The months since our last issue have been a productive and award-winning period for Moko alumni. In March, the longlist for the OCM Bocas Prize was announced including Andre Bagoo’s BURN (Issues 2 and 8) and Jacqueline Bishop’s The Gymnast and Other Positions (Issues 2 and 4). Bishop later won the non-fiction category while the overall prize would eventually go to Olive Senior’s The Pain Tree.
In terms of wider Caribbean literature, Tiphanie Yanique’s Wife (which won the poetry category of the OCM Bocas Prize) is currently shortlisted for the Felix Dennis Prize for First Collections while Vahni Capildeo’s Measures of Expatriation is vying for the Forward Prize having been shortlisted for the TS Eliot Prize prior.
It has also been a time of passing on, as the literary community has had to bid goodbye to luminaries Michelle Cliff and Austin Clark.
In this issue, we showcase Haitian-American artist Adler Guerrier’s Installations for the Florida Prize in Contemporary Art at The Orlando Museum of Art as well as two provocative installations by French-Jamaican artist Olivia McGilchrist. We are also pleased to feature a selection from Shara McCallum’s upcoming collection Madwoman and welcome back Celia Sorhaindo alongside poets Racquel Henry, JR Mahung, Geoffrey Dunn, and Kay Bell.
This issue’s fiction section boasts engrossing entries by Antiguan veteran Joanne C. Hillhouse, Kirk Budhooram, and the impressive debut of Motilal Boodoosingh. We are also happy to share a review of Nicholas Laughlin’s debut poetry collection by Yaniré S. Díaz Rodríguez as well as a sustained exploration of Caribbean visual language in digital art media by Natalie McGuire that engages with a number of artists who have been featured in Moko.
Lastly, we sat down with Jamaican writer Diana McCaulay to talk about her latest novel Gone to Drift (Papillote Press), Caribbean environmentalism, and the writing process.
We know we are a little late this month, but we do hope you enjoy reading Moko as much as we enjoy putting it together.
– Richard and David.
Installations for the Florida Prize in Contemporary Art by Adler Guerrier
“The Florida Prize in Contemporary Art is an initiative of the Orlando Museum of Art that brings a new level of recognition to the State’s most progressive artists.”
“from many sides” and “Ernestine and Me” by Olivia McGilchrist
“Portraying these sites of memory, blending stories and myths of a complex and hybrid past, the layered sequences allow the figures, trees and water to transform, merging with the surrounding land.”
Poems by Shara McCallum
“she plucked the red flowers from the bush in the garden /where tamarinds were strewn and rotting underfoot she waded like a / sovereign or a god feeling little remorse for wreckage wrought by whim”
Poems by Kay Bell
“You want to tell her the world never sang your song and the music you invented only lives inside of you, but you grab your laundry and kiss her reminding her you will be back next week.”
Poems by E.O. Kean
“And through her letters of 1869 / From Mary’s Dale, St. John, I find myself / In love with my great grandmother Eliza.”
“Sparrow Come Back” by Geoffrey Dunn
“Beetham smoke sweeps the horizon in dark disdain, / As the stench of scorched refuse settles over Port of Spain; / My ghost in khaki, jumbie beads rattling in my sack— / P.S. Newington and I observe as the Spoiler comes back.”
“angels on the southside” by JR Mahung
“so then it’s only a flight & i ponder the words while watching a dashcam / of a body that looks like his & mine brought back into the earth it was borne from”
“Go Hide Your Joy, Boy” by Celia Sorhaindo”
“Go! Go hide your joy, boy: / Bury your bald head under ice / water; douse and drown deep / rising passions.”
“for Stepha” by Racquel Henry
“We wore jewellery that was too heavy / for small necks and miniature ears / We begged our mothers for / painted lips and nails”
“Game Changer” by Joanne C. Hillhouse
“He didn’t say anything at first, wouldn’t quite meet my eyes either. In addition to shifty eyes, he had what my mother would call suck-een cheeks, probably a result of his five year prison diet. He licked his lips constantly. I wondered if that was nerves or a seduction ploy, drawing attention to what were, objectively speaking, succulent lips.”
“The Panchayat” by Motilal Boodoosingh
“One day a man named Barran came to live in our village. He moved into the house next to Krishan in front of the standpipe. He was a Taxi Driver and owned a Ford Consul. He was married but had no children. While nearly all of the villagers were Hindus, they were Christians and did not attend the pujas, weddings and religious ceremonies that they were invited to by the villagers.”
“Timothy” by Kirk Budhooram
“Everyone around laughed. Not at the taunt but that he was called “Lanky.” Timothy was tall and skinny. His facial hair made the sixteen year old look as old as twenty-one. Without his uniform, many people mistook him for an adult.”
“Juggling” by Leesa Fenderson
“An air of sex eased about and around us in the Country. The mating pigs squealed when the too tight wood enclosure pressed them into each other. Women took out both breasts to feed their babies, their brown nipples thick and firm. Mango juice coated lips like a woman’s moisture.”
Reviews & Criticism
Review of Nicholas Laughlin’s “The Strange Years of my Life” by Yaniré S. Díaz Rodríguez
“Maps are commonplace in this collection. But these maps are not easy to follow. As an informed traveler should know, the reader must be cautioned that the trip ahead in ‘The Strange Years of My Life’ is saturated with metaphorical references to things gone wrong, betrayals, mistakes, mistrust, terrible news, diseases/yellow fever, burned furniture, letters that take too long to arrive, and spilled milk.”
“Navigating Caribbean Visual Language Through Digital Art Mediums” by Natalie McGuire
“Current visual narratives around contemporary art, culture and life from the Caribbean seem to be dominated by a stagnant agenda of identity. Identity that often has been pre-determined, constructed, re-appropriated and adapted, with investigation into the relationships between national, archipelagic and diasporic Caribbean identities, and who has the right to claim them.”
“An Exercise in Empathy” An Interview with Diana McCaulay
“The sea has been a very complex entity for Caribbean nations. It has been a barrier for migration; it has been our method of transport from all manner of places whether we came by choice or in chains. Now our tourism, which is a big part of our various economies, is very dependent on the sea and the coast and our livelihoods.“