Caribbean Writers Series Explores Cultural Richness and Diversity

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Award-winning author Tiphanie Yanique shared her stories and poetry, inspired by her homeland in the US Virgin Islands, with the St. John’s University community at this year’s Caribbean Writers Series on Thursday, April 28, the College’s website reports.

More than 150 students, faculty, and staff attended the reading, which included a question-and-answer session and book signing in the D’Angelo Center on the Queens campus. Yanique, author of the novel Land of Love and Drowning and a book of poetry entitled Wife (from which she read excerpts) is a professor in the MFA program at the New School in New York City.

“The Caribbean Writers Series is always a very important and special event at St. John’s University,” observed Robert Mangione, Ed.D, R.Ph., Provost, during his opening remarks. “Through great and beautiful fiction writing, we learn so much about the truth, and about the world. This is an excellent example of how that is manifested.”

“We invited Tiphanie Yanique because she is a powerful storyteller,” stressed Raj Chetty, Ph.D., an Assistant Professor of English who helped organize the event. “Her stories direct readers who only know the Caribbean as a tourist destination to the beauty and complexity of Caribbean lives and worlds. At the same time, they allow readers who personally know that beauty and complexity to see lives like their own represented fully.”

Yanique noted that the US Virgin Islands are culturally rich and historically significant, a community in which “the entirety of humanity can be expressed.” “The Caribbean,” she said, “is a place where all the world’s questions can be mined, just like Europe or America, or anywhere.”

Writing about the region is how she expresses her concern and affection for it. “We don’t have…many authors writing about the Virgin Islands, and I hope that more will discover their heritage by writing literature about it.”

“It was such a meaningful event, and I hope to attend more like it in the future, as programs like this emphasize St. John’s University’s commitment to diversity,” said Hui Yan Gan ’18C, a chemistry major. “It was a great opportunity for students to learn more about a part of the world for which many of us are unfamiliar.”

“While this series is so important for the many Caribbean students on campus,” Chetty observed, “it also broadens the intellectual and cultural horizons of the entire St. John’s community.”

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.

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