Eco bungalow

Aug. 22nd, 2017 04:30 am
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Posted by midcenturyjo

"Sensitive Living Open Welcome", core principles for Dutch-based design firm Studio Slow. This 60s bungalow is all about humble luxury, hassle free, laid back and lovely. No doors but still cosy and warm.

Graced with a Successful Quest

Aug. 21st, 2017 11:23 pm
lavendertook: (Moon over Shire)
[personal profile] lavendertook
Though the skies were partly cloudy, my friend D and I were graced with a clear view of the total eclipse today, as we sat on the shores of Lake Marion in Summerton, South Carolina a few yards from the centerline of the path of totality. It was such a quick 2 1/2 minutes of total eclipse! We were so fortunate and my heart goes out to people who were hoping, and especially those who traveled far whose views were totally obscured by clouds.

We saw it. We both missed the first diamond ring because we didn't know you should take off the glasses while you still see a tiny sliver of orange, but we saw the ending diamond ring right before we put our glasses back on. I saw red-pink Baily's beads around parts of the moon's circumference during most of totality--at least I think I did--I didn't know you could see them the whole time. We got to see the wispy corona--I know they vary per eclipse--I think

I didn't register the temp dropping as the moon covered more of the sun, just that I wasn't sweltering anymore and I was feeling really comfortable, so it probably dropped 20 degrees from the 90's to the 70's. Afterwards, when D mentioned it, I was "oh yeah, the temp did drop!"

What was very wonderful is that just before totality, the cicadas in the beautiful Spanish Moss adorned pines and oaks behind us started singing.--so we got the critter special effects as well.

The clouds were pretty sunset on the horizon. We didn't see a lot of stars come out. The brightest one was way off to the right at 3 o'clock--west--I wonder if it was Jupiter or Venus? There was a dim star very close to the eclipse at 11 o'clock--was that mercury?

Another cool thing is before the totality, I remembered to run up and look at the sand under a tree on the edge of the beach and saw tons of tiny crescent suns reflected through the leaves--got pics of those I will post when I can upload them. Thank you [personal profile] spiralsheep for turning me on to that--an awesome special effect. I might have seen some of the pre-eclipse gravity bands on a light gray metal sheets on the pier, but I'm not sure.

As the eclipse receded, the sky looked very dark southeast of us over the lake--I wondered if we were seeing the shadow falling on the clouds out toward Charleston and the shoreline--where it was reported to be cloudy--I don't know if anyone got to see it there--haven't had time to look at reports.

We were so lucky because there were clouds that at times totally obscured the sun as it was receding. D thinks she saw reflections of the moon's face (the man in the moon) on the sun's surface as the moon was receding.

It wasn't a life changing experience, maybe because I'm so wowed by so many of nature's details that many people don't take time to notice--(Eee to see palm trees out in the wild and Spanish moss again!), but it makes me feel very lucky and grateful because it would have been so easy for the view to have eluded us behind chance clouds that were so near. And it has been such a fun adventure to have.

And I have a wonderful new petsitter who spent the night with my cats, and Tuxie slept against her, so finally knowing I can leave my cats in security is kind of a life changing thing for me I haven't had for many years.

I will post more about this brief but wonderful adventure with pics in another post. I hope those of you who could catch the eclipse enjoyed. The viewing glasses we have now make watching even the partial eclipse so much cooler than when I was a kid. And yay for the wonderful NASA feeds--it was so cool to watch Oregon get their totality on screen just as ours was beginning outside while we were finishing lunch in The LakeHouse. What a great day! We were so lucky! Goodnight, my friends! <3<3<3
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Posted by lisaparavisini


A report by Justino Aguila for Billboard.

Afro-Cuban and Caribbean music sets the foundation for the new Fania Records offering as part of the Hammock House series, this time introducing the Santiago Sessions produced by DJ Jose Marquez.

The new EP remixes six classic songs from the Fania catalog and features legends such Hector Lavoe, Ray Barreto, Tito Puente and Celia Cruz, among others. The inspiration for the new album was the Manana Festival in Santiago de Cuba a couple of years ago.

“This is music that I grew up with as a kid in Los Angeles,” Marquez said. “It was a very intimidating project to take on, but it was a once in a lifetime opportunity that I could not pass up.”

Marquez worked with a dream team including musicians Bobby Wilmore and Lazaro Galarraga, Afro-Cuban specialists, who performed the congas and bata drums on the track “Aguanile.” The song was released on the album El Juicio in 1972 and performed by Willie Colon and Lavoe.

The label recently announced the new DJ initiative Fania Collective, which includes the participation of DJs and producers who serve as brand ambassadors. The collective highlights artistic collaborations and features new remixes through a mixtape series in addition to live performances through the pop-up DJ series Armada Fania. In addition to  Marquez, the first group for the Fania Collective features Latin soul & boogaloo expert DJ Turmix, and Texas nu-cumbia powerhouse El Dusty.

Known for his remixes of music from recording artists such as Cruz, Nina Simone and Oumou Sangare, among others, Marquez has worked with various labels, which made him a natural choice for Santiago Sessions, which meant he was given the opportunity to access some very special recordings.

“I never could have imagined that one day I would be handed over the original files from studio sessions recorded by Fania legends,” Marquez said. “I hope you enjoy my reinterpretations of this timeless music for today’s dance floors.”

Fania introduced the Hammock House series in 2011 with Africa Caribe, which was produced by Joe Claussell and each project from that point on has included noted producers such as Louie Vega, Toy Selectah and The Whiskey Barons.

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Posted by lisaparavisini


A report by Céline Bossart for Billboard.

As you can imagine, National Rum Dayis a big deal for many a rum brand — particularly Bacardi, which Luis Fonsi will stand by as being one of the most recognizable names in the game (and so would we). So it came as no surprise that he spent the day on a tricked-out tropical Bacardi school bus, bar and all, riding around Manhattan with cocktails aplenty. In between photo opps and swarms of screaming fans, Fonsi, in all his well-deserved “Despacito” fame, sat down with Billboard Style over coconut cocktails in the back of the rum bus to chat music, what it means to be Puerto Rican, and how he takes his favorite spirit.

As a Puerto Rican, what’s your relationship to rum? And Bacardi specifically?

When you think of Puerto Rico, you think of rum, you know? Because of sugarcane and because of the history…and when you think of rum, you think of Bacardi. But I’m also a tropical guy and I’m proud to say it. I’ve always sort of worn the Puerto Rican flag on my sleeve. That’s why I was so happy to join in on this trip.

What’s your favorite rum cocktail?

I keep it simple — I’m a rum and cola kind of guy.

What about daiquiris?

I’m not too much of a daiquiri guy…if I am going to have a frozen drink though, I love piña coladas. To me, that’s one of my ultimate favorite drinks. And I’m not just saying that because it was created in Puerto Rico…[laughs].

What do you like to drink while you’re working on your music?

I love rum. It depends what kind…there are some rums that you kind of like to just sip and enjoy. But I don’t get too creative; aside from that, I just go for rum and cola.

When you’re sipping, do you go for more of a white rum or, say, the Bacardi 8 Year?

More of an 8 Year…I’m not a rum specialist, but the white rum I like to mix up more, and the 8 Year I like to sip it and enjoy it.

If you were a rum cocktail, what would you be?

That’s a tough question! I’ll tell you what I’d be: a nice, dark rum. Neat. What does that mean? It means that it’s just not complicated, it’s transparent, it’s not mixed with any crazy flavors…it is what it is and you know what you’re gonna get.

How are you celebrating National Rum Day after this epic bus ride?

Well, today has been a little bit of a crazy day for me — we started at 3:30 in the morning with Good Morning America. And I went to bed at 1:30 in the morning [laughs]…sometimes after a long day of work you just kind of want to unwind instead of going straight to bed, so I don’t know. It’s been a beautiful day. We’ve gotten a lot accomplished today; there’ve been many awards, so I have a feeling there will be a little celebrating at least. Probably not crazy Rock n Roll celebrating, but definitely a little bit of rum drinking.

Any new projects in the pipeline?

So I’m in the middle of touring, and I’m about to release my next song after “Despacito” in about a month or two. I’m really in the beginning stages; I mean, “Despacito” has been an eight-month release because the song has taken off so much, but it’s really just the beginning of my album.

Tell us a crazy rum-fueled party story.

Are there stories? Yes! Am I gonna go into detail? Wink, wink.

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Posted by ivetteromero


The Hammer Museum in Los Angeles, California, presents “Talleres: Experimental Women Filmmakers from Latin America”—a screening of works by women filmmakers (co-presented with Los Angeles Filmforum) on Thursday, November 30, 2017, at 7:30pm.

Included in the showcase is Puerto Rican artist and filmmaker Poli Marichal with “Los espejismos de Mandrágora Luna” (Mandrágora Luna’s Phantoms), 1986. According to the artist, the image used in the promotional material [from her film—see above] shows artist/performer Roxana Riera Gata, the leading character, in a subconscious trip that leads to a coming to terms with her reality.

Description: Showcasing rare works by female filmmakers who carved out a place within the male-dominated world of Latin American independent film, this program includes Uruguayan filmmaker Lydia García Millán’s Color (1955), one of the first abstract experimental films from Latin America; Narcisa Hirsch’s Workshop (1975); the politically charged Super 8 experiments by Puerto Rican underground artist Poli Marichal; and recent video essays by Mexican artist Ximena Cuevas. Curated by Ángela López Ruiz.

For more information, see

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Posted by lisaparavisini

Screen Shot 2017-08-21 at 9.35.15 PM.png

A report by Jules Stenson for The Sun.

WHEN Bruce Forsyth fell in love for the last time it came – as it had before – at a beauty contest.

He was 52 and had just gone through an agonising split with second wife Anthea Redfern.

At London’s Royal Albert Hall for the 1980 Miss World pageant, love was the last thing on his mind.

Then he spotted Wilnelia Merced — and was blown away.

“Good heavens,” Bruce thought immediately, “she looks like a South American princess. She’s absolutely gorgeous.”

The former Miss World would turn his life around and help Bruce find lasting happiness.

“I was absolutely besotted with her but I didn’t push it,” Bruce said.

“My philosophy has always been to play it cool. It’s probably hard to think of me as a cool person in that way — but I am.”

At a dinner after the event, Bruce asked her to dance.

Wilnelia, then 21, was a natural on the dancefloor. She didn’t expect much of a “cold Englishman” — but she was in for a surprise.

They danced . . . and danced.

It was just her second trip to Britain — the first was when she won Miss World. She was now working as a model in New York.

They met for dinner a few nights later. Over dinner, Bruce revealed he had been married twice and had five children, three grown up.

Though divorced from Anthea, with no chance of reconciliation, they still shared a home in Surrey.

Winnie, as she insisted he call her, was warned by pals he was a “ladies’ man” with a “bit of a reputation”. But she could see he was genuine. They saw each other every day while she was in the country.

When she returned to her native Puerto Rico, they arranged to meet in New York.

At first they kept their romance secret, holidaying in Antigua.

“Transatlantic affairs are exciting to begin with but they don’t last very long,” Wilnelia said. “One of you has to move eventually.”

They spent Christmas and New Year together in Puerto Rico, where Wilnelia agonised about Bruce meeting her parents.

“I said, ‘Mummy, I’ve found the man of my dreams, the man I want to spend the rest of my life with. I’m in love with him and he’s really special’. I told her how kind and caring he is, likes dancing and all the things I enjoy, that he’s very athletic and amusing, and how much he loves me.

“I said, ‘There’s just one problem.’ I told her he was older. There was a long silence, then she said, ‘How old?’ But she knew he was the first and only man I’ve ever been in love with and that’s what mattered.”

When her mum Delia finally met Bruce, ten years her senior, she was bowled over.

Bruce proposed to Wilnelia the next year at Turnberry in South Ayrshire, where he had been asked to film a golf series. Marriage was a huge step for Wilnelia, still only 22. She said yes — but told him she wanted to have children. She also met Bruce’s kids.

“It could have been the trickiest of situations, the girls meeting a stepmother the same age,” he said.

“They love her, which is wonderful, and they all get on marvellously.”

They tied the knot on a snowy day in New York in January 1983 and began married life at Bruce’s old marital home in Wentworth.

Wilnelia was shocked to find Anthea’s coats still in the cupboard, though she too had remarried.

Bruce recalled: “I’d got to the stage when I’d thought I would never fall in love again. I’d been through it all — marriage, divorce.

“The last thing I was thinking of that night when I met Wilnelia was falling in love. I’d reached the point where I was doubtful I ever wanted to get involved again. ‘Playboy of Wentworth’, that’s what I planned.

“I’d bought the house on the golf course.”

They had been married for three years when Wilnelia announced she was pregnant. Bruce longed for a son — and Jonathan Joseph Enrique Forsyth, known as “JJ”, was born on November 10, 1986.

Wilnelia revealed: “Long before I was pregnant, Bruce told me if he had a son, he’d want to call him Jonathan after his father and the brother he lost. I knew the name was sacred to him, so there was never any disagreement over it.”

Bruce Forsyth’s legendary interview on the floor with Bette Midler for Big Night

Bruce admitted to being “half a dad” to his five daughters due to work. That wouldn’t happen with JJ.

He learned to slow down and enjoy the pleasures of a contented family. Bruce said: “I didn’t want people standing at my memorial service saying, ‘He was a great performer, so sad he was only 58’.”

In 34 years of happy marriage, a healthy diet and exercise kept Bruce feeling young. He had surgical help with his hairline but boasted that he never needed Viagra, saying: “What you can’t take away from an older man is experience. An older man knows it’s not just about making love but how to treat a woman.”

He called Wilnelia the “sexiest woman alive” and said: “I look at her and think, ‘My God, how did you get hooked up with someone like me?’”

German Casserole

Aug. 22nd, 2017 03:00 am
[syndicated profile] theenglishkitchen_feed
I can't believe it has taken me so long to post this delicious recipe.  I cooked it way back in the Spring, but then the weather started getting hot and I didn't think it was the time of year that people would enjoy cooking and eating this kind of food, but with autumn in the offing I think its about time I brought it forward!  This be pretty good eating and I don't want anyone to miss out on it!

It's a great casserole to make when you have leftover ham and potatoes.  I usually cook extra potatoes if I am boiling them, just so I can make dishes like this.  And when I have baked a ham, I always chop up the extras and bang them in the freezer, just to have on hand when we are wanting something a bit heartier, but that won't break the bank!

I have also been known to buy a slab of ham just to make this, but you could probably use sliced ham or tinned ham if you really wanted to,  with no problem at all.

Cooked potatoes are layered with a mixture of sauteed onions, sauerkraut and ham . . .  in a shallow casserole dish . . .

I love sauekraut myself.  Its always been a favourite of mine . . .  and I suppose that is why this is called German Casserole . . .  because of the sauekraut.  My sister makes her own kraut.  I have not been brave enough yet   . . .

 I suppose I am too afraid of poisoning myself.  I have had food poisoning several times in my life and I am not likely to want to repeat that performance again!  I still can't really face chicken parmesan since the last time I had it.  It wasn't the chicken that did it to me, but chicken parm was the last thing I ate before it hit. 'Nuf said! 

Of course if you are not a big fan of sauerkraut you could use thinly sliced cabbage that you saute along with the onions and ham.  Its really, REALLY good done that way also!  Of course cheese on top, makes most casseroles automatically taste better!  I do so love a good casserole!

*German Casserole*
Serves 4 - 6
A great casserole that uses up leftovers in a very delicious way!  Simple and easy to make and a quick bake.  You will need leftover cooked ham and potatoes. 

2 cups cubed cooked smoked ham
1 medium onion, peeled and chopped
3 TBS butter
1 tsp sweet paprika
2 pounds cooked potatoes, peeled and sliced
795g jar or sauerkraut, drained, rinsed and drained again (28 ounce can)
salt and black pepper to taste
2 large free range eggs
4 TBS milk
240g grated strong cheddar cheese (I use a mix of orange and white for colour) (2 cups)

Preheat your oven to 180*C/350*F/ gas mark 4.  Melt the butter in a large skillet until it begins to foam.  Add the onion and ham.  Cook, stirring frequently, until the onion is softened, without browning.  Add the drained and rinsed sauerkraut and paprika and mix well together.

Place half of your sliced potatoes in a buttered 9 inch casserole dish.  Season with salt and pepper.  Spread the ham and sauerkraut mixture over top.  Cover with the remaining potatoes.  Season again.  Beat together the eggs and  milk.  Pour this over the potatoes.  Sprinkle with the grated cheese.

Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until heated through and the cheese is bubbly.  Serve hot.

Now doesn't that look tasty!  Some crusty bread spread with cold butter goes really well with this, and if you can find rye bread, so much the better! 

You could also use sliced smoked sausage or  hotdogs in this if you wanted to.  Its all good.  I hope you will try it.  It would make a great dish for October Fest!  Guten Appetit!
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Posted by ivetteromero


Our warmest congratulations to Puerto Rican artist Pepón Osorio, who is one of the recipients of the 2017 Governors Awards for the Arts. Lancaster, Pennsylvania will be hosting the awards ceremony at the Lancaster County Convention Center on Thursday, October 26 at 7:00pm.

Artist Pepon Osorio, who has worked and exhibited throughout the country, will receive the Distinguished Arts Award, which honors a Pennsylvania artist of international renown. [. . .] All recipients will be attending an awards ceremony in Freedom Hall in the Lancaster County Convention Center on Thursday, Oct. 26 at 7 p.m.

The celebration of the arts will kick off with a day dedicated to music on Saturday, Oct. 21. Sunday, Oct. 22 will feature a parade celebrating the arts in Lancaster.

Monday will be dedicated to dance, theater and performance. Tuesday will feature film, photography and poetry, and Wednesday will celebrate murals.

[. . .] Osorio, a professor at Temple University’s Tyler School of the Arts, has worked with more than 25 communities across the country on long term art projects involving the real world.

Most recently, he was in the Fairhill neighborhood in Philadelphia, where, with the help of the community, he relocated an elementary classroom from a school that was closed, transforming it into an immersive, changing art installation.

He has exhibited at leading museum across the country, including the Whitney, the Smithsonian’s Museum of American Art. Honors have included a John D. and Catherine T. McArthur Foundation Fellowship.

For full article, see

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Posted by ivetteromero


Shereita Grizzle (The Star) writes about the “Save a Child—Change a Nation” initiative, in which Jamaican “artistes join campaign to empower juvenile delinquents.” Entertainers and popular personalities have joined in as ambassadors for the ‘Save a Child—Change a Nation’ initiative under the Ministry of National Security and Department of Correctional Services’ We Transform program. We Transform is an empowerment and reintegration program geared at building and developing opportunities for the 242 children, aged 12 to 17, who are currently remanded in the island’s juvenile correctional facilities. Read more at The Star; see excerpts below:

The initiative will see artistes like Agent Sasco and Jermaine Edwards mentoring children who are currently remanded in juvenile correctional facilities across the island. The aim of the programme is to help in the rehabilitation of the children in these correctional facilities with the hope that a change of mindset will influence them to make positive life choices.

When Jermaine Edwards spoke to The Star, he applauded the Ministry of National Security for starting such a programme stating that if mentoring young minds will help to curb the crime problem in Jamaica, it will be worth it. [. . .] “Most of these children just need attention, someone to listen and show them that they care. We have to take the time to listen to these children to try and find out where they went wrong and that way we can begin to fix the problem. We cannot fix something if we don’t know what the problem is,” Edwards said as he urged parents to pay more attention to their children. “We can prevent a lot of things from happening by just listening to people. If we can stop ten pickney from kill 500 people or raping or stealing by just listening, wouldn’t it be worth it?”

[. . .] In a release sent to The Star, Ella Ghartey, programmes manager for We Tranform, revealed that the ambassadors are supposed to make the juveniles know that their lives are important and will do so through several motivational sessions, interpersonal, educational and career development sessions, as well as special treats from corporate sponsors. She noted that upcoming activities are to include: a football competition for the boys; spa day and a cultural pageant for the girls.

Kaci Fennel, Shirley and Naomi Cowan, are also ambassadors in the programme, as well as 50 individuals from various Corporate entities across the island, who have agreed to volunteer their time as mentors. [. . .]

For full articles, see and

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Posted by ivetteromero


As a follow-up to previous post “The Short Story Interview: Ingrid Persaud,” here is another interview of the writer by Janine Mendes-Franco (Global Voices, 13 August 2017). [Many thanks to Peter Jordens for bringing this item to our attention.] Here are excerpts:

With a humourous, tender and engaging story about a father-son bond, Trinidad and Tobago-born writer Ingrid Persaud copped the 2017 Commonwealth Short Story Prize for the Caribbean region; she was also this year’s overall winner. In “The Sweet Sop”, she masterfully explores the difficult themes of love and death without getting maudlin, and deliciously sweetens a sour relationship with all manner of chocolate. Global Voices chatted with her about her win, her writing and Caribbean literature in general.

Global Voices (GV): Congratulations on winning this year’s Commonwealth Short Story prize (Caribbean). The narrative around your success has been that you are a “first-time author” and that you pretty much came out of nowhere to win this prize, but you have been honing your craft for a long time now. Can you tell us about your journey?

Ingrid Persaud (IP): The notion of a writer emerging fully formed is simply a version of the genius myth. I have been writing for the past five years persistently trying to understand how words slide and fall and play. I’ve written a novel and [am] working on another. I haven’t been writing short stories and the prize incentivizes me to look at this form more seriously.

My journey to writing has been circuitous. I have had two other lives. [I was] an academic lawyer and later I trained as an artist. Looking back, the thread that binds it all is the power of words.

GV: The beauty of “The Sweet Sop”, your story that so impressed the panel of judges with its originality, strength of characterisation and humour, is that it spoke of universal experiences with a distinctly Trinidadian voice. How did you accomplish that?

IP: Caribbean voices are as distinct and as easily understood as, for example, the Irish or Scottish voices we unquestioningly accept. I think this generation of writers is making a stand against the othering of Caribbean
voices as ‘patois’ or ‘first nation language’. Good stories and poems will always find a space because they speak to our common humanity. Trini humour warms my heart and I am delighted it touches others.

[. . .] GV: How has social media factored into your ability to share and promote your work and connect with other Caribbean writers?

IP: I spend far too much time on Facebook and Twitter and excuse it because I live on an island that is 14 by 21 miles. It is my portal to interacting with other writers worldwide as well as my interface with news services and various publications. But I never confuse a virtual friend with the kind that turns up for lunch and you are both still talking and laughing as the moon is rising.

GV: Speaking of other writers, who inspires you?

IP: I read widely to catch a glimpse of the zeitgeist and I read strategically depending on the challenges I am trying to overcome in my own writing. For craft, Olive Senior’s work is inspiring. I re-read Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying more often than I care to admit. This summer’s best find has been The Story of a Brief Marriage by Anuk Arudpragasam.

GV: How do you notice Caribbean literature evolving and where does your voice fit into it?

IP: The Caribbean has a proud tradition of producing world class literature and we are continuing to do so with the authentic and unique voices of writers and poets such as Kei Miller, Vahni Capildeo, Marlon James, Barbara Jenkins, Jacob Ross and Sharon Millar. In time, when I’ve produced more work, my voice might find a space. But that is the critic’s job. My task is to keep writing. [. . .]

For full interview, see



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Posted by ivetteromero


Small enterprises, such as pizzerias in Havana, are springing up all over Cuba after 2011 licensing changes and relaxed US restrictions on tourism. The Guardian reports on small business in Havana:

Pizza is falling from the sky in Havana … Actually, it’s being lowered in a basket from a third-floor balcony belonging to a small pizzeria called cuentapropistas, run by two Cuban cuentapropistas, or entrepreneurs, Marta María del Barrio and Marta Juana Castañeda in densely populated Centro Habana. Business is booming and they open from 9am until midnight every day – Castañeda is adamant they take no holidays.

Cubans call this street food pizza de cinco pesos because five pesos (15p today) used to be the standard price in a country where the average monthly wage was about £15. But things are changing. In 2011, Raúl Castro’s economic reforms permitted individuals to take out private business licences. A decade ago, pizzerias were few and far between; now, they are all over the city.

Many of these, like A Mi Manera, are run from private homes. For del Barrio and Castañeda, who started their business five years ago, this posed a specific problem. Del Barrio’s family owned the top two floors of the building but not the ground floor. Running up and down the stairs was too tiring so, with typical Cuban resourcefulness, they devised a solution: take orders in the doorway, phone them up to the rooftop kitchen, then lower the pizzas down by rope.

At A Mi Manera, prices are much higher than the historic five pesos, but the two Martas offer an improved product. Their pizzas are larger and less greasy than the traditional taco-sized street pizza. A cheese and tomato pizza starts at 25 pesos (about 75p), a Hawaiian costs twice that and a lobster pizza is about £3.

A Mi Manera estimates it sells 900 pizzas a week, mostly to Cubans. “I have clients coming all the way from Playa,” Castañeda said, referencing a neighbourhood 20 minutes away by car. “This is the best pizza in Havana.”

Their success is evidence of a growing Cuban middle class with disposable income. With the increase of private enterprise, President Obama’s relaxation of restrictions on US travellers and the introduction of Airbnb to Cuba in 2015, more tourist money has been going directly into the hands of the people instead of into government-owned hotels and restaurants. Private business owners are making incomes that far exceed anything they could earn working for the state.

The number of US tourists visiting the island has risen sharply in the past few years but a new economic fear is spreading in the wake of Donald Trump’s June announcement of new restrictions on trade and travel to Cuba. While his statement focused on restricting the flow of money to military and intelligence organisations, many Cubans fear the restrictions will significantly reduce US tourism. There were reports of Airbnb cancellations following the president’s speech.

While the effects remain to be seen, for now, at least, custom is still steady at A Mi Manera. On a Monday afternoon, while most patrons at the doorway counter were Cuban, there was one tourist: Erika Rydberg from New Hampshire. Her verdict on the pizza? “Yum. Definitely yum.”

  • A Mi Manera Pizzeria, 305 Soledad between Neptuno and Concordia, Centro Habana, +53 7 8709005

For original article, see

Collect and Wear Birchbark Art

Aug. 22nd, 2017 01:55 am
[syndicated profile] beyondbuckskin_feed
In the past year, we've grown close with many local artists who are continuing ancient traditions through cultural adornment and fashion.

One family of artists creates stunning birchbark baskets and necklace medallions that are truly extraordinary.

Brenda and Rebecca Cree, along with Rebecca's son Chuck Stoneboy, create amazing one-of-a-kind pendants and baskets featuring natural birchbark harvested from the Turtle Mountain region in North Dakota.

Read more »
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Posted by lisaparavisini

Screen Shot 2017-08-21 at 8.49.27 PM.png

Founding his own space and retreating Upstate, Gavin has created his own path. A report by Terence Trouillot for Art Net.

He’s a rising star now, but the young Cy Gavin never thought he would become an artist. “To be an artist, for me, meant that you came from immense privilege,” he told artnet News. “I just loved art.”

Now Gavin has two sold-out solo exhibitions at Sargent’s Daughters under his belt, one in 2015 and one 2016, and is featured currently at the Rubell Foundation in Miami. Next year, he’ll be in Paris: He’s currently working with Victoire de Poutalès and Hélène Nguyen Ban, the gallerists behind VNH Gallery, for a show of new works in February 2018.

The Work

Gavin is best known for his stunning and beautiful paintings that are all motivated from personal experiences and his relationship to his family, his past, and the medium itself.

He draws inspiration from Bermuda, the homeland of his father, and a place the artist has often visited to conduct research on his family’s history. His art incorporates the country’s flora and fauna, as well as its complicated history as a pivotal site during the transatlantic slave trade, and as the first island in the Atlantic to attract wealthy American tourists seeking an alternative to summers in Europe during in the 1920s.

“I was surprised when I went to Bermuda for the first time—the history of slavery there is invisible, even though it’s omnipresent,” he explains. “There are brown people everywhere. There’s no trace of it. No mention of it in the historical society. They have every detail of colonial life with no mention of black people.”

The works are intricate. These colorful, enrapturing paintings, using acrylic and oil paint, render loosely abstracted landscapes, often incorporating dark black figures—phantom-like beings who become the centerpiece of each work. The results are stark, arresting, strange, and imaginative.

The poses of Gavin’s figures are inspired by the dance traditions of the Caribbean and Bermuda. He has also taken to incorporating some of the natural materials he collected in Bermuda into his paintings (e.g. Bermudan pink sand, irises, etc.).

Cy Gavin, Tucker’s Town (2016). Image courtesy the artist.

The Backstory

Gavin grew up in Donora, Pennsylvania, 20 minutes south of Pittsburgh. A Rust Belt town, Donora was home to a lot of heavy-industry, including steel-making and coal-mining. Both his mother and father worked at glass factories; his mother still does to this day. He was also raised Jehovah’s Witness, and often traveled with his father going door to door to do missionary work. Bored from the monotonous routine, Gavin would sit in the car reading and drawing while his father was doing the “Lord’s work.”

As a teenager, Gavin fell in love with art and drawing, regularly going to Carnegie Museum of Art in nearby Pittsburgh. “I spent my entire childhood in that museum,” he says, emphatically. “I couldn’t afford to go in—it was like $13 a ticket ($12 for kids today)—but there’s a way through the library there [connected to the museum], where you take the elevator down to the basement and go through the stacks and pop into the museum.”

Yet despite graduating from Carnegie Mellon University with a degree in art in 2007, and continuing to paint and make videos, it wasn’t until 2011 that Gavin decided he wanted to become a serious artist.

After a brief stint in San Francisco following his graduation from CMU, Gavin moved to New York in 2011 and started working with Lia Gangitano at the Lower East Side non-profit stalwart Participant Inc. He worked in development, and still helps maintain the gallery website.

Soon thereafter Gavin began assisting artist and filmmaker Ellen Cantor on her project Pinochet Porn (Cantor’s last film before she passed in 2013), and worked as an archivist for Vito Acconci’s studio. He was heavily influenced by both artists, mentioning in particular Acconci’s shape-shifting character and incredible work ethic. “He was the hardest working person I’ve ever known.”

Gavin was accepted to Columbia University’s MFA program in 2014, where he worked closely with artists such as Fia Backström and Sanford Biggers, and art historian and curator Kellie Jones, whom Gavin considers his mentor.

Cy Gavin, Rosewood Tucker’s Point Golf Club and Cemetery (2016). Image courtesy the artist.

“I wanted to be treated as an autonomous person who’s responsible for my time there,” he notes, “and Columbia was that way. You could do nothing and graduate or you could kill yourself and graduate. It was like you build your own adventure.”

At Columbia, Gavin opened a secret gallery in an abandoned building in East Harlem owned by the University. “It was a former locker room and shower,” he said. “And I asked Lia [Gangitano] to curate the show with two sculptors, Ektor Garcia and Michael Blake. I brought electricity, and air conditioning. I painted the walls white. It was a real gallery. And I was caught and got in trouble. But no one knew about the gallery until ARTnews did a story about it.”

The space was called The Can, and although short lived it caught the attention of the school’s faculty, students, and the art world.

After completing his MFA, Gavin was invited to be part of a six-month studio residency program at the Rubell Foundation in Miami. There he created a suite of works that drew inspiration from his time visiting Bermuda and driving through the South from New York to Miami, which are on view currently in “High Anxiety: New Acquisition,” at the Rubell Foundation Collection museum (though August 25).

These also draw inspiration from research into the advent of makeup and cosmetics during the time of Queen Elizabeth. “I hadn’t really thought of the colonial period as having vestiges of Elizabethan era,” he mentions. “It was the first time makeup was being invented to articulate difference. Makeup created a language around color and skin color, allowing character traits to be attached to color. Culture being shifted by the language of color is weird and painty to me.”

The Present

Last November, Gavin moved his studio from his apartment in Manhattan to take up shop in a two-story barn just two hours north of the city in Dutchess County, New York. Once abandoned and filled with car parts and wasp nests, now the studio is a tricked out space with a curved leather sofa, a TV, acoustic Victor phonograph, and a sun-drenched studio upstairs where the artist has ample room to work on his large-scale paintings.

“I paint with my body and not my wrist,” he says, describing his process of creating his paintings. Recently, Gavin has been creating wands out of metal tubing to extend his brush, inhibiting some control on his mark making, but gaining more distance from the canvas to think compositionally and engage with the entire surface of the painting.

He’s currently working on next year’s show for Paris, though the gallerists have given him no limits, and he doesn’t know yet what form the show will take.

Cy Gavin's studio in Stanfordville, New York. Image courtesy the artist.

“All the things I make are ad-libbed,” he told artnet News. “I have a general idea of what I’m doing but I’m figuring that out by looking at the work. I do everything in real time, and it takes me a long time to make paintings.”

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A report by Sir Henry Fraser for the Barbados Advocate.

“Art is the soul of the people” – Anonymous
“Art is the tree of life” – William Blake
“The art of a people is a true mirror to their minds” – Jawaharlal Nehru
“The mother art is architecture. Without an architecture of our own we have no soul of our own civilisation” – Frank Lloyd Wright

The artists of Barbados have risen to the challenge of CARIFESTA magnificently. The many exhibitions and events, some apparently organised at short notice, are impressive, and will provide locals and visitors alike with the richest banquet of Caribbean visual arts in a lifetime. As many of these great efforts have come together quickly, without much publicity in the general media, I want to devote this column to some of the really exciting things that no one with a soul should miss.

There are several signature exhibitions: first the Journey to One Caribbean – CARICOM Exhibition, featuring artists from across the Caribbean, on the top floor of the Norman Centre on Broad Street. Opening yesterday it runs until the 26th, from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. It builds on a theme explored by curator Janice Whittle in an exhibition in 2007 to commemorate the Bicentenary of the Abolition of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade. For CARIFESTA XIII she has expanded the idea of the gifts of the different cultures of the Caribbean and how we have grown into one Caribbean, unique and wonderful. The exhibition examines different aspects and influences of Caribbean life through the art of Juliana Inniss, Ken Crichlow (Trinidad), Killy (Haiti), Albert Cheong (Jamaica), Arthur Atkinson, Virgil Broodhagen and Denyse Menard-Greenidge (Barbados) and Nasaria Suckoo Chollette (Cayman Islands).

Near-by is the Photography Exhibition on the Wickham-Lewis Boardwalk – a novel display of enlarged photos, 3 feet by 2 feet, protected by Perspex and mounted on the lamp posts. It’s curated by Harclyde Walcott and includes photographers from around the Caribbean, and it’s sponsored by the Port Authority, the NCF and Cot Printery. The proximity of these two major shows is great. It would be wonderful if Broad Street, from the corner of Prince William Henry Street to Parliament could be a pedestrian way for at least a part of the day, e. g. from 4 to 8 pm, to take advantage of the art and bring people into the area. Imagine an after-work scene with a buzz of people enjoying the art and snacking from vendors in the Square or dining at the Waterfront and Chefette.

Tomorrow, Monday the 21st, The Barbados National Exhibition of CARIFESTA XIII has the official opening with artist talks and screenings immediately after, and it runs until Sunday the 27th. It’s at the Morningside Gallery, Barbados Community College (BCC) and the curator is Nerys Rudder. I understand it features contemporary artists – both established such as Joyce Daniel and younger artists such as Rupert Piggott, Russell Watson, Caroline Holder and Versia Harris.

Also at the BCC is the CARICOM National Exhibition, in the Science Block & Morningside Gallery … until the 26th.

A most interesting show, I expect, is the Masters Exhibition – History & Infinity, at the Queen’s Park Gallery, and I understand also at the Grand Salle of the Central Bank and the Synagogue Gallery. These three venues provide a nice walk between sites. They are three points on a heritage walking tour between the Synagogue, the Masonic Lodge and Queen’s Park House. It opens this evening and runs until the 26th.

But also of enormous interest are the many events classified as “Fringe” events. First, “Home”, described as the August Pop-up Exhibition, at Norman Centre. This is curated by the inimitable Oneka Small, Curator Extraordinaire, who has already performed miracles with amazing shows at Manor Court and Massy’s in Warrens; exhibitions which amaze and inspire, and echo and magnify the constant cry – our forty year-long pleas and prayers – for a National Gallery.

Then there is a series of events at the young, creative Barn Art Centre at Small Ridge Plantation in Christ Church: first a Studio Ceramics Exhibition, from the 14th until the 27th , featuring ten ceramicists – Adam Williams of Trinidad, Nakazzi Hutchinson from Jamaica (and Barbados), Gloria Chung, Ancel Daniel, Melanie D’Oliveira, Lynn Haynes, Akyem Ramsay, Juliana Inniss, Israel Mapp and Martina Pile Zahles from Barbados – works in a variety of clay bodies – stoneware, earthenware and porcelain, curated by Oneka Small. (Open 10 to 5 daily.)

There is also a mural project at the Barn, where a forty foot mural will be a spontaneous community effort, throughout CARIFESTA, directed by our brilliant local muralist Don Small.

There will be three artist talks, scheduled for today at 10 a.m., Wednesday at 5 p.m. and Saturday at 10 a.m. while another community event is called “Bring ya monkey and come” – you’re invited to bring your monkey jars to add to a display of this unique feature of old Barbadian culture, illustrating the variety in the work of our potters over the years.

The Barn Arts Centre is dedicated to promoting and developing art-based learning, by providing a unique learning environment for diverse audiences, and a range of art based programs. The founders are Jo-Anne Johnson and Juliana Inniss. Jo Anne started doing ceramics as a hobby in 1982 and has operated a ceramics studio since 1987, providing services, supplies and teaching for people to do slip casted ceramics as a hobby. Juliana, after graduating from University pursued her passion for art through ceramics, developing skills in many techniques, including, most recently, Raku.

An exciting exhibition will be the display of heraldry by our uniquely gifted heraldic artist Ann Rudder at the Cathedral of St. Michael and All Angels. “Come celebrate ‘we’ Caribbean Heraldry” is the title, and 17 magnificent coat-of-arms banners are exhibited, “proudly displaying flora, fauna, history and heraldry of our Caribbean Community”.

The North is not to be outdone, and the Gallery of Caribbean Art features 11 Caribbean artists in a group show – artists from Antigua, Barbados, Cuba, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and Trinidad.
And there’s more. I’m disappointed, though, that almost everything appears to end by the 27th – it’s just one week to explore this banquet of riches. And what about our many other cultural treats, beyond the scope of this column … music, dance and theatre, literature, poetry and culinary arts? Will there be time to explore and sample them all? And to imbibe the work of our Tini-bagonian, Jamaican and other Caribbean friends?

Our recent explosion of local writers, the creativity of the journal Poui, the resurgence of BIM magazine, and many beautiful books – fiction such as Facing North by Theo Williams and autobiography such as Down Danesbury Gap by Austin Yearwood – all deserve to be shared. A really big one that springs to mind is the magnificent Barbados Bu’n Bu’n, by Rosemary Parkinson. Rosemary’s prodigious output spans the culinary arts, photography, visual art and writing, AND spans the Caribbean, from Barbados to Jamaica. This book and its author is quite extraordinary and the epitome of the fusion of Caribbean art and cultures. Following her award winning Caribbean Culinaria and the award winning Nyam Jamaica, Barbados Bu’n Bu’n has been celebrated with Best Cookbook of the Year, Best Self-Published Book, Best Historical Recipes, Best Self-Published Book in the World and other awards! So will our splendid books on food and cuisine, our traditional gastronomic treats and our award winning Barbadian chefs feature in a big way this week? I do hope so.

So many other Caribbean artists excel in several areas … Harclyde Walcott in art, photography and theatre, Patrick Foster in art and theatre, Akyem in painting and sculpture, Nakazzi Hutchinson in painting and ceramics But as the great architect Frank Lloyd Wright said, the mother art is architecture, and with the continuing dereliction of our UNESCO site’s built treasures, we’ve missed the boat on that score – sadly. But that’s another story.

Giving thanks: For being relatively spared by the upstart Hurricane Harvey, which “broke the rules” and strayed from the beaten path.

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A report by Melody Parker for The Courier.

The Waterloo Center for the Arts is hosting the annual Haitian Art Society, Sept. 23-28, featuring special presentations, exhibitions, gallery talks and tours of museums and private collections in Waterloo, Cedar Falls, Dubuque, Milwaukee, Chicago and Davenport.

Waterloo is far from the island nation of Haiti, but it is the repository of the world’s largest and most significant public collection of Haitian art.

“There’s no more concise way of saying it than that,” said Chawne Paige, WCA curator. “As stewards of this prestigious collection, it’s important to celebrate and show how we’re interpreting the works and playing respect to the artists and work.”

The collection includes colorful paintings by Haitian masters, metal sculptures, beaded and sequined banners and other artwork from Haitian culture. Rather than hang an art-salon style show “which isn’t that effective in telling their story,” Paige has coordinated a number of curated shows and private collections.

WCA last hosted the society’s conference in 2008. “In those nine years, we have drastically changed the scale and scope of our collection. It has grown by leaps and bounds. We’ve made multiple trips to Haiti to bring back new pieces for the collection,” Paige explained. Also, some of the artists have died and pieces in the collection represent some of their last works.

More than 100 scholars, collectors, artists, gallery owners, enthusiasts and the public are expected to attend. Participants are coming from throughout the United States, Europe and the Caribbean.

The annual conference begins Sept. 23 at the WCA with an official welcome, followed by presentations on the current state of the WCA Haitian Collection and programming and a collectors panel discussion. Lunch will take place at WCA’s Laughing Tree Café.

Pascale Monnin will present “A Look at Gerard Fortune.” A noted artist herself, Monnin has recently published a book on Fortune, and the WCA has a large collection of Fortune’s work. There will be a tour of the WCA’s vault, and an opening reception for an exhibition of Monnin’s work, “The Birth of the Hummingbird and Other Marvels.” She will give a gallery talk, as well.

On Sept. 24, participants will visit the WCA Galleries for a presentation, “Tourists Turned Connoisseurs: Collection Histories of Haitian Art in the United States” by Peter Haffner, Ph.D., and “Contemporary Young Haitian Artists from Chicago: Alexandra Antoine, Jean Yves Hector and Sabrina Greig.”

WCA also will exhibit “Ted Frankel’s Over-stuffed Suitcases of Flags from Haiti, “Gérard Fortune: Selections from the Haitian Collection,” “Works from the Saint-Soleil School,” metal selections from the Haitian collection and more.

After lunch at the Laughing Tree Café, Alfredo Rivera, an associate professor at Grinnell College and Edouard Duval Carrie will make presentations. In the evening, former WCA director Cammie Scully will host the group at her home to view her collection of Haitian art.

On Sept. 25, the University of Northern Iowa Gallery of Art will be the focus. Darrell Taylor, UNI Gallery director, and WCA curator Paige will present “Objects of Power from the WCA Haitian Collection.”

“VEVE Spiritual Symbols of Haiti featuring Haitian flags from the WCA collection will be featured in an exhibit at the UNI Museum at the Rod Library. The day will include a tour of Bob Coyle’s collection and Paco Rosic’s studio in Waterloo.

On Sept. 26, the group will travel by bus to Dubuque and Milwaukee, including an exhibition tour at Gallery C in downtown Dubuque and a visit to the Milwaukee Art Museum’s Haitian collection.

In Chicago on Sept. 27, visits are planned to the Haitian American Museum of Chicago, the Intuit Gallery, the DuSable Museum of African American History and several private collections.

On Sept. 28, the group travels to Davenport’s Figge Art Museum before heading back to Waterloo.

The public can register to attend sessions in the Cedar Valley, as well as for the road trip, Paige says. Registration is due Sept. 15. For more conference details, fees and registration information, visit

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Kai Miller’s thoughts on Derek Walcott appeared in PNR. Here is an excerpt. For the complete essay click here.

I HAVE LABOURED, like all Caribbean poets of my generation (if not all Caribbean writers), under the shadow of Derek Walcott. I was not always aware of this. Maybe if I had been, I would also have been resentful. In time, though, I would learn the things important for any Caribbean poet to make a way in the world today – always to have a Walcott anecdote at hand for interviews; to answer questions about him; to accept that reviewers and critics would read as ‘Walcottian’ some image, some line that I had written; humbly to acknowledge some way, however tenuous, in which his poetry had influenced mine. It hadn’t, though. Not really. Still, in reading through his own interviews and essays I would often find that he had been there before me. He had already thought through some thought that I was presently struggling with. He had thought it through carefully and had articulated, in a way that profoundly resonated with me, what it meant to be a poet from the Caribbean, what it meant to speak one language while committing another to the page; even what it meant to be a boy watching the Caribbean sun go down, knowing there was a whole wide world out there, and still not to be intimidated by your own ambition.

Walcott had even lived in Jamaica for a few years. That was before I was born. Still, I like to imagine him on top of our Blue Mountains, hands outstretched like Brazil’s Christ the Redeemer, throwing his shadow across the entire Antilles – a shadow stretching across geography and time, across both future and history, a shadow so impressively large even poets who came before Walcott would sometimes seem to have grown up in it.
There is another sense that I have hinted at – perhaps the more important sense – in which I did not grow up in Walcott’s shadow. For this I am grateful. Writers have little choice in their shadows. We are drawn to the shades of great women and men, pulled into their areas of darkness as helplessly as moths are drawn to light. If we did get to choose I would give this advice: choose a shadow, a shade, large enough for you to grow, but not so large that you can never escape it.

Even to his death, the Trinidadian poet Wayne Brown never fully escaped the shadow of his mentor. For all Brown’s technical acumen, for all his metrical sophistication, for all the fact that he was possibly the most elegant Caribbean poet of his own generation, Brown was still seen as a protégé of Walcott – an incredibly gifted student, but always lesser than the master. It was through Wayne that I met Walcott that first time.

I was barely twenty years old. I had recently dropped out of University. Wayne had recently dropped out of Trinidad, so to speak. In Jamaica, his new country, he edited an arts supplement for one of the main newspapers. My first poems were published there. Wayne inveigled Walcott to come to Jamaica, or perhaps Walcott had already planned to be there and Wayne extracted a favour from him. Whatever the reason, one Saturday a group of Jamaican poets found itself at the Hilton Hotel in New Kingston, in a conference room where the a/c was set almost to freezing. We were to have a master-class with the master himself. I remember being struck by the blue-greenness of Walcott’s eyes, an aspect of sea perhaps, but also an aspect of ice.

At twenty, I still had the brashness of youth – more confidence than talent, too unread to know I hadn’t yet written a good poem. I was not quite the prodigy that Walcott was. I look back at those early poems and there was, at best, a musicality to them, and even my adolescent self knew to avoid clichés. Still, the poems lacked a sophistication of thought, and also an ambition of utterance.

I had taken a few of these poems with me to the Hilton and I imagined myself perhaps the way Walcott imagines himself in Another Life, a young painter walking with his work to the balding figure of Harold Simmons, the master, taking it and observing the work carefully, then lovingly correcting it. I imagined that Walcott might have seen something in my work – some spark of talent – and would welcome me into the kingdom.

Walcott never read my poems. Not then and perhaps to his death he never read them. We spent the first half of the workshop looking on the sixteen-line sonnets of George Meredith. Walcott swooned at the beauty of it all. An older, white-haired Jamaican poet tried, it seemed, to out-swoon Walcott. I was a little repulsed by the display.

In the second half it was time to look at each other’s work. Walcott chose a young poet whose name I cannot now remember. I remember however that while her poetic abilities were modest, her beauty was not, and Walcott’s focus was more than flirtatious but less than lecherous. And I envied her. Not being talented, beautiful or female, I could never earn Walcott’s attention. Next, we looked at a poem by Delores Gauntlett, a poet of considerable talents, but Walcott frowned at one of her lines. ‘You do realise,’ he said ‘that there is a grammatical error here.’ Delores nodded sheepishly – a half acknowledgment, a half apology.

I looked at the line in question but saw no error. It seemed to me that Walcott – the great man himself –
was misreading the thing, taking for a noun what Gauntlett had meant as a verb. I piped up. ‘But sir, there isn’t an error.’ The class erupted. Who was I to challenge a man so great! The laureate waved my comment away as one might wave away a mosquito. ‘I’m not asking you; I’m telling you,’ he said curtly, but I was near enough to lean over and explain my case. ‘I think you might be reading the poem in this way when instead it should be read this way. Don’t you see?’

I’m not sure that he did see. Without acknowledging me, he turned to the class. ‘Shall we move on to the next line?’ For years I took that as a strange kind of victory – how I had proven the aging poet’s fallibility, but I no longer trust my memory. I think, maybe he didn’t hear me at all, or maybe he really was right –
there was some obvious grammatical error that I had missed, and he was too impatient to take the time to explain it to me when everyone else understood.

So Walcott never read my poems, and I was not welcomed into the kingdom, though he did say something about them – kingdoms, that is. Perhaps it was the moment he was most annoyed that he had agreed to spend an evening in Jamaica, and in this manner, and with this lot. So he told us: ‘Poetry is not a democracy. It is a kingdom. Only some are welcome.’ And then he was gone, like the king riding atop a lovely horse, across the moat and into the castle. On the other side, we could only see the drawbridge being pulled up, the sun setting, and the shadows of the turrets falling over us like crowned omens.

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Ingrid Persaud is a writer and artist from Trinidad and Tobago. She came to writing and fine art having first pursued a successful legal career that included teaching and scholarship at the Fletcher School of Law and King’s College, London.  Her first novel, If I Never Went Home was published in 2013. Ingrid is the 2017 overall winner of the Commonwealth Short Story Prize with her first short story, ‘The Sweet Sop’.

Interview by Jennifer Emelife for The Short Story.

Congratulations on winning the Commonwealth Short Story Prize, Ingrid. Your winning story, ‘The Sweet Sop’ is your first short story! How do you feel to have such a grand debut into the world of short story writing?

Thank you for such kind words. I was happy to be short listed and the rest was a surprise and a little overwhelming. I’m worried that the next thing I write won’t live up to expectations.

Having written a novel in the past, I should think you have little to worry about. What inspired you to try out the short story form? An experiment? Was ‘The Sweet Sop’ written before your first novel or after?

‘The Sweet Sop’ was written after my novel ‘If I Never Went Home’ and during the writing of my second novel. Novel writing is a marathon and I began to think I would never finish anything. I took a little break and tried to write a short story and this is what emerged. There is a lot of satisfaction in completing something in weeks rather than years.

What’s your writing process like, for novels and short stories?

When I am writing, the day starts early – around 5am and I try to get 800 -1000 words out by lunchtime. Most days it’s agony to reach that target. I try to leave my desk for lunch and then deal with domestic life (the husband, the teenagers, the dogs, the chicken). After dinner, I often do a couple hours or take the time to read. Work is ever present and my family complain that my default mode is always to go back to the office.

The Commonwealth Short Story Prize

I can imagine how pretty tough it must be combining those. I enjoyed the language employed in ‘The Sweet Sop’, with its traces of Caribbean alterations. Except for the few times when the narrator switches to standard English.  But I’d like to know, why was it important to you to have your characters speak in that way?

Western writing has always embraced regional dialects and slang and presented it as something that can be universally accessed once the writing is solid. This is simply another version of dialect following in this rich tradition. The story is set in Trinidad and the voice demanded quite exact language to be authentic.

Aside from language, you somehow made the story, though sad, less tragic.  There are many expressions that could otherwise have tugged at the reader’s heart but they come off lightly and humorous.  Do you often consciously employ humour as a style or does it just happen?

Humour is a way of coping and making sense of life’s challenges. At this stage in my writing, I don’t know how else to access these fraught issues other than through humour. I’m with James Thurber when he said that humour is emotional chaos recollected in tranquillity. If I had the talent I would do stand up comedy.

Ha ha. I’d totally be at your shows! There’s an obsession with chocolate from the beginning of the story right until the end – to the extent that even when Reggie was dying,  I found myself thinking about food, which partially distracted from the tragedy.  It intrigues me how you were able to ‘trivialise’ Reggie’s pain; although he was suffering, you masked it so well with food and humour.  Would it have made any difference if you’d allowed your reader to feel the pain of Reggie’s illness? What were you trying to shield with the chocolates?

While chocolate melts through the story I don’t think it is a shield. What I hope is that it is a portal to understanding Reggie’s pain and Victor’s heartbreak. To taste another’s pain is impossible but maybe the giving and receiving of chocolate gives us a hint of that abyss.

It appeared though that the weight of Reggie’s illness was dumped on Victor, his son. After his father’s death, he was so guilt-driven, he became addicted to chocolates, even at the expense of his weight. I felt you were punishing the wrong offender.

It is a contradiction to say a writer is simultaneously director and follower of a character. Would you believe me if I told you that is where the character led me? And is the guilt not mixed with love and longing and regret? Happily-ever-after would have been untrue.

Hmm, that’s a point. But for the Leukaemia that befell him, I think it was necessary for Reggie to have felt the pain of cheating and being separated from his son. I enjoyed how much he yearned to hear Victor call him daddy.  Are your stories usually based on any ideas or beliefs?

If there is any belief system it is that life is not made up of binaries. You don’t have to feel pain because you did wrong and you don’t have to be spared pain because you did right. Wrong and right are the extremes and most of us don’t live there. We are all getting by doing the best we can.

From another angle though, ‘Sweet Sop’ can be said to be about marital unfaithfulness and its ills. It was really remarkable for me to discover that Reggie’s mum had jilted Reggie because he was unfaithful. Made me think about what the world would be like if women continually and courageously walked out of abusive and unfaithful homes. Was this a part you deliberately explored?

The women in the story are secondary to the father-son relationship but they are certainly not to be dismissed. My own upbringing features a network of strong Caribbean women and I wanted to bring some of that experience into the work.

Talking about Caribbean works. My first contact with Caribbean literature was a book, Jane’s Career written by H. G. de Lisser.  I can imagine that Caribbean writers have long moved on from the days of Jane’s Career, in terms of style and maybe themes. What changes can you identify in the contemporary and past Caribbean writings?

Caribbean literature has always been vibrant and our writers are now claiming previously untouched genres. Several collections of noir writing have appeared. Sci-fi, not often associated with West Indian writing, is making waves with work by authors like Karen Lord. I’m enjoying the fresh voices of authors like Kerry Young and poet Loretta Collins Klobah. And of course the region is getting international attention with Kei Miller and Vahni Capildeo both recipients of the Forward Poetry Prize and Marlon James is our first Booker Prize winner.

If by feminist you mean someone who stands up for basic human rights for women, for women living in poverty, for women suffering sexual abuse and for specially marginalised groups such as black women and gay women, then yes, I am a feminist. Do I feel the need to make that part of my creative work? No. If the artistic intent squares with having a feminist character then of course I will pour my energies into it. My aim is to write the best fiction I can rather than the best feminist text.A remarkable development it is. You’d mentioned about how your upbringing featured strong women  whose experiences you’ve tried to infuse into your work. What are your thoughts about feminism as regards writing and would you identify as a feminist?

Let’s talk about your background. Your bio says you started writing fiction late in your life. What year would that be and what attracted you into fully pursuing it?

I came to writing through the scenic route of law and fine art. It’s been a search to find a way of relating to the world. That it took until my mid 40’s to finally know this is what I want is a little unfortunate. I write slowly so unlikely to complete a decent body of work but I’m going to give it my best shot.

I think it’s inspiring that you still pursued it however late you found it. Also because you’re already gaining global recognition as a writer with the Commonwealth Prize. What books or authors have shaped or influenced your writing?

My parents devour books so I have always been exposed to a variety of literature. It’s tough to come up with favourites. Certain authors fit better depending on where I am in my head space but I admire the work of Colm Toibin and Paul Auster and enjoy re-reading Marquez and Borges. My latest find is a little known author, Felipe Alfau who penned magic realism before it got the name.

I see you enjoy lots of magical realism. Are there ways in which you’d say your work as an academic and a fine artist influences your fiction writing?

Both law and fine art demand their own peculiar ways of seeing the world. As much as I regret not starting to write earlier I wouldn’t be who I am without those disciplines. They give me the freedom to tackle issues that I may have shied away from.

And you’re currently working on your second novel. What is it about? Should we expect some more chocolate tales?

I am rewriting a terrible first draft and there isn’t a bar of chocolate in sight. Death and journeys are a big part of the plot. When the manuscript is like a firm slab of chocolate rather than a random mixture of soft centred bon bons we can talk again.

[syndicated profile] angry_asian_man_feed

Posted by Phil Yu

Manhattan's Cornerstone Cafe apologizes after racial receipt goes viral.

This again. It's the return of the Racial Receipt! The latest sighting occurred in New York, where a Manhattan restaurant recently apologized for referring to an Asian American customer as "Ching Chong" on a receipt.

Last Wednesday, a server at Cornerstone Cafe in the East Village entered an Asian customer's name as "Ching Chong" on the slip for a to-go order of steak and eggs. Because why bother asking for a customer's actual name when you can silently mock them with a racial slur, right under their nose?

The incident started picking up attention when a friend of the customer, Facebook user Ziggy Chau, posted a photo of the offending receipt on social media. That's when the internet went in on Cornerstone Cafe.

Read more »

Eclipse Day!

Aug. 21st, 2017 05:28 pm
sabotabby: (gaudeamus)
[personal profile] sabotabby
I vaguely heard that the US was getting an eclipse (as in this was all over my FB feed) but assumed it wasn't going to affect here, but I found out yesterday that, no, indeed, we were getting 72% of an eclipse. A woman's paycheque worth of an eclipse. So I made last-minute plans with [personal profile] metalana. She is an A++ good influence on me as she makes me shoot RAW, so they came out slightly better than expected, and also made pinhole viewers since getting eclipse glasses at the last possible moment is not a thing that can be done. At any rate, we didn't need to bother, because during an eclipse, the usual rules of capitalism and urban living get suspended. Everyone came out to the beach and people were happy to share their eclipse glasses and show off their homemade viewers, which ranged from two pieces of paper to someone's modded-up telescope. The telescope people invited us to hang with them and gave us Coke and were generally lovely. Pointing a DSLR at the sun is not as dangerous as pointing your eyes at the sun, but is kind of pointless unless you have more sophisticated gear than either of us have, but I did get some awesome shots of shadows and things we found whilst wandering around.

Pictures that are not pictures of the sun )But let's be honest here; cool photography and socializing with your neighbours is not what makes Eclipse Day great. The best thing is that, after a number of my friends joked that Cheeto Benito was going to look directly at the sun like a fucking moron, CHEETO BENITO FUCKING LOOKED AT THE SUN LIKE A FUCKING MORON. This is the actual best thing to happen and I am so overjoyed you have no idea.


skywardprodigal: Beautiful seated woman, laughing, in Vlisco. (Default)
a princess of now

October 2010

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