Derek Walcott (1930-2017) – With the rest of the world and especially the Caribbean literary community, JWIL mourns the extinguishing of the light of Derek Walcott. In the words of Kei Miller, “Walcott is one of only a handful of poets for whom the superlative will always be insufficient. He was, quite simply, the great poet of the Caribbean and then beyond. He once told me that poetry was not a democracy. It was, instead, a kingdom and not everyone could enter it. If that is true, we should fly the flag at half mast, because the king is dead.”
Call For Papers for Anthology on Children’s and Young Adult Literature of the Caribbean and its Diaspora – This anthology aims to cultivate and create a space for exploring the history and current state of children’s literature and culture in the Caribbean and its diaspora. The editors invite scholars, teachers, creative writers, online journalists, and activists to consider how literature and the creative arts written or produced for young audiences contribute to the identity of the Caribbean and function as an integral part of its history, culture, and educational system.
Please send abstracts of 500 words and a brief biography by June 1, 2017 to Betsy Nies (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Melissa Garcia Vega (email@example.com). If accepted, complete rough drafts of 5000 to 7000 words will be due by November 1, 2017.
Full details at http://www.unf.edu/coas/english/Call_for_Papers.aspx
We at JWIL extend condolences to the family, friends and students of Dr. Giselle Rampaul, a Lecturer in Literatures in English at the University of the West Indies, St. Augustine campus. Her untimely passing robs the Caribbean community of an influential teacher and scholar. Dr. Rampaul was a leading expert on Caribbean re-readings of Shakespeare. She was also the founder and producer of “The Spaces between Words: Conversations with Writers” podcast series which has released interviews with ninety-seven writers and poets to date. Jeremy Poynting of Peepal Tree Press writes, “One of Giselle’s lasting contributions to the building of an infrastructure for writing in the Caribbean was as the founder and producer of The Spaces between Words: Conversations with Writers podcast series. This gave writers an endorsement they appreciated, brought their books to the attention of a wider circle of readers and left a valuable archive of sensitive and probing interviews for future generations.”
Condolences pour in after death of UWI lecturer Giselle Rampaul
JWIL extends hearty congratulations to David Scott of Small Axe who has been recognized by the Council of Editors of Learned Journals as the winner of its Distinguished Editor prize. David will be awarded the prize at the 2017 Modern Language Association convention in Philadelphia.
Please note that some print back issues of the journal are available for sale and that full back issues and individual articles are available in digital format from ProQuest.
Poet Claudia Rankine was awarded a 2016 MacArthur “Genius” grant for her work that engages with contemporary American culture, particularly issues of race.
The MacArthur Foundation describes Rankine as “a poet illuminating the emotional and psychic tensions that mark the experiences of many living in twenty-first-century America. Over the course of five poetry collections, Rankine has adopted different forms of poetic expression that correspond to the trajectory of her concerns from the private to the public….In addition to her poetry, Rankine has become a critical voice in current conversations about racial violence through essays, lectures, and a co-created series of short films entitled Situations. Rankine is crafting critical texts that are proving to be essential for understanding American life while also enriching the craft of poetry with a new sense of agency and urgency.”
Trinidadian poet Vahni Capildeo has won the 2016 Forward prize for best poetry collection, making it three years in a row that a Caribbean poet has won one of the most prestigious poetry awards in the UK and Ireland.
The Forward Arts Foundation describes Capildeo’s poetry as “characterised by a kind of omnivorous, long-armed reach. Many-tongued and multi-cultural, her shortlisted collection Measures of Expatriation sweeps through long prose poems and short imagistic bursts, through surrealism and gritty realism, acutely seeking the right form for each individual thought.”
Trinidadian poet Vahni Capildeo wins 2016 Forward Prize for Poetry
The Forward Prize judges have chosen Tiphanie Yanique’s Wife (Peepal Tree Press) as the winner of the UK’s top poetry prize for new poets – The Felix Dennis Prize for Best First Collection.
The Forward Arts Foundation notes that “Tiphanie Yanique (b. 1978, Virgin Islands) has long considered herself a writer, indeed, when asked in school for three words to describe herself, she ‘would say, “Caribbean, girl, writer.” Maybe not always in that order.’ Further, she notes how children ‘speak in metaphor, that they hunt down language as poets do, that they use their vocabulary limitations the way poets might use the limitations of poetic form – to find a way to say something anew.’ Wife, her debut collection, was begun in 2000, but became increasingly focused: the more recently written poems ‘are more clearly about the complexities of heterosexual marriage.’ It has already won the 2016 Bocas Poetry Prize.”
Yanique was taught by Claudia Rankine, winner of the 2015 Forward Prize.
Esther Phillips’ poetry collection Leaving Atlantis has won two 2016 awards. It earned a gold award in the professional category of the NIFCA Literary Competition in Barbados, as well as the Governor General’s Award for Excellence. Leaving Atlantis is a suite of poems that explores the unstable territory between public and private. They are addressed to the Barbadian novelist and thinker, George Lamming. Peepal Tree Press describes the collection as “More than a portrait, fascinating and intimate as it is, of a public man; more than an exploration of the writing of the man for clues about what he might be thinking (and an acceptance of the ultimate mystery and unknowability of the intimate other), this is a suite of poems about the miracle of love, and how it may come at any time.”
Poet of the Month: Esther Phillips