Tuesday, 25 September 2012
My Auntie Krissy, five year old Saiesh Rampersad introduces the Author Kris Rampersad at LiTTribute to the Republic, September 15, 2012
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.
Sunday, 23 September 2012
You are here
Rampersad: No placard protests from
...as group moves to save buildings, heritage
Sunday, September 23, 2012
A LiTTribute to the Republic
By Essiba Small email@example.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".
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 Demokrissyof 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 firstname.lastname@example.org; visit https://www.facebook.com/LEAVESOFLIVE; https://sites.google.com/site/krisrampersadglobal/home/about-me/books
Appraisal of LiTTscapes – Landscapes of Fiction from Trinidad and Tobago by Pearl Eintou Springer, National Poet Laureate
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
A flood of words
At closed unwilling minds
Watch those minds
With warm rush
my unaccustomed pleasure
for more and more
the perched words
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
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
Longing to testify
To my humanity
And that word
Now fills my world
LiTTscapes can help people rediscover T&T says Minister
Dr Bhoe Tewarie reviews LiTTscapes – Landscapes of Fiction from Trinidad and Tobago by Kris Rampersad
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. It involves various aspects of the creative sectors of art, craft, drama, staging, and music, and has potential for linkages with industries as 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 pleased to be associated with the publication of LiTTscapes which is a totally local effort from start to finish and which is 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.
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.
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.
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.
LiTTscapes is available at Metropolitan and the bookstores.
Dr Bhoendradatt Tewarie is Minister of Planning and Sustainable Development and a former campus principal and lecturer of the University of the West Indies who holds a PhD in West Indian Literature
Photo Caption 1: Minister of Planning and Sustainable Development, Dr Bhoe Tewarie (from right) with authors, Dr Kris Rampersad and Michael Anthony at the launch of LiTTscapes – Landscapes of Fiction from Trinidad and Tobago by Dr Kris Rampersad. Photo by Kenrick Ramjit
Photo Caption 2. LiTTscapes - Landscapes of Fiction from Trinidad and Tobago, available at Metropolitan Book Suppliers and other bookshops. See https://sites.google.com/site/krisrampersadglobal/home/about-me/booksDemokrissy