Dear readers:
For our sixth anniversary in May 2010, The Caribbean Review of Books has launched a new website at www.caribbeanreviewofbooks.com. Antilles has now moved to www.caribbeanreviewofbooks.com/antilles — please update your bookmarks and RSS feed. If you link to Antilles from your own blog or website, please update that too!

Saturday, 25 August 2007

Naipaul on Walcott

Early in 1949, in Trinidad, near the end of my schooldays, word came to us in the sixth form of Queen's Royal College that there was a serious young poet on one of the smaller islands to the north who had just published a marvellous first book of poems. We had never had news like this before, not about a new book of poetry or about any kind of book, and I still wonder by what means this news could have reached us....

-- From "Caribbean Odyssey", an essay on Derek Walcott by V.S. Naipaul (excerpted from Naipaul's forthcoming book A Writer's People), published in today's UK Guardian.

To the best of my knowledge, this is the first time Naipaul has written about Walcott and his work, at least for publication (Walcott of course wrote a now rather famous review of Naipaul's novel The Enigma of Arrival in 1987; it is included in his book of essays What the Twilight Says). But some years ago, going through the C.L.R. James papers at the UWI library in St Augustine, I came across a letter from Naipaul to James--undated but written from Srinagar in India, which places it c. 1963--in which he mentions Walcott's In a Green Night, published not long before.

Naipaul addresses James by his nickname--"Dear Nello"--and goes on to say:

I have always felt about Walcott that here, in the most unexpected, purest way, we had a poet, someone of startling vision and muscular expression; some of his poems have never left me....

The essay in today's Guardian gives a fuller version of the story of Naipaul's reading of Walcott over the decades.

Friday, 24 August 2007

In the August 2007 CRB

Yes, dear readers, Antilles has been rather dozy the last few weeks--but it's August, every other body seems to be on holiday, and perhaps you will not begrudge your Antilles blogger his days spent lying in bed reading while the rain drums on the roof.... Still, it is vexingly lax of me not to have mentioned before now that the August CRB is out--already in the hands of subscribers and on the counters of select bookshops, and selections from the new issue are posted at the CRB website. Look out for excerpts and out-takes here at Antilles in the coming weeks, and check out the August contents page here.

And the image on the cover of this issue?

Forgiveness Tarot, by Trinidadian artist Nikolai Noel

2006 Guyana Prize winners

2006 Guyana Prize winners Elly Niland, Ryhaan Shah, Cyril Dabydeen, and Mark McWatt at the awards ceremony in Georgetown, 23 August, 2007. Photo by Jules Gibson of the Stabroek News

And the winners are.... Dabydeen, McWatt, Niland, Shaah, and Gilkes. The 2006 Guyana Prizes for Literature were presented last night (read a short report in today's Stabroek News). The full list:

Best fiction prize: shared by Cyril Dabydeen's Drums of My Flesh and Mark McWatt's Suspended Sentences.

Best poetry prize: Elly Niland's Cornerstones.

Best first fiction prize: Ryhaan Shah's A Silent Life.

Best drama prize: Michael Gilkes's Last of the Redmen.

Wednesday, 22 August 2007

"Even catfish shaved to meet him"

Anthony Joseph reading

UK-based Trinidadian poet Anthony Joseph reading from his book The African Origins of UFOs at the Reader's Bookshop, St James, Port of Spain, 21 August, 2007. Photo by Georgia Popplewell. For more photos from the event, see this Flickr set

Joe Sam was so bad even catfish shaved to meet him: a man so fierce he wore his boots in-side-out. African spaceboots, Nigerians used them for terraforming; Joe Sam used his to kick afro saxons and smuggled his black butter irregardless. Bad like crab an' spoken of with contempt in multiple dialects of intergalactic niggaspeak, banned from six floating isles for ultraviolence, subversive texts and possession of genetic contraband, upright and devious with a stare that saw through bones--his instantaneous cuss was so cantankerous it would cause concussions!

-- From "Killer Joe", chapter four of The African Origins of UFOs