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Love Affair With Literature III: A Literary Orgy!

Novelist Erna Brodber brings Love Affair With Literature to a close

Two novelists sandwiched three poets as the 2014 A Love Affair With Literature became a literary orgy. Staged by the Department of Literatures in English as a part of the Kingston Book Festival, last Sunday’s rendition of A Love Affair With Literature featured a smorgasbord of literary delight from some of the Caribbean’s best writers hailing from Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, and St. Lucia.

First up was a humour laden reading from Trinidadian novelist Robert Antoni, as he produced gales of laughter from the amused audience with his reading from his latest work, As Flies to Whatless Boys. Antoni, who had to rush from the Neville Hall Lecture Theatre as soon as ended, to make it back to Carnival celebrations, ended his reading with a segment of the novel which beautifully melded scatological humuour and high art.

Robert Antoni reads from As Flies to Whatless BoysSt. Lucian dramatist and poet Kendel Hippolyte changed the mood to a more somber tone with his turn to the podium. Hippolyte was largely reading from Faultlines, winner of the 2013 Bocas Literary Prize. 

“Is 12 minutes so I won’t spend whole ‘eap of time between things. I will just let the poetry talk for itself,” Hippolyte said. And the poetry did speak, eloquently so, exploring the cracks and crevices of Caribbean society.Kendel Hippolyte delivers from Fault Lines

“I’m depressing myself here,” Hippolyte said with a laugh after reading ‘Faultlines’, and with that he decided to deviate slightly from his planned reading and delivered ‘Paradise’. But even though the poem held much humour, it was no less serious in its intentions.

The first of the three Jamaicans who would round out the morning, Monica Minott then came to the podium. Following in the footsteps of Antoni and Hippolyte, Minott proved a rather bland reader. Fortunately, her poetry is eloquent, insightful and often moving. She opened with ‘Bird Shooting Season’ followed by two pieces that peered at the darker side of Carnival: ‘Carnival Babes’ and ‘It Can Happen on a Warm Day’. She also delivered ‘No Salt’ and closed with the remarkable poem ‘Penelope’s Response to Calypso’.

Dingo, who until recently had been notably absent from the poetry stage was the morning’s third poet. 

“I see a number of my fellow poetry society people who know dem poem ya by heart, so cover up oonu ears,” he said. “For the rest of you who have never heard me before, mi ave some brand new poem fi you,”

Richard 'Dingo' Dingwall But whether they were old favourites of newly introduced works, the audience lapped up his words as he jumped from an exploration of the politics and hypocrisies of land ownership, to dealing with an abusive father and the resulting ‘warzone’ of childhood and eventually the other battlefield of love. Monica Minott

The morning’s second novelist, Erna Brodber opened with ‘Sleeping’s Beauty and the Charmed Prince’ a fairytale satire that explores femininity, socialization and the resulting trials of contemporary black relationships.  Brodber, who is currently Writer in Residence at the University of the West Indies, Mona, also read from her novel Louisiana from which she also delivered an encore, bringing the morning to a fantastic close.

The Kingston Book Festival is staged by the Book Industry Association of Jamaica and features several events across across the city. The 2014 staging opened on Saturday, March 1 and ends on Sunday, March 9, with the Kingston City Run.