Monday, January 31, 2011

Christine Craig shines in "All Things Bright"

January 24, 2011

Book Review: "All Things Bright" by Christine Craig


Reviewed by By:  Heather Russell, Ph.D.

Florida International University

Christine Craig, daughter of the Jamaican dust, reminds us in her collection, All Things Bright, why she remains one of our most talented, powerful, and relevant poets. The poems in this collection travel. Some demanding, some coercing, some entreating, some coyly teasing us -- Craig's poems take us on journeys deep, deep into the realms of national belonging, nation language, memory, history, myth, tradition, family, culture, exile, life, pain, injustice, and too, in the best possible sense of the word, into righteousness. 

Moving dynamically and evocatively across geographies of nation, place, and time, nostalgic African "ancestral roamings" commingle with and ground in evocative ways, contemporary Kingston's dread realities of unemployment, struggle, exploitation, resistance. "We weep" for "women on the streets of Kingston" and with and for her children, even as we sway to the rhythms of gospel, reggae, blues, and stop short at the sharp, abrupt, familiarity of dominos, banging -- urgent reminders of our rituals of survival, and of our cultural wealth.  

In her collection, Craig pays homage to the literary forbearers that help to shape our understandings of ourselves, even as she presents this her latest installment reminding us of how much we have missed her own poetic wisdom. Resisting simplified, nostalgic portraitures of home, the poems are infused with the laughter, philosophy, resilience, and complexity of everyday folk -- a cultural grounding as it were for those of us who often feel we have traveled too far away.   

And yet, there is nostalgia here too -- as in the poignant recurrence of the phrase:  "we should not have been allowed to leave." Here however, the painful reality of exilic existence is given full expression and nuanced articulation as nostalgia quickly gives over to the wonderment of standing at the U.S.'s southernmost point -- the Florida Keys -- the poet contemplating if this is "the end of America," or "her beginning." Migration is a beginning too, a beginning albeit marked by the painful legacies of slavery, indenture, colonialism, but a beginning nonetheless of the possibility and promise that is diaspora community. 

In the end, All Things Bright achieves the promise its title portends, to give poetic voice to  the great, the small, the wise, the wonderful, to creation…and it is…beautiful!
About Heather Russell

Dr. Heather Russell's research interests examine narrative form and its relationship to configurations of national/racial identities. Her latest book, Legba's Crossing: Narratology in the African Atlantic, was published by the University of of Georgia Press. She has also published inAfrican American Review; Contours; The Massachusetts Review; and American Literature and has essays in a collection on John Edgar Wideman, Jacqueline Bishop's, My Mother Who is Me, and Donna Aza Weir-Soley and Opal Palmer Adisa's Caribbean Erotic.
At the undergraduate level, Dr. Russell regularly teaches C19th and C20th African American Literatures; Major Caribbean Writers; Black Citizenships and Black History and the Fictive Imagination. For the graduate curriculum, she teaches African Diaspora Women Writers andNarratives of Enslavement and Resistance.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Christopher Barnes is Gleaner's new Managing Director

 The Hon. John Issa, OJ, LLD, Deputy Chairman of The Gleaner Company, is pleased to announce the following changes effective at the end of January 2011.

Mr. Christopher N. Barnes becomes Managing Director and will have responsibilty for all activities of The Gleaner Group. He will report to the board through Chairman Hon. Oliver F. Clarke, OJ, LLD.

Christopher, 37, joined The Gleaner in 2007 and has served for three years as deputy managing director. Prior to joining the Gleaner, he worked for 10 years with Alcan Inc. (now Rio Tinto Alcan) in Canada, USA and Europe.

Christopher, currently a member of the executive committee of Media Association Jamaica Limited, also serves on the Economic Policy Committee of the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica (PSOJ) and the board of Ocho Rios Beach Limited. His academic background includes a Master of Business Administration from McGill University, Canada, and a BSc in Mechanical Engineering from Boston University, USA. He is married with one son.

The Hon Oliver F. Clarke OJ, LLD remains as chairman of the Gleaner Board with a range of specific executive responsibilities, and transits from being a full-time to a part-time executive.

The Gleaner Board is confident that the future management and direction of Gleaner operations remain in competent hands.


Monday, January 24, 2011

Call for action - Improve the accountability and transparency in Jamaica today for better business ethics.

Jane had this on her Facebook page - I had to share - we MUST do better!
by Jane Branding on Friday, January 21, 2011 at 11:13am

As a US business owner I often champion new ventures, I was eager to promote the premiere of the Jamaican Blog Awards, which I felt was a great Tech initiative. I pushed the venture to many of my clients as "a great Jamaican project". Pegasus,LIME and NCB had sponsored so I believed it had integrity. My excitement and anticipation soon morphed into perplexity and then anger at the way a potentially worthy International boost seems to have been turned into an insular self aggrandizing and palm greasing for small coteries.

This letter is a call to action to Jamaica professionals to make changes and demand accountability. At the Top 5 reveal show (1/3/2011), the process has been fraught with discrepancies and anomalies. One category had only four, and no explanation was given for this. One category ended up with two blogs by the same person in the Top 5, giving that individual twice the opportunity of competing blogs. If entries were limited, that would be another matter, but with over 276 blogs initially presented, it simply should not be the case.

This obvious lack of screening was compounded when at the Top 5 Reveal, it was announced that the public would then be subjected to a second round of voting, both online and via text, presumably to allow sponsor LIME the opportunity to recoup funds (text votes cost J$25 a pop). This ran counter to the previously posted procedure on the Jamaica Blog awards site, which did not specify that more than one round of public voting would ensue. Many of the globally popular sites like lost. Even though they collected over 40 million hits on their blog over the past 6 months and boasts roughly 250,000 fans on their Facebook page. The feedback was also off the charts racking up over 600 likes, tweets and comments on their voting page, on their first day of promotion. Interesting? (FYI I am not a blogger nor do I have a vested interest in any of the blog in the competition).

January 16, the awards were presented without any summary from the Judges, without the public having any idea who the judges were and without any idea of the final tally of votes. One winner taking the podium smarmily thanked the “Old Girls Association” of her high school alma mater for, in her words, “ensuring that the votes got in.”

Further, the person with two blogs in one Top5 category not only won the category, but went on to take the night’s top honour – Blog of the Year overall. In light of the above, the following questions are unavoidable:-

On what basis were the Judges given an assurance of anonymity and why - especially since the JBA had earlier offered, via its Facebook page, to post a list of the Judges?

Why could they not have been presented at the awards ceremony, with the results presumably sealed from public scrutiny prior to announcement? To a foreign investor this is highly suspect, is it because these judges had conflicting interests in the outcome? Is it that they were also sponsors’ representatives and didn’t want their own personal choices to be made public? In virtually all such contests - whether film awards, like Cannes or the Golden Globes, but especially in a new contest, where a qualitative analysis has been done (with or without public vote), a Judges report is a standard procedure. Staid, empty press releases, and constant removal of questions posted from their Facebook page are not helping your cause.

If this awards programme is indeed your concept, you would do well to take the appropriate decisions to salvage credibility:

- Publish the full list of Judges;

- Publish the final tally of online and text votes in each category;

- Declare any conflicting positions among either judges or sponsors and issue a full apology for same;

- Rescind the awards where such conflicts have been identified;it’s time for Jamaicans to stop this mockery in business now the nation is on the global tech stage.

This is a great opportunity for Jamaican talent to shine and attract revenue this is not the time to for amateur night – major corporations, including the nation’s largest bank and one of the biggest telecoms providers, are involved. As an outside investor, I'm most ashamed to have championed this Jamaican business to my US clients.

I had posted my concerns on the JBA Facebook page which they continually remove.

In order for Jamaica to have a credible silicon valley and revenue (not a self appointed coterie, but people with true global tech authority and experience ) there needs to be transparency, integrity and above all a break down in corruption and nepotism. I believe in Jamaica and the talent of it's people but such issues are holding everyone back from global revenue.

New York, NY January,2011

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Man Owned & Drove Same Car for 82 Years

Great story from Turo Ziadie -

Can you imagine having the same car for 82 years! I guess it was no longer under warranty...   

Mr. Allen Swift ( Springfield , MA.) received this 1928 Rolls-Royce Picadilly P1 Roadster from his father, brand new - as a graduation gift in 1928. He drove it up until his death last the age of 102 !!!

He was the oldest living owner of a car from new.  Just thought you'd like to see it. He donated it to a Springfield museum after his death.

It has 170,000 miles on it, still runs like a Swiss watch, dead silent at any speed and is in perfect cosmetic condition. (82 years). That's approximately 2000 miles per year. 
Sent from my BlackBerry® device from Digicel

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Easy 'fried' plantain

If you have a folding grill (eg George Foreman), simply slice ripe plantains, toss in coconut oil (or any other) and grill for three minutes. You set the timer so there is no watching or turning.
Sent from my BlackBerry® device from Digicel

Friday, January 21, 2011

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Gelato in Negril

Coffee - Hazelnut - Chocolate - mmmm - doesn't get any better!
Sent from my BlackBerry® device from Digicel

So a few months later I return to get more gelato at this picturesque spot on Negril's West End, only to hear that the Feds came for the charming gelato guy!  I tell you ... it takes  all types!!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011



The tabloid suggestion that the Royals are snubbing the Obamas is baseless. Click on the headline above to read the whole thing!

Make Jamaica ‘a nice place to live’

by Jean Lowrie-Chin | Jamaica Observer | 17 January 2011

'What a nice place to live - Sweet Jamdown!' - Tony Rebel 

News from abroad should make us stop and think. Relatives up north are battling heavy snow. One friend barely made it home after a heavy snowstorm and was thrilled to turn on to his street – only to see the white stuff piled high against his front door, his shovel securely locked away behind it. “Next time, I'll travel with my shovel,” he said wryly.

There is violence in the Middle East and in the drug-torn communities of Mexico. We admire the many achievements of the US but they too are facing difficult issues. In a Tucson suburb, yet another 'troubled youth' turned his high-powered weapon on a gathering called 'Congress on the Corner'. Six people, including a nine-year-old, were killed and Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was shot point-blank in the head – thankfully, doctors are optimistic about her recovery.

The 23-year-old gunman, who had been rejected by the US Army, was able to buy a high-powered weapon after an “instant background check”, and then proceeded to Wal-Mart where he bought bullets for 22 cents each. It must be a no-brainer that US gun laws are making deadly weapons too easily available to those with evil intent. Today's observation of the Birthday of Martin Luther King Jr, who was assassinated in 1968, makes us wonder, “How long, O Lord, how long?”

In several Middle Eastern and African countries, Christians are being attacked. Even in relatively peaceful India a 24-year-old Catholic Priest is threatened for starting a children's home in a poor district and wakes up in time to rescue the children from a fire set by intolerant extremists. My sister's church in Maryland is helping him to rebuild.

Night after night on the news, we see the arid landscape of Afghanistan where terrorists live in caves and suicide bombers wire up themselves for their pass to paradise.

The more we think of these situations, the more we understand why Jamaicans spontaneously break into applause when their flight touches down at Norman Manley Airport. Now I know it is true that the dip in crime here is still not significant enough, and that some of our drivers should be featured every night on Keith Olbermann's “Worst Persons in the World”, but these are problems that our small country can fix if we apply ourselves honestly and diligently.

This blessed Jamaica would be so very rich, were it not for the “Big G” – the raw greed for money and power that is driving us to ignore the very basic needs of our humble, trusting Jamaicans. One of Stephen Covey's Seven Habits of Highly Effective People is “First Things First”. A hard-working Jamaican entrepreneur said he could not believe that his taxes were going into so many vain projects while farmers had such horrible roads to drive on, and people were still carrying water on their heads. “Imagine how desperately we need good schools,” he opined. “And the Trelawny Stadium is sitting there empty!”

A Jamaican couple abroad wrote me about the difficulty they are encountering in adopting a baby here. I would like to refer the authorities to a fast-track adoption process created by Melanie Scheetz, executive director of the Foster and Adoptive Care Coalition in St Louis, Missouri – read about them at She got the idea from watching the Extreme Makeover programme for HGTV, where a large group of people literally transformed a home in 24 hours. “Why can't we do that too in finding homes for kids?” she asked herself, and decided to action the idea by pulling together a focused, professional team who would ensure that every step was expedited.

Unlike Ms Scheetz, we bombard the talk shows with questions about why certain things are not done, but do not turn our minds to taking the action to getting them done. I know I knock politicians pretty hard, but there are well-educated, well-off Jamaicans who can do much more for their country. It is enlightened self-interest to contribute to scholarship funds, to support training, to provide employment. We applaud the PSOJ's recently announced programme to promote job creation for our young people and to make them more employable.

There are several opportunities staring us in the face. Take this glut of vegetables in St Elizabeth. HEART training schools could be sourcing equipment to transform those beautiful tomatoes into salsa, sauces and juices and those fine carrots into other products. Householders who are constantly complaining about their supermarket bills could be buying these $20 per pound carrots and freezing them to last through the next bounce in prices. Our last mango season saw the bounty of fruit left to rot on the ground, while hotels were serving imported Haagen Daz mango sorbet. We delighted visiting relatives this Christmas with mango sorbet made months ago from some “common” mangoes, and kept in the freezer for our “rainy day”.

The best thing about the latest international news is that Jamaica is not a part of those scary headlines. Let us take that as our cue to make this little piece of paradise safer and more productive.

Leila Thomas
The late Jamaica Library Service pioneer Leila Thomas deserves all the kudos she has been getting, even if somewhat belated. Alpha alumnae are proud to claim her as ours, nurtured with a passion for service by our beloved Sisters of Mercy. The brilliant and generous Leila Thomas was honoured as an Alpha Academy Woman of Excellence several years ago. On your next visit to the library, spare a thought for the lady whose vision and hard work made books accessible and the library experience pleasant for generations of Jamaicans past and to come.

Danny Buchanan

Danny Buchanan was not amused when he heard me planning an event and suggesting that no politicians be invited. He proceeded to explain that in his constituency, when no one else could be found in a crisis, he was available, day or night. He described how he pounded the pavement to get services from various agencies for his constituents and how his entire family had to get involved. As a member of the Electoral Advisory Committee, he participated actively in the process of electoral reform, which would herald a new day for our democratic system. William Chin See who was then chairman of the EAC said, “Danny argued hard but he never held a grudge. He certainly made his mark.” Ah yes, after that incident when he dressed me down properly, he was as cordial as ever. He served Jamaica well. Rest in Peace, Danny Buchanan.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

AFJ/Cobb Family Lecture Wed 26 January

This message is from Angella Harvey, Cultural Affairs Specialist, U.S. Embassy/Kingston

Subject: The American Friends of Jamaica/Cobb Family Lecture Series, in association with UWI Mona, the Jamaica Fulbright-Humphrey Alumni Assn. (JFHAA) & PAS/U.S. Embassy

Dear friends:

I am extending an invitation to you to attend
The American Friends of Jamaica (AFJ)/Cobb Family Lecture Series on Thursday, January 27 at 5:30 p.m. at the Undercroft of the Senate Building on the campus of the University of the West Indies (UWI) Mona Campus.
This annual event is being held in association with UWI, the Jamaica Fulbright-Humphrey Alumni Association (JFHAA) and the Public Affairs Section of the U.S. Embassy in Kingston.

This lecture will be presented by Jamaican Humphrey Fellow Dr. Wendel Abel, Department of Community Health and Psychiatry at UWI Mona.  


Ganja: Legalize or Not Legalize? 

Sent from my BlackBerry® device from Digicel