Caribbean Erotic: Poetry, Prose, and Essays, edited by Opal Palmer Adisa and Donna Aza Weir-Soley, was launched earlier this month (February 4, 2011) at Sister Space and Books in Washington, DC . . ., and, thanks to writer Linda Rodríguez Guglielmoni, this rich collection is now indeed on my nightstand.
I must admit that I have never been a great fan of erotic literature but I have always been fascinated by the theoretical approaches to this genre. When I read Anaïs Nin, ever so long ago (even before I knew about her Cuban heritage) I thought, “OK, this is very interesting; then I plowed through some of the winners of Spain’s La Sonrisa Vertical [The Vertical Smile] Award and smiled; then, when I read some of Mayra Montero’s erotic novels, such as La última noche que pasé contigo [The Last Night I Spent with You] and Púrpura profundo [Deep Purple, which won the 2000 Sonrisa Vertical Award], I really began to take note; and more recently, approaches to the erotic through Ana Lydia Vega’s and Mayra Santos’s prose, Opal Palmer Adisa’s poetry, and criticism by Mary Ann Gosser (on both Montero and Santos) led me to take notes, literally. And then there were those texts that I had not recognized as examples of erotic literature because I was approaching them from a completely different framework.
So now I must rephrase my comment: I am not usually a fan of erotic literature (and I began enjoying it when I started reading pieces by Latin American and Caribbean writers). Several contributions have made me reframe and revalorize erotic literature; the two that stand out in the past two decades for their comprehensiveness and solid contribution to the academic canon are Pleasure in the Word: Erotic Writing by Latin American Women (1994), edited by Margarite Fernández Olmos and Lizabeth Paravisini-Gebert (yes, my co-blogger) and Caribbean Erotic: Poetry, Prose, and Essays (2010).
About the latter, Earl Lovelace writes, “The beauty of Caribbean Erotic is that it lifts the veils that curtain the many rooms of Caribbean sexuality; its genius is its skillful guidance through the lusty, bawdy, worshipful and spiritual wealth, as we lose our senses to find our selves.” I would like to add that Caribbean Erotic’s strength lies in its scope—in terms of genres, contributors, and geographic areas—and its delicate balance between offering the pure pleasure of a wide sampling of aesthetic production and a reflection on erotic writing per se. With poetry and short stories by a remarkably broad variety of writers, spanning from the established, readily recognized, and outstanding writers in the field to the artistically adventurous newcomers, this collection complements the creative pulsion with a fascinating gathering of critical essays by Carol Boyce Davies, Audre Lorde, Heather Russell, Imani Tafari-Ama, co-editor Donna Aza Weir-Soley, and Hanétha Vété-Congolo.
As Weir-Soley explains, in her introductory essay, “No anthology manages to be as fully representative as it would wish. These days it is probably impossible for even the most assiduous editors to know all the vast body of work produced by a diverse, translingual and transnational collection of writers who self-identify as Caribbean.” Thus, although the collection does not include pieces representative of the Dutch Caribbean, for example, it does achieve what it set out to do: “to reflect what has become more obvious in this our twenty-first century than ever before: that the differences between Anglophone, Francophone and Hispanophone Caribbean nation states do not in any way diminish the significance of the historical, cultural, socio-political, and literary connections and contestations shared across the region.” As I read this pleasantly multifarious volume, I must say that I am quickly becoming an enthusiast of Caribbean erotic literature. Thank you, Opal and Donna! And thanks to all the contributors herein.
Publisher’s description: Caribbean Erotic is a revealing, wide-ranging and in-depth exploration of the many facets of the erotic in contemporary Caribbean literature. It includes poetry, short fiction and critical essays; work that celebrates desire, work that depicts realistically the psychology of, for instance, a woman whose desperate wish is that her abusive husband still desires her, and work that explores the role of fantasy in the erotic. Infidelity, self-respect, rape, self-love, lust and child-birth are other themes which are interpreted in the collection with honesty and insight. As an anthology, Caribbean Erotic is intended both to arouse pleasure and generate thought about what is, despite the touristic stereotypes, still a conflicted area of Caribbean literature and culture.
For purchasing information, see http://www.peepaltreepress.com/single_book_display.asp?isbn=9781845230890