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!

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She Sex: Prose & Poetry, Sex & the Caribbean Woman

by Shivanee Ramlochan, Paper Based Blogger

The inaugural publication of Bamboo Talk Press, She Sex could rightly be regarded as a trailblazing, transformative work, concerned with showcasing the innermost erotic stories of Caribbean Women. Some truths about women’s sexuality — its practices; its taboos; the secrets it dares not reveal — are typically kept close to the chest, as the anthology’s co-editor, Paula Obé, mentions in the book’s introduction. Obé continues, saying, “Sometimes shadows need to be lit to take away that fear.”

Several of these pieces tackle achingly difficult subjects revolving around the female body and psyche, bringing them to the page with emotional fervour that lingers long after first readings. These contributors aren’t afraid to bare their teeth, whether they’re recounting the electric thrills associated with initial sensual encounters, or casting blame squarely in the laps of sexual predators. Danielle Boodoo-Fortuné’s poems lilt with a deep, quietly authoritative energy. In “Mother of Water”, the poem’s narrator triumphantly declares:

“I will not wear this gift
of well made shame
passed down to me.
I am a woman not buried
quite so easily.”

Lisa Allen-Agostini’s poem, “The Tiniest Tabanca”, delves energetically into Trinidadian Creole to probe the shocking hurt of a theft, one that leaves the subject of the piece sliced open with the intensity of loss. The line “sharp sharp knife cutting skin and flesh and bone like butter hand slip you crying onion tears slow surprising pain you never look for” conveys this in fluid urgency.

In the prose section, “No Lipstick for Me” by Kavita Ganness reveals the narrator’s inner turmoil, in the wake of a harrowing act of male-inflicted trauma. Ganness’ piece sees the protagonist alternating between outrage and bemusement, vacillating helplessly before she takes her defense into her own hands, in an act of exultant aggression. One of the early lines of the story warns, “…terrible things happen, it’s inevitable in most cases — like women dirtying their lips with lipstick.”

The collection features the work of several other writers, including talents from Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados, Jamaica and Bermuda, making it a truly collaborative regional project. Indispensable for women and men who want to read true erotic tales from our societies, She Sex will prompt both delight and dismay, in competing measure.