The Books of My Numberless Dreams

Sunday Salon: Wo Wow

Posted on: April 6, 2008

It’s a beautiful Sunday spring morning here which I enjoyed earlier in open-toed shoes even though my toes curled a little at 10°C. Life was made better by the internet re-launch of First Magazine a Jamaican publication that defies easy categorisation. Because it isn’t trying to be anything else but excellent you get an attention-grabbing mixture of literature, photography and journalism that encompass a variety of styles: hard-edged photojournalism, Paris-Vogue-tacky editorials, better-than-New Yorkershort stories (I know this because my eyelids didn’t start to droop after the first paragraph), on-the-spot interviews of “regular” Jamaicans, history articles, –whether it’s about controversial African-American boxers or older, dapper Jamaicans posing with their vintage vehicle (reminded me a bit of Sartorialist shots) –, music, and who knows what the contributors will come up with next. Jamaica — the good, bad and ugly — is all there open to censor, appreciation, critique, laughter; there’s a strange dissonance that’s created when you move from pictures of a murder scene to a glam shot of Miss Jamaica (which reminded me of Marlon James’ The Miss Jamaica Mulatto Factory). But it’s working for me.

The only thing the staff needs to do is get those older issues out in PDF! I could only make it through two of those slideshows, eyes straining at the 1 point, blurred font before I gave up.


Many bloggers have noted that it’s Poetry Month in Canada & the USA. Kate is hosting a Modest Poetry Challenge: all you have to do is write a critical post on a poem, not just the poem itself, in order to encourage us to develop the skills and vocabulary for a task that most of us avoid because we don’t feel confident enough to do so. I’m not officially joining the challenge but I do intend to do more posts on Paradise Lost. Reading Lorna Goodison’s memoir on her mother put me in a Caribbean frame of mind so I ended up picking up Derek Walcott’s Sea Grapes one of his 70s collections. I studied him for A-levels but never really got him — the teacher constantly bleated about his “ambivalence” towards the two apposite cultures he inherited and then got annoyed when we bleated the same thing back to her — and I’ve become less enchanted with “Collected” editions, more interested in reading single titles from beginning to end and get a feel for the product, the way I do with fiction.

Sunday Salon


8 Responses to "Sunday Salon: Wo Wow"

no worries. PDFs will follow

Have you noticed that single poetry titles are getting harder and harder to find in the face of the various collections? I guess that I kind of understand it from the publisher’s perspective, but I think it shows precious little respect for a book of poetry as a book. Which they are.

Tobias good to know, I’ll try to be patient, especially since you found this post about as soon as I posted it.

frumiousb for most poets it seems as if once a “definitive” collected collection is published all single titles are allowed to go out of print and fit to ignore. I too can understand the publisher’s position, but you’re right, it does show little respect for past efforts. I’m also curious as to how many of these “Collected” editions actually get read. Especially for poets like Ted Hughes — that sucker is over 1000 pages, ffs. Not too, too bad if it’s fiction because of the implied continuity but for an entity that’s already fragmented, “selected” my approach switches automatically.

Poetry week reminds me that off-late, I have come to realize that authors and poets of the 20th century had a far greater imagination than those of the twenty-first. Some of the greatest writers of that era for me are JRR Tolkien, who wrote the spell-binding and valiant series of fantasy books called Lord of the Rings, which he started conceptualizing in 1917, and CS Lewis who created a whole new world with his series- The Chronicles of Narnia in the years 1949-1953.

Editor: No, what it probably reminded you of was spam, which you had the nerve to put on my site. I’ve deleted the offensive sections. Please, don’t sell your wares here. Thank you.

My wife and I took our honeymoon in St. Lucia, and Derek Walcott is really (and rightfully so) woven into the culture down there.


Imani: How are you? I am sorry I haven’t visited in a while… I did get your message about my post (I feel honored). I am going to China from the 16th to the 27th. I’ll be taking more books than clothes 🙂 I’ll also be Moleskining my way from Beijing to Shanghai. 🙂 “See” you when I get back!!! JCR

Armand really? I went there when I was a teenager and admit that I don’t remember much about it besides the *ahem* generous portion of handsome men which blessed the island.

JCR I’m good, thanks for asking, and no need to apologise for not visiting. I’m used to it. 😉 Glad you got my message, you deserve it! Hope you have a great time in China! Can’t wait to read your thoughts (and see your pictures) about it when you get back

I wish I read more poetry, but don’t. Even hubby is finding it hard to find time…isn’t that ashame!

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