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Edited by writer Karen Lord, New Worlds, Old Ways: Speculative Tales from the Caribbean (July 2016) is the third publication of Peekash Press, an imprint of Akashic Books and Peepal Tree Press, committed to supporting the emergence of new Caribbean writing, and as part of CaribLit project. [Many thanks to Loretta Collins Klobah for bringing this item to our attention.]

Description: Do not be misled by the ‘speculative’ in the title. Although there may be robots and fantastical creatures, these common symbols are tools to frame the familiar from fresh perspectives. Here you will find the recent past and ongoing present of government and society with curfews, crime and corruption; the universal themes of family with parents and children, growth and death, love and hate; the struggle to thrive when power is capricious and revenge too bittersweet. Here too is the passage of everything – old ways, places, peoples, and ourselves – leaving nothing behind but memories, histories, stories.

This anthology speaks to the fragility of our Caribbean home, but reminds the reader that although home may be vulnerable, it is also beautifully resilient. The voice of our literature declares that in spite of disasters, this people and this place shall not be wholly destroyed. Read for delight, then read for depth, and you will not be disappointed.

Edited by Karen Lord, with stories by Tammi-Browne Bannister, Summer Edward, Portia Subran, Brandon O’Brien, Kevin Jared Hosein, Richard B. Lynch, Elizabeth J. Jones, Damion Wilson, Brian Franklin, Ararimeh Aiyejina and H.K. Williams.

Karen Lord, a Barbadian author and research consultant, is known for her debut novel Redemption in Indigo, which won the 2008 Frank Collymore Literary Award, the 2010 Carl Brandon Parallax Award, the 2011 William L. Crawford Award, the 2011 Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Adult Literature and the 2012 Kitschies Golden Tentacle (Best Debut), and was longlisted for the 2011 Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature and nominated for the 2011 World Fantasy Award for Best Novel. Her second novel The Best of All Possible Worlds won the 2009 Frank Collymore Literary Award, the 2013 RT Book Reviews Reviewers’ Choice Awards for Best Science Fiction Novel, and was a finalist for the 2014 Locus Awards. Its sequel, The Galaxy Game, was published in January 2015.

For more information, see http://www.peepaltreepress.com/books/new-worlds-old-ways-speculative-tales-caribbean

Posted by: ivetteromero | July 23, 2016

Butterflies in Puerto Rico

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When I went to Puerto Rico in January, I was taken aback by the many butterflies I saw, especially in the drier area of the southwest (and many more than I could recall from my childhood days), so I decided to find out a little more. [Did not find much, so I will definitely consult my co-blogger about this!] I did find articles from late May and early June that commented on the larger-than-usual number of butterflies.

El Nuevo Día (31 May 2016) wrote that the end of the dry season in Puerto Rico and heavier rains in May facilitated reproduction of butterflies on the island, an event that was observed by many and shared through different social media networks, for example, Facebook pages such as  Mariposas en Puerto RicoGuardianes de las Mariposas de Puerto Rico, and Mariposas de Puerto Rico.

One example they gave was the central western mountain town of Maricao, where thousands of butterflies were seen flying through the area. The article stressed that unlike the previous two years, when there was a serious drought in Puerto Rico, this year saw more rain, which helped plants to bloom and grow new leaf buds, which provide nourishment for adult butterflies and caterpillars.

The article also stressed that there are around 90 (native or endemic) species of butterflies in Puerto Rico. The most famous endemic species on the island is the harlequin butterfly (found in Quebradillas and other areas with karst formations), which is endangered due to loss of habitat and pollution.

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Meanwhile, Metro (1 June 2016) reported on sightings of a massive migration of butterflies on the coast of the western town of Aguadilla, also documented in pictures and videos. Entomologist Luis Hernández explained that when it starts to rain, “plants in the southern area begins to get green [. . .] and to sprout new, tender leaves that caterpillars need to eat. What happens is that the cocoons are waiting for rain; after extended precipitation, caterpillars begin to feed on new green leaves that are growing due to the rainfall.” Meteorologist Deborah Martorell added that there is no reason to worry, as this population explosion of butterflies encourages pollination, which in turn helps to agricultural areas and also strengthens the food chain for other species such as lizards and birds.

The article also underlined that the wind blowing from the east and southeast is responsible for the heavy butterfly populations in western and northwestern towns such as Aguadilla, Mayaguez, and mountain towns such as Maricao, among others, because butterfly migrations “are aided by the winds” as the butterflies seek flowering plants to feed the adults,” as Hernández explained.

[[Photo above by Tony Zayas: Monarch butterflies in Puerto Rico; photo of a Harlequin butterfly (Atlantea tulita) from Mi Puerto Rico Verde: http://www.miprv.com/mariposa-arlequin-especie-endemica-en-peligro/]

For original articles (in Spanish), see http://www.elnuevodia.com/ciencia/ciencia/nota/abundanteslasmariposasenpuertorico-2205219/ and http://www.metro.pr/noticias/entomologo-explica-migracion-masiva-de-mariposas-en-playa-de-aguadilla/pGXpfa!QNVosVmJ4glo/

Also see the 2009 book Mariposas de Puerto Rico [Butterflies of Puerto Rico] at https://www.amazon.com/Butterflies-Puerto-Rico-Las-Mariposas/dp/0982238800

Posted by: ivetteromero | July 23, 2016

Design on the Island: A Biennial and an Eco-Competition

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Susan Delson reviews “architecture, industrial design, interior design, fashion—and ‘trashion’” in Cuba, focusing on Havana’s Design Biennial [Bienal de Diseño La Habana], which took place last month. She writes:

The continuing thaw in Cuba-US relations has sparked many changes on both sides of the Florida Strait—among them, a re-energized focus on design on the island. So says Roberto M. Torres Barbán, coordinator of the first Bienal de Diseño La Habana, which took place in the capital last month, with additional programs in Santiago de Cuba and Camagüey.

In a presentation earlier this month at the Bronx Museum of the Arts, Torres Barbán spoke about efforts to bring contemporary design into the spotlight alongside contemporary art. Although a Design Week had been presented annually over the previous eight years, it was a relatively low-profile event. The Cuban design community, including the Oficina Nacional de Diseño (ONDi), believed that more could be done. “The name was very easy,” said Torres Barbán, noting the parallel with Havana’s internationally recognized fine arts biennial, which presents its 13th edition in 2018.

But the concept behind the first Bienal de Diseño—or BDHabana’16—is slightly different, as reflected in its slogan, diseño y presperidad. “We wanted to promote the idea, within the island and internationally, that Cuban design could contribute to the prosperity of the economy dentro la Isla,” he explained.

As a result, along with a broad range of museums and cultural institutions, the Bienal’s 22 exhibition venues included entrepreneurial establishments such as Conga: Arte y Diseño, an interior design firm and retail store, and the architectural firm Laboratorio 26.

Exhibitions focused on such themes as contemporary jewelry design (at the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes), architecture (at Laboratorio 26, Malecón 663, and the Galería Taller Gorría, and other venues), and furnishings, housewares, and accessories (Estudio Galería Los Oficios, Galería Collage Habana, Centro de Desarrollo de las Artes Visuales, and other locations).

Book and graphic design were featured at the Casa de la Poesía de la Oficina del Historiador de la Ciudad, among other locations, and in the international student workshops presented by the Ludwig Foundation of Cuba, with students from the University of Art and Design in Halle, Germany.

[. . .] The Fábrica de Arte Cubano (FAC) was a hub for Biennial activities, including exhibitions, screenings, and the popular Exposición colectiva de vestuario experimental, a show of futuristic fashion design. Another adventurous fashion show, Wake Up! Cuba Trashion, featured designs made from reclaimed and recycled materials. Presented at the Galería Raúl Oliva at the Centro Cultural Bertolt Brecht, the show was an eye-catching success.

Other notable events included the Premio ONDi Diseño 2016 awards and exhibition at the Centro Hispano-Americano de Cultura. Among the winners: acclaimed veteran graphic designer Rafael Morante, with a retrospective exhibition at the Teatro Nacional de Cuba.

An exhibition on the acclaimed furniture and interior designer Clara Porset (1895–1981) was presented at Factoría Habana, where it remains on view through August 31. [. . .]

[Many thanks to Rod Fusco for bringing this item to our attention.]

For full article, see http://www.cubanartnews.org/news/design-on-the-island-a-biennial-and-an-eco-competition/5383

Posted by: ivetteromero | July 23, 2016

Tonight, Cuban rapper Raudel performs in Miami

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Havana-based rapper Raudel Collazo, recognized in Cuba for his contestatory lyrics, will perform at Habana 305 tonight (July 23) at 10:00pm. The concert will feature Soandrys as guest rapper, among other performers.

Raudel became well-known on the island with his song “Decadence.” He was born in 1976 in Güines, south of Havana. A child psychologist by profession, his followers also identify him by the nickname Escuadrón Patriota.

Habana 305 is located at 2007 SW 8th Street (Calle Ocho). For more information, you may call (305) 456-0891.

For original article (in Spanish), see http://www.elnuevoherald.com/entretenimiento/musica/article91159772.html

Posted by: ivetteromero | July 23, 2016

High Vibes Roots & Reggae Festival, Montego Bay in September

High-Vibes-LogoOSTAccording to the Gleaner, if all goes as planned, Jamaica will welcome the inaugural High Vibes Roots and Reggae Festival, the first of its kind in the Caribbean, at the Aqueduct in Montego Bay, Jamaica, on September 3 and 4, 2016.

The two-day festival promises to deliver an exciting weekend celebrating Rastafarian culture, roots and reggae, featuring first class music events and stage shows alongside a vendor exhibition, delectable culinary experience and the very finest cannabis.

According to Douglas Gordon of High Vibes Jamaica, the island’s marijuana laws are finally being amended and have been relaxed in a number of areas. “These changes have opened up new avenues for us to create events that will attract many people who identify and embrace the Jamaican and Rastafarian culture,” Gordon said.

“High Vibes Roots Reggae Festival goes beyond a live music experience; it will certainly be entertaining, but it will also be educational, as we want to share all aspects of Rastafarian culture and not limit our showcase to just the music. We want to share the food, craftsmanship and the basic knowledge about Jamaican culture for the patrons to get an ultimate festival experience, in the heart of reggae music.” [. . .]

For full article, see http://jamaica-gleaner.com/article/entertainment/20160722/high-vibes-planned-montego-bay-september

Posted by: ivetteromero | July 23, 2016

10 Best Up-and-Coming Latin Rappers in Miami and Beyond

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Tony Centeno (Miami New Times) gives a description of ten up-and-coming rappers in Florida, with special attention to Miami’s hip-hop scene in English and Spanish. He provides information on each rapper’s background, photographs, and videos, focusing on rappers such as Puerto Rican rappers Bryant Myers, Almighty, and Anuel AA; Miami-based Cuban-American rhymers like Bobby Biscayne (shown above), Alexander “Eskeerdo” Izquierdo, and Little Havana’s ER305; a rapper of Cuban and Persian descent named Pouya; Venezuelan emcee Gill Graff; the Cuban/Venezuelan rapper Bernz; and Dominican rhymer Jasiel Faraon. Here is Centeno’s introduction below; check out each rapper in the Miami New Times article.

Miami’s hip-hop scene has evolved significantly since the days when 2 Live Crew, Trick Daddy, and Trina were the only rappers representing Dade County on a national level. As the aforementioned revolutionaries encouraged a new generation of Miami artists like Rick Ross and Denzel Curry to grab the mike, rappers of Hispanic descent, like Pitbull, inspired others to break the mold and create a new lane in the Latin hip-hop scene.

Rappers with proud Hispanic heritages, like Cuban American lyricist Eskeerdo and Cuban Venezuelan rhymer Bernz of ¡Mayday!, are spearheading the Latin movement in hip-hop. Meanwhile, rising Hispanic stars of the underground like Pouya, Gill Graff, and Bobby Biscayne are singlehandedly changing the definition of what it means to be a Latin rapper.

As they hold down the English-speaking market, fresh international sensations, like Maybach Music Latino’s Anuel AA and Jasiel Faraon, are making waves throughout South Florida, the Caribbean, and beyond. [. . .]

For full article, see http://www.miaminewtimes.com/music/10-best-up-and-coming-latin-rappers-in-miami-and-beyond-8613053

Posted by: ivetteromero | July 22, 2016

New venomous snake species discovered in Costa Rica 

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L. Arias (The Tico Times) reports that the newly discovered Talamancan palm-pitviper was found in the northern region of the Talamanca mountain range. According to the article, the species went unrecognized for more than 150 years because it looks almost identical to the black-speckled palm-pitviper (Bothriechis nigroviridis) which, discovered in 1859, lives only in Costa Rica and Panama. The snakes live in trees where their green and black pattern provides camouflage.

A group of researchers from the U.S. and Costa Rica announced this week the discovery of a new species of venomous snake in the mountains of Costa Rica that they’re calling the Talamancan palm-pitviper (Bothriechis nubestris).

Researchers from the University of Central Florida (UCF) and the University of Costa Rica (UCR) discovered the snake in the cloud forests of the Talamanca mountain range, which runs through most of Costa Rica and northern Panama. Their research is published in the July 15 online issue of the journal Zootaxa.

The species went unrecognized for more than 150 years, likely because it looks almost identical to another species called the black-speckled palm-pitviper (Bothriechis nigroviridis). The two species share green and black coloring, and generally measure less than 60 centimeters (24 inches) long, although some reach nearly 102 cm (4o in.).

Their bodies are thin and both live at elevations ranging from 2,400 to 3,000 meters above sea level (7,800 to 9,800 feet). Their main differences are genetic, but they also have some physical differences, mainly in the type and number of scales covering certain parts of their bodies. The B. nubestris has more ventral (belly) scales. It also has two rows of irregular scales under its eyes, the scientists reported. The Talamancan palm-pitviper is usually found in trees where its green and black pattern provides optimum camouflage.

Scientists believe its habitat is comprised of a 100-kilometer area within the northern region of the Talamanca range.

According to the UCR’s Clodomiro Picado Institute, a toxin research center and producer of snake antivenin, the B. nubestris brings the total number of snakes in Costa Rica to 143, of which 23 are venomous. [. . .]

For full article, see http://www.ticotimes.net/2016/07/21/new-snake-costa-rica

[Photo above from The Tico Times, courtesy: University of Central Florida.]

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Patricia Guadalupe (NBC News Latino) reports that U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor will be honored with the Leadership Award at the 29th annual Hispanic Heritage Awards ceremony to take place September 22nd in Washington, D.C. Author Junot Díaz will be honored with the Literature Award.

“She was an easy choice. She’s a great role model and represents what it means to be an American and what is so great about our country,” said Antonio Tijerino, President and CEO of the Hispanic Heritage Foundation (HHF). “She represents what Latinos are capable of, once given opportunities and not stopping until they reach their goals. We are proud to honor her,” Tijerino told NBC News.

Born in the Bronx, New York to Puerto Rican parents, Sotomayor graduated with top honors from Princeton and Yale Law School, and became the high court’s first Hispanic justice in 2009. She is the author of the best-selling biography, “My Beloved World.”

The HHF also announced that author Junot Díaz will be honored with the Literature Award.

“He is a transcendent, truthful story teller who is informed by his community, roots and experiences. Most of all, Junot writes with impact,” said Tijerino.

Díaz, a native of the Dominican Republic who grew up in New Jersey, is the author of several books, including “Drown,” and “The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao,” for which he received the Pulitzer Prize. Díaz, a creative writing teacher at MIT and a MacArthur “Genius” fellow, is also an advocate for immigrant rights and is the honorary chair of the DREAM Project, a non-profit education program serving thousands of children in the Dominican Republic.

“The Hispanic community has made significant contributions throughout history, and we are proud to recognize that impact in the present and the future as well,” said Tijerino.

The Hispanic Heritage Awards were established in 1987 to commemorate the contributions and accomplishments of Latino leaders in a variety of fields, from the arts and sciences, to sports.

Other honorees will be announced in the next several weeks.

For original article, see http://www.nbcnews.com/news/latino/hispanic-heritage-foundation-honor-sonia-sotomayor-junot-diaz-n614326

Posted by: ivetteromero | July 22, 2016

Dominican Republic beach access law promises showdown

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This is of special interest to me, since in Puerto Rico, beach access laws have been blatantly ignored along many of the island’s shores (since . . . well, forever). Dominican Today (quoting Diario Libre) reports that a bill that aims to ensure access for all citizens to rivers, lakes, lagoons, beaches and coasts “will likely spur heated debate among lawmakers, tourism business leaders and hoteliers, with fines as high as RD$1.0 million for those who violate that law.” Good luck.

The bill, still under study by a Senate committee, list as infringements hindering access to coasts, charging for entry, the physical destruction of easements and the illegal occupation of the maritime zone by a private property. Repeat offenders face a fine twice as much as the previous violation.

The business sector however has noted potential inherent risks that “violate security and business operation in the tourism sector.”

“Nothing prevents an adjacent private owner from charging for the use and enjoyment of their facilities,” says a document from the National Hotels and Tourism Association and the Real Estate Tourism Association, quoted by diariolibre.com.

As for private properties, the bill specifies that it doesn’t recognize those which go beyond the “inalienable area or areas of the maritime zone,” registered after the 2010 Constitution took effect.

It also notes that the stipulation over the coastal strip doesn’t apply when the respective property has been registered prior to 1938, when the swath was 20 meters from the high tide mark.

For full article, see http://www.dominicantoday.com/dr/local/2016/7/22/60080/Dominican-Republic-beach-access-law-promises-showdown

For original article (in Spanish) and photo above, see http://www.diariolibre.com/noticias/ciudad/el-cobro-por-acceso-a-las-playas-conllevaria-multa-de-rd-1-millon-CA4424859

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Yesterday, at the IAAF World Under-20 Championships, held at Zawiszaw Stadium in Bydgoszcz, Poland, Jamaica’s Tiffany James (second right) won a gold medal in the women’s 400m final in 51.32 seconds ahead of the USA’s Lynna Irby (left) in 51.39 seconds; also from Jamaica, Junelle Bromfield (right) won a bronze, finishing in 52.05 seconds.

The two medals won in yesterday’s historic women’s 400m final at the IAAF World Under-20 Championships at the Zawiszaw Stadium in Bydgoszcz, Poland, will lift the entire team moral and start the medals rush, head coach Danny Hawthorne has said.

“To get two medals in one race is a wonderful feeling and not just the medals but how they got it. They fought all the way and we are all pleased; it has lifted the team and hopefully it will spur us on to more medals,” Hawthorne told reporters.

He was speaking minutes after Tiffany James won the gold medal, the first ever in the event for Jamaica at the Under-20 level, and Junelle Bromfield took the bronze as both women fulfilled promises they had made to themselves this season.

The medals, Jamaica’s first of the championships, lifted the team to eighth in the medals table that is led by the United States with nine, including four gold, three silver and two bronze, followed by Cuba with three medals — two gold and a silver, while Poland, Germany and Kenya are also on three medals. [. . .]

Yesterday, James ran her second personal best time in successive rounds as she clocked a World Junior Leading 51.32 seconds in adding the gold to the bronze medal she won three years ago at the World Youth Championships.

It was the first gold in the event ever for Jamaica at the championships and added to three silver and two bronze medals won previously. [. . .]

For full article, see http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/sport/James-claims-historic-gold_67965

[Photo above: Collin Reid, courtesy of Supreme Ventures and Courts. Source: http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/sport/James-claims-historic-gold_67965]

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