Friday, June 25, 2010

The Dead Yard—Tales of Modern Jamaica

This year's Royal Society of Literature Ondaatje Prize has been awarded to Ian Thomson for The Dead Yard—Tales of Modern Jamaica (Faber)

  • Paperback: 384 pages

  • Publisher: Faber and Faber; First Edition edition (7 May 2009)

  • Language English

  • ISBN-10: 0571227619

  • ISBN-13: 978-0571227617

  • Here's the blurb:

    Jamaica used to be the source of much of Britain's wealth, a tropical paradise for the planters, a Babylonian exile for the Africans shipped to the Caribbean. This work focuses on the all-pervading influence of the USA; and the increasing disillusionment felt by its people, who can't rely on the state for their most basic security.

    Why Do I Write by Rodlyn Douglas.

    I can't even think straight enough to write an obituary, so I'll let you hear Rodlyn's own words:

    Why Do I Write?PDFPrintE-mail
    SATURDAY, 10 OCTOBER 2009 13:31
    By Rodlyn Douglas

    Is this a question?  Or is it an implement with which you ask me to pry open myself and reveal my soul?  Why do I write?  If I choose to use mere words to answer this question, then surely we will see the limitations of the language.  To go into the depths of why I write, I would have to add to the words, grunts, and shouts, and hollering, and screams, and moaning and groaning and roars and thundering sounds of rolling crashing waves and silence.  To use words alone would not let you see, sense, hear, smell the depth of the wounds I try to heal by writing.  I write to heal, not to tell stories, not to record my life, not to let you into the secret closets of my emotions.  No, I write simply to heal.  It is the only way I know how to heal the invisible wounds, the wounds you cannot see with the plain old naked eyes, but only through the lens of my pen.  I write for the same reasons, a painter paints, a dancer dances, a sculptor sculpts and a baby cries.  I write because it is the only natural remedy I have been fortunate enough to discover that will heal my wounds.
                    I write to reach the depth of the canker sores.  I write to squeeze the pus from the boils.  I write to express the silence that only pen in hand and clean white pages of my diary can contain.  I write to touch the places smiles cannot touch.  I write to drain the morass from the unconsciousness I slipped into as a child in order to survive.  I write to survive as a woman.  I write to survive as a mother.  I write to find out how to be a woman, a mother, a writer and still survive in this world.  I write to find the way through the fog that sometimes is my life.  I write to ensure that I see the sunrise overcome the dim darkness of night, even in daylight.  I write because it is twilight and night is drawing near.  I want to be able to sleep and have sweet dreams, and not the tormenting dreams of the demons waiting to gnaw at me from the levels of the unknown where my soul travels when I sleep, a sleep of distress and worry and pain.
                    I write to keep depression at bay and make the light shine in the darkness, because “light will always over come darkness” and writing is my light.  I write so that my light would shine, and that I will have the energy to reach up and place that light on a stand, high enough so that all can see the possibility of emotional healing.  I write to stay healthy.  I write so that others can dream of living, moving from girlhood into womanhood, and know the possibilities of blooming and flowering without the fear of withering, petals drooping at the very glance of rejection.  I write to save myself from gloom.  I write because I have survived.
                    I write because survivors must write.  How else would the world know that there are endless possibilities of overcoming and slaying the demons?  How else would little girls know that there is hope, without words to express the trauma, confusion and awe in the journey of becoming a woman?  I write to chart new waters.  I write to map out new roads.  I write to leave directions for others who will follow.  I write so they would not have to be pioneers on this journey we take as women.  I write to become whole.  But you have heard all of this before … I write because I love mangoes and want to describe how I relished the taste of its yellow juice flowing down my hands and my slick quick tongue licking it into oblivion.  I write to remember the rhythm and tempo of calypso, steelpan and the limbo.  I write to feel the soothing current of the sea and walk the damp morning sandy beaches, again and again and again, pen on paper, again, and again, and again.  I write because I must.  I write because it is my duty.  It has been ordained by Shango, that I be the scribe who honors the ancestors and their culture which must be remembered; inscribed for all the ages.  I write so that I shall live and live joyously and with laughter.  I write so that I can learn to laugh.  I write so that others may smile.  I write for tomorrow that which I have experienced today.  I write because my words make music.  I write because the moon told me to.  I write in remembrance of Delilah who Samson blamed for his weakness of flesh, and for Mary Magdalene who was told she was mad because she proclaimed that Christ had risen, and the woman at the well, and Mary and Martha who had no story to tell but were ardent listeners to His stories, because they had no life story except  through Him.  I write in remembrance of the woman with the issue of blood, bleeding for twelve years and even though she was healed by touching the hem of His garment.  She is still bleeding today, because she is we, women; we who bleed but do not die.  I write in remembrance of Esther and Rebecca and Ruth and Miriam.  I write for Pharaoh’s daughter who found Moses in the river.  I write to tell the stories of the women then and the women now who have no voice to holler and scream with pen and voice.  I write to tell the stories of mothers who lost their voices when they wombs bore fruits.  I write for Mary who had no tears when her son rebuked her by saying, “can’t you see I am about my father’s business” and in front of his disciples, saying “woman my time has not yet come”.  He showed not one ounce of emotions for she who bore him in her womb.  How distraught she must have felt when all He spoke of and praised was His glorious father in heaven, while she watched him dragged, beaten and crucified wishing the earth would open and take her instead.  I write because, at times, I can not cry.  I write for words to express my fears.  I write.  I write.  I write.  I write because I must or else I die. 
    I write to slay the resounding voices of the committees in my head.  I write because the silence scares me and I am afraid to drown in its shrilling emptiness.  I write.  I write.  I write.  I write so that my children will know who I am besides being their mother and the caretaker.  I write so that they would know I too had dreams and hopes and wishes for a total life.  I write so that they would know my story from the horse’s mouth, and not have to guess at maybes and possibilities of who and what they believed I am.  I write to illuminate the question and denseness of this journey called the woman writer’s life.
    I write because the children need a sane mother.  A smiling sober mother.  A mother who looks and acts as if she has all her marbles lined up and ready to win the game.  I write because I am tired of being a raging lunatic.  Tired of seeing myself in tears and knowing only that I must cry or I must choke up and die.  I write so that I can soar sometimes, words being my wings of imagination.  I write to keep me surfaced and not sinking, drowning in the depression I seem to have been born with. I write so that I can wean myself off Zoloft, and sit in an AA meeting and not feel that I have no chance of surviving without a drug or a drink.  I write because I do not understand the anxiety. I cannot bear the anxiety.  I write to learn how to live life on life’s terms - whatever that means.  I write so that I can continue learning how to feel my feelings, how to comprehend the thoughts that race through my mind and make no sense, since every voice is screaming at the same time.  I write to hear the whispers.  I write to gain control of something that is still nebulous and fleeting; something ordinary people call happiness.  I guess that is what it is.  I write so that I can smile and feel the effects of a smile. I write so that I do not relate to the sadness which envelopes me and tells me that I cannot, I will not, I should not.  I write to reverse the tapes in my head and give my brain a chance to think good thoughts.  I write so that I can appreciate the sunrise and the sunset.  I write so that I can take flight with the birds and hear their chirping and know that there is a higher power, a god or goddess who loves me just like these birds are loved and fed and cared for.  I write so that I can appreciate the beauty of flowers and have dreams that are comforting.  I write to slay the nightmares. I write to make sense of years of therapy and still after years of pouring out, more and more and more stuff keeps surfacing and making itself present for examination.  I write to slay dragons.  I write so that I can bleed on the pages of my diary and not all over my friends.  I write because I was born with the blood of a writer, which I use as ink for my pen.

    Copyright by R.H. Douglas

    This is what Cora Schwartz, a mutual friend, wrote for her (Please read Rodlyn's essay first, though):

    To Rodlyn's family:
    Approximately two years ago Rodlyn attended a writing workshop at my writers retreat.  She had a private space in one of the cottages but all the activities and eating took place in the big house.  At the end of the weekend, after everyone left I went in to clean and change linen.  I walked into Rodlyn's unit and was in instant awe.  All her rooms had vases, jars, and bottles filled with the wild flowers she had found in the forest.  As a result, her rooms had a beautiful scent and was completely transformed. But the thing that meant so much to me was that Rodlyn had gone into the forest early in the morning and  found flowers and exotic weeds that  I HAD NO IDEA EXISTED! For a second I couldn't understand where they could have come from.  What I am saying is, of course, that Rodlyn saw beauty that I did not even know existed.  That was Rodlyn; she saw beauty everywhere.
    A few weeks ago, because the retreat is fully booked for the summer, I decided to develop a little herb garden and sitting room/meditation room/tea room in the basement of one of the cottages so I could have a private place to go and a place to offer guests to have tea and whatever.   (I became interested in herbs as part of my research for the sequel I am working on.)  I planned on going up into the woodsthis weekend to search out some exotic looking  weeds and flowers to hang from the rafters of the room. I already started an herb garden outside the door.  I was going to order some kind of sign as well.  Frankly, I was feeling sort of foolish doing all this because as many of you know, I have my big house across the road with 2 patios and garden etc.  NOW I KNOW WHY I DRIVEN TO DO DO ALL THIS DESPITE MY RELUCTANCE AND FEELINGS OF SUPIDITY. 
    I will name the space Rodlyn's Room or Rodlyn's Herbal Garden (open to suggestions please)  What more can I say? 
    I thank Rodlyn for giving my life direction in so many ways.

    Thursday, June 24, 2010

    Desiring the Kingdom: Worship, Worldview, and Cultural Formation

    Desiring the Kingdom: Worship, Worldview, and Cultural Formation  James K. A. Smith (Baker Academic)
  • Paperback: 238 pages

  • Publisher: Baker Academic (August 1, 2009)

  • Language: English

  • ISBN-10: 0801035775

  • ISBN-13: 978-0801035777

  • Here's the blurb:
    Malls, stadiums, and universities are actually liturgical structures that influence and shape our thoughts and affections. Humans--as Augustine noted--are "desiring agents," full of longings and passions; in brief, we are what we love. James K. A. Smith focuses on the themes of liturgy and desire in Desiring the Kingdom, the first book in what will be a three-volume set on the theology of culture. He redirects our yearnings to focus on the greatest good: God. Ultimately, Smith seeks to re-vision education through the process and practice of worship. Students of philosophy, theology, worldview, and culture will welcome Desiring the Kingdom, as will those involved in ministry and other interested readers.

    From the Back Cover

    A Philosophical Theology of CulturePhilosopher James K. A. Smith reshapes the very project of Christian education in Desiring the Kingdom. The first of three volumes that will ultimately provide a comprehensive theology of culture, Desiring the Kingdom focuses education around the themes of liturgy, formation, and desire. Smith's ultimate purpose is to re-vision Christian education as a formative process that redirects our desire toward God's kingdom and its vision of flourishing. In the same way, he re-visions Christian worship as a pedagogical practice that trains our love. "James Smith shows in clear, simple, and passionate prose what worship has to do with formation and what both have to do with education. He argues that the God-directed, embodied love that worship gives us is central to all three areas and that those concerned as Christians with teaching and learning need to pay attention, first and last, to the ordering of love. This is an important book and one whose audience should be much broader than the merely scholarly."--Paul J. Griffiths, Duke Divinity School "In lucid and lively prose, Jamie Smith reaches back past Calvin to Augustine, crafting a new and insightful Reformed vision for higher education that focuses on the fundamental desires of the human heart rather than on worldviews. Smith deftly describes the 'liturgies' of contemporary life that are played out in churches--but also in shopping malls, sports arenas, and the ad industry--and then re-imagines the Christian university as a place where students learn to properly love the world and not just think about it."--Douglas Jacobsen and Rhonda Hustedt Jacobsen, Messiah College; authors of Scholarship and Christian Faith: Enlarging the Conversation "This is a wise, provocative, and inspiring book. It prophetically blurs the boundaries between theory and practice, between theology and other disciplines, between descriptive analysis and constructive imagination. Anyone involved in Christian education should read this book to glimpse a holistic vision of learning and formation. Anyone involved in the worship life of Christian communities should read this book to discover again all that is at stake in the choices we make about our practices."--John D. Witvliet, Calvin Institute of Christian Worship; Calvin College and Calvin Theological Seminary

    Avatar: The Last Airbender boycott

    "We want to support The Last Airbender film, but we cannot in good conscience support a production that systematically excludes people of color from heroic roles."

    'The Last Airbender' (2010) is a live-action Paramount film directed by M. Night Shyamalan. It is based on a popular cartoon called 'Avatar: The Last Airbender' on Nickelodeon. The world of 'Avatar: The Last Airbender' was heavily inspired by Asian and Inuit cultures, and championed by Asian and Inuit heroes.

    For children, the animated series was an opportunity to witness heroes and heroines of color – an opportunity that enriched all of us, regardless of ethnicity. With the live-action film adaptation, that opportunity was lost.


    'The Last Airbender' cast white actors to portray Asian/Inuit heroes, the latest example of Caucasians playing Asians (e.g., '21', 'Dragonball Evolution', 'Kung Fu', and more).

    Paramount's choices have taken the film away from the integrity and dedication to cultural accuracy that fans respected in the original animated series.

    Did they find the best actors? Initial casting calls for the principal roles clearly indicated a preference by using the wording, "Caucasian or any other ethnicity."
    This preference was not seen when casting for background actors which sought "authentic Asians." Relegating actors of color to unnamed featured characters, villains and background extras perpetuates Hollywood's glass ceiling.

    The most important color in Hollywood is green. Paramount, or any other production company, should NOT PROFIT from such discriminatory casting practices.


    1. Do NOT pay to see this film in theaters. This is most important.*

    2. Tell your friends and family that you're boycotting the film and why. Discourage them from watching the film if you can.

    3. Do NOT endorse or purchase any promotional products connected to the film (e.g., action figures, Happy Meals, novelizations, video games, etc.).

    4. DO endorse products connected to the original animated series (e.g., series DVDs, toys, artbooks, etc.).

    * If you do nothing else, please DO NOT PAY to see this film in theaters. Box office figures are the biggest indicator of a film's success or failure. If you really, and I mean REALLY want to see it, wait a couple of months to rent it on DVD. Or better yet wait til it's On Demand; the idea is to only give them cents instead of dollars if any money at all.


    This is not the first instance of racebending in film, nor will it be the last. 'The Last Airbender' is the biggest and most recent example. We ultimately want to end the practice of yellowfacing, whitewashing, and racebending in the media.

    Now is the time to make your voice heard.


    Want to do more? Follow us for news and action alerts:

    Visit to learn more.

    Tuesday, June 15, 2010




    Dia Reeves 

  • Reading level: Young Adult

  • Hardcover: 454 pages

  • Publisher: Simon Pulse; 1 edition (January 5, 2010)

  • Language: English

  • ISBN-10: 1416986189

  • ISBN-13: 978-1416986188

  • Here's the blurb:

    Sixteen-year-old Hanna J√§rvinen is an unusual girl with a head full of hallucinations, a medicine cabinet full of pills, and a closet full of frilly, violet dresses. Everything a girl needs–except love.  But that’s what mothers are for, and Hanna is sure she can reconcile with hers, even though she was abandoned as a baby.

    Unfortunately, her mother lives in Portero, an odd East Texas town with doors that lead out of the world, flesh-eating creatures, and parasitical spirits–not an ideal environment for winning a mother’s love.

    Hanna, however, refuses to let a few monsters interfere with her plans. If she has to flirt a little, lie a little, kill a little, or even bleed a little, she’ll do it. Hanna can live with monsters and mayhem, but she would rather die than live without love.

    Monday, June 7, 2010

    Behind the Veil

    Behind the Veil

    Suzetta Perkins
    New York : Strebor Books, 2009.

    • ISBN-10: 1593090633
    • ISBN-13: 978-1593090630

    Overflowing with lies, deceit, dangerous (and illegal) weapon sales, and extramarital affairs, Behind the Veil weaves a tale of riveting suspense and never-ending intrigue.Jefferson Myles, a sucessful businessman and CEO of his own securities firm, might be in over his head. For one thing, he's embezzling money from his clients to fund "Operation Stingray" -- an organization headed by Robert Santiago that steals ammunition from a military base to sell to a rebel group in Honduras. To make matters worse, Jefferson is cheating on his wife with his married neighbor, Linda Montgomery. And to top it all off, Blake, Linda's husband, knows about affair and knows that Jefferson is involved in some kind of illegal activity.
    Gradually, some secrets are revealed that put people's lives at stake. Margo, Jefferson's wife, finally discovers the real reason why her husband has been distant and uncaring. As someone attempts to kill Jefferson, surprising truthsbegin to surface and Margo must decide what is best for her and her family. Filled with suspense, tension, and deeply engaging human emotions, Behind the Veil will hold readers captive until its exhilarating end.
    "Originally published in trade paperback in 2006."
    Includes excerpt from author's Ex-terminator : life after marriage.

    Saturday, June 5, 2010

    Earth and Spirit: Medicinal Plants and Healing Lore from Puerto Rico

    Earth and Spirit: Medicinal Plants and Healing Lore from Puerto Rico
    by Benedetti and Janto

  • Paperback: 286 pages

  • Publisher: Verde Luz; 3 edition (June 1998)

  • Language: English

  • ISBN-10: 0963344013

  • ISBN-13: 978-0963344014

  • This Caribbean adventure in botanical and spirit healing contains interviews with twenty Puerto Rican men and women who know, love and work with medicinal plants and island-based earth lore: traditional , a granny midwife, spiritual healers, natural beauticians, and others. In addition to an animated conversational text, remedies are presented in an extensive reference section organized by health condition ranging from Alcohol Addiction to Warts. The author's foreword and epilogue place this work in cultural and ecological contexts, and all plants are cross referenced in English, Spanish and Latin. A carefully wrought, bilingual subject index adds reference value to this entertaining volume. Earth and Spirit inspires love and respect both for the living world of plants and for the resourceful people of Puerto Rico who keep the tradition alive against formidable odds.

    Thursday, June 3, 2010

    African-American Movie: Blessed and Cursed

    Here's the blurb
    Check out this NEVER BEFORE SEEN TRAILER of BLESSED & CURSED, the Brand new movie starring Gospel star, Deitrick Haddon.
    A modern twist on the biblical story of David and Saul, BLESSED & CURSED depicts Dwight Hawkins' (played by Deitrick Haddon) struggle to realize his God-given purpose. Compelled to help his father after his dreams are derailed, Dwight must choose between family obligations or pursing his own dreams of gospel music stardom. One day he receives an incredible opportunity to become a Psalmist at the city's largest church but this new position is too good to be true as Dwight gets caught in a diabolical scheme of jealously, orchestrated by the church's Bishop. Also starring Karen Clark Sheard, Kierra Kiki Sheard, Sheryl Lee Ralph, Drew Sidora, and many other of your FAVORITE gospel stars. COMING SUMMER 2010

    Wednesday, June 2, 2010

    An Anthology of Colonial and Postcolonial Short Fiction

    An Anthology of Colonial and Postcolonial Short Fiction 

    Dean Baldwin (Author), Patrick J. Quinn (Author)

    • Paperback: 944 pages
    • Publisher: Wadsworth Publishing; 1 edition (July 28, 2006)
    • Language: English
    • ISBN-10: 061831881X
    • ISBN-13: 978-0618318810

    Here's the blurb:

    This anthology offers a balanced approach to colonial and postcolonial literature through a rich tapestry of short stories by both British colonizers and affected indigenous people. Organized by region, the compelling stories reflect the evolution of colonialism from the seventeenth to the twentieth century. Students explore the insights and emotions on both sides of the imperial fence, while learning about the hardships and triumphs of the colonial experience. A thorough pedagogical apparatus includes historical introductions, author headnotes, and reading questions that provide students with tools to approach each selection in an informed manner. Students come to appreciate how fiction both supported and questioned the basis and results of colonialism.

    Tuesday, June 1, 2010

    Reverend Feelgood

    Reverend Feelgood

    Lutisha Lovely

  • Paperback: 320 pages

  • Publisher: Dafina; Original edition (January 26, 2010)

  • Language: English

  • ISBN-10: 0758238657

  • ISBN-13: 978-0758238658

  • Here's the blurb:
    In Lutishia Lovely's wickedly sexy new novel, an energetic young pastor works overtime to keep the ladies in his congregation deliciously satisfied. . .Nathaniel "Nate" Thicke is a preaching prodigy. At only twenty-eight years old, he's the senior pastor of The Gospel Truth Church. In addition to carrying on the preaching tradition begun by his great-grandfather, Nate is also just plain carrying on, wherever the spirit--and the flesh--lead him. And when it leads him to three women from the same family, bickering and backstabbing follow...
    Content with having his pick of the flock, Nate is surprised to discover he's fallen head-over-heels in love, and decides to become a one-woman man. But the other ladies aren't about to give him up so easily. They're prepared to do whatever it takes to get their man back--even if it means adding a few more shocking sins to their list...

    From the author of "Love Like Hallelujah" and "A Preacher's Passion" comes another irresistible read rich in church drama, wicked humor, and scandalous exploits.

    wind follower

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