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JWIL mourns the passing of Maryse Condé (1934-2024)

The Journal of West Indian Literature joins many in celebrating the life and writing of Maryse Condé, the dynamic Guadeloupean author who passed away on April 2, 2024 at the age of 90. Her prolific and globally-recognized body of work offered postcolonial feminist perspectives informed by her peripatetic life led across the Caribbean, Africa, Western Europe and the US. Among the many awards she gathered in her lifetime were two major honors by France – a Chevalier in the Legion of Honor in 2014 and a Grand Croix in the National Order of Merit in 2019 – and the New Academy Prize in Literature, an alternative prize created when the Nobel was not awarded in 2018. She was twice shortlisted for the International Booker Prize, first for her entire body of work in 2015, and then for her novel The Gospel According to the New World in 2023. She chaired Columbia University’s Center for French and Francophone studies from its foundation in 1997 to 2002. She retired from teaching in 2005.

Her debut novel Hérémakhonon was published in 1976 after Condé returned to France (where she had been sent from Guadeloupe for high school) after over a decade spent in West Africa. She completed her doctorate in comparative literature in 1975. Her major works include the novels Ségou (1984) and its sequel Ségou II (1985); Moi, Tituba, sorcière: noire de Salem (1986; I, Tituba, Black Witch of Salem), based on the story of an enslaved woman tried for witchcraft in Salem, Massachusetts; and Une Saison à Rihata (1981; A Season in Rihata), set in late twentieth-century Africa. Condé continued to explore with great complexity and nuance themes of postcolonial identity, gender, memory, community belonging, and Black diasporic life in her later works such as Traversée de la mangrove (1989; Crossing the Mangrove), La Colonie du nouveau monde (1993), La Migration des coeurs (1995; Windward Heights), Desirada (1997), Célanire cou-coupé (2000; Who Slashed Celanire’s Throat?), The Belle Créole (2020), Histoire de la femme cannibale (2003; The Story of the Cannibal Woman), Victoire, les saveurs et les mots (2006; Victoire: My Mother’s Mother), Les belles ténébreuses (2008), En attendant la montée des eaux (2010; Waiting for the Waters to Rise), Fabuleux et triste destin d’Ivan et Ivana (2017; The Wondrous and Tragic Life of Ivan and Ivana), and L’Évangile du nouveau monde (2021; The Gospel According to the New World). She was known for challenging orthodoxy of all kinds and was especially resistant to the idea that she needed to write in creole or to conform to masculinist ideas about the nature of créolite.

In her later years, Condé, despite failing health, continued to delve into profound storytelling, describing it as a compelling yet enigmatic compulsion. During her JWIL Twitter residency on Condé in April 2023, Kavita Ashana Singh (@kavitaashana), a Caribbean literature professor at the University of Houston and a former student of Condé’s, reflected on the inseparability of life and writing in the Guadeloupean writer’s oeuvre. Singh’s interview with Condé appears in JWIL’s November 2022 issue. We honor her life and her work.

JWIL mourns the passing of Rooplall Monar (1945-2024)

We at JWIL honor the memory and legacy of the Guyanese writer, Rooplall Monar (1945-2024). A poet, novelist and short story writer, Monar’s work, which centers a rich Guyanese creole, paints vivid pictures of Indo-Guyanese lives on the terrain of the sugar estates and elsewhere. Part of the influential Messenger group of Guyanese writers, Monar’s 1985 Backdam People, with its humor, orality and poignancy, remains essential reading for its portrayal of Indo-Guyanese sugar estate workers in the first half of the 20th century. His body of work treats with dignity the lives of the rural working class and their resilience and community building in the face of exploitative conditions.

The 2024 Caribbean Digital Virtual Artist’s Residency

The 2024 Caribbean Digital Virtual Artist’s Residency

The Caribbean Digital (TCD) and Alice Yard invite applications for their annual virtual residency program for artists of the Caribbean and its diasporas who work in digital media. The residency aims to facilitate the development of new artworks in digital media that investigate ideas and practices in Caribbean Digital Humanities and engage with scholars in the TCD network and community. The residency is offered in conjunction with the annual Caribbean Digital (TCD) conference, an international event hosted annually at locations in the United States and the Caribbean since 2014, in partnership with Alice Yard, a contemporary art collective based at Granderson Lab in Belmont, Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago. This program, sponsored by the Mellon Foundation, offers a cash stipend to support research and creative work, curatorial mentorship, virtual studio visits, publication by a professional art writer to document artist’s work, and travel accommodations to present at the annual TCD conference in December 2024.

For more information, including the requirements for submission and application form, please see the Call for Applications here:

The deadline for applications is Monday, 1 April 2024

Linzey Corridon’s online residency on the work of Cliff Lashley (Feb 26-March 4, 2024)

Join us from Feb 26-March 4, 2024 for the next JWIL online residency. This residency will be a collaboration between sx salon (@sxsalon) and JWIL (@jwilonline). Linzey Corridon (@westawestindian) will be sharing reflections on the life and work of Dr. Cliff Lashley, the Jamaican librarian-critic, poet, and aesthete (1935-1993).

Cliff Lashley died in February 1993. In 2023, to mark the 30th anniversary of his passing, sx salon did a special issue on his life and work. See This residency revisits that special issue to think about the intertwined work of memory and mourning. Throughout the week, Corridon will share from popular and less known works by Lashley (both prose and poetry). Many of these texts were gathered as part of the Zotero bibliography of Lashley’s work compiled by Linzey Corridon and Ronald Cummings. See The residency will also explore Lashley’s ongoing cultural relevance and the impact he continues to have on the shaping of Caribbean and diaspora society.

Linzey Corridon (@westawestindian) is a writer, Vanier Canada Scholar, and PhD candidate in the Department of English and Cultural Studies at McMaster University. A Vincentian who now resides in Canada, his critical and creative research primarily examines unsettled ideas concerning gender and sexual nonconformity in contemporary Caribbean and diaspora society. He is the author of the forthcoming poetry collection West of West Indian (Mawenzi House, 2024).

JWIL online residency on Edward Baugh (Jan 29-Feb 5, 2024)

Join us for JWIL‘s first online residency for 2024 which will be a tribute to professor and poet Edward Baugh. From Monday Jan 29 to February 5, we will be sharing readings from Baugh’s poetry by Caribbean writers and scholars.

This residency is a collaboration with the Off the Page Initiative and grows out of the gathering that Off the Page convened on New Year’s Eve to remember Baugh and celebrate his work. Off the Page is a literary initiative based in Jamaica and spearheaded by Carolyn Allen. It aims to share the region’s literature through various forms that engage with the region’s oral and performance culture.

At the end of the residency, the videos, in tribute to Baugh, will be made available on JWIL‘s newly launched YouTube channel.

JWIL mourns the passing of Lakshmi Persaud (1939-2024)

JWIL mourns the passing on January 14, 2024 of the Trinidadian-British writer, Lakshmi Persaud, one of the first and most influential writers to narrate the complex experiences of Indo-Caribbean women both in the region and in the diaspora. Born in 1939 in Tunapuna, Trinidad and having lived in the UK since the 1970s, Persaud was a teacher, a journalist, and author of five novels: Butterfly in the Wind (1990), Sastra (1993), For the Love of My Name (1999), Raise the Lanterns High (2004), and Daughters of Empire (2012). Persaud’s work is particularly notable for its exploration of how the constraints and possibilities of an orthodox Hindu upbringing paired with the multicultural Caribbean landscape unfold in the lives of girls and women as they navigate spaces of home, school, professional life, and diaspora. In Butterfly in the Wind and Sastra in particular, we find Persaud fleshing out the Hindu Indo-Caribbean world that V.S. Naipaul introduced in his early novels while providing greater agency and voice to women protagonists.

Jeremy Poynting of Peepal Tree Press was Persaud’s first publisher and urged her to think of herself as a novelist when she had yet to embrace that identity herself. His memories of her are available here. As Poynting notes, “Hers was an example of how to seize the time in the second half of her life with zest, hard work and an increasing sense of what the novel could achieve. She was 53 when Butterfly in the Wind was published and 75 when her last novel Daughters of Empire came out in 2012.” See here for Lisa Outar’s review of that last novel, Daughters of Empire, which traces the ruptures and continuities of the migrant experience for Indo-Caribbean women across different branches of a middle-class family.

Literary critics paid particular attention to Persaud’s evocative treatment of food in her novels. As Brinda Mehta argued, “Sastra and Butterfly in the Wind are illustrations of Hindu attitudes toward food as well as women’s efforts to contribute to community development through their control of the kitchen.” Persaud thus contributed to revealing some of the subtler and less celebrated forms that Indo-Caribbean feminist practices can take.

For Anita Baksh’s interview with Persaud, where she describes the influence that Naipaul had upon her, the value that she placed upon teaching, and her version of feminism among other topics, see here. And for an abundant list of reviews of Persaud’s work, see here.

We honor her memory and her important contribution to the field of Caribbean women’s writing.

Death of Dub Poet, Klyde Broox, featured in our Dub Poetry Special Issue

JWIL mourns the passing of Jamaican Canadian dub poet, Klyde Broox, who died January 20, 2024 at the age of 66. From his prizewinning “Ode to Bamboo,” Klyde made an impact on the dub poetry scene, both in Jamaica and Canada. He mastered the art of word and syllabic play, deployed Rastafarian dread talk like a “weapon of mass instruction,” and startled and surprised his audiences with his incisive critique of power and privilege. “Democracy/, democracy/, what a hypocrisy/, what an irony?/ Dem a mock we you see/ de-moc-racy” are words that still resound.

He has left a lasting legacy of powerful poetry through audio, visual, and print performances, along with searing critiques of systems of oppression, delivered with humour and penetrating insight. You can listen to his voice, for example, in our Special Issue on Dub Poetry, guest-edited by Phanuel Antwi, and read his “Deja Voodoo: Literary Coup under the Influence of Dub” here:

A graduate of Cornwall College, Klyde studied at Mico Teachers College (now Mico University College) and was a James Michener Fellow at the University of Miami’s Caribbean Writers Summer Institute. Broox received several awards for his creative and community work, including the 2005 City of Hamilton Arts Award for Literature, the Hamilton Black History Committee’s John C. Holland Award for Arts Achievement in 2011, and the Arts Hamilton/Seraphim Editions Best Poetry Book in 2006 for My Best Friend is White (McGilligan Books, 2005). Additionally, his self-published chapbook Poemstorm appeared in 1989.

On January 20, 2024, a distinctive and important creative light was dimmed, but not extinguished! In a 2014 blogpost, Broox said: “I’ll take every minute I can get here, and celebrate it, living as loudly as I can. And when my time comes to tread on, I resolve, unlike Dylan Thomas, to go quietly into that good night. Until then, I’m making as much poem-noise as I can, yeah man.” Blaze on Klyde Broox, blaze on, your voice, ever living, ever true, will continue to ring loud and clear across the ages! JWIL offers condolences to his family, friends and fellow poets.

Pamela Mordecai’s online residency (December 18-25, 2023)

Join us from Monday Dec. 18 – Dec. 25 for our JWIL online residency with Pamela Mordecai (@Refracting ) who will be sharing her poetry and reflecting on her writing.

Pamela Mordecai is a poet, fiction writer, editor and publisher. She is the author of eight collections of poetry. Her most recent book, de Book of Joseph (2022) was one of the finalists for the Poetry prize for the 2023 OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature. Mordecai has also written five children’s books, and a collection of short fiction entitled Pink Icing. She is well known internationally for her children’s poems, which have been widely anthologized in the Caribbean, India, Malaysia, UK, USA, and West Africa. Mordecai’s debut novel, Red Jacket, was shortlisted for the 2015 Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Award, one of Canada’s top prizes for literary fiction.

This JWIL online residency coincides with the publication of a special issue of the Journal of West Indian Literature, co-edited by Carol Bailey and Stephanie McKenzie, which celebrates Mordecai’s trailblazing work.

JWIL mourns the passing of Prof. Edward Baugh (1936-2023)

The Editorial Team of the Journal of West Indian Literature (JWIL) joins many in Jamaica and beyond in mourning the loss of Edward Baugh, who passed away on December 9, 2023, at the age of 87. Eddie, as many knew him, was a distinguished poet, scholar, and teacher.

Eddie has been with us from the very start. His intellectual generosity, and dedicated commitment are indelibly marked on the inaugural issue of JWIL, and many that followed. Mark McWatt, in his introduction to the first issue in 1986, details the journal’s inception and early development, stemming from the success of the inaugural conference on West Indian Literature in 1981, where “Edward Baugh of the Mona campus of the U.W.I and Roberta Knowles of the College of the Virgin Islands, St. Croix, planned the first conference which took place on the St. Thomas campus of the C.V.I.” (v). Eddie has been a part of our editorial advisory board since our first issue, a powerful presence in the journal, and was honoured with a special festschrift issue in 2006.

Edward Baugh was born in 1936, in Port Antonio, Jamaica. After completing his secondary education at Titchfield High School, he won a Jamaican Government Exhibition to the University College of the West Indies to do his B.A in English. He subsequently pursued post-graduate studies at Queen’s University in Ontario and the University of Manchester, where he obtained a Ph.D. in English in 1964.

He taught at the Cave Hill campus of the University of the West Indies for three years (1965-1967) and at the Mona campus for over thirty-three years (1968-2001). He became Professor of English at the University of the West Indies, Mona in 1978, and he has held visiting appointments at the University of California, Los Angeles; Dalhousie University; University of Hull; University of Wollongong; Flinders University; Macquarie University; the University of Miami; and Howard University. Editors of JWIL, both past and present, have been fortunate to count themselves among his students at the secondary, undergraduate, and graduate levels.

Eddie’s reputation is rightfully associated with his expertise in Anglophone Caribbean poetry, particularly the work of Derek Walcott. As a celebrated poet in his own right, he infused his critical writing with a poet’s sensibility, showcasing precision and elegance in his clarity of expression. His analyses carefully attended to the intricacies of form and language, all the while remaining conscious of the social, cultural, and historical contexts that influence literary texts.

His acclaim extends beyond his work on Walcott, notably evinced through his 2009 biography of Frank Collymore. This biography was preceded by a touching tribute to Collymore in a 1993 JWIL issue, titled “Letter to the late Frank Collymore on his 100th Birthday” (Vol. 6, No. 1, July 1993). Beyond these endeavors, Baugh’s critical contributions, exemplified in essays such as “Goodison on the Road to Heartease” (Vol. 1, No. 1, October 1986) and “Lorna Goodison in the Context of Feminist Criticism” (Vol. 4, No. 1, January 1990), published in JWIL, stand as enduring benchmarks in the scholarship of the works of the Jamaican poet Lorna Goodison.

We invite you to revisit Eddie’s literary legacy, both within the pages of JWIL and beyond. In the commemorative “Edward Baugh: Special Festschrift Issue,” colleagues, fellow-poets, students, friends, and collaborators come together to celebrate his literary and academic accomplishments, offer personal reflections, and thank him.

For thirty years, we have had the privilege of collaborating with and publishing the pioneering contributions of Edward Baugh. Our condolences go out to all of Eddie’s friends, family, and colleagues, and especially to his beloved wife Sheila and daughters Sarah and Katherine.

We will miss him.

Randi Gill-Sadler’s online residency on the work of Paule Marshall (November 20-27, 2023)

Join us from November 20-27 for another JWIL online residency. For this residency, Randi Gill-Sadler (@TheRandiSavage) will revisit the inspiration, reception, and literary afterlife of Paule Marshall’s second novel The Chosen Place, The Timeless People. Diasporic in both its content and its reach, The Chosen Place, The Timeless People offers significant insights into contemporary discussions of the plantation, the afterlife of slavery, and colonialism. Gill-Sadler will also highlight the significance of the novel to diasporic Black literary history and the traces of its influence, and Marshall’s influence more broadly on African American and Caribbean literature. This exploration of Marshall’s novel also coincides with the celebration of Barbados’ independence on November 30.

Randi Gill-Sadler (@TheRandiSavage) is an assistant professor of English and Africana Studies at Davidson College. She has published and has work forthcoming in Feminist Formations, Small Axe, and Radical History Review. Her research and teaching interests include 20th century African American and Afro-Caribbean women’s literature, Black feminist literary theory, and U.S. Cultures of Empire. She is currently writing her first book Diasporic Dissonance: The Archipelagic Circuit of the Black Women’s Literary Renaissance and U.S. Empire.