“Mexican Heaven” – Poem by Mexican American Poet José Olivarez

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Front Cover: Poetry Collection, Citizen Illegal by José Olivarez

 

My Poetry Corner September 2019 features the poem “Mexican Heaven” from the poetry collection Citizen Illegal (Haymarket Books, 2018) by José Olivarez, a poet, teacher, and poetry slam performer. Born in Calumet City on the south side of Chicago, Illinois, he is the son of Mexican immigrants. Despite all the odds, he earned his Bachelor of Arts degree from Harvard University.

Olivarez’s first contact with poetry occurred through his high school’s poetry slam team. Their poetry had a profound impact on him. In a conversation with Jessica Hopper in July 2018, Olivarez said, “It made me feel like I could question more.” For the first time, he saw a way of becoming his true self, other than the reserved person everyone wanted him to be.

In his poem, “I Tried to Be a Good Mexican Son,” he shares his parents’ disappointment that he didn’t become a doctor, lawyer, or businessman.

I even went to college. But i studied African American studies which is not
The Law or The Medicine or The Business. my mom still loved me.
[…]
i tried to be a good Mexican son. Went to a good college & learned depression isn’t just for white people…
Continue reading

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11 September 2001: “Guyanese Roll Call” by Peter Jailall

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Caribbean immigrants remember loved ones at the 9/11 memorial on September 11, 2018
Photo Credit: News Americas

 

On September 11, we will remember all those we have lost on that ill-fated day when a terrorist attack on the World Trade Center in New York City turned the world-famous landmark into rubble.

I was living in Brazil when the tragedy occurred, sending a tsunami across the world. More than ninety other nations also lost loved ones that day, including three Brazilian-Americans and twenty-six Guyanese-Americans.

In his poem, “Guyanese Roll Call,” Guyanese-Canadian poet Peter Jailall remembers his twenty-six countrymen and women who died on that day. Their American Dream had been suddenly cut short.

Listen to our roll call
Of those who died
On that dreadful September day,
Following their American Dream: 

Patrick Adams
Leslie Arnold Austin
Rudy Bacchus
Kris Romeo Bishundauth
Pamela Boyce
Annette Datarom
Babita Guman
Nizam Hafiz
Ricknauth Jhagganauth
Charles Gregory Jolin
Bowanie Devi Kemraj
Sarab Khan
Amerdauth Luchman
Shevonne Meutis
Narendra Nath
Marcus Neblett
Hardai Parbhu
Ameena Rasool
Shiv Sankar
Sita Sewnarine
Karini Singh
Rosham Singh
Astrid Sohan
Joyce Stanton
Patricia Staton
Vanava Thompson 

These are our dedicated,
Hard-working country people,
Who travelled from South to North
To savour just a small bite
Of the Big Apple. 

We will always remember them.

Source: Poetry Collection, People of Guyana by Ian McDonald and Peter Jailall, MiddleRoad Publishers, Canada, 2018.

 

While violent anti-immigrant activism spread across America, let us remember that Guyanese and other Caribbean immigrant families also share our nation’s grief for loved ones lost on September 11, 2001.

 


Peter Jailall is a teacher, poet, and storyteller. He has published five books of poetry. In 2011, he received the Marty’s Award for Established Literary Arts in Mississauga, Ontario, where he lives. Since his retirement, Jailall has conducted workshops on Poetry Writing in schools across Guyana and Canada.

Under the Tamarind Tree – a Review by Trev Sue-A-Quan

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Under the Tamarind Tree is a story of outsider influences. Richard Cheong, the main character, finds himself influenced by attitudes and events beyond his control. There is an outside child in the family – a boy whose very existence causes a divide between family members. Some are filled with resentment that this male child could be receiving financial benefits and privileges that are traditionally retained within a nuclear family. The animosity among some siblings leads to actions of a life-threatening nature. Richard himself perpetuates some of the conflicts by tenuously holding on to the glorious tradition of fathering a son of his own. With this objective entrenched in his mind, his wife Gloria gives birth to a fourth child but he dies at childbirth and this results in considerable friction within his family.

Through their ancestries, Richard and Gloria carry the customs and religious beliefs from five of the six peoples that constitute the country of Guyana. These diverse tenets lead to decisions by individuals that are difficult for even their closest loved ones to accept. A child’s wish to change religion brings intolerance from parents. The mother bearing an out-of-wedlock child is rejected by her family, while the sacredness of marriage is questioned when a partner feels that true love for an outsider overrules the stigma of adultery.

Adding to the contradictions among family members, the Cheongs find themselves caught in a greater conflict arising from the political changes leading to the country’s independence from Britain. The leaders of the political parties rally support based on racial and economic interests. Their influences result in some serious racial clashes between the people of African and East Indian heritage, representing the vast majority of the population. Even friends and family members of the Cheongs are instigators or perpetrators of violence, as well as being victims. Although standing as outsiders, Britain, as the presiding colonial power, and the United States, as the regional superpower, bring pressure to influence the direction that an independent Guyana would take, with determination that it should not become a country with a communist ideology.

Through these multiple influences, Richard and Gloria Cheong are challenged by both their individual set of values and the unfolding events that affect their family and business affairs. Under the Tamarind Tree weaves an intricate account of human interactions based on a personal, family-based, religious and national themes and is one with a uniquely Guyanese flavor.

 

Trev Sue-A-Quan was born in Georgetown, Guyana and attended Queen’s College. In 1969 he gained his Ph.D. degree in Chemical Engineering at the University of Birmingham, England. Besides his engineering career he has researched historical events related to Chinese immigration to Guyana. Based on his findings he has written three books describing the history of the Chinese Guyanese, covering their initial arrival as indentured laborers in the mid-19th century, their adaptation as residents in the new land and the experiences of their descendants as migrants to other countries. Trev now resides in Vancouver, Canada.
Learn More: Chinese in Guyana: Their Roots

 


Dear Reader, my debut novel, Under the Tamarind Tree, is now available at Rosaliene’s Store on Lulu.com and other book retailers at Amazon, BAM! Book-A-Million, Barnes and Noble, Book Depository, and Indie Bound.
Learn more about Under the Tamarind Tree at Rosaliene’s writer’s website.

Mother forgive us. We know not what we do.

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Map of Active Fires in the Amazon Basin – Brazil – August 27, 2019
Photo Credit: BBC News

 

Brazil’s Amazon rainforest is under attack. So far this year, she has received nearly 75,000 stab wounds, setting the targeted areas ablaze. Seventy-five thousand! Her belching smoke trails turned daylight into darkness over Brazil’s largest city, some 1,677 miles away. How many trees and the non-human lives they sustain have we humans condemned to ashes? For what?

Some arsonists are loggers, raping the forest for more wood to feed global demand. Others want easy access to the mineral wealth—gold, diamonds, iron-ore, and bauxite. Most of them are land-grabbers. They covet the land for raising more cattle and expanding soybean cultivation for animal feed production. We are trading the Amazon rainforest to satiate our taste for beef.

The Amazon Basin, regarded as the ‘Lungs of Earth,’ absorbs about 25 percent of Earth’s total carbon dioxide emissions and releases oxygen into the atmosphere. What could go wrong? Continue reading

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Global Bipolar Disorder — Green Life Blue Water

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Pam Lazos, writing at Green Life Blue Water, observes the signs of climate change around her in Central Pennsylvania. Troubled by the “unknown unknown,” using the  “tortured phraseology” of former Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld, she calls on us to face reality and cure our global bipolar disorder.

We all know the truth: it’s time for an intervention.  We can help Mother Nature deal with her issues because we are her issues.  The government is not going to save us and neither are the aliens, in case you were wondering.  The only ones who can save us are us.  It’s time to do what we do best as a country — solve problems, innovate, lead so others might follow.  The payoff — as if saving the planet and ourselves wasn’t enough — is that there’s a heck of a lot of money to be made in green technology, but first, we need to cure our global bipolar disorder and think things through in rational, logical terms.

Read her complete post at Global Bipolar Disorder — Green Life Blue Water

The Writer’s Life: Latest News

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I’ve just received news that an excerpt of my novel, Under the Tamarind Tree, submitted for consideration, is featured today, August 25th, 2019, in The Writers’ Room section of the Stabroek News, Georgetown, Guyana. Also featured is an article titled, “Self-therapy,” about the author.

You can read the excerpt and article at the following link:
https://www.stabroeknews.com/sunday/the-writers-room/

 

UPDATE: MORE GOOD NEWS

I’ve now learned, through a Google Alert, that my novel is also now available on the following book sites:

Amazon
https://www.amazon.com/s?k=9781684706488&i=stripbooks&linkCode=qs

Barnes & Nobel
https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/under-the-tamarind-tree-rosaliene-bacchus/1132984853?ean=9781684706488

BAM! Book-A-Million
https://www.booksamillion.com/product/9781684706488

Book Depository
https://www.bookdepository.com/Under-Tamarind-Tree-Rosaliene-Bacchus/9781684706488?ref=grid-view&qid=1566851557346&sr=1-3

Indie Bound: Community of Independent Local Bookstores
https://www.indiebound.org/book/9781684706488

Blessings galore in one day!!!

“Counter-narcissus” by Brazilian Poet Paulo Leminski

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Brazilian Poet Paulo Leminski in his Study
Photo Credit: Veja Magazine, São Paulo/Brazil

 

My Poetry Corner August 2019 features the poem “Counter-narcissus” (Contranarciso) by Paulo Leminski (1944-1989), a Brazilian poet, translator, and biographer. He was born of humble origins in Curitiba, capital of the southern state of Paraná. His father was of Polish descent; his mother was a mixture of Portuguese, Black, and Native Indian. He publicly owned with pride, the derogatory labels of “polaco” and “negro mestiço.”

At the age of fourteen, with his parents’ approval, Paulo entered the Monastery of Saint Benedict in São Paulo. Within a year and a half, unable to cope with the disciplined lifestyle, he returned home. But his time spent among the monks wasn’t wasted. His studies exposed him to theology, philosophy, and Classical literature which demanded a knowledge of Latin and Greek. Later in life, Leminski applied the monks’ rigid and strenuous study routine to his work. Passionate about language, he became an autodidact polyglot fluent in six foreign languages.

Before the realization that poetry was his life, Paulo abandoned his undergraduate studies in literature and law after just a year, taught history and creative writing for a while, and later applied his writing skills as a journalist and advertising editor. Continue reading

Book Release – Under the Tamarind Tree: A Novel

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Tamarind Tree with Fruits
Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

 

The day is finally here. Today is the day I send my debut novel out into the world. It has been a long journey: four years in its conception and another five years in failing to find it a home. During the years of rejection from the guardians of the publishing world, I held onto the hope that Under the Tamarind Tree would enter the world when its time had come. Guyana, the setting for the novel, is now facing a constitutional crisis. In my adopted homeland, divisive racist politics is becoming the norm. Across our planet, gang violence and never-ending wars are driving families from their ancestral homes.

At the heart of Under the Tamarind Tree is the loss and pain that violence brings into our lives. In the United States, mass shootings by lone gunmen are devastating our communities, with little to no response from our law makers. The life of the protagonist, Richard Cheong, is changed forever when his younger brother, then eight years old, was shot to death under a tamarind tree. For Richard, the tamarind tree—a vengeful judge—becomes the personification of his guilt for not keeping his younger brother safe. His inconsolable mother’s death, shortly thereafter, had compounded his guilt. Her spirit haunted him.

Sometimes, she called out his name in the quiet of the night while he stretched out in his Berbice-chair listening to music. She often visited him in his dreams, drenched and shivering. Her chocolate-brown hair, caked with mud, draped down her back to her waist. She drowned him in her grief. (Prologue 1) Continue reading

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Book Review: Under The Tamarind Tree by Rosaliene Bacchus — Ken Puddicombe -Writer

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Great news! I’ve received the first review of my debut novel, Under the Tamarind Tree, soon to be released. The reviewer, Guyana-born Ken Puddicombe, is the author of three historical novels Racing With the Rain (2012), Junta (2014), and Down Independence Boulevard & Other Stories (2017). He lives in Toronto, Canada, where he owns and runs a small press.

Do check out his review.

COVER ART BY GUYANESE-CANADIAN ARTIST JOAN BRYAN-MUSS

 

UNDER THE TAMARIND TREE Copyright 2019 By Rosaliene Bacchus 284 pgs Published by Lulu Press, Inc. USA Review by Ken Puddicombe The fruit of the Tamarind Tree holds a puzzling allure to people in the tropics, its tangy and acidic fruit devoured obsessively, even as it stimulates the taste buds with spasms of unpleasantness […]

via Book Review: Under The Tamarind Tree by Rosaliene Bacchus — Ken Puddicombe -Writer

Guyana: Let’s have a ‘One Guyana Peace Concert’ and a ‘Day of Prayer’ Before the Elections!

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COMMENTARY By Dr. Dhanpaul Narine
The West Indian Magazine, July 27, 2019
Reprinted with permission of the author

 

Some may think that the idea is outrageous or even downright crazy. But we need to allay the fears of Guy­anese, to ease the tension, and show that we can work, sing and pray to­gether. We need a ‘One Guyana Peace Concert and a Day of Prayer’ and we need it before the elections. Both events should be non-political and aim to celebrate Guyana as a peaceful nation.

The daily vitriol on social media, from peo­ple that live thousands of miles away from Guy­ana, is bereft of peace or harmony. The online posts stir up hate and call on people to go to war. But Guyanese know bet­ter. They know that at the end of the day the races depend on each other for their survival. They know that we are inter­locked by economics and history and we can’t do without each other. Elections bring out the worse in us but isn’t time that we put aside the hate and look at each other as Guyanese first?

Take a walk at the business places. You will see people buying and selling freely without re­gard to race or ethnicity. In fact, the races will tell you that without each other they can’t do busi­ness. Their livelihoods depend on one another. In Vergenoegen, where I was raised, many busi­nesses were owned by Afro and Indo-Guya­nese. We supported each other without the slight­est regard to race.

When it came to cul­tural events we joined hands and celebrated. In fact, many Afro-Guya­nese knew the rituals of the Hindu wedding cer­emony better than Indi­ans in the village. The people took pride in the achievements of the chil­dren and we looked out for each other. If only we can get back to the days of mutual coopera­tion and respect and treat each other as brothers and sisters rather than as enemies.

The politicians would like to see enmity be­tween the races because they become relevant when the society is di­vided. A divided society preys on differ­ences and hate. After years of di­viding the nation, it is time to wake up and tell the politicians to put aside the hate. It is time to call out the politicians and urge them to act in the interests of the people. [Emphasis mine.] Continue reading