100 Thousand Poets and Musicians for Change

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In my own Words… By Rachael N. Collymore

For many years, we have been at the mercy of changing world paradigms. We have endured climate change, globalization, poverty, financial meltdowns and crime in all its ugly forms. Today, we are looking to find solutions to a myriad of problems, while trying to find the source or root of it all. Thanks to technology, the world is no longer vast and unreachable. This global village is closer to our doorsteps than we think and everything that we face, that we do, affects us all; one way or another. Last year, an initiative began to unify the world through the arts. The global movement, 100 Thousand Poets for Change was launched on September 24th, 2011 by Michael Rothenberg (California). Stanford University endorsed this as the largest gathering of poets and offered to archive all material and recordings from this initiative for posterity. 2012 saw growth and expansion of the movement, to include all art-forms in the promotion of peace and sustainability, worldwide. This was executed on Saturday 29th September, 2012. Poetic Vibes hosted the Trinidad and Tobago arm of this initiative and themed the event, “Changing the Conversation for Peace”. We saw poets, artists, musicians and photographers joining the dialogue to confront the issues that needed to be addressed; even those that were seldom discussed. The conversation began... On Saturday 29th September, 2012, from NALIS Amphitheatre to Trinidad Theatre Workshop, the call for social, political and environmental change was answered. It was a moment of solidarity, where our ethnicity did not segregate us but brought us closer to tackle the real problems that affected us - as a people, as a country, as the world - in our quest for change. It was evident by our expression, the need for change. Marsha Pearce’s conversation with us, gave insight into a nation’s dilemma and the vital role art played in its rescue. She quotes Ghanaian-born poet, Kwame Dawes: “Art teaches us how to empathize; it teaches us how to feel what others are feeling and thus it allows us the capacity to resist the instinct to harm others… poetry can help us to find our humanity and to find the humanity of others.” In her contribution she reflected, “…In Trinidad and Tobago, we desperately need to hear from poetry and other forms of creative expression. We are in urgent need of the arts to imbue our space with empathy. We need the arts to help us find our humanity. We need the arts to steer us in a direction of peace. Poetry, music and the other arts must serve as interlocutors in the present Section 34 conversation that has elevated public disquiet, and torn asunder a government that was already unraveling – a coalition ruling body riddled with dissension, disharmony and infighting… The artist’s work is the stuff of discussion and interchange. Reflecting the pretty or reproducing the picturesque in art has its place but more and more, the artist needs to engage and interrogate what is ugly and nauseating around us.”

In the midst of the chaos, we have found a space to express ourselves. Our art must evoke a response or reaction to our present predicament. It must act as a mirror and moral compass to provoke our consciousness; for such is the power and purpose of the art, if understood. So too in understanding our power, we see the correlation to nature, our environment. For what inspires us, if not our connection to and fellowship with the earth? According to John Stollmeyer, “We are bio-logical beings… subject to the laws that govern all life on Earth. Bio is life.” Therefore, in order for there to be environmental change, which ensures the continuity of life, the natural order must be restored. If this be true, we must take responsibility – as an individual and as a collective. Our action engenders the change we seek. The conversation is just the fire-starter and must not end there, but must translate into action, first in our mind. It was the late American essayist and poet, Ralph Waldo Emerson who said, “Peace cannot be achieved through violence, it can only be attained through understanding.” It is from this point we begin, for “darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”-- Martin Luther King Jr., A Testament of Hope: The Essential Writings and Speeches.

Rachael Collymore is the founder of Poetic Vibes which serves as a promotional and events-based organization, dedicated to creating a platform for artisans. As a writer of poetry, Rachael has used this medium to channel her creative energies to raise the level of awareness and standard of the arts in Trinidad & Tobago. She’s a member of the Circle of Poets of T&T, a Public Relations practitioner and Events Coordinator. She has written for CPC Women in Business, Arc Magazine and other publications. http://about.me/rachaeln.collymore https://www.facebook.com/poetic.vibes

Thank You, Langston (poem)


grew up Around the fillies of angelic beauty, Earthly seraphim beings that were raised to remember That they were the essence of loveliness, With their curly locks and pale skin, Long limbs and flat eyelids. And they were praised for it. “Oh gosh! She so nice and fair, eh! She so nice, she going and model, she going and be big!” But I learnt, at a young age, not to hear those words directed to me, I was the dark skinned Indian. I come out like my father, Like my grandfather, Like my great grandfather A poor old coolie who lived in Uttar Pradesh, Until great opportunity came And he land up here, in Trinidad, In Chaguanas, Where the seed of his loins would live For three more fruitful generations. I am the last daughter of first sons, Their strength lives within my raw-sienna limbs. But my mother, I would look to her and ask; Where is my saccharine skin, My long slim arms, My curly hair, And those beautiful Chinese eyes. Where was my graceful height, That twirl in my step. I looked nothing like her. And I hated myself. How could I expect her to love me? But I learnt that I was not to be praised, And it became second nature to me to

Yearn for fairness, for curls, For height a long lithe figure. And they were sympathetic, Those girls, Poor Portia, she come out like she father, She shoulda take after her mother, But she come out so dark! Surrounded by her sisters, My mother would chat, listening to gossip Of all the neighbour’s children. “Oh gosh!” auntie would exclaim, “This one little girl come out so fair! So nice!” Momma would nod and smile, Though I knew I could never get her soft brown eyes, To look at this one child, Of scars and mud, and bloodied knees; Dirty cheeks and forward brow. Would she see this one to be A worthy peach within the boughs of her tree? Good society of Trinidad and Tobago wouldn’t Want a second glance of me; The decadent brown girl who sits in her proverbial ring. But he loved me, Langston, He said the words in lines, nine plus nine; That the darkness sings of freedom and rest, Fear is gone when the white day has left. And I remain, the tame and caliginous night. Because I know my power as the dark side of the day I can laugh, dance and whirl in the white side as I may. Langston shared the secret that there is not just beauty and joy in one, But both, in both, and we are all called to be flickers of star-shine in the sky. Though to me there is none as sublime as those of us who are reflections of the Langston’s blessed night.

“Thank You, Langston” speaks about the way in which skin colour in the Caribbean is still a social issue affecting even the smallest child. -- Portia Subran




“Nothing moves me more than to see people all over the world uniting for positive change!! I am an artist; my recent work is dedicated to spreading positivity and awareness through symbolism and aesthetic beauty. I am more and more learning the true power of all realms of art in their ability to affect real change beginning in the deepest levels of the human subconscious. We change our outlook to change ourselves to change the world around us!� -- Annelie Solis

Talking about the Environment By John Stollmeyer

Every human has always done the best that they could; in their heart of hearts, acted from the position of making the world a better place, given the information they had accessible to their consciousness at every moment. We deserve no blame, no shame; however we are responsible for the consequences of our actions. We are bio-logical beings (at least our bodies are, our minds may be extraterrestrial) subject to the laws that govern all life on Earth. Bio is life. We, everyone, lives in a Bio-region (Life Place): a cohesive system of watersheds inhabited by particular plants, animals and their relationships; the smallest land area that can sustain a human community/tribe. Before the development of conquering tribes whose populations grew beyond the carrying capacity of their watersheds as a result of practicing “aggre-culture” (sic) Bioregions could be identified by particular language groups. Eco-system. Eco is home, so to live eco-logically is home sense. Eco-nomics is home accountability. From the concise Oxford dictionary: “the management of the concerns and the resources of a community”. The 1st law of ecology states: all life on earth is food. The 2nd law states: population size is proportional to food availability. What the historians call the agricultural revolution was not the beginning of growing our food; it was a new style of food production that is now being referred to as totalitarian or catastrophic. Humans waging war on any species that competes with us for our favourite foods. The peacekeeping law of nature: you may compete amongst yourselves (species) to the full extent of your capabilities but you may not wage war on your competitors (other species). 10,000 years ago following the retreat of the Ice Age that had razed the forests of Europe and Asia Minor, grasses were the dominant plant species. Among these were emmer, the precursor of wheat, barley, oats and rye. The humans living here in the so called Fertile Crescent, who also hunted the Aurox, began foraging and eventually farming this land of abundance creating huge food surpluses and their population expanded. Presently they needed more land and because this new lifestyle they had adopted was so arduous they conquered and enslaved their neighbours to work the fields. These are our cultural ancestors, the wheat/beef people, and they have created a food surplus every year since then, fueling the population explosion and conquering the world. Civilization (empire) is in the business of separation; of breaking bonds; destroying relationships. Previous to this, and in small pockets of the most inhospitable regions of the planet, till today, humans lived/live tribally, all for one and one for all; their gift economy based on give support, get support. Their motivating ethic to make everyone feel as comfortable as possible. Infant nurture entailed constant contact with another human until the child decided to venture out. To regain sustainable human cultures of peace we have to spiral around to a higher level of connection following this necessary period of estrangement from each other, from nature, from the creative, intelligent, evolving universal continuum.

John Stollmeyer was born in 1952. He graduated from the University of Western Ontario in 1974 with a BA in Visual Arts. John had his first oneman show in 1982 at the Ikon Gallery, Woodbrook. The show was inspired by his involvement with a Rastafarian community of Bobo Shanti in Tunapuna and was called “The Counterfeit”. From 1983 to 1993 he returned to Ontario and pursued a woodworking apprenticeship. Inspired by the Bioregional Movement, (which grew out of the “back to the land” intentional communities movement of the sixties) he returned to Trinidad in 1994 and established an ecological business designing and making high fashion accessories out of calabash and coconut shell. John’s Midnight Robber character “King Kobo” was inducted into the Rapso fraternities Oral Tradition in 1996. Since 2007 John has been teaching and designing Permaculture.

ARTIST STATEMENT Recognizing the artist’s role in society as visionary and agent of world change, I see my mission as being to facilitate the paradigm shift. Finding ways to gently ease us into the Post/ Industrial, Post/Scarcity Ecological age. The golden age of anarchy the time, soon to come, when no one, without regard to age, gender race, class or species has the right or the inclination to tell anyone what to do. Making the connections to the surviving sustainable, egalitarian, autochthonic, pre-conquest tribal societies that have existed for most of human evolution. Pointing out that the conditions that precipitated our hierarchical civilizational cultures into being ten thousand years ago no longer prevail except in our own un-evaluated feelings. There is enough to go around. The awareness of our complete loving connection to all life on Earth, to the elements and to the creative, intelligent, evolving Universal Continuum is inherent. Our socialization into “civilized” beings creates the limited ego that then requires effort to transcend. I take from the practices of Yoga, Tai Chi and Wilderness Awareness an attitude that informs all activity. Using the found objects of Indo/European/Semitic vocabulary, materials from the natural environment and reusing the non-biodegradable synthetic refuse of the industrial growth society, I make work intended to create healing change in myself and in the world.


The ibis bleeds as red As the glimmer atop the melting tallow, And just as the poui wed, So do ashes to the farmyard fallow. And hermits recoil in the tide As the nightly waters swelled, Chacachacare is faint with thalidomide, Along with nightly hauntings quelled. The lake bleeds as black As the spectre of our preamble. And in the ring, the brown girl circles the pack, Til their knees buck and tremble. Carpet beetles covered in blood Bite through old pairs of boots And they notice the sweatstains and mud Are tinctured with sugarcane juice. And me, I once wished to bleed as white As white as the colour of things clean. As I felt as dirty as A dusty portrait of an ole Caribbean scene, What we’ve all seen: “A dirty coconut, sliced with a rusted cutlass By a blistered man near some sun-dried grass.” “A dirty old pass, with a man with a dirty Ras, Sitting on a dirty cart pulled by a dirty ass.” I wished to bleed as white, As white as the colour of things preferred, As I falsely thought I was held in the dirty dark, As so many dreams deferred. -- by Kevin Hosein. -- artwork by Crystal A. Ramlal.

This wasn’t meant for me (lyrics to song)

this wasnt meant for me i cant take these city streets this wasnt meant for me it hurts my heart and it hurts my feet its not what we were meant to be keeping ourselves in captivity so please, won’t you set us free crystal rivers into concrete drains polluting all the water now we feel the pain blocking out the stars for your city lights the scale of what your part of always blinded from your sight bulldoze a forest for a four lane road never happy where you are always somewhere to go to build walls around yourself an the earth don’t you know is to wall off your soul cuz i was born from the womb of the earth she provide the food and the water when i thirst she gives me cool breeze and the air i need to breathe from the beauty of a forest canopy every fruit, every nut, every seed all the medicine and healing that i need all of these things she gives to me for free and so, i don’t need an economy to give me financial security cuz the earth freely shares her abundance with me in perfect balance and in perfect peace i don’t need police to keep the peace as long as i have these trees watching over me i don;t need governmental authority to tell me what i can do and where i can be the truth whispers through the leaves of the trees through the words in the wings of the birds as they beat a silent truth that they give and they keep we were never meant to stray from peace we never had to do a thing to be free just meant to live and be happy -- by Richard Solis.

Changing the Conversation for Peace through the Arts By Marsha Pearce

I am pleased to participate in a global movement for change, which has manifested in this local event – one of several events taking place in various cities around the world in an effort to bring together artists in celebration and promotion of creative practices and the capacity of the arts to inspire positive social transformations. Trinidad and Tobago joins places like India, Australia and Canada among many others, in a call for change through the initiative: 100 Thousand Poets and Musicians for Change 2012. The theme for our local event is “Changing the Conversation for Peace” and it is around this focus that I have organized my thoughts. In 2011, Scottish poet and novelist John Burnside won the T.S. Eliot award. It is an annual prize given to the writer of the best new poetry collection published in the UK or Ireland. Receiving the award stirred Burnside to think again about the purpose of his art. In his online article published in The Telegraph in January 2012, Burnside considers the question: What does poetry do? Among his answers he shares:

There are poems that have, literally, changed my life, because they have changed the way I looked at and listened to the world…. So, at the most basic level, poetry is important because it makes us think…. When the purveyors of bottom-line thinking call a mountain or a lake a ‘natural resource’, something to be merely exploited and used up, poetry reminds us that lakes and mountains are more than items on a spreadsheet; when a dictatorship imprisons and tortures its citizens, people write poems because the rhythms of poetry and the way it uses language to celebrate and to honour, rather than to denigrate and abuse, is akin to the rhythms and attentiveness of justice.

According to Burnside: “…poetry is…a discipline for re-engaging with a world we take too much for granted.” Indeed, in a world that is plagued by environmental problems and is increasingly characterised by epidemics of malice and contempt, we have failed to show ample appreciation for the planet and for each other. Poetry is a vehicle for speaking to such concerns. Later in March 2012, Burnside participated in an interview for Granta Magazine. In the published dialogue, he gives us further insight to the role poetry can play. He tells us: “…there’s a suspicion…that the ideal world is sort of there, if we can only meet it halfway. Poetry is, I think, an attempt to pre-empt the kind of speech that closes down the possibility of such a meeting…” Let us consider Burnside’s words in relation to the chosen theme for today’s event. If we take peace as an ideal, as a principle that exists to some extent, as that which has a tenuous being that makes delicate, tentative steps toward us, creeping hesitantly in our direction, fearful that we might snuff out its life yet hopeful that we might return its gesture of good faith and meet it with open arms; if a peaceful world is a vision that is sort of there if we can only meet it halfway, then poetry is a means of conversing that creates a space for the possibility of that meeting. Poetry can bolt mouths that would speak words that serve as obstacles between us and peace. Poetry has the capacity to divert our conversation, like the course of a river, so that it flows in the direction of discursive pools where peace can bubble to the surface.

Yes, all that I have shared so far may indeed sound abstract, utopian, romantic even, as if poetry is a panacea, a magic solution or universal elixir for life’s tough concerns, but bound up in the arts is a mighty and tangible power that has real world implications if we would only acknowledge it and tap into it. The arts have a special capacity. Ghanaian born and Jamaican bred poet Kwame Dawes tells us: “Art teaches us how to empathize; it teaches us how to feel what others are feeling and thus it allows us the capacity to resist the instinct to harm others.” Dawes readily admits that not all poets are humanitarians but he declares: “poetry can help us to find our humanity and to find the humanity of others.” In Trinidad and Tobago, we desperately need to hear from poetry and other forms of creative expression. We are in urgent need of the arts to imbue our space with empathy. We need the arts to help us find our humanity. We need the arts to steer us in a direction of peace. Poetry, music and the other arts must serve as interlocutors in the present Section 34 conversation that has elevated public disquiet, and torn asunder a government that was already unraveling – a coalition ruling body riddled with dissension, disharmony and infighting. What transformative perspectives might the arts bring to our present context of warring political bodies and the specific matter of the passing of a legislation that can dismiss certain criminal cases? What do the arts have to say in the recent matter of the assault of a 56-year-old man by the cutlass-wielding son of our Education Minister Dr. Tim Gopeesingh? The victim was dealt blows when he asked Gopeesingh’s son to turn off his vehicle, as the diesel fumes were disturbing patrons at a street food stand in Woodbrook. I posit that a spirit of peace was also a casualty that day. How can the arts enter a dialogue about the recent murder of a man in Tunapuna and the subsequent destruction of his business place in what has been described as a “mysterious fire”? How can the arts comment on the killing of 57-year-old Ronald Clarke, a pan player with Exodus Steel Orchestra? Clarke died at his home when gunmen entered his living room and shot him after robbing his wife of cash and jewelry. Officiating at the funeral, Anglican Dean Knolly Clarke said the death was “a wake-up call to a nation that needs healing, a nation that needs transformation.” The arts can and should speak up and make a positive intervention for such change. What words, images, chords can the arts bring to a conversation about the death of Peter Richards, a 19-year-old six form student of Toco Composite School who was killed this week in an altercation over a football match? How can the arts give voice in the matter of a 17-year-old boy who was arrested and charged for possession of a homemade shotgun found in his backpack on the compound of the St Augustine Secondary School? What can the arts inject into this scenario of a young executioner, poised to slay peace? What meaningful remarks can the arts make in the abduction of Marcus Peters? Peters was stabbed 22 times and he was dumped at the Chaguanas Market. He was later pronounced dead at the Chaguanas Health Centre. And, what can the arts articulate in the matter of Rajesh Ramdeo who was decapitated a few days ago as a result of his involvement with a married woman. According to one newspaper report, Ramdeo’s “head was found two feet from the body and some of his teeth were pulled out. His private parts were chopped off and stuffed in his mouth.” Since the incident, a female relative disclosed that someone had called and promised to kill the entire family. She said: “Right now we cannot stay in the house in peace. We are worried since we got death threats.”

Her words are poignant and sharp. Sharp enough to bite into the artist’s practice so that the words leave their impression in song, poem, painting, dance, photograph, sculpture and so on – an impression that can become not only the artist’s subject matter but also the subject of a conversion we all need to have. We ought to heed those words for they resonate with significance, not only for Rajesh Ramdeo’s family, but also for all of us. In one of her poems published in her book entitled The Twelve-Foot Neon Woman, Loretta Collins Klobah reminds us:

We have created a new world where the indiscriminate gunis always at our backs. From the first murdered Taíno to now, the cosmic bullet has been in the air. (p. 19)

How, therefore can we stay in our houses in peace? How can we walk the roads in peace? How can we attend to matters of school, work and play in peace? How can we relate to each in peace? The artist can play a role in answering such questions. The artist’s work is the stuff of discussion and interchange. Reflecting the pretty or reproducing the picturesque in art has its place but more and more, the artist needs to engage and interrogate what is ugly and nauseating around us. The artist’s work is that which should stir and enter rich, deep, worthwhile and transformative dialogue with society. French author and philosopher Albert Camus (1957) wrote: “if there is [anyone] who has no right to solitude, it is the artist. Art cannot be a monologue” (p. 257). And yet, I am aware that in our space, artists can feel like they are speaking to themselves or that they are conversing with small circles. We need infrastructure that would serve to amplify the artistic voice, sensitise the public to the relevance of that voice and foster the kind of dialogue that can bring about revolution. For those of us who might think that the crime, violence, corruption, injustice and gross disrespect around us are bricks that make up a wall too thick for the light of peace to shine through; for those artists who feel that engaging in creative dialogue, in an effort to make a positive change, is too taxing, too much of a risky battle, too hopeless, I refer again to the words of Camus. In his 1957 lecture entitled “Create Dangerously,” Camus declared: …perhaps there is no other peace for the artist than what he finds in the heat of combat. ‘Every wall is a door,’ Emerson correctly said. Let us not look for the door, and the way out, any where but in the wall against which we are living. Instead, let us seek the respite where it is – in the very thick of the battle. For in my opinion, and this is where I shall close, it is there (p. 272).

References Achong, Derek. “Fire Destroys Murdered Man’s Business Place.” Guardian.co.tt. September 15, 2012. <http://www.guardian.co.tt/news/2012-09-15/fire-destroys-murdered-man%E2%80%99sbusiness-place>. Accessed September 27, 2012. Bethel, Camille. “Dean Clarke: T&T An Angry Nation.” Trinidadexpress.com. September 7, 2012. <http://www.trinidadexpress.com/news/Dean_Clarke T_T_an_angry_nation-168997036.html>. Accessed September 28, 2012. Burnside, John. “How Poetry can Change Lives.” Telegraph.co.uk. January 2012. <http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/books/poetryandplaybookreviews/9020436/How-poetrycan-change-lives.html>. Accessed September 10, 2012.


Camus, Albert. “Create Dangerously.” Resistance, Rebellion and Death: Essays. Vintage, 1995. 249-272. Print. Collins Klobah, Loretta. The Twelve-Foot Neon Woman. Leeds: Peepal Tree Press, 2011. “Interview: John Burnside.” Granta Magazine. March 6, 2012 <http://www.granta.com/New- Writing/Interview-John-Burnside>. Accessed September 10, 2012. Paul, Anna-Lisa. “Toco Student Chopped to Death; Man Held at Station.” Guardian.co.tt. September 27, 2012. < http://www.guardian.co.tt/news/2012-09-27/toco-student-chopped-deathman-held-station>. Accessed September 27, 2012. Shook, David. “Preserving Experience: Kwame Dawes on his Poems from Jamaica.” Molossus.co. November 2009. <http://www.molossus.co/poetry/preserving-experience-kwame-dawes-on-hisnew-poems-from-jamaica/>. Accessed September 15, 2012. Sookraj, Radhica. “Claxton Bay family living in fear as Son Beheaded.” Guardian.co.tt. September 27, 2012. <http://www.guardian.co.tt/news/2012-09-27/claxton-bay-family-living-fear-sonbeheaded>. Accessed September 28, 2012.

Marsha Pearce is a Cultural Studies scholar whose research interests include the visual arts. She has presented at conferences both regionally and internationally. Her published artwork and writings appear in a number of academic journals. Pearce is the 2006 Rhodes Trust Rex Nettleford Cultural Studies Fellow and she is the Managing Editor of Caribbean InTransit Arts Journal. She also lectures in the Department of Creative and Festival Arts at the University of the West Indies St Augustine campus. Most recently, she has been contributing writings about the arts for ARC Caribbean Art and Culture magazine online, Draconian Switch, 6 Carlos magazine and the Sunday Guardian Arts Section.

Proactive! Solution (lyrics to song)

Proactive! Solution Most of the problems of the world Most of the suffering, abuse, most of the loss Proactive! Solution Most of the problems of the world Most of the conflict and pollution we could toss! If hindsight’s always 20/20 And intuition’s always right Then why the hell don’t we just use all our foresight? Proactive. Solution! It is the way you train a child That means he will not need a rod when he is grown. Proactive! Solution. It is the things you show that child That explain what he thinks he’s entitled to be shown! I know you have to seek a profit And maximising it is right! But you’re destroying souls by not using foresight! What you do isn’t in a vacuum, What you do will have its effects! How many more must shoot to kill before you check? Proactive. Solution! It is the work you do to tell Your representative you’re not just a vote well Proactive. Solution!

Before elections come around Leave thousands of your letters right on his compound Somebody has to have the courage To tell the leaders when they’re wrong To let them know we will not always tag along We know that love’s a glue immortal We know about the 3fold cord It’s time some politicians faced a literate horde! Proactive! Solution! If you do not know how to read Please make the time, ‘cus for your mind it is a need Proactive. Solution! If you’re inventing something new Think of how it will change planet earth, not just you Imagination, yes, it’s sacred With it we often make a shrine But in that temple we do not spend enough time. If hindsight’s always 20/20 And intuition’s always right Then the time has come to use all our foresight! Proactive! solution.

-- by Nzinga S. Job.

The Wayward Sister (A poem by Steve Hernandez)


‘Boy, dis one go mek muddah real, real mad Wen she geh de bad news, bout she chile; Trinidad Dat she tun real slack, own-way, and stink Muddah go mix poison, fuh all ah we to drink. ‘Dee hard-back gyul now tun 44


Leh it hang how it swing ah eh care no more!” “Ah doh care a dam; an ah goin an look fuh man An, ah real like dah White boy name Uncle Sam”


‘Who wuddah tort, ah gyal chile so sweet Wuddah ah tun leggo beast, like dog in heat She brake-way when Father Willie, spoil she wit toys Wit morney, he boys thief from Tesoro Oil.’


‘Gyal I doh care Geh off meh case Gimmeh more room Lemmay wok-up me waist Dough bother me now, is Bacchanal time Do wey yuh want I come out to wine.’



All yuh gee she room wee Let that Jag-a-bat pass.’ “STEUPS is bad mine she hah US dollars she crave If she ent buck up She goin straight to she grave I ent go lie, Meh pressure sky high O GORD Ah cyar tek it no more St. Anns tek meh for sure So help me LAWD, ah go make ah jail If she ent come back, ah go chop up she tail Is ah good ting Granny teach we Spanish prayers Bring de prayer book, Chaplet, salt, and scissors Meh obeah good, it bong to wuk Jus mek sure, an bring ah white fowl cock.’

‘Fadder Willie, never teach she, to stand on she own But to wait fuh hand-outs, like a dog an a bone Now he dead and done PatMan take de crown Oh Gord! Well look de country boy, come to town Saga-boy, zest-man, village ram too Only xante-in heself while she goin through PRESSURE. Mama-guy, twenty-twenty dream Only pimping she, with CPEP an URP scheme TOBAGO Dey say she rich, she have oil, in she soil ‘Lord, bring she to she senses Minimum wage bitch, 8 hours ah toil! She making we shame U---N----C she cyar see she way? All yuh go by de Red House Pee---oN----deM! De Fox, uses to say An change all ah we name Kidnapping, robberies, high price for bred Cause dis go make muddah real, real sad Lawd help she, else Niggers an Coolies go dead Wen she fine out wah happen TRINIDAD to she chile Trinidad.’ ‘You bess, wake up an smell yuh self My time don pass is ah quarter pass twelve ‘Ah sure, all yuh see, wey ah comin from Doh run dong yuh body Dont play yuh ent know, ah know all yuh ent dumb All hours ah the night De wayward sister, is you, she is we Else yuh go end up me ah piper We might be lock-down, but we hah the key Only colleckin pipe. So leh we check we self good, mek the wrong tings right Tings real bad, it done tun old mass If we ent do it – the country go blight So leh we raise we head high, an set, we path straight Leh we do it today, tomorrow might be too late Leh we do it today, we sister cyar wait.’

-- photography by Steve Hernandez.

Blue Soap




The Last One

(A poem by Roxane Herbert)

Oh no! No! No! Yes Mother, yet another one. Yes another one, another Mother bawling for her son. Aunty, cousin, another sister, grandmother swallowed by grief. Can’t we change this history? History, his story, his story What was his story? It’s really OUR story! Deranged, damaged, distraught, disheveled But not defeated. Trying to act normal with sirens blaring. Is he really dead? I want to see him again! I wanted to see him marry. See his children, my grandchildren. All taken away as the night air is punctured by bullet reports. Can’t we change this history? What a life his killer has? What parallel journey? A back road surely, running concurrently to overlap with my grandson today. This karma attack with no apology We can change this history. This present, current, tortured history. Didn’t we love you, breastfeed you? Sit down in rocking chair to soothe you? Didn’t your grandfather take you savannah to fly kite? Didn’t I cook stewed chicken and lentils ‘cause that was your favourite? Your uncle dumbfounded, shaking his head ‘Cause he remembers when you at seven years, save his life, and his car. When you emptied the bucket of sand in the canal, stopping the flames that erupted, When he self tossed the last wheel nut bolt, in the upturned hub cap, to meet the other nuts soaking there in gasoline. Best reflexes he always say Your uncle turned Japanese saying how he owed you his life. That you have a special place in his heart. Can’t we change this history? His story, his story To be not another one, but the last one. Punctuate history with a full stop. To be not another one, but the last one. When we revisit this story, this history, This we will remember, That he was, Not another one, but the last one.

Mother of Water

(Poem by Danielle Boodoo-Fortuné)

Mother of water, I’ve been burning at this window since you left me here. This house, painted white, will not keep me. I cannot inherit this kitchen, this house of virginal beds and tiresome fences. I cannot grow here, each room smelling of dead fire and dry ocean. I want to sleep with windows flung open, ride the sea unto morning. I want to kick off these shoes, root my toes deep in earth, throw my head back and gasp at the freedom of air. I want to take down my hair, undo my buttons, grow flowers wild from my center. Mother of water, see how they will not free me from my name, untie me from these tiresome words, useless desire to be beautiful or blind for the pleasure of someone else’s god. I will not wear this gift of well-made shame passed down to me. I am a woman not buried quite so easily. Mother of water, Let them all refuse the sea of their birth, the sea inside. One day I will make my way back to the light of your ocean.

Crossing (Poem)

Tell me, what do you keep in your green glass heart? What salvaged ice from forgotten moons, what rusted joints thrown up from the wrecked night of your wanting? And when the tides of your sleep ebb, what masks permit you to cross the continent of waking? Whose arboreal arms will bear you beyond these highways of stolen sand and purpling death? Ours is a dwelling you have found too broken for words. You must plant this poem slowly when you find home. -- poetry & artwork by Danielle Boodoo-FortunĂŠ.

A piece by Mickel Alexander They call these isles of riches and splender a third world country and we freely adopted this label wholesale but this is bullshh of the highest account it seems I cant count on this unthinking masses people only shout and complain. Its insane, this is sening nuts and insane. Its like we’re cut at the head Causing a massive brain drain But to me the truth is clear and crysal as day. How many of you live life in tents and have no home after a Massive hurricaine like haiti 500,000 half our populace trapped in a scary and menacing place. Your food isnt dropped to you by a UN aid parachute, Your sons arent told to shoot their own brothers in a refugee army. So spare me the teary eyed cries that you cant pay rent on time After you buy new shoes and clothes on your so called ‘hard times’. You cant afford your government funded education because your gpa is accusing you of being a leach on a broken and failing system. Tell me more about societies grudge against you while thousands of somalians are running to kenya like a people broken beyond their own means of repair Your teacher, the government hates you and has a conspiracy to make your life a living hell. Tell that to the syrians and egyptians who are suffering and suffered under a dictator, men with no remourse even willing to kill their own people. The revolution at the arab spring which is a misnomer because the will of these people is drying up. One day without water here is a tragedy but these deserts dwellers have had their streets run red after a revolution, that is the true travesty here And that is what you fail to comprehend. I se spoilt rich kids being force fed oppurtinities by governments playing with more money than they know what to do with. You want to know about suffering or abject poverty? Visit places like somalia or haiti where the women are grossly mistreated and raped daily.

We Speak Peace “Toriana Vena Antonelli and brother John Victor (artist), 11 and 9 are the founders of Project Vena, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping our local community and the world become a greener place. It also encourages healthier habits for a better life while saving resources at the same time.”

-- artwork by Toriana and John.

“My piece represents growth and imagination. Our lives each have their own path and we have the power make it whatever beauty we dream it to be.” -- Ami Aqui.

AND FROM THE ANGRY HILL And from the angry hill, if I don’t get kill, I stand and look over the overlooked, I see 1970, and after, The Drag and industry, and after, The Drag and the drugs, I see the misery of Sewer City And I ask, how conscious were we?

Of the Fox’s bullets before he posed with gun On shoulders and his boots upon their chest. And I see the conscious, forty years after, Emerging from amnesia of annual processions, Walking up the hill again like zombies Awoken from the sleep and shadows of the past And I wonder, how conscious were we?

I see brothers, like Harry Hippie, In the throes of vagrancy, Liming on the Promenade of the Prince, The new home for the homeless, the aimless And the mad where the conscious once sold sandals While the conscienceless sold dope to hook and drag Brothers through the mud like Hector’s hapless corpse. I have seen the hooked, like bachac, in procession, Dragging the spoils of their conquest of distress To the Drag to exchange, for almost nothing, For coke, while the conscious sat and looked And said nothing and did nothing, and I ask, How conscious were we, how conscious are we?

I see 1990, and after, The holy war, guns and gangsters, and after, The ignorance of fools killing each other. Then I take a walk up Frederick Street Where the hip and the holy once would meet And congregate with the conscious And the conscienceless. I keep walking to the high walls, the cold walls, Now crowded with the children of the conscious And the conscienceless And I remember Mice and Nyah, The King brothers and Guerra and Dole And all the other gangsters, the monsters And ministers of mayhem and blood money And how they murdered each other And how nine evil men came to a doleful end But the Orinoco and the blood still flow; And I wonder who they were fronting for And I wonder, how conscious are we?

And from the angry hill, if I don’t get kill, I stand and look over the overlooked, And I remember, nuff respect, how the young And foolish, the conscious and idealistic Like Jones and Jeffers once went up into the hills And went down, for almost nothing, in a hail

And from the angry hill, if I don’t get kill, I stand and look over the overlooked…

-- by G. Newton V. Chance

Bulding Peace


Focus or Lack Thereof -- artwork by Sarah Burrows.


Reflections of 100 Thousand Poets and Musicians for Change By Mika Maharaj 100 Thousand Poets and Musicians for Change swept the globe like a force. It could be felt the moment that you walked into the NALIS Amphitheatre. You felt actively connected to voices you had never heard. These voices were received with empathy, tolerance and even laughter. It felt right. ‘Changing the Conversation for Peace” presented a unique opportunity. We spoke for peace, change, love and unity. But more importantly--- we listened. How often do we really have a chance to listen? So busy are we shouting down the next fellow or defending the one person that we know of, that isn’t guilty of any transgression that we forget to really listen. We forget to respect the experiences of others and recognize them as valid. We fail to embrace the idea that change is not always for the other fellow. Change is for all of us. On September 29th on an island some might mistakenly call third world--- WE REMEMBERED. We bare our souls in paint, lyrics, and spoken word. We said the things that couldn’t be said at the dinner table: We can afford the latest fashion, but can’t afford to be satisfied. We are sheep. We are lost. We are anything but free. Our stories raised questions that one wouldn’t ask in most spaces: Why are you still beating your child and for whose benefit? If violence is all you watch on television, then what do you really expect to learn? Who gave beauty a shade, a skin tone? What are you doing to make a difference? Why am I not enough? We comforted one another with an intimacy not allowed to strangers: “We’ll figure it out”. This was more than just lip service. This was a gathering of like-minded people committed to making a change. If their voices reached even one person in the audience, this event was a success. And from what I observed after the show, there wasn’t a person left untouched. The names of each artist who participated through song, poem, painting or photo could easily be listed. But I prefer to remember that for one sunny afternoon, we were ONE.

Mika Maharaj, founder of Empress Art, is a multimedia artist from the United States who currently lives in the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago. Her new home is rich in cultural diversity, warm people, vibrant flavor, and endless inspiration. She is an advocate for human rights, gender equality, environmental preservation, and dreaming big. She hopes to change the world armed with the ink of her pen, the lens of her camera and a few bars of dark chocolate.

Special mention and gratitude to: Ms. Debbie Goodman and Dominique Webb - NALIS, Robert Young - Propaganda Space, Trinidad Theatre Workshop, Trinidad and Tobago Red Cross Society, Ministry of Arts and Multiculturalism, GISL - Channel 4, Dave Telesford, Synergy TV, CNMG, Lime.tt, Mika Maharaj, Danielle Boodoo-Fortuné, Navid Lancaster, Rayhaan Joseph, Charmaine Daisley, Jamie Thomas, Errol Fabien, Nicholas Sosa, Gilline Mc Dowell, Vaughn Babb, Maria Nunes, Elspeth Duncan, Marsha Pearce, John Stollmeyer, Portia Subran, Kevin Hosein, Angelo Hart, Mickel Alexander, Nzingha Job, Paula Obe, Shakir London, Richard Solis, Selwyn Wiltshire, ‘Navvy’, Patricia Niles-Reyes, Nyla Singh, Shalini Singh, Annelie Solis, Steve Hernandez, Safiya Baksh-Hosein, Newton Chance, Dawad Phillip, Crystal Anna, Warren De Mills, Warren Anderson, Frank Julien-Rae, Andre ‘St. Ans’ Alleyne, Dominic Matouk, Ami Aqui, Genieve Valentine, Toriana Vena Antonelli and John Victor, Sarah Burrows, Roxanne Herbert, Tyker, Mark Williams, Kern Solomon, Derron Sandy, Janique Dennis, John John Francis Jr., Freetown Collective: Muhammad Muwakil and Lou Lyons, Marge Blackman, Janine Xavier, Eldon Blackman and all who came out and made this day a memorable one.