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.

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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!