more friendly and personal way than just playing the piano for him.”

On February 13, Alexander pays tribute to Sinatra in ‘Monty Alexander and Friends: Sinatra at 100’ at the Lincoln Center’s Rose Theater. Alexander and his band will be accompanied by Grammy-winning American jazz vocalist Kurt Elling.

“This is more than a concept. It is a piece of my own personal and musical life history; a retelling of some of my many encounters with Frank Sinatra,” Alexander recalled. “The producers of Jazz at Lincoln Center knew of my story and invited me to present it to their audience.”

At Jilly’s, Alexander rubbed shoulders with the biggest names in jazz and show business: Miles Davis, Quincy Jones, Count Basie, Erroll Garner, Judy Garland, and Johnny Carson. After his ‘apprenticeship’ there, he played and recorded with acclaimed musicians, including legendary trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie.

Born in New Jersey to Italian parents, Sinatra made his name as a nightclub singer in New York during the 1930s before breaking into films early in the next decade.

He died in 1998 at age 82.

Rizzo, who also had Italian heritage, was Sinatra’s personal aide for many years and one of his best friends. He was killed in an auto accident, on his birthday, in February 1992 at age 75.

Alexander was born in Kingston and attended Jamaica College. He started his career playing in clubs and as a session musician before migrating to South Florida with his family in 1961.

On his 1997 album, Echoes of Jilly’s, he revisited his years at the famous club by covering some of Sinatra’s standards.

“The last time I actually saw him (Sinatra) was his 75th birthday in New York City. However, the very last time I heard from him was some time after that, when he sent me a letter of appreciation for a recording I did of his music that I dedicated to Jilly Rizzo, his best friend and the man who brought me to the big time,” said Alexander.

For original article, see—friends-play-Sinatra_50613

Posted by: ivetteromero | February 4, 2016

UN report rejects plan for iconic Dominican ruins


According to Diario Libre and Dominican Today, UNESCO rejected a proposal by Spanish architect Rafael Moneo to revamp the ruins of San Francisco, sponsored by the Ministry of Tourism. The organization considered that the plan is “invasive” and that “it affects the integrity of the ruins” (see rendering above, the site below). Here are excerpts from Dominican Today:


UNESCO has rejected the proposal to recover the Ruins of San Francisco sponsored by the Tourism Ministry, noting that the project by architect Rafael Moneo converts the monument into a secondary component, “which loses its preponderance against the proposal’s overwhelming impact.

It suggests developing a new project to consolidate the Ruins’ proper use through interventions that don’t alter the 16th century structure.

In its report UNESCO said work is needed to complete the archaeological and general research on the monument. “The intangible elements that contribute to the site’s identity and spirit need to be established and preserved, as they help to determine the character of an area and its essence.”

UNESCO had requested the report of the project’s feasibility from the International Council on Monuments and Sites in July 2015, when a conflict emerged over the Ruins’ proposed intervention.

For original article, see

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