An Evening of Tea and Readings, March 8th – Paper Based Turns 27!

by Shivanee Ramlochan, Paper Based Blogger

Our official event flyer, designed by Reynold Hackshaw.

Our official event flyer, designed by Reynold Hackshaw.

The beginning of 2014 saw our Tea and Readings series revitalized, with a successful event in February. Just one month later, we were equally excited to host March’s reading, for many reasons, including our celebration of Paper Based’s twenty-seventh birthday! In her opening remarks, Paper Based’s owner, Joan Dayal, expressed how grateful she was that our festivities shared a calendar page with International Women’s Day.

Joan Dayal says a few welcoming words to the gathering.

Joan Dayal says a few welcoming words to the gathering.

To commemorate the occasion, we assembled a lineup of writers with various literary backgrounds, whose works span several genres and formats: literary fiction; romance writing; poetry; short stories.

Nzingha Job reads from her journals of poetry.

Nzingha Job reads from her journals of poetry.

Nzingha Job’s poetry launched us into the evening. Job, a former TEDxPort of Spain speaker, read poems that tackled issues of both personal limitation and public confrontation. Her readings moved from a rapid-paced, self-professed “rant”, to what Job described as more inspirational fare. Speaking candidly and forthrightly about sexual policing of the individual; of creative growth and emotional turmoil, Job’s poems echoed with a triumphant, underlying message of positivity, even in times as uncertain as these.

Hugh Blanc shares an excerpt from his current work in progress.

Hugh Blanc shares an excerpt from his current work in progress.

Hugh Blanc took to the podium next, reading an excerpt from his second novel, which he’s in the process of writing. Blanc said he expects to have the sophomore offering completed later this year. The extracts he shared display the same dense description and sensitive character analysis that define Blanc’s first novel, the Kirkus Review-starred Between Bodies Lie. We were early fans of Between Bodies Lie, selecting it as our first-ever Book Club Pick last year. We’re excited to see what future signposts of success are in store for Blanc’s blossoming literary career.

Elspeth Duncan reads interlinked stories from her novel in vignettes, Daisy Chain.

Elspeth Duncan reads interlinked stories from her novel in vignettes, Daisy Chain.

Elspeth Duncan’s unusually-formatted novel, Daisy Chain, has won favour with those seeking nonconformist tales of women’s interior lives. When Duncan shared three of the stories from Daisy Chain, it was easy to see why: the prose is deceptively simple, packing an emotional punch in each examination of a single woman, whose life interlaps with many other females. The stories spellbind, whether they’re describing a woman’s desire to remove the clown makeup her husband so loves, or another’s consuming desire for the young girl who mows her lawn. One guest described Duncan’s style as bearing both “a creative imagination and a light touch”, which is a perspective we’re happy to second.

Nathalie Taghaboni reads from her second novel in the Savanoy series, Santimanitay.

Nathalie Taghaboni reads from her second novel in the Savanoy series, Santimanitay.

For Nathalie Taghaboni, this reading marked another event in her homecoming tour. Taghaboni launched two novels in the romance series, The Savanoys, at NALIS on Friday 7th, March. Paper Based was proud to be that event’s official bookseller, and equally happy to invite the writer of Across From Lapeyrouse and Santimanitay to our birthday reading. Taghaboni shared scintillating moments from both novels, her readings proving that the books have a fiercely colourful, Carnival-inspired heart.

Monique Roffey shares selections from her forthcoming novel, House of Ashes.

Monique Roffey shares selections from her forthcoming novel, House of Ashes.

The evening’s feature reader, Monique Roffey, is no stranger to Paper Based: she’s been a tireless supporter of the shop, and she launched her last novel, Archipelago, here. In addition to Archipelago (winner of the 2013 OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature), Roffey’s novels have been consistent prizewinners, shortlistees and recipients of other honours. We were especially thrilled to hear Roffey read from her brand new novel, House of Ashes, forthcoming in June 2014. This was the first time that any excerpt from House of Ashes was shared in a public forum, and from Roffey’s first word, the audience was hooked. The novel focuses on the events surrounding the 1990 coup in Trinidad, and is conducted from dual points of view: that of a hostage victim, and a gunman.

Roffey treated the evening’s guests to perspectives from both sets of narration, and it’s difficult to decide which was more entrancing. This new novel already promises to be a gripping affair, in its stark, vivid depictions of desperate civil unrest, and of the emotional tour de force that such scenarios inevitably represent.

Ruth Osman Rose performs, with Raf Robertson accompanying her on keyboard.

Ruth Osman Rose performs, with Raf Robertson accompanying her on keyboard.

Jazz musician Ruth Osman Rose set the audience’s feet to tapping, and even got a lively refrain echoing through the Normandie’s marketplace foyer, as she performed her set. Such was the abundant, affirmative energy radiated by Osman Rose, that she sent patrons scampering right to our register, to purchase her debut CD, Letting Go. 

Trinidad’s next major literary event is, of course, the NGC Bocas Lit Fest! In case you haven’t already marked the dates firmly in your planners, this year’s festival takes place from the 23rd to the 27th of April. Paper Based will be a fixture during Bocas, as we’ve been proud to be since the festival’s inception in 2011.

In the run-up to #bocas2014, we’ll be highlighting several of the books and authors on this year’s soon-to-be-released programme. Our next official newsletter, slated for release in the first week of April, will focus exclusively on Bocas Lit Fest content!

Two of Paper Based's youngest readers share a moment after all the evening's formalities!

Two of Paper Based’s youngest readers share a moment after all the evening’s formalities!

We’re grateful to each of you who came out to partake in our birthday revels, and to everyone who continues to support Paper Based. Whether we see you as regularly as clockwork each week, or on your annual visits back to Trinidad, we appreciate your commitment and loyalty to our shop. In your company, we look forward to many, many more birthdays in service of independent, literary Caribbean bookselling!

All photographs by Desiree Seebaran.

An Evening of Tea and Readings, February 8th

by Shivanee Ramlochan, Paper Based Blogger

Dear Book Lovers,

We were eager for our Tea and Readings series to resume this year, and it gave us joy to see that your enthusiasm matched our own! Last Saturday, we held our first literary evening of 2014 before a capacity crowd, at which we welcomed three uniquely engaging writers to the podium.

Our official event flyer, designed by Reynold Hackshaw.

Our official event flyer, designed by Reynold Hackshaw.

The evening’s first reader was Kim Johnson, one of Trinidad’s steelpan connoisseurs and foremost cultural academics. Johnson shared extensively from one of his most popular titles, The Illustrated Story of Pan, frequently interspersing his reading with colourful sideline commentary. Scarcely needing to rely on his own written reportage, Johnson regaled the appreciative crowd with anecdotes both revealing and whimsical. Avid collectors eager to acquire The Illustrated Story of Pan may have some waiting ahead of them: the book is currently out of print. (It’s been recommissioned for re-release, official date pending confirmation.) In the interim, though, we’ve several of Johnson’s other titles in stock, including Tinpan to TASPO: Origins of the Steelband Movement 1939-1951 (2011) and Descendants of the Dragon (2007).

Steelpan scholar Kim Johnson shares passages from his publication The Illustrated Story of Pan.

Steelpan scholar Kim Johnson shares passages from his publication The Illustrated Story of Pan.

Our middle presenter isn’t a stranger to the Paper Based reading stage: in late October last year, Paper Based was privileged to host Debbie Jacob’s book launch of Wishing for Wings, a true account of her experiences teaching English Language to incarcerated young men at the Youth Training Centre. Critical and personal response to Wishing for Wings has been effusively widespread: people agree that this is an indispensable book, an asset to every secondary school student, no matter their circumstances. Jacob spoke candidly of the horrors that can be found behind prison walls, both juvenile and adult, and of the enormous dedication it takes to imagine a better life while in remand. By the time she soberly wound her reflections to a close, there was barely a dry eye or unmoved expression in the house.

Debbie Jacob shares excerpts from her students' writing, many examples of which appear in Wishing for Wings (Ian Randle Publishers, 2013).

Debbie Jacob shares excerpts from her students’ writing, many examples of which appear in Wishing for Wings (Ian Randle Publishers, 2013).

Bringing the readings to a close, historian Angelo Bissessarsingh (who, like Debbie, is a Trinidad Guardian columnist), will have his first book, Walking with the Ancestors, on our shelves soon. While that book is poised to present a fascinating study of local cemeteries, Bissessarsingh wore the hat of fiction last Saturday, as opposed to the historical non-fiction for which he is perhaps best recognized. Sharing a short story, adapted from a novel in progress, the Virtual Museum of Trinidad and Tobago founder had the audience in stitches from the first paragraph of ribald stream of consciousness onwards. In the wake of such a side-splitting rendition, which also served to highlight many facets of Trinidad’s post-war society, we’re just as keen to read Angelo’s novel as we are his non-fiction!

Angelo Bissessarsingh tickles the crowd's collective funny bone with his short story, "Lady Maudie".

Angelo Bissessarsingh tickles the crowd’s collective funny bone with his short story, “Lady Maudie”.

We couldn’t have asked for a more beautifully balanced triad of readers, whose offerings ran the gamut from historical introspection, to present-day societal study, to creative fiction of mirth and merriment. We’d like to thank Kim, Debbie and Angelo for their time and generosity — and we’re deeply appreciative to each of our patrons, both first-timers and familiar returning faces. Your unflagging support keeps our Tea and Reading series alive, and we look forward to many similar celebrations in your company.

Speaking of celebrations, our upcoming reading, on March 8th, will be a special one: in addition to showcasing a promising lineup of writers, we’ll also be ringing in Paper Based’s 27th birthday! We’re happy to announce that one of our March readers will be Nathalie Taghaboni, author of Across From Lapeyrouse and its sequel, Santimanitay. Stay tuned for our full list of readers, to be announced by the end of February.

An Evening of Tea and Readings, November 23rd

by Shivanee Ramlochan, Paper Based Blogger

Official event flyer, designed by Kevin Hackshaw.

Official event flyer, designed by Kevin Hackshaw.

Dear Friends of Paper Based,

Amidst the pre-December Christmas listmaking and the first signs of tinsel-strewn excitement that this festive season prompts, it gave us glad tidings indeed to host our final Tea and Readings of the calendar year. Last Saturday’s event was marked more than the full stop on this reading series for 2013: as Joan Dayal (Paper Based’s owner, for any newcomers to the blog!) remarked, the final reading also serves as a forum in which we look forward to the series’ reprisal in the new year.

We welcomed a group of talented, diverse writers to the Paper Based podium: song-poet Paula Obé; poet Gilberte O’Sullivan; poet Danielle Boodoo-Fortuné; spoken word artist Mickel Alexander, and poet and fiction writer, Lisa Allen-Agostini.

Paula Obé reads a fiction excerpt from a full-length work, as it appears in the She Sex anthology.

Paula Obé reads a fiction excerpt from a full-length work, as it appears in the She Sex anthology.

Gilberte O'Sullivan shares a selection of her new and published poems with the audience.

Gilberte O’Sullivan shares a selection of her new and published poems with the audience.

This evening marked two firsts for our reading series, about which we’re delighted in equal measure. For the first time, we showcased four readers sharing space in a print collection: the brand new anthology, She Sex, published by Bamboo Talk Press and freshly-launched at NALIS this month. Edited by Obé, She Sex contains work from Boodoo-Fortuné, O’Sullivan, Allen-Agostini, as well as the editor herself. Copies of She Sex are available at the shop — we look forward to hearing reader responses on the power and emotional impact of this anthology, which reveals the core truths encircling much of female sensuality.

Mickel Alexander holds the audience rapt (including yours truly!) with one of his spoken word renditions.

Mickel Alexander holds the audience rapt (including yours truly!) with one of his spoken word renditions.

Boodoo-Fortuné shares poems from her soon-to-be-published manuscript.

Boodoo-Fortuné shares poems from her soon-to-be-published manuscript.

Gracing our reading series for the first time was not just any member of the ambitious, trailblazing initiative The Two Cents Movement, but an executive member, Mickel Alexander. Taking time out from 2 Cents’ event-packed schedule, which includes a comprehensive secondary school tour, Alexander brought the invigorating vibe of spoken word to Paper Based. We look forward to hosting more members of 2 Cents in the future, as we aim to diversify and broaden the scope of the readings that issue from our microphones!

Lisa Allen-Agostini shares from one of her unpublished short fiction pieces, bringing the evening's readings to a close.

Lisa Allen-Agostini shares from one of her unpublished short fiction pieces, bringing the evening’s readings to a close.

We’re not entirely through with our podium for 2013 — the shop will be hosting two book launches in December:

  • Ingrid Persaud’s If I Never Went Home on December 7th
  • Robert Antoni’s As Flies to Whatless Boys on December 14th

Keep your eye on our social media hubs (Facebook and Twitter) for more information on those events: we’ll be sharing more specifics closer to each launch date.

As we close the chapter on our 2013 Tea and Reading series, we look forward with new inspiration to what this initiative holds for us — and for you, our dear friends — in the coming year. It’s been an honour and a privilege to host so many talented poets, fiction and non-fiction writers. We’re grateful to each of them, for sharing so generously of their time and talents.

As we aim to make 2014’s readings even more successful, we eagerly welcome your feedback: feel free to share your thoughts, suggestions and recommendations here or on our Facebook and Twitter pages!

An Evening of Tea and Readings, October 19th

by Shivanee Ramlochan, Paper Based Blogger

Official event flyer, designed by Kevin Hackshaw.

Official event flyer, designed by Kevin Hackshaw.

Dear Friends of Paper Based,

Lest it be said that the approaching end of 2013 means things are winding down at the shop, know that the opposite is true! We’ve a handful of exciting, immersive events remaining in our calendar year, and October’s Evening of Tea and Readings, held on the 19th at The Normandie’s marketplace foyer, was our launchpad celebration of books and writers for 2013’s final lap. We were especially pleased to host, as one appreciative Paper Based customer best put it, “a trio of literary heavyweights”, in the persons of Guardian columnist Angelo Bissessarsingh, visual artist Jackie Hinkson, and folklorist Gerard Besson. Paper Based is deeply committed to paying tribute to as many genres of local and regional writing as possible, so we jumped at the opportunity to organize an event that highlighted the best in memoir writing, historical fiction and sociocultural commentary.

Historian Angelo Bissessarsingh gestures animatedly while regaling the audience with tales from one of his cemetery jaunts!

As Paper Based owner Joan Dayal made mention in her opening remarks, the shop has been previously honoured with readings from both Hinkson and Besson at past events, while this was the first (but decidedly far from the last) official appearance of Bissessarsingh at the event podium. We’re particularly looking forward to the arrival of Angelo’s debut publication, Walking with the Ancestors, signed copies of which will be resident on our shelves by the first week of December.

Artist Jackie Hinkson reads one of several passages from his critically acclaimed memoir, What Things are True, a Paria Publishing title.

Artist Jackie Hinkson reads one of several passages from his critically acclaimed memoir, What Things are True, a Paria Publishing title.

Before you begin assembling your Advent calendars, we’ll be displaying Walking with the Ancestors alongside What Things are True and From the Gates of Aksum — you might consider getting all three as a Yuletide bundle of intelligent, engaging and moving writing from some of Trinidad’s finest thinkers. From graveyard romps, to reflective tales of childhood misadventures, to historical clashes and derring-do, the selected readings enjoyed at this October gathering were each uniquely memorable.

Folklorist and Paria Publishing founder Gerard Besson shares multiple samples from the pages of his newly-published historical novel, From the Gates of Aksum.

This special event, we’re pleased to report, quickly turned into a standing-room only affair, for which we’d like to once more thank the evening’s readers and attendees. Do stay tuned to this space, and to our Facebook and Twitter pages, for information on our upcoming 2013 readings — we’re already elbow-deep in preparations for our November teatime get-together!

An Evening of Tea and Readings, May 25th

by Shivanee Ramlochan, Paper Based Blogger

Official event flyer, designed by Kevin Hackshaw.

Official event flyer, designed by Kevin Hackshaw.

Dear Friends of Paper Based,

As the shop’s proprietress, Joan Dayal, said in her opening remarks at our most recent Evening of Tea and Readings, we’ve so much to celebrate, in terms of Caribbean writers, books, and publishers. Ms. Dayal saluted the unflagging endeavours of NGC Bocas Lit Fest founder, Marina Salandy-Brown, who was front and centre in the capacity-filled foyer at the Normandie last Saturday. The Bocas Team, Dayal said, has worked tirelessly to promote books written and supported within the Caribbean and abroad.

Joan Dayal delivers opening remarks to the audience.

Joan Dayal delivers opening remarks to the audience.

It is precisely this spirit of bookish inclusiveness that Paper Based hopes to foster and encourage, with the Tea and Reading series. This third evening of readings for 2013 featured the works of five published writers: James Christopher Aboud; Beverley-Ann Scott; Barbara Jenkins; Raymond Ramcharitar and Hugh Blanc.

Aboud

The evening’s first reader was poet James Christopher Aboud, who shared selections from his second collection of poetry, Lagahoo Poems, first published in 2004 by Peepal Tree Press. The collection is defined, Aboud said in a preface to his readings, as a series of devotions on “shapeshiftedness”. In the folklore of Trinidad and Tobago, the lagahoo or li gahoo is a shapeshifter, a creature capable of morphing into multiple forms, including that of a headless man bearing a wooden coffin. “Wind, Water, Fire, Men,” the first piece read by Aboud, was a favourite of the late Trinidadian author and literary mentor, Wayne Brown. Aboud also shared selections from his work in progress.

Scott

Reading in second place, author and medical doctor Beverley-Ann Scott shared a series of passages from her second novel, Is America She Gone?, published in 2012 by AuthorHouse. The novel tells the story of Sandra, a struggling single mother who emigrates illegally to the United States, in hope of providing a better life for the children she leaves behind in Trinidad. Among the excerpts shared by Scott were comparisons between the polite chill of autumn rain in Brooklyn, versus the unbiddable rudeness of Trinidad’s showers. Scott’s first novel, The Stolen Cascadura, was the focus of NALIS’s 2012 One Book, One Community Project.

Jenkins

Reading the story “I Never Heard Pappy Play the Hawaiian Guitar” from her collection of short fiction, Sic Transit Wagon, Barbara Jenkins shared the evening’s second set of prose work. Jenkins was named the inaugural recipient of the Hollick Arvon Caribbean Writers’ Prize, at this year’s NGC Bocas Lit Fest. She also officially launched Sic Transit Wagon, a Peepal Tree Press title, on the final day of the Bocas’s programme of events. Jenkins introduced the story’s premise as “a girl child coming to request child support from her itinerant father, down at the docks.”

Raymond Ramcharitar, the second poet of the evening, read offerings from his 2013 Peepal Tree Press publication, Here, described as a “book-length autobiographical poem in five parts” in the official blurb. Of these five segments, Ramcharitar shared excerpts from each of these sections: “Here”; “Yearning for the City”, “Toronto”; “The Dream Diary”; “The Last Avatar” — the final segment a movement written in dedication to Lloyd Best. Ramcharitar’s previous published works with Peepal Tree Press are the poetry collection, American Fall, and the short fiction collection, The Island Quintet.

Blanc

The evening’s final reader, first-time author Hugh Blanc, read a passage from his novel, Between Bodies Lie, which tells the story of a disillusioned writer’s trip to a Caribbean island, and recounts the romantic misadventures he conducts while installed there. Blanc and Scott were both panelists on a Do-It-Yourself discussion at this year’s NGC Bocas Lit Fest, where they read from their work and spoke about the experience of self-publishing. Between Bodies Lie was featured on our blog as our inaugural Book Club pick.

The authors’ titles on display, flanking our event flyer.

We remain hugely grateful for the participation of writers and readers alike in these Tea and Readings events. Do stay tuned to our updates here, as well as on our Facebook and Twitter pages, as we look forward to hosting our next installment over the long vacation.

An Evening of Tea and Readings – Paper Based Turns 26!

by Shivanee Ramlochan, Paper Based Blogger

PBReadingMarch23rd

Dear Friends of Paper Based,

As March drew to a close, we celebrated the shop’s twenty-six years of existence and dedication to Caribbean literature in what has fast become one of our favourite ways: by supporting the rich, diverse talents of our own writing community. Providing a platform, as best we can, through which both fledgling and established writers may share their work with fellow lovers of language, remains our committment to the Trinbagonian arts: one we look forward to hosting on a regular, recurring basis.

On March 23rd, we were lucky to have two readers of prose fiction, Rhoda Bharath and June Aming; and two of poetry, Abinta Clarke and Colin Robinson, treat the audience to selections of their work. These four writers share a special tenet: all are graduates of past Cropper Foundation Residential Workshop for Caribbean Writers Workshops. The attendees sat rapt through the orations, moved to both riotous laughter and quieter, introspective lulls of calm.

We were also delighted to host a creative non-fiction reading from the autobiography of the late diplomat and civil servant Cuthbert Joseph, entitled The Life I Recall: Other Pathways to Human Development. Sections of the work were read by Legena Henry and Anthony Grey, pictured below. Publications in this steadily burgeoning genre of life writing serve to add new, wide-ranging dimensions to the ways in which stories of human experience may be told.

LifeIRecall

Paper Based continues to be appreciative for the generous turnout at our Tea and Readings series events: and for those who couldn’t quite make it on March 23rd, fear not! After the vastly exciting extravaganza of the impending Bocas Lit Fest, you may depend upon future reading events in the calendar year. We thank the phenomenal writers of prose, fiction, and non-fiction alike who have graced the Paper Based podium, and look forward to discovering new, promising talent in the many Tea and Readings to come!

Cuthbert Joseph’s autobiography (L) alongside Moving Right Along, an anthology of Cropper Workshop writing that includes stories by Rhoda Bharath and June Aming.

Photographs by Shivanee Ramlochan.

An Evening of Tea and Readings, January 12th

by Shivanee Ramlochan, Paper Based Blogger

Official event flyer, designed by Reynold Kevin Hackshaw and Danielle Boodoo Fortuné.

Official event flyer, designed by Reynold Kevin Hackshaw and Danielle Boodoo Fortuné.

“Amazing synergies happen when you have so much talent beneath one roof, in one evening.” This was one of the enthusiastically shared comments, following the shop’s most recent in a series of teatime readings. The first official Paper Based event of 2013, this gathering marked another first: the first time this many readers were asked to share their work in one, structured sitting. Ten writers of prose fiction and poetry generously shared their time and work with the capacity-packed space right outside the shop. In keeping with the low-key vibe of the event, there were no fussy introductions or rattling speeches from either the admin or the writers. What unfolded instead was an evening of much laughter and quiet contemplation, including a chatty intermission filled with delicious treats and lots of wine!

Have a look at our photo gallery below, in case you missed the event (or if you were there, and want to relive some of the memories!)

FawziaBarbara

SharonRachael

ShivLeshanta

It was an honour to share the stage with these nine talented writers. I greatly look forward to seeing how each of their creative paths progresses, a sentiment I’m sure is echoed by all those in attendance at our first official event of 2013.

Photo of Fawzia Kane by Portia Subran.
All other reader photographs by Fawzia Kane.