Ira Mathur

Love the Dark Days, the debut book from India-born Trinidadian writer Ira Mathur.

Love the Dark Days (Peepal Tree Press), the debut book from India-born Trinidadian writer Ira Mathur, weaves a complex story of family, class, identity, belonging, and writerly ambition, ran­ging from India to Britain to the Caribbean.

Presented as a memoir but drawing on the techniques of fiction, the book describes a decades-long attempt by the narrator, nicknamed Poppet, to come to terms with herself and her adopted home, Trinidad, while negotiating the intricate anxieties of her hybrid family.

Interlaced through the main narrative is a series of chapters follow­ing Poppet as she visits the late Nobel laureate Derek Walcott in St Lucia—offering a double portrait of the elder writer as sacred monster, and the younger grappling with the confidence to lay herself bare on the page.

Where Dogs Bark with Their Tails (Farrar, Straus and Giroux), the award-winning debut novel by Guadeloupean-French Estelle-Sarah Brulle (translated by Julia Grawemeyer) moves between the rural countryside of Guadeloupe, the colonial city of Pointe-à-Pitre, and metropolitan France, unravelling an epic family story centred on the character of Aunt Antoine. The legacies of colonialism, forbidden love across boundaries of race and class, and the power of stories to “reconcile past, present, and future” are at the heart of this vivid narrative.

Border Zone (Bloodaxe Books), the new poetry collection by Guyana-born John Agard, explores historic and present-day transatlantic connections between the Caribbean and Britain through diverse forms: a narrative poem of romance, sonnets in the voice of the restless 18th-century rogue Casanova, calypso poems, and even a sequence of gardening poems set during the Covid-19 lockdown.

Selected Poems (Pen­guin) by Linton Kwesi Johnson is a new, expanded edition of an essential text, offering a four-decade survey of the groundbreaking work of the Jamaica-born, Britain-based poet. Early classics like the timeless “Inglan Is a Bitch” rub shoulders with new work from the past decade, while an introduction by journalist Gary Younge explains how LKJ’s “electrifying fusion of oral verse, Jamaican speech, radical politics, and reggae rhythms” has influenced poets, musicians, and activists since the 1970s.

Claude McKay: The Making of a Black Bolshevik (Columbia University Press), a new study by historian Winston James, focuses on the political life of the renowned Jamaican writer and activist—“a central figure in Caribbe­an literature, the Harlem Renaissance, and the Black radical tradition”. James describes how McKay’s Jamaican upbringing, followed by his early experience of racism in the United States and his contact with figures like Marcus Garvey, shaped his political consciousness, and drew him eventually to revolutionary socialism.

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A quick lyrical perspective change and a couple recording sessions later and the Tobago-born singer added another Christmas classic to her seasonal collection.

“I am very excited about Christmas this year,” she continued.

“The season started early for me, I guess this is due in part to persons wanting to quickly recapture that joyful spirit and that loss of business. I have not fully let my guard down regarding protecting myself, but I am certainly anxious and grateful to finally perform before live audiences.”

TRINIDADIAN arts and culture curator and creative producer Donnamarie Baptiste is making her mark as a curator who is shaping the contemporary art of the African diaspora. Her latest work with the Miami Museum of Contemporary Art of the African Diaspora (Miami MoCAAD) is an interactive public art experience that pays homage to the rich history of the International Longshoremen Association (ILA) in Overtown in the City of Miami.

The mural which was painted by Reginald O’Neal is on the side of the Union Hall building owned by the predominantly black International Longshoremen Association’s local chapter 1416 in Overtown.

NAOMI Garcia is unlike any other athlete you’ve ever met. She recently won the 2022 Trinidad and Tobago Karting Association Sportsman Championship and also took home the 2022 FiA Caribbean Junior Karting Under-14 Championship trophy in Barbados. At both events, she was the only female kart driver. Naomi has also been nominated by the TTASA (Trinidad and Tobago Automobile Sports Association) for the 2022 FCB Sports Award in the female junior automotive sports category.

A hearty supply of rum, proper time-of-day greetings and a militant approach to driving are the key elements for survival in T&T, says US-based comedian Cindy-Ann Boisson.

Boisson held up a warped fun house mirror to a fully engaged audience, during her “PHEW: Mauvais Langue” comedy showcase, last Sunday, at Central Bank Auditorium, Port of Spain. Her sharp, thoughtful wit and dry, insightful cynicism provided a hilarious exaggerated reflection of what it means to be Trinidadian in 2022.

Veteran bandleader Rosalind Gabriel, who received an honorary degree of Doctor of Letters (DLitt) from The University of the West Indies (The UWI), St Augustine campus, for her decades-long contributions to culture, will be producing National Treasures for Carnival 2023. The children’s band is done in collaboration with First Citizens’ Bank (FCB). Gabriel was also president of the Trinidad and Tobago Carnival Bands Association (TTCBA), with responsibility for adult presentations.

A WELCOME rooftop cocktail reception was held to host the visit of the Working Party of Latin America and the Caribbean of the Council of the European Union (COLAC) at the Penthouse as part of an historic multi-country fact-finding tour to the English-speaking Caribbean region by Team Europe.

The Team Europe approach, adopted by the EU and its member states in 2020, represents a commitment to delivering greater impact through joint, coordinated and effective European development cooperation.

The visit to Trinidad and Tobago signals a desire for increasing engagement with this country and the wider English-speaking Caribbean region.