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DUCATION & ADVOCACY

DEFACED HERITAGE TOMBSTONE 

(from left) LiTTscapes author and heritage consultant Dr Kris Rampersad; head of the Historical Restoration Unit Rawle Mitchell; historian/author Michael Anthony, sketch artist Anthony Timothy and Gia Gaspard Taylor of the Rural Women's Network during the Inaugural LiTTour from Port of Spain through Sangre Gande to Mayaro which found the historic Ganteaume tomb in South Trinidad representing early colonial, Spanish, French and British settlment and lineage of several influential T&T families defaced. Photo by Kriston Chen courtesy LiTTours (c) Kris Rampersad 2012
The Inaugural LiTTour from Port of Spain through Sangre Gande to Mayaro which found the historic Ganteaume tomb in South Trinidad representing early colonial, Spanish, French and British settlement and lineage of several influential T&T families defaced. Photo by Kriston Chen courtesy LiTTours (c) Kris Rampersad 2012

The historic Ganteaume tomb in South Trinidad representing early colonial, Spanish, French and British settlment and lineage of several influential T&T families defaced. Photo by Kriston Chen coutesy LiTTours (c) KRis Rampersad 2012
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First Lady Dr Jean Ramjohn Richards and author Dr Kris Rampersad look at a display of authors of Trinidad and Tobago as represented in the bibliography of LiTTscapes - Landscapes of Fiction from Trinidad and Tobago by Kris Rampersad with designs and layout by Sonja Wong

First Lady of Trinidad and Tobago Dr Jean Ramjohn- Richards right, chats with Dr Kris Rampersad at LiTTribute to the Republic at Knowsley Building, Queen's Park East, PHOTO: NICOLE DRAYTON

Synopsis of Reviews and media for LiTTscapes - LAndscapes of Fiction from Trinidad and Tobago by Kris Rampersad with designs and layout by Sonja Wong
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Email: krislit2@gmail.com 
subject line  "Littscapes"


LITTSCAPES - REVIEWS AND MEDIA

http://www.guardian.co.tt/lifestyle/2012-08-12/mapping-literary-imagination



Mapping the literary imagination

Published: 
Sunday, August 12, 2012
                                    

 



























Little, if any, of local landscape and culture is omitted from Kris Rampersad’s LiTTscapes: Landscapes of Fiction from Trinidad and Tobago. Building on a bibliography of more than 60 authors and 100 literary works, with nearly 300 photographs, Rampersad draws readers to the real-life landscapes, landmarks and cultural institutions that forged the literary imagination of local authors. As Rampersad describes it in the postscript, “LiTTscapes is a kind of GPS of the writer’s imagination; a map of the journey from place to page as much as it is about specifics in terms of location and experiences.” 
Rampersad bridges the gap between fiction and reality, painstakingly mapping the spaces in which characters in classic novels such as V S Naipaul’s A House for Mr Biswas and Earl Lovelace’s The Dragon Can’t Dance were imagined, and the spaces where those characters were written into existence.
 
 
However, unlike an actual atlas, LiTTscapes does not merely locate places of importance, but contextualises them for readers. Rampersad includes more than 30 pages of guidelines for LiTTours: detailed directions for walking and driving tours based on literary works. The book and the tours were launched on August 4 with a reception at Whitehall, referred to in the chapter LiTTerary Houses as the foremost of the Magnificent Seven buildings lining the Queen’s Park Savannah. Probably the most endearing aspect of LiTTscapes is the thoroughness of the text, which does not focus only on stalwarts like Nobel laureates Naipaul and Derek Walcott, but on the sometimes less well-known author. Rampersad’s section on Carnival, in the chapter FesTTscapes, certainly includes excerpts from and analysis of Lovelace’s Dragon, but for the description of the jab-jab she turns to Isaiah James Boodhoo’s Between Two Seasons. References to the fancy sailor are sourced from the short stories of Willi Chen and Seepersad Naipaul. But it is Lovelace in the final analysis who is credited with “the most passionate and intense effort at defining Carnival.”
 
 
The Dragon, one of the more abstract tour guides included in LiTTscapes, requires you to “feel Aldrick’s tallness and pride as he contemplates ‘the guts of the people’” and to “drag yourself to the corner of Calvary Hill and Observatory Street” at the end of Carnival. More concrete guides direct readers to go to Woodford Square and lean against the wall like Lavern from Lawrence Scott’s Witchbroom, followed by a walk to Our Lady of Sorrows in the Laventille Hills. Rampersad aptly characterises Laventille and the challenge it poses to authors. “The hill is a metaphor. It is the ultimate example of life, the business of living, people being that challenges many a Trinidadian writer to capture its essence... Earl Lovelace opens While Gods are Falling with a contrasting (view) of the poverty and wealth of the city, as do virtually all the writers when (contemplating) the city from the hill or the hill from the city.” Most likely this understanding of characterisation, in addition to thoroughness, is what led Rampersad to include the village shop and rumshop in the chapter on cultural institutions.
 
 
Yet, for a text attempting to make concrete some of the most notable spaces of T&T’s vast literary imagination, the accompanying photos did not seem to submerge the reader into the spaces, and a higher resolution might have helped some photos. Still, LiTTscapes successfully charters a path towards deeper understanding of not only the literary works that define us, but also the authors and their multifaceted inspiration. In the final chapter, Global MovemenTTs, Rampersad alludes to the fact that maps are not only for pinpointing your locale, but discovering how that locale relates to the rest of the country and the world. Excerpts from writers writing away from home, such as Shani Mootoo and Ramabai Espinet, demonstrate that their contribution is just as vital to the local imagination as those who remain on the island. “The Trinbagonians out of the wider diaspora of London, Toronto, the USA, India and Africa, complete and at the same time continue the circle and cycle of migrations that characterises the progress of world civilisations”. LiTTscapes is available at Metropolitan Book Suppliers.


Revolution through Reading - A Literary Journey


Address by The Author, Dr KRIS RAMPERSAD at the launch of the book LiTTScapes – Landscapes of Fiction from Trinidad and Tobago by Dr Kris Rampersad, August 4, 2012, at White Hall, 29 Maraval Road, Port of Spain


You have seen what some very amateur children from age three can do for our creative enterprises – the children of the Leaves of Life of LiTTscapes – the Landscapes of Fiction from Trinidad and Tobago. 

Given a chance, we can make every child explore and recognise and build a life around his or her creative potential – outside the classroom which we know is educating it out of them.

What you have heard about the children stories of cultures and festivals and ecology and prehistory are to come – and yes, we hope that proceeds from this one will go towards those and more reading matter for preschool to adult to complement the range of interactive events we have planned.

They form part of this vision and are being prepared in our Leaves of Life Catalogue to go public shortly with its range of children’s home grown creative reading and activities, young adult poetry and fiction, research like this one packaged for specific user communities in accessible forms, animations/yes cartoon and films that you and only a few others have been privy to so far – but first this one.

I’m not sure there’s much left for me to say except please read the book, and visit the places and show your children this island, this world that belongs to them.

The journey to here may sound, at times, like a tragedy – the computer crashes, the software seizures, the false starts, the press stalls; or maybe a comedy – well finding the humour in the moment has sometimes been the only way to keep sane; and sometimes a drama.

But in truth and in fact, it has been a romance … a life long love affair to rival all love affairs, with reading, with writing, with our writers and writers in general, and with Trinidad and Tobago.

One memory emerges from the past. It is the twilight zone - between writing the common entrance examination and awaiting the results – and not much older than the children of LiTTscapes here. I am in front of a wooden bookshelf hanging above the bed. I have gone through the bookshelf that housed the textbooks of my nine elder siblings – geography, history, chemistry, agriculture literature – textbooks all because other reading material would be a luxury my farming parents could ill afford. I have read them all and am jumping up and down on the bed under the bookshelf in frustration. What does one do with all this time – and two months of vacation at age eleven can seem like a lot of time – not many books, little else to do.

The prospect of picking worms off the ground, adding them to hooks strung on thread and throwing them into the nearby pond – which my younger brother and nephew were doing - was not very attractive – though in literature is appears to be so exotic an activity.

“Storybooks” was taboo in the house, but literature books were not. Along with the history of the people who came which were in my sister’s book bag, and agriscience texts that many years later, I found out were written by my uncle – I was in awe – really, someone in my family had written and printed a book and it was in schools? It could be done.

I had read from my sisters’ schoolbags – Michael Anthony’s Cricket in the Road and heard the cross talk of us village children playing cricket in someone’s yard; Samuel Selvon’s Ways of Sunlight lent a different texture to light in the cane fields and vegetable garden my parents insisted we help out in.

The first thing to do when I had a chance to walk the short distant from the post common entrance school was to detour from catching the taxi home and join the Princes Town library.

It opened up a whole new world and a new world of the historical novel, the romance history, peoples and places I could not even imagine in my village upbringing. It was only a matter of time before I had covered most of the material on its shelves.

Compare that – to the world of a virtual unlimited access to knowledge in which we now function - what a long way we have come in a short decade - or two…

The books were only a forerunner to participate more fully in that world and - like the first writers, feeling the pull and call of what’s beyond the frontiers of our imagination - going there too and then writing about that to – and so to be an active participant in the evolving global village.

If I may recall, my first journey outside of Trinidad and Tobago – to take up a one month fellowship through the government of Japan and striking up a conversation with the stranger sitting in the plane seat next to me who when he heard I was a journalist, leaned over, opened a magazine he was reading and by some tremendous coincidence it happened to be a quote that read:

Writing is like Prostitution

First you do it for the love of it

Then you do it for a few friends

And then you do it for the money.


I confess that while I have been trying to do it for the latter and trying to cull an environment where other writers and creators, like myself, can also confidently do it for the money, it has often turned out to be more for peanuts, because for writers, and many of the creators, the first two – the love of it, and for a few friends and demanding and voracious readers like these young ones here, always take precedence and it is indeed they who have been pressuring me to put the stories I write in a book, because they keep them in a folder that seems like a book but not as attractive as the packed seven shelves of his own fully illustrated, hard cover bound reading matter has already accumulated.

There is a common thread that comes through starkly and poignantly through all the writings represented in this book – and which this book does not really capture (there I go, the eternal critic, critiquing my own work even, so I do not reserve that critical mind and tongue only for politicians, believe me).

That thread is a sense of sterility of the literary environment in which our writers believe they function and from which many of them flee - to write from more literate friendly and more receptive societies and that in itself makes almost everything written by our expatriate writers an indictment on Trinidad Tobago. Two exceptions to those who have left to write are before us Michael Anthony and Earl Lovelace who have stayed here and in itself takes a lot of courage and for that I have asked that they be my special guest here today.

Yes, the environment has evolved and it is changing, indeed, since the only outlet for our earliest men and women of letters were through personal letters to family and friends, and later through letters to the editors of newspapers or at best as a writer for a newspaper which was a springboard for several of our early writers – the subject of my first book, Finding a Place.

Even the newspapers only grudgingly allowing space for creative writing – well-documented in fact and in fiction – the most famous of which is of course, Mr Biswas  - the journalist Seepersad Naipaul of VS’ Magnum Opus, A House for Mr Biswas; but also in the writings of Derek Walcott, Earl Lovelace, CLR James all of whom were a part of that environment.

I do not use the example of the newspapers because of a pet peeve, but as an example – as an industry that relies on and whose base raw materials are writings to highlight the degree of disconnection the sectors of society have with the processes of its own development. Writings are the basic raw materials by which all sectors must function – and it now has been endowed with that glamorous title of The Knowledge Economy.

But we continue to be consumers of the processes rather than producers – think of our television stations – how many of them now, at last count about nine - dishing out cheaply bought sitcoms and imported programmes, or drifting into really cheap, cheap, cheap talk at the expense of culling an environment and promoting activities that can impact the level of discourse in the society, of creative expression, and by extension our development.

There are countless examples of a similar kind of disconnect in all other sectors – agriculture and processing for instance – what CLR James and Lloyd Best and Eric Williams and Naipaul and Walcott and Lovelace couch within the colonial system that have made us consumers rather than producers.

Except, when it come to writings, we seem to be more producers rather than consumers.

This effort, LiTTscapes – Landscapes of Fiction from Trinidad and Tobago which started out to be just an attempt at a creative capture of the fictional imagination that came out of Trinidad and Tobago. Now, even before birth, it is assuming larger-than-life dimensions that is awesome and awe-inspiring, and I am humbled by that.

When I pitched this – the book - to Sonja Wong who initially came on board as the graphic designer, but has evolved into so much more – as a mother of three very creatively talented children – two of whom you have heard today – the third, one of our most promising poets, will be among an open house to showcase the work of young writers we hope to hold here, at the White Hall, as one of the activities planned for this period of celebrations. Sonja and her family have supported and shared and added to that vision of where this can go, and shared all the numerous sleepless nights too - as so many of you have since and the parents who leant their children to today’s event, at such short notice and going beyond the call of parental duty – Denise and Mr Ali; Mr and Mrs Newton, the Rajcoomars; my sister in law, Radha; niece Sunita – because they recognise that rather than just lament about an ineffective education system that is actually stifling and stamping out the creativity and talent among us – as we have been doing for decades – take Sparrow’s Dan is the Man, for instance that tells of how a formal education system borrowed from elsewhere can never speak to our needs or who we are as a people. So rather than just lament and throw picong, we are trying to actually do something about it – to effect the kind of change and create the kind of society we want this to be.

The members of my team have taken this up as a personal responsibility, in the awareness that change can only start with oneself – not in waiting for someone else to set the ball rolling – and then hope that fate shines on us – so while the book has been in the making for the greater part of a decade – and we refused to compromise its vision by printing a condensed version or a black and white version – yes, the chief factor was costs – when Dr Tewarie and his interministerial committee on the 50th anniversary celebrations were looking for something that celebrates the essence of us as part of its outputs, we could have said, ‘here, we have something, and now it was not just a book; we had a whole vision, a master plan, a business plan, a prototype of a network that will incorporate all of us working together, all sectors – government, private sector, creators, NGOS and communities – parents and childen – in a way that all feel included, not excluded and so we start addressing the social ennui, the boredom, the disconnect, the discontent.    

To redress this sense that did not start with independence; it has been cultivated from the time the first Europeans landed here and began massacring the native peoples – and even with those who landed feeling like rejects from Europe that has made this into a kind of hostile environment where we view each other with suspicion and everyone seems to be wlking around with a sense of exclusion, alienation and disempowerment that is gripping not just writers but so many of our people, even the ones whom we think have power.

And hence we present LiTTscapes, to celebrate writers and ourselves and too,  and LiTTours – the journeys through the landscapes of Trinidad and Tobago where we meet and greet and explore for ourselves too – and participate, become a part of, claim, belong!

Thus continues this journey to self hood which our writers have been trying to carve for us, by picking at sometimes our ugliest features and holding them up to scrutiny so intense that we wince.

We all seem to be throwing up our hands at what we call the crime situation – but what are we really doing about. The politicians feel disempowered; the policemen feel disempowered, the local authorities feel disempowered which give criminals the ammunition to disempower our people.

Reclaiming ourselves can also reclaim our land from the criminals. I have seen how this has energised young people who would otherwise be thought of as lazy, listless, witless and yes, wotless – kept them focused and driven and that is a solution to crime. Here’s a resolution. Let’s start the revolution!

From here begins a journey  - over this jubilee month and beyond.

We will show how education does not only happen in a classroom nor does it stop at the university. We will engage children and adults, readers and writers, creators and consumers and through Leaves of Life (LOL) – a kind of supportive administrative umbrella because we envision that such a stimulus needs form and structure and finance along with passion and ideas and energy.


Look at what we have done on an almost zero budget! Think of what we can do with the education budget, the security and crime prevention budget, the infrastructure and public utilities budget, the environment, the agriculture and food security budgets, the transport and communications and information and culture and youth and women and community and local government budgets.

We need each other to do it.

We as citizens who pass by the Magnificent Seven everyday; we have even have stopped noticing them, or their magnificence, because they conjure up only a lament – not just the painful past of colonialism, but the sad testimony of the state – or lack thereof, of our development; to disguise our pain that we have allowed them to deteriorate into oblivion. But are we not all responsible in some way for this – it’s not just someone elses’ fault. It has to start with what am I not doing?  

So Minister Emmanuel George’s enthusiastic support when I presented him with the notion of using this building; of giving me a chance; giving us a chance to show what can be done if we open up these buildings to the public to capture the creative synergies they can exude, so our people can appreciate them as part of the public patrimony; as part of the inheritance of the blood, sweat and tears of history, and of our spirit of survivalism that neither slavery nor indentureship nor alien rule could defeat. What little tweaks we need towards cultivating a sense of social inclusion  and to combat the anomie – with animae; to animate ourselves and what we do.

And there is no dollar value to that … or there could be, if you weigh it against the costs of war and strife and instability.

The Minister of Transport agreed to allow us use of a PTSC bus today for the inaugural tour but we are to show dollars and cents of continuation; and a request for use of the ferry which sits idle on weekends is on the brink of being shelved because, I am told, just running it as it is, it is already heavily subsidised.

Then, May I suggest, let us make that subsidisation have some other value – social value – the value of knowledge, of creative stimulus, of leisure and entertainment activity that can – and I say that with much confidence because I have seen it in the young people around me – that can provide an alternative to lives of crime. Weigh the dollars and sense of that!.

We need to inject some creative vision into the national balance sheet; weigh in the social factors – I am sure you will find it worth your while. So I retable to this the 2012 -2013 budget a request to providethe facilitationthat can only come from Government and we will do our part as creators and in engaging the public sectors and NGOs and communities. To in the first instance allow us the use of the Port of Spain to San Fernando Ferry to present Trinidad and Tobago from a different perspective. We promise that the results will be a generation of youngsters with a different outlook on their past, their present and their future.

We appeal to you to look at the larger picture, to factor in the social balance sheet and I can pull together a team of experts who can show you how the social picture can add up to the numbers you are looking for. Rethink our approach to heritage – a heritage-driven economy is one where all find a place and has a sense of a share of the national pie because it speaks to selfhood.

Thanks to Dr Tewarie and his interministerial committee for immediately recognising the vision and the potential of this; and we hope he will share with his team the interconnectedness that is required if it is to succeed – the public sector, yes, but the private and NGO and community sectors too.  

Some you must have seen, read, heard, my sometimes-rejoiner to the cliché that came out of the poem by Shakespeare’s contemporary John Donne that No Man Is An Island - but Woman Is.New Bok LiTTscapes now in stores

In truth and in fact, we cannot be an island when we contain the cultures and the creative capacity of all the continents of the world. 

 We are not an island – we need each other. We will be reaching our arms out to all departments of government – law, education, utilities, tourism, culture, education to do what needs be done to build the national infrastructure if we are to accommodate the international audience – the tourists and returning citizens and others.

We have also asked that our Government and Minister of Finance, Foreign Affairs, and Trade and Investments address the prohibitive tax regime that immediately makes us uncompetitive in the much touted e-books market – a 30 percent tax imposed by the US government on ebooks sales after the 50 percent demanded of Amazon.

 That, among other tweaks and creation of an enabling environment by Goernment that continue to make us unable to compete in the global market place; and investment by the corporate sector that can help springboard the range of activities and actions we have planned, and we have a business plan developed in conjunction with some of the best in the business in T&T.

And there is something else we need to do. Get with the times…. It does not take 3 years to get a plan moving, the wheels of the world are now revolving around microseconds – if we cannot quicken our pace to match that, and I say to match that, to be in the moment as is demanded of us, then we are already in a losing game. It cannot take months and months of pounding and pounding on one door to get action. That is a thing of the past.

All of us, all of us in this room, and all of us outside, are what it will take for this revolution to succeed. We need to not just look for other ways to do it – to do education, to do leisure, to do finance and planning, and policy making, and crime fighting and road laying – in new ways.

It is no longer my book, or this project by Sonja and I; or Sonja and these few parents and children, and writers and creators and conservationists and I - this is a revolution for all of us.

Let us begin it, by reading, and by writing the world as we want it to be. And that is the sum total of LiTTscapes – the Landscapes of our Fiction from our imagination, the islands of Trinidad and Tobago.

I thank you.




 

LAUNCH OF LITTSCAPES

ADDRESS BY

SENATOR DR. BHOENDRADATT TEWARIE

Minister of Planning and Sustainable Development

Chairman 50TH Anniversary Of

Independence Interministerial Committee

Dr. Kris Rampersad, Friends and Associates

Special Jubilee Commemorative Book Launch of LiTTscapes

August 4, 2012

5:00pm

50th logo.JPGWhite Hall, Queen’s Park Savannah West


Ÿ     Cabinet Colleagues

Ÿ     Members of the Diplomatic Corp

o   High Commissioner to India

o   High Commissioner to Canada

Ÿ     Permanent Secretaries

Ÿ     Head of UNDP (Acting) – Harry Morand

Ÿ     Guests of Honour

o   Michael Antony

o   Earl Lovelace

Ÿ     All other distinguished guests

Ÿ     Ladies and Gentlemen

This book derives out of the literature of Trinidad and Tobago and the inspiration that our land, our people, our culture and our heritage have provided to our writers.  What has inspired them and what has given context to the work of writers of Trinidad and Tobago have in turn inspired this book which is a valuable addition to our literature and meaningful guide to our literature and our literary landscape.  This is a book worth reading.  It is a book worth having.This book can be a stimulus to readers and reading, an encouragement to literacy and literacy development, to empowerment of our people and our culture and can facilitate business and employment.

It also demonstrates how one publication can make a big difference to the publishing industry and be a bridge to other sectors of the creative economy and the wider economy as well.  One book such as this one can involve 100 people in various activities – printing, research, writing, photography, design, marketing, administration, quality control, copy editing, proof reading, IT services, legal/copyright, advisory services.

Event surrounding the launch – art, craft, banners, t-shirt, drama, staging, organizing, managing, light sound cameras, music, after event cleaning and other requirements.

Linkages – music, film, animation, design, tourism, education, community development, product development related to tourism, tours, knowledge services.

The people of this country have not yet begun to appreciate the extent to which our culture, our heritage and our creative products are linked to the creation of a knowledge economy to the expansion of dimensions of the services sector, to economic diversification and to mind intensive and labour intensive industries that are homegrown and have international appeal and global interest.’ 

The Government of Trinidad and Tobago is happy to support the publication of this book LiTTscapes – focused on landscapes of fiction in Trinidad and Tobago as a book worthy of publication at time of celebration of our 50th Anniversary of Independence.

The Government of Trinidad and Tobago has supported two other publications – one by Hansib covering the evolution of our country over the last fifty years and looking to the future and the other by First Magazine which takes a look at life, culture and development in Trinidad and Tobago today.  The Government also supported the Bocas Literary Festival. 

We are pleased to be associated with these publications and we are pleased with the publication of LiTTscapes which is a totally local effort from start to finish.

LiTTscapes is a wonderful book to introduce young people to literature and to help them to discover their country.  It is also a great introduction of Trinidad and Tobago and our literary output and cultural heritage to the rest of the world.  There is a lot of potential in this little book.

I am sorry that I was not able to make the literary this afternoon.  But given the nature of this book literary tours are a natural and I am sure that several tours will be crafted with positive impact.

The celebration of fifty years of Independence has been a good opportunity for reflection and celebration of ourselves and a good opportunity too to think about our future and prospects for that future.

We have created so much in this country.  Not just calypso and chutney and soca; not just steelpan and steel orchestras and great athletes, all of which we continue to share with the world; but we have also given the world great writers, thinkers, intellectuals and creative artists.

So many of you are present here today and so many of our creative citizens are living abroad.  It is wonderful to be launching a book which is derived from what so many have created and which is likely to be stimulus to other imaginative possibilities.

We must begin to truly cherish who we are and what we have been able to create.  We must begin to believe more deeply in our people and to have stronger faith in what we can do in the future.  We must learn to respect ourselves and each other in a way that strengthens our dignity as a people and we must develop the bigheartedness to celebrate the achievements and victories of others and cultivate the humility to share our own achievements and triumphs.

Let us together celebrate this effort of Dr. Kris Rampersad and the publication of LiTTscapes.  It celebrates our literary genius and our great country, which in spite of our perpetual complaints, is a source of inspiration to all of us.


http://www.trinidadexpress.com/featured-news/A_LiTTribute_to_the_Republic_-170793616.html

LOOKING AT DISPLAYS: Dr Jean Ramjohn Richards and Dr Kris Rampersad look at display of books by T&T authors from the bibliography of LiTTscapes — Landscapes of Fiction from Trinidad and Tobago, laid out at Knowsley in Port of Spain for the LiTTribute to the Republic on Saturday. —Photos: Kenrick Ramjit

GALLERY

A LiTTribute to the Republic

By Essiba Small essiba.small@gmail.com   

Story Created: Sep 21, 2012 at 11:03 PM ECT

Story Updated: Sep 21, 2012 at 11:03 PM ECT 

Dr Jean Ramjohn Richards believes that it is the duty of citizens to preserve this country's historic buildings, lest we become "poor imitations of foreign places, while features of our history crumble around us". Occasion was the LiTTribute to the Republic Tea with the wife of President George Maxwell Richards held last Saturday at Knowsley, Queen's Park West.

The event, hosted by author Kris Rampersad, under the patronage of Richards, was an evening of readings and performances inspired by Rampersad's recently released LiTTscapes, a book that maps the living experiences of famous characters in fiction from Trinidad and Tobago.

In her appraisal of LiTTscapes, national poet laureate Eintou Pearl Springer said our literature is not merely confined to pages in books, but to our kaiso, our pichakaree, chutney, stick fight lavways, our Traditional Mas speeches, midnight robber, pierrot, Black Indian, warao; our great variety of drum beats, folk songs, chants.

She said she has been using our literature, the poetry, plays storytelling, music, to impact and refashion negative behaviours since the mid 80s in the UK, the US and other Caribbean islands.

"I have seen positive improvements in grades, sense of self, values. Our curricula still entrench the notion of our invisibility in our own nation space.

"Most of it and certainly the manner of teaching bear doubtful relevance to the needs of our children and youth. We are cursed with leadership in many facets of this society which is dangerously culturally illiterate. As we celebrate our jubilee year we have not properly celebrated our writers, our musicians, our artistes, the poetry of our patriotic calypsoes, our literature is what records, carries the wisdom of our ancestors, the pains of the then and now and possibilities for the future.

"Our literatures reflect and can reshape the soul of the nation. Surely, we have produced more than Machel Montano, wonderful as he may be. How can we as a nation be satisfied with the crass mediocrity?"

Richards, in her celebration of LiTTscapes, said much of who and what we are is lying dormant or tucked away in the memories of some of the nation's elders.

"The files containing so much that is important to our future development must be dusted off and become an effective instrument for shaping a better time and a better place."

LiTTscapes, she said, provides a "most useful beachhead for stirring or buttressing a programme of self-discovery, local and foreign tourism and entrepreneurship, among a number of other avenues for sustainable development in our country."

Guests included Works Minister Emmanuel George, Richards' daughter Maxine Richards and author/historian Michael Anthony.

Entertainment was provided by the Chibale Drumming Ensemble made up of Springer's grandchildren including Ajani and Shomari Healy, Shanaya Springer and five- year-old Ire Charles — a little boy with a big voice, Andre Mangatal accompanied by Fitzroy Inniss who performed Anthony's love song "Rose of Mayaro", much to the writer's delight.

Five-year-old Saiesh Rampersad, in his role of the Mystic Masseur introduced his "aunty Kris" to the podium.

Rampersad said she was inspired to host the literary evening by the people, the recent celebration of Independence and the upcoming Republic Day anniversary "and all the other preceding anniversaries of us being here and making this land home".

"It was also a literary tribute — to reclaim and refocus attention on the amazing mass of expression — oral and written — and the connections between them.

"We have in many ways come to speak with the same voice as citizens of Trinidad and Tobago though often we are so absorbed with our own little corner. With jostling for space, that we do not seem to hear that our neighbour is saying the same thing."

Her book, excerpts of which were read at the tea party, is merely an accessory she said, "to encourage readings, to encourage appreciation of local literature, to promote national self-appreciation, to help us re-envision who we are, and to emphasis the connections between us".

Appraisal of LiTTscapes – Landscapes of Fiction from Trinidad and Tobago

by Pearl Eintou Springer, National Poet Laureate at LiTTribute to the Republic,

September 5, 2012.

 

 

 

In fevered rush

To share

I thrust

A flood of words

At closed unwilling minds

With joy

Watch those minds

Yield

Slowly,

Hesistantly

Then,

With warm rush

of response

sweetened

my unaccustomed pleasure

come back

for more and more

Awesome power

gives shape

to minds,

staunches thirst

with words

that walk

the perched words

of ignorance

 

These words were written by me as a young poet/librarian, in my wish to express the urgency and anxiety I felt about sharing my love of my national literary patrimony; and, my feeling that a critical element of national development and a sense of patriotism, was/is a national involvement with, and love for this patrimony.

 

Let us explore the functions of a people’s literature and why it should be celebrated. I will look at them from the point of my own experiences.

 

From the age of eight I was a prodigious reader of European fiction.  I was steeped in the writings of Dickens, Dostoevsky, Zola, Shute, Shakespeare, Baldwin, Hardy, the Lake poets.  Consequently, in my dreams, my blackness disappeared, and I was white with flaxen curls, flowing behind me as I ran through fields of daises and buttercups – in full colour.  On my first visit to England, I made sure to make the mandatory literary pilgrimage of the anglophonic bibliopile by visiting Holmes at Baker St, the Lake District; Stratford – Bronte House.  I could almost hear Heathcliff turn in his grave and steups at this little black girl calling his name as I walked the Yorkshire moors.  We all know the wonderful – Wuthering Heights. 

 

 

 

My love affair with my literature began at St. George’s College, where Gloria Valere, the daughter of the great Lord Constantine introduced me to Colour Bar, (one of his books).  This was my first introduction to the notions of race and colour that I was living, experiencing.  It was to elucidate for me, the alieness from self engendered both in what I was the reading and the societal that I was living. Aubrey Garcia introduced me to Caribbean History.  I met, through their work, Naipaul, C.L.R. James, Selvon, all of whom I was later privileged to know personally.  So, the experience of Caribbean literature was an awakening of my self knowledge, and the erosion of the invisibility and lack of recognition that the society had given me. 

 

When I first joined the library services as a young girl of 19 (clearly many years many years ago) my color and grassroots derivatives made me unsuitable for desk work.  So, I was hidden away in the small choky room that housed the West Indian collection.  I read and read and deepened the process of getting to know me begun at St. George’s. When I worked the late shift, my only point of interaction with readers, I began to proselyte.  I tried to introduce people to Selvon, Mittelholzer, Hearn, Lamming, Carew, the poets Jagdip Maraj, Faustin Charles…these amongst many others. 

 

Many times I got negative responses “but that is bad English” they would say of Selvon’s beautiful Calypso prose when they allowed themselves to be seduced into reading our Caribbean writers there was the inevitable recognition of village, community, tanty, uncle…

 

My own experiences clearly illustrate the importance of ones literature to sense of self, to self worth, to cultural literacy; to analyzing, evaluating; to being pregnant with ideas about the inherent possibilities of shaping, reshaping our population.  For me this is not only an ideological or philosophical position, but a lived reality.  And let me here make the point, that our literature is not merely confined to pages in books, but to our kaiso, our pichikaree, chutney, stick fight lavways, our Traditional Mas speeches, midnight robber, pierrot, Black Indian, warao; our great variety of drum beats, folk songs, chants…

 

I have been using our literature, our poetry, our plays, storytelling, music, to impact and refashion negative behaviours since the mid 80s in the UK, in the USA, other Caribbean islands and at home.  I have seen positive improvements in grades, sense of self, values.

 

Our curricula still entrench the notion of our invisibility in our own nation space.  Most of it and certainly the manner of teaching bear doubtful relevance to the needs of our children and youth.  We are cursed with leadership in many facets of this society which is dangerously culturally illiterate.  As we celebrate our jubilee year we have not properly celebrated our writers, our musicians, our artistes, the poetry of our patriotic calypsos, our literature is what records, carries the wisdom of our ancestors, the pains of the then and now and possibilities for the future.  Our literatures reflect and can reshape the soul of the nation.  Surely, we have produced more than Machel Montano, wonderful as he may be.  How can we as a nation be satisfied with the crast mediocrity of so much of our jubilee celebrations while our writers, our poets, our playwrights, our storytellers go unsung.  We have a nation to build; children to rescue from the clutches of crime; children to turn into patriots, children to teach self-love, children to teach to be discerning, contemplative, critical, knowledgeable of the beauty of our nation language even as we master the formality of the English.  Children to teach English language, children to teach to appreciate our flora, our fauna, our forest, to treasure and protect and our environment; children to teach our history; as told from our perspective in our literatures; children to teach the greatness of civilizations from which we have come so that we can truly begin to create a society where there is the elimination of the fear of difference and not the anonymity of the blurring of rainbow colours.

 

We need programmes in our schools that explore the fullness and richness of our society through our literatures, through specially targeted programmes.  More police; more jails. They have their place no doubt but human beings young and impressionable need a collision with self a flowering of patriotism that I know our literatures can give.  We do not need anyone from the lynching states of the southern USA to teach our children values when they are imbedded in our stories, our sayings, in our festivals of meaning, our dramas…our Ramleelas, our Ebos, our chants, our bhajans.  We need to learn from Anthony in ‘Green Days by the River’ to love again to smell of fresh coconut oil in our hair, to learn from Lovelace the indomitable courage of resistance and to appreciate the swing of our melodious behinds.

 

As we celebrate our fiftieth anniversary we are faced with the crassness and vulgarity of the first custom built, library building in the region, the Trinidad Public Library, built around the turn of the century, from whose hallowed halls the voices of Eric Williams, Don Basil Matthews, Samuel Selvon, George Lamming, Leroi Clarke, CLR James, voices have echoed, now standing derelict.  Built since 1901 it stands as testimony to our cultural illiteracy.  The top floor of NALIS, our National Library, has been given over to government offices.  WHAT THEY DOING THERE???????????

 

Let it be clear that I believe as trinbagonians our humanity entitles us to claim and enjoy all literary, artistic, creative expressions of all peoples. Today is another opportunity to begin again and recommit to our youth, as I give my compliments to this project. It is an opportunity to commit to our own literary tours, to celebrate our literatures in our schools, in our communities as a necessary prerequisite to our development, to heal our self-schism, to

 

            By centered heritage

            Give our people light

            Ignite

            Sparks

            For imaginings

            New beginnings

           

            There is a word

            Running through my head

            It does not let me sleep

            It drives me from my bed

            It is a word

            Crying out against

            My Invisibility

            Longing to testify

            To my humanity

            And that word

            Now fills my world

            With Creativity

            Possibility

 

 

Eintou Pearl Springer

Knowsley Building, Port of Spain

15-09-12



Website of the Office of the President of Trinidad and Tobago

Her Excellency, First Lady Dr Jean amjohn Richards and Dr Kris Rampersad view an exhibition of Trinidad and Tobago authors from the bibliography of Rampersad's book LiTTscapes - Landscapes of Fiction from Trinidad and Tobago mounted at Knowsley for LiTtribute to the REpublic September 15, 2012
KRis Rampersad with First Lady Dr Jean Ramjohn Richards and Michael Anthony at LiTTribute the the Republic September 2012 from the Website of the Office of the President

 LiTTscapes, a buttress for tourism, entrepreneurship

First Lady of Trinidad and Tobago,  Her Excellency Dr Jean Ramjohn Richards First Lady of Trinidad and Tobago,  Her Excellency Dr Jean Ramjohn Richards on LiTTscapes – Landscapes of Fiction from Trinidad and Tobago by Kris Rampersad at LiTTribute to the Republic, at ‘Knowsley’ Port of Spain, September 15, 2012.

 

This afternoon’s presentations give testimony, once again, to the wealth of talent with which Trinidad and Tobago has been endowed and it is no small thing that our children are a part of this treasure trove.  Their presence and the quality of their participation signal to us that the culture that defines us is alive and well.  It presages, also, that the distinctive features of what identifies us as people of Trinidad and Tobago will not be overwhelmed by other cultures, so long as we continue to appreciate that we have our own brand to offer, first, to ourselves and then to the world.

I say first, to ourselves, because we must take the trouble to understand who we are and have a good understanding of, inter alia, why we do the things that we do; how our dances, songs and rhythms have come about; the influences in our cuisine and how our physical landscape relates to our individual and collective development. Unless we know these things for ourselves, we can neither enjoy who we are, even with a critical eye, nor can we present ourselves, with conviction, to anyone else.

It is not alright to comfort ourselves with the idea that people all over the world do not appreciate their own country. That idea needs serious examination as to truth.  Even if it were so, that is not good enough for us and we must stir ourselves out of the taking-for-granted syndrome and become more familiar with the elements that make us who we are.

Literacy is a critical part of this, if I may say, revolution and, in the thrust to bring as many compatriots on board as possible, the visual has an important role to play.  So do the sounds and the variety of odours that tell us where we are, even without sight. 

I feel certain that all of us here can play and are willing to play a role in this literacy campaign, aimed at discovering or rediscovering ourselves.  We must therefore be careful not to let up in our resolve to make us look at ourselves and see what needs to be done, as we move on from this milestone of fifty years an Independent Nation.  

We must keep on building a people and in this, we must take account of the physical landmarks that rally us behind our history which impels us toward our future.  We have a duty to preserve our historic buildings and therefore we must ensure that public policy take account of our urgings, our sustained urgings, lest we become poor imitations of foreign places, while features of our history crumble around us.

Our water courses, our flora and fauna, must be respected as an intrinsic part of our patrimony.  As I say this, I ask myself, what has become or what is becoming of the buffalypsos?  Are we as mindful of them as we are of the turtles for which we fought a good, necessary and sustained campaign?

And our writers! Writers of poems and prose and history and rapso! Our composers and singers!  They are jewels in our crown.  Let us celebrate them as the necessary social commentators that they are, pointing out what we need to know, sometimes with the craft of subtlety, sometimes overtly, as the case demands.

So much of who and what we are is lying dormant or tucked away in the memories of some of the elders.  The files containing so much that is important to our future development must be dusted off and become an effective instrument for shaping a better time and a better place.  I have no doubt that Littscapes – Landscapes of Fiction from Trinidad and Tobago, so well crafted, can be an inspiration to other young writers. It provides a most useful beachhead for stirring or buttressing a programme of self-discovery, local and foreign tourism and entrepreneurship, among a number of other avenues for sustainable development in our country.

I congratulate all of you who participated in today’s programme.  I am sure that I speak for all of us when I say that it is indeed a memorable occasion.  I wish you all a good future.

LiTTscapes is available to local bookshops. For information: email lolleaves@gmail.com; visit https://www.facebook.com/LEAVESOFLIVE; kris-rampersad@blogspot.com




Literary musical tribute to the 36th Republic of T&T

Published: 
Tuesday, September 25, 2012
Text Size:                                    
UWI Librarian Naila Dwarika-Bhagat and guests line up for autographs of Dr Kris Rampersad's LiTTscapes- Landscapes of Fiction from Trinidad and Tobago. PHOTOS:  KENRICK  RAMJIT

 

The Knowsley mansion, at 1 Queen’s Park West, proved to be the perfect space for the literary evening and tea party LiTTribute hosted by author and researcher Dr Kris Rampersad recently. The event, held under the patronage of Her Excellency Jean Ramjohn Richards, featured not just readings from Rampersad’s recently launched book LiTTscapes—Landscapes of Fiction from Trinidad and Tobago but it also threw the spotlight on this country’s young talent through song (Andre Mangatal and Fitzroy Inniss), drum talk and drumming (Chibale Drumming Ensemble featuring five-year-old Ire Charles) and Saiesh Rampersad, another five-year- old, in the role of The Mystic Masseur. The evening was deliberately designed to reclaim and refocus attention on “the amazing mass of expression—oral and written and the connections between them,” Rampersad said.
 
 
She added: “LiTTribute, like the book, and like the book launch was meant to celebrate Trinidad and Tobago, the Trinbagonian spirit, our resilience, our enterprise and creativity; our ability to smile and laugh and throw picong in the face of tremendous odds—all the things we seem to forget because we are too busy complaining about what someone else is not doing. It is meant to ask us to look inward, look towards ourselves, find our place and say that this is mine little corner, let me look after it and make a difference here. If everyone claims that responsibility think of what we can collectively accomplish.” In her speech Her Excellency said “we must take account of the physical landmarks that rally us behind our history which impels us toward our future. We have a duty to preserve our historic buildings and therefore we must ensure that public policy take account of our urgings, our sustained urgings, lest we become poor imitations of foreign places while features of our history crumble around us.”
 
 
Eintou Pearl Spriner, in her appraisal of LiTTscapes, said her own experiences clearly illustrate the importance of one’s literature to sense of self, to self worth, to cultural literacy; to analysing, evaluating; to being pregnant with ideas about the inherent possibilities of shaping, reshaping our population. “Literature is not merely confined to pages in books, but to our kaiso, our pichakaree, chutney, stick fight lavways, our Traditional Mas speeches, midnight robber, pierrot, Black Indian, warao; our great variety of drum beats, folk songs, chants”, Springer said.







Introduction of the Author, Kris Rampersad
By Saiesh Rampersad (5-years old)
at LiTTribute To the Republic with readings and performances inspired by LiTTscapes – Landscapes of Fiction from Trinidad and Tobago, at Knowsley, September 15, 2012

Good day ladies and gentlemen,
and children too.
I am here to tell you about my Auntie Krissy.
 I call her Krissy-wissy.
Sometimes, when I want to be naughty, I call her Christopher.
My auntie reads my story books with me. Sometimes we read the dictionary too! It is so much fun.
You, and you, and you should try it sometime.


My auntie took me to Port of Spain and showed me where Trini writers worked at the newspaper.
She worked there too.
 “For peanuts,” she said.
“Why peanuts and not for money like Dad? I asked.
“Because people think writers are monkeys,” she said.
I laughed till my belly hurt. My peanut-crunching monkey-auntie is so funny!

I went to the library in Port of Spain for the first time with auntie Krissy wissy.
She tried to join me in the library so I could get books with a card.
Can you imagine the librarian asked ME for a utility bill?
I wondered what was wrong with her.

I was only three years old, like my little brother Premant.
I could not read very well, then.
I choose books for Krissy-wissy to read to me.
I liked being with so many books and stories.
I liked the pictures, but the stories in the books were so silly.

Auntie said they make no sense to Trini children and promised to write stories for me that will make sense.

Now she writes stories for me about Munnie, a Carnival butterfly.

She writes about the birds of Phagwa, and the flags of Hosay.

I am now a big boy, five years old, and I could read, ent?
 
I love the stories she writes. 

She writes about the fishes near the volcano under the sea called Kick Em Jenny. 

That is a very sad story when the volcano goes boom.

She writes about growling ghosts at Devils Woodyard in Princes Town near grandma's house.

That is a scary story.

She writes stories for me about the first peoples who lived in Trinidad.

She calls them Banwari. They lived in the forest.

I told her to add giant dinosaurs to the stories to make them better.

She wrote about Banwari and a dinosaur, and one for Premant about how the octopus lost its shell.

I helped Premant count its eight legs.

I now like all the Banwari stories about the first children who lived in Trinidad.

I told my auntie she should make a book with the stories to share with my friends.

She said she will make a movie with them too.
I hope it is a cartoon! Yeppie!

I do not see her very much because she goes to many countries.

She is writing some special stories for me about all the places she visits to share with my friends.

I like this new book, LiTTscapes. It has many pictures.

It is a book about people who write stories about Trinidad and Tobago.
When I grow up I will read the books by these people who wrote the stories.

Auntie says she can take me to visit some of the places in the pictures in the book too.

Maybe, ladies, and gentlemen and children, if you ask her she will take you too! But not if you call her Christopher.

One day I will write stories too.
One day I will write a book, like my auntie, and she will be here telling you all about how she helped me learn to read and write.

I hope you like my auntie’s new book – LiTTscapes.
I hope you will buy it for your children and for your friends.

This will help her make more books for my friends and I and to help other young writers too.

Thank you for the book, and the stories, auntie Krissy-wissy.

Thank you all for listening to my story about my auntie and the stories she writes for ME, and for you, and you, and you too.

But remember, if you cannot afford to buy her book, at least, give her some peanuts.


Five year old talk-drummer  Ire Charles  of the Chibale Drumming Ensemble also performs at LiTTribute to the Republic  hosted by First Lady Jean Ramjohn Richards and Dr Kris Rampersad. Photos by Kenrick Ramjit
















 
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Kris Rampersad,
Aug 18, 2012, 5:18 AM
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Aug 18, 2012, 5:20 AM
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