For our third issue, we at Moko are proud to continue to offer a forum for the display of Caribbean art and literature in all of its diverse manifestations. The visual art and writing featured in this issue comes to us from everywhere from the Grenadines to the Virgin Islands and beyond, from Caribbean descendants living everywhere from Sweden to Australia.
In our first published essay, entitled “Do Not Enter, Do Not Exit,” University of the West Indies student Genieve Ramrattan imagines a conceptual art installation in a manner that challenges our definitions of art, design, and literature.
Moko Issue 3’s poetry section continues to showcase the strength and range of poets working in the Caribbean and its diaspora, with new poems by Nigel Barto, Summer Edward, Joanne Hillhouse, Vanessa Simmons, and Lou Smith. The work of these poets investigates issues of selfhood, environment, and politics with a lyricism that we also find in the pacing and language of Issue 3’s two short stories: “Atomic Matter” – Monique McIntosh’s riveting imagining of the love, lives, and deaths of Skatalite trombonist Don Drummond and rhumba dancer Anita Mahfood – and “Evergreen” – Dawne Gowrie-Zetterstorm’s stirring study of nostalgia and memory.
This issue’s art section features abstract paintings by Parris Jaru, a Jamaican based in Brooklyn, and La Vaughn Belle, a contemporary artist from St. Croix. Where Belle explores the patterns found on fragments of pottery from the European colonial period, Jaru seeks to deliberately break the “heaviness” that often comes with abstraction in order to inject “an air of humor” into his work. Del Foxton of the Bahamas shares with us delicate but striking compositions using found, recycled, and discarded objects. And finally, we are pleased to feature a selection of photographs from St. Lucia-born Imran Stephen which captures everyday moments in the lives of the residents of St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands.
We hope you enjoy this issue as much as we have enjoyed putting it together. Please share Moko with a friend and visit us on Facebook.
David and Richard
Paintings by Parris Jaru
“Working in abstract compositions can often become heavy and emotional; that is the nature of abstract expression. With these works it was important to me to keep the canvas smiling.”
“We Live in the Fragments” by La Vaughn Belle
“Chaney shards surface often after a hard rain and serve as reminders of our colonial past and fragmented Caribbean identities. I want these works to serve as a type of map, a chart, a way of piecing together the fragments.”
Assemblages by Del Foxton
“If there is beauty in the shell washed up on the beach, can we find beauty in the trash that has now become an integral part of our environment?”
Photographs by Imran Stephen
“The portraits in the ‘Faces of St. John’ series, taken by young St. Lucia-born photographer Imran Stephen in 2014, aim to capture everyday moments in a community and island that is in constant flux.”
Poems by Summer Edward
“Jesu, come down/from Moriah, Morne La Selle/Come with justice for Creole babes/failing men, baby mamas/Come, lord comrade/this is your poem/scratched on elephant leaves/tied with corded sticks/sealed with ghee,/spices of the tharia”
Poems by Lou Smith
“A butterfly/is an exhalation of breath/carrying the name of the deceased/their soul inhabiting this place/for a period so brief/But what is time/in a swarm of yellow butterflies?”
Poems by Nigel Barto
“I am a village/Hopeful, anticipating/A basket: colorful, crowded, full/Delicious provision/From our land, from my hands”
“Children Melee” by Joanne Hillhouse
“Peanuts roasting/Music pumping/Obsti prancing about in pigtails”
“Grey Matter” by Vanessa Simmons
“And when the mosquito bite/is because I have sweet blood/them mosquito can tell your lineage”
“Atomic Matter” by Monique McIntosh
“Here is how you make Ska. Take some orphans from Alpha School for wayward boys – boys fed on a diet of old school gamma waves beaming blues from New Orleans and Miami. Give them some decent suits, pants cut a little too short. Give them some brass left over from the marching bands, a tinny piano and some broke-ass guitars that need restringing. Tell them Jamaica needs its own sound.”
“Evergreen” by Dawne Gowrie-Zetterstorm
“She carries on walking along the pathway that is ancient and haphazardly cleared, where the ferns grow profusely between the rocks, giant reminders of a tropical place, like the place in which she was born: a place of real horrors and nightmares, but she has learned the world is filled with horrors real and imagined. She passes an ant-hill, a mountainous endeavor of spit and forest decay, a home constructed of the recycled bones of the wilderness. It makes her shudder, to imagine this hidden and unsuspecting hive erupting, millions of fiery ants released, their venom charged in defense of home and self.”
“Do Not Enter, Do Not Exit” by Genieve Ramrattan
“Thus, is it then not possible that during your reading of these words, your reflective consideration of these concepts, and the hopefully spritely activity of your imagination, that, in fact, art has already been created? That even as you continue to read, it continues to be created?”