Fr. Lambert St. Rose

Fr. Lambert St. Rose

Fr. Lambert St. Rose is one of the best-known Roman Catholic clerics in St. Lucia. Whenever he happens to be speaking from the pulpit or using his literary skills to give voice to his thoughts and feelings, he never fails to command attention. Esteemed and admired by many, he has also been a source of unease and even trepidation to some, both in and out of the Church.

In this dark era of economic uncertainties and crass materialism, when pastors frequently resort to feel-good sermons about self esteem and coping with personal and financial problems in ways that appeal to the emotions but do little to challenge souls to seek renewal and conversion, Lambert St. Rose’s contempt for appeasement and his refusal to kowtow to political correctness have long made him an outlier and somewhat of an enigma.

St. Lucia’s Catholics know better than to turn to him for church services consisting of staid formalities, with the congregation listening in gloomy silence to treatises on religious dogma. Inspired, no doubt by the cruel realities of the post-colonial Caribbean, he’s more likely to focus on showing his flock the path that would lead to spiritual redemption, while at the same time urging them not to condone political and societal corruption, and to take a stand against the oppression of the poor.

In his poet-writer persona, he’s no different. In 2011 he launched his debut poetry collection, Helen and Her Sister Haiti, in which he pays homage to his homeland, St Lucia and its exquisite natural beauty, even as he bemoans the crippling socioeconomic struggles of its people, many of which mirror the woes of sister-island, Haiti. He also denounces the political corruption and social injustices still plaguing the Caribbean more than two centuries after Emancipation. He characterises it as a ‘new form of slavery’ that is creeping back into the islands, and tries to give hope to the region’s downtrodden.

Now he has turned the heat up a notch with his latest book, In Turbulent Waters. It was unveiled November last year at a grand book launch held at the St. Mary’s College auditorium, and was very well attended. St. Lucian poet and overall winner of the 2015 OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature, Vladimir Lucien delivered the feature address. A work of fiction, it revolves around the life and priestly vocation of Fr. James Laport, a young Catholic cleric from the fictional Helen Island, and the travails and blistering rite of passage that he’s forced to endure as he pursues his calling.

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Like most youths growing up in Helen Island during the earlier part of the 20th century through to the early 70s – a time when ‘television was just a name’ – James Laport was born to a working-class family on the outskirts of the capital, Félicitéville. Growing up, he and his siblings were often regaled with frightening tales of black magic, witches and sorcerers, and stories about Tim Tim, Konpè Lapen, Konpè Tig, Bèf Louwa, ghosts, spirits, lajables and jan gajé, and men transforming into creatures equipped with extended genitals and entering people’s homes through keyholes to sexually molest women – all of it gleefully recounted to them by their parents and the elders of the community. Known in the Kwéyòl vernacular as listwa (story time), those sessions were hugely popular in an age when storytelling was ‘quite instrumental as family entertainment’ and a form of ‘encultration of the youth,’ and everyone was always ‘gripped in the claws of the storyteller.’

Unlike his father who was a ‘seasonal Catholic’ and occasional churchgoer most of his adult life, James Laport’s mother was a Poto Légliz (ardent churchgoer) and presumably had some influence in his aspirations to join the priesthood. Throughout his teenage years and early adulthood, up until his assignment to the Archangel Parish Church in Geckoville to prepare him for his ordination, James had always dismissed stories about black magic, ghosts and spirits as mere ‘phantoms of creative imaginations and mischievous minds,’ notwithstanding they often gave him the creeps as a child.

Fresh out of university and refined by his interaction with highly cultured intellectuals whose minds had been reformed by Western influence, and who behaved as if their ‘new found-culture was superior to that of the people who held on to the old myths and legends,’ Fr. Laport soon discovers, to his dismay, that those legends are still very much alive in the hearts of the faithful and many view them almost as metaphors for the ‘high occult sciences of the day.’

Soon after taking up his clerical duties as an associate pastor, James Laport has his first rude awakening when a woman bearing her infant in her arms, approaches him and begs him to help her child who is seeing spirits. She’s the first of a string of parishioners who turn up at his doorstep in quick succession, pleading with him to deliver them and their family members from all manner of demon possession, ghostly hauntings, obeah spells, ritual murders, occult attacks, Black Masses and human sacrifices.

In one of the more poignant episodes, prior to the commencement of a ‘Praise and Worship’ celebration held at the town’s playing field, Fr. Laport catches sight of something unusual as he approaches the gathering – a pig standing on its hind legs. A terrified altar server standing next to him blurts out that it’s a pig with a human body. Fr. Laport quickly sprinkles the gathering with holy water and immediately the being makes a panicked dash to try and avoid the water. Several bystanders point to a woman in the crowd and they begin shouting in panic, “Mi an kochon moun anpami nou wi.” (There’s a human pig among us). At that point, the woman grunts and some people in the crowd recognise her. They plead with Fr. Laport to take her into the church and pray over her.

As the story progresses, more parishioners seek Fr. Laport’s help in exorcising demonic spirits and freeing people from occult spells and Satanic attacks. With each incident, the ordeal grows more terrifying and bizarre. Fr. Laport becomes so overwhelmed a visiting priest is forced to come to his aid by teaching both him and his fellow cleric, Fr. Fallon the principles of exorcism.

Worst of all, it’s now impossible for him to ignore the reality that within the very walls of the churches, and in the wider community, there are individuals who have made a conscious decision to explore the latent potentialities of the occult with the sole purpose of securing personal gain or to inflict pain and suffering on those whom they despise or consider their enemies. They are two-faced characters who live duplicitous lives and comfortably straddle two worlds – the sacred and the profane. The gravity of the situation and the catastrophic consequences for the society are driven home to him when a local politician confesses to him, ‘Father, when it comes to elections, if one has to sleep with the devil to win, that’s what it takes. ‘

As pleas for deliverance continue to pour in from the various parishes to which Fr. Laport is assigned, the full implications of religious assimilation and syncretism become apparent; likewise the community’s susceptibility to those with dark and malicious intentions. The pervasive influence of occultism also becomes disconcertingly obvious, and all this takes a heavy toll on the overwhelmed cleric. Like the Biblical prophet, Jonah he begins to despair and over and over again he feels the urge to escape from it all and ‘flee from the presence of the Lord.’ But each time his faith in Christ lifts him up and stiffens his resolve, and he proceeds to confront the hidden and traumatic realities of daily life in Helen Island and further afield on a neighbouring island, not just to help the members of his flock cope with the horror of it all but also for the sake of preserving his own sanity.

A section of the audience at the book launch

A section of the audience at the book launch

Although In Turbulent Waters is presented as a work of fiction, Fr. St. Rose makes it clear in his introduction that the use of fictional names and places is ‘for the sole purpose of protecting the identities of persons.’ He adds: ‘Many [of them] have passed from this world’ and ‘those who dare to make their exit, live in perpetual torment with the threat of death hovering over their heads.” Some others, he says, still ‘linger and squirm in their misery because of their stubborn reluctance to embrace conversion,” while others continue to dabble in the dark arts and ‘recruit members into the cults.’

The obvious inference from that is clear; while the characters and setting may be fictional, their life experiences are anything but, including that of James Laport. Those who know Lambert St. Rose well would find it hard not to see in James La Port a reflection of Fr. St Rose’s own life experiences while serving in St. Lucia and other parts of the Caribbean.

He says his aim in writing the book is to show the reality and gravity of ‘cultic activities’ and the debilitating impact they are having on people’s lives and on the communities. ‘Baphomet wields a heavy hand in many national decisions, supported and encouraged by those considered as highly civilized persons,’ he adds.

The writing style he employs does not strive to conform to the conventional literary form and structure. Instead, he creates a series of vignettes and uses a format and cadence that are more akin to St. Lucia’s Kwéyòl ‘Listwa’ tradition, sometimes reminiscent of the oral storytelling device popularly known as ‘Kwik-Kwak.’ It is also spiced up with copious flashes of wit and humour.

The preface was written by board chair of St. Lucia Save the Children Fund, Loyala Devaux. As she correctly notes, Fr. Lambert St. Rose has tread ‘where many fear to go.’ She’s also spot on in anticipating that many of the book’s readers are likely to adopt the view that it’s merely ‘imagination, fabrication and speculations.’ In Turbulent Waters conjures a fearful, two-dimensional world where the good and virtuous live cheek by jowl with the evil and the depraved, and often it’s hard to distinguish one dimension from the other. At the very least, it requires extreme suspension of disbelief.

Nonetheless, there’s no denying the fact that scientific research in quantum dynamics, and shifting assumptions among scientists, not to mention recent discoveries in astrophysics and paranormal phenomena (i.e. the connection between Dark Energy, black holes and wormholes and phenomena such as telepathy, near death encounters (NDEs), ghosts, and astrology) are leading more and more scientific experts to conclude that consciousness exists outside of the constraints of time and space (and beyond the normal sensory spectrums of most humans) and is capable of manifesting anywhere. There is also growing consensus among scientific thinkers that thoughts and intentions – whether beneficent or malevolent – as well as prayer and other forms of conscious intelligence can directly influence our physical material world.

What’s more, the various phenomena vividly depicted in Fr. St. Rose’s novel – the convocation of spirits, the existence of hybrid creatures (part human and part beast), the materialisation of anomalous cryptids capable of moving in and out of human reality, the prevalence of incubi and succubi (spirit beings capable of taking on human form and who, according to ancient legendary traditions, lie upon sleepers, especially women, in order to engage in sexual intercourse with them) and the ability of these intelligences to coexist with and affect humans negatively or positively were all considered fact in ancient times by practically every nation and culture under the sun. They have also been affirmed by many of the Biblical writers and some of the Deuterocanonical, apocryphal and Judaic sectarian texts.

Moreover, thanks to the availability of advanced 21st century technologies, numerous incidents of paranormal phenomena and altered states of consciousness are being investigated and reported on by researchers all around the globe, despite the fact that they receive little to no attention from the global mainstream media.

Lambert St. Rose’s academic and theological credentials are solid. He’s a graduate of the Regional Seminary of St. John Vianney in Trinidad, he holds a Masters in Theological Studies (MThs) from St. Norbert’s College, De Pere Wisconsin, with a year’s stint at Catholic Theological Union (CTU) in Chicago. He co-authored Theology in the Caribbean (1994) and Into the Deep, Towards a Caribbean Theology (1995). But make no mistake – In Turbulent Waters doesn’t come across as the cerebral indulgence of some armchair intellectual. It is a gripping tale told with raw and disarming candour and in a matter-of-fact way that draws you in and keeps you hooked from beginning to end.

Fr. St. Rose no longer manages a parish like he used to due to ill health. But judging by his new book, he’s not about to let sleeping dogs lie nor does it look like he intends to ease up on those he berates as ‘vagabonds of culture and squanderers of tradition,’ men and women who, according to him, have “radically departed from the objectives of Listwa Time: the perpetuation of holistic genuine human growth and development, and the avoidance of evil at all cost.”

In Turbulent Waters is available online at Amazon.com, Barnes & Nobel and other major online bookstores.

Copies are available at the following places in St. Lucia: The Chancery Offices, Vigie, The Folk Research Centre; St. Augustine Bookshop, and Bezata Gifts & Graces Bookshop in Castries

Posted by: caribbeanbookblog | March 28, 2015

A Strange Mother – a harrowing tale of parental child abduction

maria reid

Maria L. Reid

Most of us know the importance of a mother’s love, and those of us who have had the good fortune to experience firsthand the bond of attachment that can develop between a mother and her child would appreciate how vital this is to a kid’s mental, emotional and social development.

Maria Reid is not so fortunate. Her thoughts of childhood have long been marred by memories of deep emotional pain and suffering. She was a victim of parental child abduction.

She has struggled for years to come to terms with what she says was a traumatic experience, the likes of which only those who have lived it could know what it feels like. Born in the United Kingdom, in the East London borough of Hackney, her parents, both Jamaicans, had emigrated to England in the early sixties. In Maria’s just-released autobiography A Strange Mother, she recounts her harrowing life story.

a strange motherSet partly in England and partly in Jamaica, A Strange Mother is the evocative and dramatic true-life story of Maria’s relationship with her mother whom she claims kidnapped her from her father after she had lost custody of her. In what Maria views as a deliberate act of revenge, her mother took her away to Jamaica and they lived there for over fifteen years.

“My mother made a decision that would change my life. I was never to see my dad or know him. She decided to emigrate to the Caribbean with me at the age of two, unannounced, with no finances or place to live. Her intention was to escape the law and take revenge on my father,” says Maria.

During that time, she says they lived “in severe hardship,” and she was “subjected to mental, psychological and physical abuse.”

Years later, Maria returned to the UK. Subsequently when she reunited with her mother, she said she made some shocking discoveries about “the dark world” that she had been subjected to as a child – a world characterised by “powerful and often evil spells” and a “supernatural power.”

“Writing the story was a challenge, especially chapters 2- 4,” says Maria. “There were events in my life that I had locked away as a child that suddenly reappeared. It was difficult, shocking, painful, disturbing memories – hatred. It came to a point where I wanted to close back the door which I had kept locked for so many years as the memories came flooding back.

“There were times I had to walk away from the computer. It was as if the more I dug deeper into my thoughts, the more it hurt. I feared I might not be able to come back to reality and be trapped, reliving the horrific torture and frustration. The pain just kept flooding back. Many events in my life that had gone unanswered became clearer and I was able to see the truth eventually.”

For Maria, writing the book has been a cathartic experience. “I am very pleased I wrote A Strange Mother. I now have closure for most of my dark past, just like a burial, although this unusual gift of seeing the past, future and present in my dreams goes on. There are some chapters in the book I have avoided or not revisited since I wrote the book because of the hurt.”

A Strange Mother puts parental child abduction back in the spotlight and highlights what the FBI, EUROPOL, the European Parliament and the US Department of Justice have all cited as a continuing international problem.

As noted by Wikipedia, a parent who abducts a child is usually ‘seeking to gain an advantage in expected or pending child custody proceedings or because that parent fears losing the child in those expected or pending child-custody proceedings.’ Sometimes they may flee with the child ‘to prevent an access visit or [out of] fear of domestic violence and abuse.’

According to statistics from the Reunite International Child Abduction Centre, 70 percent of the charity’s cases concern mothers taking the child.

Child victims are mostly between two and eleven years old; about 75% are six years old or younger and two-thirds of the cases involve one child, says the California Child Abduction Child Force.

The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction is an international human rights treaty and legal mechanism dedicated to protecting children from the harmful effects of international abduction by a parent by ‘encouraging the prompt return of abducted children to their country of habitual residence, and to organize or secure the effective rights of access to a child.’ The list of nations that are party to the Hague Abduction Convention shows that only three islands in the Caribbean are signatories to the Convention – Trinidad & Tobago, St Kitts & Nevis and the Dominican Republic.

Intent on sharing her life experience and ordeals with the world, Maria says she has the full backing of her family. “I have two children and my family is very supportive of me going public. We have had so many experiences which have affected us. I wanted to share with the world my story and experiences to help prevent an individual making the same mistakes or falling into the same trap.

“What I would like readers to take away from the book is your close friend, even your mother, could be your worst enemy. I have received feedback from people who say they find my story sad and painful but, most of all, they’re happy for me that I’ve gotten away from such a horrific experiences as a child, and have been able to rise above my past and become successful.”

A Strange Mother is available at Amazon.com  You can also order it from Troubador. Use the code ‘Mother’ to get a 10% discount.

Caribbean_American_Heritage_Month_Contact_Header__final2013

Caribbean immigrants in the USA are gearing up for what has become one of their biggest and most important celebrations – Caribbean-American Heritage Month, celebrated annually in June.

In June 2005, the House of Representatives unanimously adopted a resolution (H. Con. Res. 71), recognizing the significance of Caribbean people and their descendants in the history and culture of the United States. On February 14, 2006, the resolution was passed in the Senate.

The White House has since issued an annual proclamation recognizing June as Caribbean-American Heritage Month.

Dr. Claire Nelson, founder and president of the Institute of Caribbean Studies (ICS) is credited with having spearheaded the campaign to designate June as National Caribbean American Heritage Month. Her goal was to ensure that America is reminded that its greatness lies in its diversity, and to highlight the socioeconomic contributions of immigrants of Caribbean descent in shaping ‘the American dream.’

The Institute of Caribbean Studies has gone a step further by pushing to have the month of June dedicated to acknowledging the influence of Caribbean culture on an international scale. As part of this campaign, the ICS invites Caribbean writers and readers to take part in its annual Literary Festival in celebration of Caribbean American Heritage Month. Editor of The Institute of Caribbean Studies, Shanza Lewis explains the aim of the festival and how you can be prt of the event:

As writers, we know how hard it is to get our work recognized, and as authors of work influenced by the Caribbean our niche is that much smaller. This Festival seeks to share and celebrate the work of upcoming Caribbean writers, as well as established ones. It is a platform for us to support each others work and to highlight the influence we have had on other cultures.

We are seeking submissions of literary fiction from anyone who wants to be a part of this celebration. Caribbean writers have a unique voice and ICS would like to highlight the great stories and poetry that reflect those roots. Our theme this year is Climate Change and the Caribbean.

Submissions are due by May 17. Five pieces will be chosen for showcasing on our website and in our literary magazine to be handed out at our book reading in June at the PORTICO Book Store in Washington, D.C. You may submit two poems or one short story to Shanza Lewis, at email address, cahm.bookfestival@gmail.com The short story should be no more than 3,000 words, and the poem no more than 500 words each. The author should also include a short bio with their submission.
The pdf of our 2014 Literary Magazine can be downloaded here..

We are also seeking readers for our book reading in June. If you have a book written in the past two years based on the Caribbean or Caribbean characters please send us a description of the book, the sample to be read and a biography of the author to cahm.bookfestival@gmail.com. Traditional or self-published works are accepted. Deadline for submissions to the book reading are due by April 20.

We look forward to reading your work.

Posted by: caribbeanbookblog | March 5, 2015

2015 Wasafiri New Writing Prize Now Open!

Wasafiri

Entries are now welcome for the 2015 Wasafiri New Writing Prize.

Wasafiri is one of Britain’s premier magazines for international contemporary writing. Originally launched in 1984 at the University of Kent, it is published quarterly and has established a distinctive reputation for promoting work by new and established voices across the globe.

The organizers of the competition are looking for submissions in three categories: Poetry, Fiction and Life Writing. The prize for each category is £300 and publication in Wasafiri Magazine.

=The competition is open to writers worldwide who have not published a complete book in their chosen category.

The deadline for submission is 5pm GMT on Friday 24 July 2015.

For more information, click here.

 

A beautiful ocean wave crashing to shore in Hawaii.Exploring Madness in Caribbean Literature

Registration is now open for the symposium “Altered States: Configuring Madness in Caribbean Literature,” to be held in Liège, Belgium, on April 23-24, 2015.

Among the confirmed keynote speakers are Alison Donnell and the award-winning Caribbean writers Alecia McKenzie, Kei Miller and Caryl Phillips. Scholars from the Caribbean include Evelyn O’Callaghan, professor at the University of the West Indies, Barbados.

The symposium is hosted by CEREP (Centre d’Enseignement et de Recherche en Etudes Postcoloniales / Centre for Teaching and Research in Postcolonial Studies). According to the organisers, the symposium’s main starting point will be the “ubiquitous representation of various forms of mental illness, breakdown and psychopathology in Caribbean literature,” and the fact that this topic has been relatively neglected in criticism.

For the full program of the event, see: http://www.madness.ulg.ac.be/programme.html

Posted by: caribbeanbookblog | June 29, 2014

Call for Submissions: The Caribbean Writer – Volume 29

the-caribbean-writer

The Caribbean Writer, an international literary journal with a Caribbean focus, has announced a submissions call for its 29th edition. Issues unique to the Caribbean should be central to the work or it should reflect a Caribbean heritage, experience and perspective

Besides the usual poetry, short fiction and essays, Volume 29 will highlight contradictions and ambiguities in the Caribbean space. Interviews, personal narratives and one-act plays highlighting this theme are also welcome.

Writers are encouraged to submit poems (5 maximum), short stories and personal essays on general topics and also on themes pertaining to Caribbean musicians and visual artists.

One-act plays will also be accepted. Only previously unpublished work will be considered. (If self-published, give details.) Include brief biographical information and list all contact information plus the title of the manuscript on a separate page. Only the title should appear on the manuscript.

All submissions are eligible for the following prizes:
• The Daily News Prize for best poetry ($300)
• The Canute A. Brodhurst Prize for best short fiction ($400)
• The David Hough Literary Prize to a Caribbean author ($500)
• The Marguerite Cobb McKay Prize to a Virgin Islands author ($200)
• The Charlotte & Isidor Paiewonsky Prize for first-time publication ($250)
• The Cecile deJongh Literary Prize to an author whose work best expresses the spirit of the Caribbean ($500).

Email submissions to submit@thecaribbeanwriter.org as attached Word or RTF files OR submit via the “Submissions” page at http://www.thecaribbeanwriter.org. Submissions may also be mailed to: The Caribbean Writer, University of the Virgin Islands, RR 1, Box 10,000, Kingshill St. Croix, VI 00850-9781. Include SASE for response. Submission deadline is December 30, 2014.

For more information, visit http://www.TheCaribbeanWriter.org or email info@thecaribbeanwriter.org.

 

Posted by: caribbeanbookblog | April 17, 2014

Gabriel García Márquez is Dead

gabriel-garcia-marquez-cumpleanos-300x300

Gabriel García Márquez, the Colombian novelist whose “One Hundred Years of Solitude” established him as a giant of 20th-century literature, died on Thursday at his home in Mexico City. He was 87. 

Cristóbal Pera, his former editor at Random House, confirmed the death. Mr. García Márquez learned he had lymphatic cancer in 1999, and a brother said in 2012 that he had developed senile dementia. Read more in the New York Times

Posted by: caribbeanbookblog | April 4, 2014

Gabriel García Márquez hospitalised in Mexico City

gabrial garcia_marquez

Nobel prize-winning Colombian author Gabriel García Márquez was hospitalised on Thursday in Mexico City.

García Márquez, whose career spans journalism to the fantastical novels that inspired the genre of magical realism, lives in Mexico City. The 87-year-old Nobel laureate entered the hospital Monday suffering from the infection and from dehydration, Mexico’s Secretary of Health said in a written statement.

“The patient has responded to treatment. Once he’s completed his course of antibiotics his discharge from the hospital will be evaluated,” the statement said. Read more in the Guardian.

Posted by: caribbeanbookblog | March 21, 2014

Write an article on ‘Generation-Y’ and get a cash prize of $200

readwave 002

Readwave, the online platform that helps writers promote and share their stories and articles and gain exposure, is inviting bloggers and writers from all over the world to share their views on the topic of ‘Generation Y’ for an opportunity to win a cash prize of US$200.

Generation-Y is one of the hot topics being debated all over the world as more and more people ponder what the future holds for this cohort, also known as the Millennials, or the YOLO Generation.

The Pew Research Centre, an American think tank, lists the Millennial birth range as those born after 1980. It’s the generation dubbed by some as the “Why-can’t-I-have-it-now” generation; a generation that is glued to social media and into selfies, drunken snapchats, instagramming, and for whom picking up a smartphone or going on the internet has become second nature.

Every generation has its own set of values, aspirations and challenges, and that’s what makes the times we’re living in so exciting, notwithstanding all the uncertainties and challenges we face.

Readwave has launched this new initiative in a bid to stimulate debate and generate new insights on the topic. It invites writers and bloggers to write an article expressing your thoughts on Generation-Y and submit it to the website for an opportunity to win a cash prize of $200.

Rob Tucker, Managing Editor at ReadWave.com, explains:

Robert Tucker

“We’re calling all bloggers, writers, thinkers, part-time philosophers and aspiring journalists to write an 800-word article on the theme of Generation-Y. Enter it into our Gen-Y competition on ReadWave and the article that receives the most ‘likes’ will win a cash prize of $200 (or equivalent value in your local currency).

“We accept entrants from all over the world. Articles that are over 800 words will not be considered. The deadline for submissions is 14th April. For more information, visit http://bit.ly/OobECW.

For more information about Readwave, check out the article Discover a New World of Stories at ReadWave on Caribbean Book Blog.

Also, check out Readwave on Facebook.

Posted by: caribbeanbookblog | March 17, 2014

6 Finalists in Running for Burt Award for Caribbean Literature

Dianne Brown

Dianne Brown

Joanne C Hillhouse

Joanne C Hillhouse

Joanne Skerrit

Joanne Skerrit

A-dZiko Gegele

A-dZiko Gegele

The finalists for the inaugural Burt Award for Caribbean Literature have been announced.

The Burt Award for Caribbean Literature was established by CODE – a Canadian charitable organization that has been advancing literacy and learning for 55 years – in collaboration with William (Bill) Burt and the Literary Prizes Foundation. It is the result of a close collaboration with CODE’s local partners in the Caribbean, the Bocas Lit Fest and CaribLit.

The shortlisted titles are:

  • Island Princess in Brooklyn by Diane Browne, Jamaica (published by Carlong)
  • All Over Again by A-dZiko Gegele, Jamaica (published by Blouse & Skirt Books)
  • Barrel Girl by Glynis Guevara , Trinidad and Tobago (manuscript to be published)
  • Musical Youth by Joanne Hillhouse, Antigua and Barbuda (manuscript to be published)
  • Abraham’s Treasure by Joanne Skerrett, Dominica (published by Papillotte Press)
  • Inner City Girl by Colleen Smith Dennis, Jamaica (published by LMH Publishing) 

The finalists were selected by a jury administered by The Bocas Lit Fest and made up of writers, literacy experts and academics from the Caribbean and Canada.

“In the Caribbean, as in much of the world, demand for relevant, entertaining books that speak to young people in their own language is constantly growing,” said CODE Executive Director Scott Walter. “With the Award, we’re hoping to help address this demand by supporting the development of new titles that reflect the lives of their readers, while providing opportunities for promising writers to emerge and regional publishers to prosper. Our ultimate goal is for young people across the Caribbean to have access to good books they will enjoy so they can develop the love of reading and become lifelong learners.”

The three winners of the first edition of this annual Award will be announced on April 25th, 2014 at a Gala to be held as part of the NGC Bocas Lit Fest in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago. A First Prize of $10,000 CAD, a Second Prize of $7,000 CAD and a Third Prize of $5,000 CAD will be awarded to the authors of the winning titles. In addition, publishers of the winning titles will be awarded a guaranteed purchase of up to 2,500 copies, ensuring that the books get into the hands of young people through schools, libraries and community organizations across the Caribbean. Winning publishers also commit to actively market an additional minimum of 1,200 copies of each winning title throughout the region.

Marina Salandy-Brown, founder of The Bocas Lit Fest says, “We are delighted to be working with CODE and William Burt in administering this exceptional prize that not only supports writers of an underserved genre in the Caribbean – young adult literature – but publishers too, and which addresses headlong the critical issue of marketing and distribution in our region.”

CODE’s Burt Award is a global readership initiative and is also currently established in Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Tanzania and Canada.

For further details on the Burt Award for Caribbean Literature, go to www.codecan.org/burt-award-caribbean   

Posted by: caribbeanbookblog | February 16, 2014

Chasing a Miracle – new book tackles the ‘unexplainable’

Chasing a MiracleThere is an extraordinary event that takes place every year in Italy. Many devoted Catholics travel to the Doumo (cathedral) of Naples to witness the “miracle of the blood” – the liquefaction of what is believed to be a sample of the blood of St. Januarius kept in a sealed glass ampule.

St. Januarius, or San Gennaro, was martyred during the persecutions of the Roman Emperor Diocletian around 305 CE. A former Bishop of Naples, he is believed to have died while visiting Christians imprisoned in Rome.

Three times every year in September, the faithful gather on the streets of Naples in their thousands and make their way to the city’s cathedral to pray for a miracle; that the the 5th century martyr’s blood would liquefy right before their eyes. It is believed that after his death, Bishop Januarius’ blood was preserved and, over centuries, it solidified into solid, stone-like particles. According to eye witness accounts since the 14th century, the particles change into liquefied blood on special holy days and it is considered to be a sign of blessing and protection for the faithful.

As part of a documentary on miracles that he was producing for the BBC, British journalist Mark Dowd attended a recent celebration of the feast of Saint Januarius in Naples where the miracle reportedly reoccurred.

If you think that belief in miracles is a Catholic preserve, think again. A recent report commissioned by the television production company CTVC and the religious think-tank Theos in the UK revealed that among 21st century Britons, one in six people are convinced that they or someone they know personally has experienced a miracle.

A new survey by the US market research firm, Harris Poll found that 72 percent of Americans believe in miracles. Other studies have shown that over the past two decades the number of Americans who believe in religious miracles increased – despite the fact that more people appear to be turning their backs on organized religion.

Against this backdrop author, Eliot Hartford Bailey sets out to tackle what many describe as the supernatural, in his new mystery-thriller novel, Chasing a Miracle.  He makes sure to distinguish miracles from hocus-pocus or even serendipity. The book is the first in a trilogy of the same name.

Eliot Bailey

Eliot Bailey

In Chasing A Miracle Chief Investigator and protagonist Dr. Adam Bell knows all too well the difference between miracles and sleight–of-hand, often dubbed as magic. After all, ‘miracles’ are his business; he is charged with investigating them at the Bureau of Scientific Skepticism (B.O.S.S).  Under the Bureau’s secret agenda, his job is to prove that incidents deemed to be miracles can be explained scientifically and objectively.  However, in the process he discovers that science is only able to rationalise some of those occurrences and others are indeed unexplainable. His intellectual curiosity pushes him to look more deeply into the nature of miracles.

In a tragic and ironic twist, Dr. Adam Bell’s pregnant wife is infected with a fatal virus and it seems the only thing that can save her is a miracle. In his desperation to save his wife and unborn child, Dr. Bell presses on with his scientific investigations, which result in the astounding breakthrough discovery of of an ancient code that potentially holds the clue to miracles. When caught trying to conceal the code, Bell’s boss issues a spine-chilling ultimatum. Bell must follow the universe’s mysterious path of seemingly random opportunities and apply the code to engineer a miracle.

A Saint Lucian national with British roots (his father is from the UK), Eliot Bailey is the co-owner and managing director of LucianStyle, one of Saint Lucia’s leading tour companies. He has crossed paths with many celebrities, including Oprah Winfrey whom he met during her visit to the island some years ago. She offered him some words of wisdom. Bailey said she was quite an inspiration to him.

Bailey has had his own brush with the unexplainable. During the writing of his book, a woman whom he had never met before visited his office and had surprising knowledge of his name and face and she claimed to have been sent to him by the Holy Ghost with a message from God himself. This happened in the presence of his staff. To this day he has no idea who she is or where she came from.

“An unfathomable experience, surely not one to be taken lightly,” says Bailey. “It was one which only further fuelled my fire in the creation of what I believe you will discover is a stimulating trilogy.”

Chasing a Miracle is available from Amazon and other online bookstores.

Click  here to check out Bailey’s website.

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