From April 29 to May 3, Moko had the pleasure of attending the Bocas Lit Fest in Port of Spain, Trinidad & Tobago. It was an excellent opportunity to come face to face with several of the writers we have been fortunate enough to feature, but it was also exciting to talk to many new writers who we hope to publish in the future. We sincerely believe that our mission is a necessary one given the few spaces that our region’s writers and artists can truly call their own. That belief was reinforced by the numerous submissions we received for our sixth issue, our largest presentation to date.
In Moko Issue 6, Cuban painter Carlos Estevez shares with us “Plenilunio,” an arresting series of works that call to mind both da Vinci’s sketches and the gnosticism of Jorge Luis Borges’s fictions. GA Gardner of Trinidad uses his most recent collages to reconcile the universal aims of abstraction with his interest in exploring cultural identity.
Moko veteran Loretta Collins Klobah shares with us two more poems that weave together themes of love, humor and resistance. Brad Walrond and Jon Euwema both reach for the narrative epic in their lengthy poems, touching on themes of family, migration, loss, politics, and history. Victoria Brown’s memorable vignette of a Trinidadian school-day is sharpened by her sense for character and setting. Puerto Rican writer Lizbette Ocasio-Russe’s story-telling is marked by a sense of fluidity despite its episodic nature, and is told with a similar multi-lingual dexterity.
We are also pleased to feature Sharif El Gammal-Ortiz’s review of the recent documentary Poetry is an Island, creative non-fiction by Danielle Bainbridge, and a brief interview with British Virgin Islands artist Aragorn Dick-Read, who shares both the philosophy behind his striking metalwork as well as some hints regarding his next major project.
And some great news! Moko Co-Founder Richard Georges had the honour of being a finalist for the Hollick Arvon Prize this year! We have been awestruck by the poetry of the other finalists – especially Elliot Bastien, Shivanee Ramlochan, and the very deserving winner Danielle Boodoo-Fortuné, who we had the privilege of publishing in our very first issue. For now, we will content ourselves with anticipating first books by all the finalists! Speaking of first books, the young and effervescent Vladimir Lucien and his debut Sounding Ground has been a revelation, and the OCM Bocas judges felt similarly. Congratulations to all.
This labour of love continues to reward us and we hope Moko continues to bring some joy to you all. We remain open for submissions, and are pleased to announce that we will be welcoming two special guest editors for our next issue. A call for submissions for Issue 7 with more details will be posted next month.
– Richard and David.
Paintings by Carlos Estevez
“The moon not only brings about an essential cycle in our existence, but it also illuminates the deep corners of our minds. I hope to share my illuminated vision of life during a recent, particularly prolific period of my career.”
Collages by GA Gardner
“The result is now an explosion of information that is woven together by cultural lines and tells a story about how a group of people are identified, ignored, or celebrated in the media.”
Textiles by Aurora Molina
“Aurora Molina’s works are concerned with the objectivity of woman, presenting women as icons. Her current work explores the passing of time and aging, and the great deal of importance celebrities play in our everyday life.”
Paintings by Niarus Walker
“The more I work on the series, the more the pieces take on a spiritual connotation as I delve deeper in to the media and the possibilities of meaning. How can a rusty piece of machinery become a spiritual symbol?”
Poems by Loretta Collins Klobah
“You see, Puerto Rican birds have the habit / of resisting attempts to name them just one thing. / Puerto Rican birds don’t answer back or come / when called by any of their names.”
Poems by Rajiv Mohabir
“You are greedy to wrap my flukes in ropes; / for my oil to fuel your lantern; / to remake me into a light to see yourself by.”
Poems by Jannine T. Horsford
“The man from Brazza / is like the men at home / who sprawl at the mouths of bars / and like the starched-white men / coming into the church / on pillows of air.”
Poems by Celia Sorhaindo
“Sometimes the only babies / a woman chooses / to birth, are her words.”
“NanCEE Pilgrim” by Brad Walrond
“Still her dreams were all sanctified. / Wore them on her conscience like the visa stamped / in her 1967 Bajan passport on her way up North, / to the promise land. / She landed in Brooklyn, County of Kings. / Never knew then / Paradise would likely be lost / first step off shore.”
“American Virgins” by Jon Euwema
“This arrangement woos bathers, builders, boatmen / to strip our glistening, crowded empty standards. / Did the navy save our skins – / Red Man, High Tone, Whitey Peyhey? / Last summer’s cry was typical; most important it concluded.”
“There is a Silence” by Juleus Ghunta
“With time, I learned to make pleasant / the noise of MRI machines; / to morph high decibels / into a memory of my grandfather.”
“Swing Song” by Yashika Graham
“When the spinning, / the wild wild wheeling / stops / or slows, / slow slow, / the closed eye nuh recognize”
“Common Entrance Class” by Victoria Brown
“That hour was worse than church. I marked time by staring at the dirty brown patterns leaking rainwater had swirled into the bagasse ceiling. The circular rings looked like cross-sections of peaks and plateaus. Sometimes I got a reward if a daytime bat swooped out where the bagasse had completely rotted away and skimmed the room. The wheeling and dipping made the bush children scream, sure a night spirit had come to class to claim a soul.”
“Convent Girls” by Dawne Gowrie-Zetterstorm
“The statue of the Virgin Mary gazed down upon them generously as she did at all the other blossoms in the garden. Irena imagined that one day her blue robes would flutter imperceptibly and she would sprout the most immaculate wings, lifting decorously, certainly graciously, finally escaping into a perfectly blue sky.”
“Dive” by Lizbette Ocasio-Russe
“I love how dark the karaoke room can get, the white graffiti on the black walls coming to life in shadow. Plastic cups and beer cans cover the floor, our feet kicking them aside as we sway to Billy Joel. Hands, thighs, lips, neck, que mezcla, it’s all indistinguishable, awakening sense and confusing reason. Together we are Kali, the empowered six-armed goddess come to rage among mortals, alcohol, music and psychotropic smoke promising to ascend us to Swarga.”
“Cyar” by Danielle Bainbridge
“How could I continue to search and explore the narratives of my inheritances, if the language used by those who came before me is, in part, painfully illegible to me? How do I explicate a present that is dependent on a configuration of a stable, forward moving, linear temporality that eludes me?”
“A Tribute to Great St. Lucian(s)” by Sharif El Gammal-Ortiz
“The camera captures the aging Jacobs shirtless, with arms and chest heavily covered in keloid scars, thick and sinuous like rivers on a map. Jacobs’s eyes water, and his voice breaks, so touched is he by the words, which Ida Does adapts in one magnanimous frame.”
Revealing the Unseen with Aragorn Dick-Read
“We reveal the unseen, we share messages that words cannot, we deliver symbols through the ages, we inspire hope, we offer beauty, we please, we tease, we transport people into parts of their minds where they can’t go alone, we are a problem for corrupt power, we make wealth by magic, we sooth, we disturb, we cherish nature, harness it’s power, transform it and create culture.”