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!

Thursday, 11 December 2008

Links, links, links

- Another end-of-year best-books list, this time in the Washington Post, including Lorna Goodison's memoir From Harvey River and (inevitably!) Patrick French's The World Is What It Is.

- At the Harper's Sentences blog, Wyatt Mason reads V.S. Naipaul's introduction to A House for Mr. Biswas and reflects on virtuosity.

- Geoffrey Philp points us to a poem by Fred D'Aguiar in Poetry:

The shoemaker’s wife ran preschool
With a fist made not so much of iron
But wire bristles on a wooden brush.

She made us recite and learn by rote.
Our trick was to mouth words, sound
As if we knew what we would one day

Come to know, what would dawn
On us as sure as a centipede knows
What to do with its myriad legs....

- And Charmaine Valere is slowly making her way through David Dabydeen's Molly and the Muslim Stick, which provokes memories of "inappropriate sexual encounters"....

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

"Like Kamau Brathwaite, or Martin Carter...."

Two minutes and forty-one seconds well spent: the UK Guardian posts a video of Linton Kwesi Johnson reading "If I Woz a Tap Natch Poet".

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

Reminder: support the Signifyin' Guyana short story competition

Many thanks to those Antilles readers who responded to my appeal last week to support the Signifyn' Guyana short story competition for Guyanese writers. To recap: Charmaine Valere of Signifyin' Guyana, the competition organiser, is trying to raise part of the prize money via ChipIn, which makes it easy to donate online. If you haven't taken a look at the competition announcement yet, please do--and please consider supporting emerging Guyanese writers by making a small donation to the prize fund. (And great thanks to Geoffrey Philp for posting a similar appeal.)

Monday, 8 December 2008

Walcott on Omeros

The BBC World Service is currently running a lengthy question-and-answer session with Derek Walcott in its World Book Club series.

Fielding questions from a studio audience and listeners around the world, Walcott insists that Omeros is not a reworking or transformation of Homer in a Caribbean setting, as so many commentators have assumed. He has some interesting technical points about the metrical and rhyming structure of the poem and the "ancestors" to whom these elements pay tribute. He talks about the problems of using Caribbean creole in poetry, and about his avoidance of metaphor ("metaphor is an accident, an evocation": the aim is to have a noun create the physicality of an object, not simply evoke it).

At the end of the session, Walcott remarks that, out of the whole history of poetic endeavour, only about 300-400 pages can be called real poetry. "Including some of yours?" enquires the presenter. To which Walcott replies, "Let me speak to my lawyer."

You can listen to the programme on demand for a week after its first broadcast, or download it as a podcast. Go to www.bbc.co.uk/worldservice and follow the links.

"The book is the ideal tool"

Culture on a global scale concerns us all. But it is above all the responsibility of readers--of publishers, in other words. True, it is unjust that an Indian from the far north of Canada, if he wishes to be heard, must write in the language of the conquerors--in French, or in English. True, it is an illusion to expect that the Creole language of Mauritius or the West Indies might be heard as easily around the world as the five or six languages that reign today as absolute monarchs over the media. But if, through translation, their voices can be heard, then something new is happening, a cause for optimism. Culture, as I have said, belongs to us all, to all humankind. But in order for this to be true, everyone must be given equal access to culture. The book, however old-fashioned it may be, is the ideal tool. It is practical, easy to handle, economical. It does not require any particular technological prowess, and keeps well in any climate. Its only flaw--and this is where I would like to address publishers in particular--is that in a great number of countries it is still very difficult to gain access to books. In Mauritius the price of a novel or a collection of poetry is equivalent to a sizeable portion of the family budget. In Africa, Southeast Asia, Mexico, or the South Sea Islands, books remain an inaccessible luxury. And yet remedies to this situation do exist. Joint publication with the developing countries, the establishment of funds for lending libraries and bookmobiles, and, overall, greater attention to requests from and works in so-called minority languages--which are often clearly in the majority--would enable literature to continue to be this wonderful tool for self-knowledge, for the discovery of others, and for listening to the concert of humankind, in all the rich variety of its themes and modulations.

-- J.M.G. Le Cl├ęzio's Nobel lecture--delivered yesterday in Stockholm--is now online.