Categorized | International, Local, News, Regional

Montserratians write and publish

by Howard Fergus

Howard FergusWhen we were growing up there were scarcely any books in many of our homes. And books were certainly not written by the likes of us. They came from overseas written by persons like J. O. Cutteridge whose cow, as Sparrow reminds us, jumped over the moon. And we are certainly grateful for Nelson’s West Indian Readers on which we cut our reading teeth. All this has changed. News reaching us recently tells that Dr. Sheron Burns authored a Chapter in a prestigious and seminal book, Understanding Child Sexual Abuse: Perspectives from the Caribbean published by Palgrave Macmillan. This is not an isolated phenomenon; and Montserratians are writing in various genres: non-fiction (academic), poetry and fiction including plays.

In academic writings there are veterans like Professor George Irish who blazed the trail and there are others like Dr.Glenford Howe, Dr.Eddie Donoghue, Warren Cassell, Dr. Clarice Barnes, Dr. Coretta Fergus, David Edgecombe, Dr. Roy Lee, Dr. Graham Ryan, Dr. Gertrude Shotte, Dorcas White, Tony Wade and Gracelyn Cassell who have books, book chapters and articles in learned journals to their credit. Anjella Skerritt has recently come on board with her Free to be Sexually Safe.

Sharmen Greenaway, a professional health worker living in the UK, recently published a very interesting book, Montserrat in England: Dynamics of Culture which is a study of the Montserratian diaspora. Blondina Howes and Dr. Delpha Charles, one writing on a religious theme and the other on literature (A Caribbean Accent to Shakespeare’s Voice) also fall into the academic category. Former teacher Shirley Kirwan has also weighed in on the religious side with The Healing Hand of God, as does Dr. Irene Prospere. And Catherine Buffonge’s series on the Volcano will be perennially relevant. Those special newspaper issues by Jeddie Fenton on the Volcanic Eruption, are valuable archival material and sources in their own right also.

In fiction, our premier author is Edgar White with novels, stories and plays; he has enjoyed international glory, and hardly needs my feeble line to highlight him. Then there is Archie Markham, another giant and David Edgecombe who has been writing plays for decades before he was published; his Heaven was published in 2011, though not the first; and one of his books is now on the CXC syllabus.  Vincent Browne another veteran playwright has also been published belatedly and edited by Dr. Irish in a manner which makes his work available to students. David Bradshaw’s, Growing Up Barefoot Under Montserrat Sleeping Volcano and Yvonne Weekes’ Volcano: A Memoire can be conveniently placed in this section although they contain a strong biographical element with the imaginative aspects mixed in. Violet Jane Grell who sojourns in Anguilla has also published excellent short stories. Written for children, Little Island, Live Volcano by Carol Tuitt and Randy Greenaway attracts special attention. Apart from publishing her own magazine on-line, Shirley Osborne’s philosophical Tolerance is No Virtue rightly belongs to the academic section. Recent writers of fiction include JoAnnah Richards, Doreen O’garro and Theo Semper whom the UWI Open Campus Literary Festival has brought to our attention. While the famous M.P. Shiel is far away and long ago, he deserves mention since his birth is registered in the island.

Poetry has an impressive roll call, with Archie Markham who leads the class highly acclaimed internationally. Others who have brought out volumes include Fergus, Clover Lee, Chadd Cumberbatch Yvonne Weekes and Elcia Daniel, whose Trees Have Hands has just been released and reveals a competent poet of great sensibility. In addition many of our writers of verse have been included in Anthologies with the likes of Chanelle Roach national prize winner, Shirley Spycalla and Jamal Jeffers among them. Edgar White is also a poet of class; and both Irish and Greenaway have published poems also.

Haycene Ryan’s book is a compilation of newspaper articles, largely, and he may well have set an example for some of our columnists to follow. There are respectable writers among these too. Claude Gerald is only one example of these, especially if we include an able line of newspaper editors such as Laurel Meade, Howell Bramble and Bennette Roach.

One is not claiming uniqueness for Montserrat. But to have writers of the calibre of Barnes, Bradshaw Browne, Burns, Grace Cassell, Warren Cassell, Cumberbatch, Daniel, Edgecombe, Howe, Irish,  Lee, Markham, Weekes, White and company  coming out of our minuscule square miles, is worth writing about. Writing is development and potential for development and when we add the many thinkers among us who may not have published but have forwarded ideas one wonders why we are always so dependent, sometimes on mediocre talent. It is true that the mushrooming of printing and publishing companies facilitates what is essentially self-publishing, but many of the books have genuine merit. They will have to be judged on their own internal quality. It is worth noting though that this is just a listing and not an analysis of the writings. The Literary Festival deserves credit too for facilitating book launches and hopefully stimulating Montserratian writing and publishing.

Finally, while one sought to be inclusive, it was difficult to be totally comprehensive; so I apologise to those whose names have been inadvertently omitted and welcome information which would lead to a more perfect compilation. Thanks to Dr. Burns for triggering this piece; she is a scholar and professional of the present and the future.

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A Moment with the Registrar of Lands

by Howard Fergus

Howard FergusWhen we were growing up there were scarcely any books in many of our homes. And books were certainly not written by the likes of us. They came from overseas written by persons like J. O. Cutteridge whose cow, as Sparrow reminds us, jumped over the moon. And we are certainly grateful for Nelson’s West Indian Readers on which we cut our reading teeth. All this has changed. News reaching us recently tells that Dr. Sheron Burns authored a Chapter in a prestigious and seminal book, Understanding Child Sexual Abuse: Perspectives from the Caribbean published by Palgrave Macmillan. This is not an isolated phenomenon; and Montserratians are writing in various genres: non-fiction (academic), poetry and fiction including plays.

In academic writings there are veterans like Professor George Irish who blazed the trail and there are others like Dr.Glenford Howe, Dr.Eddie Donoghue, Warren Cassell, Dr. Clarice Barnes, Dr. Coretta Fergus, David Edgecombe, Dr. Roy Lee, Dr. Graham Ryan, Dr. Gertrude Shotte, Dorcas White, Tony Wade and Gracelyn Cassell who have books, book chapters and articles in learned journals to their credit. Anjella Skerritt has recently come on board with her Free to be Sexually Safe.

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Sharmen Greenaway, a professional health worker living in the UK, recently published a very interesting book, Montserrat in England: Dynamics of Culture which is a study of the Montserratian diaspora. Blondina Howes and Dr. Delpha Charles, one writing on a religious theme and the other on literature (A Caribbean Accent to Shakespeare’s Voice) also fall into the academic category. Former teacher Shirley Kirwan has also weighed in on the religious side with The Healing Hand of God, as does Dr. Irene Prospere. And Catherine Buffonge’s series on the Volcano will be perennially relevant. Those special newspaper issues by Jeddie Fenton on the Volcanic Eruption, are valuable archival material and sources in their own right also.

In fiction, our premier author is Edgar White with novels, stories and plays; he has enjoyed international glory, and hardly needs my feeble line to highlight him. Then there is Archie Markham, another giant and David Edgecombe who has been writing plays for decades before he was published; his Heaven was published in 2011, though not the first; and one of his books is now on the CXC syllabus.  Vincent Browne another veteran playwright has also been published belatedly and edited by Dr. Irish in a manner which makes his work available to students. David Bradshaw’s, Growing Up Barefoot Under Montserrat Sleeping Volcano and Yvonne Weekes’ Volcano: A Memoire can be conveniently placed in this section although they contain a strong biographical element with the imaginative aspects mixed in. Violet Jane Grell who sojourns in Anguilla has also published excellent short stories. Written for children, Little Island, Live Volcano by Carol Tuitt and Randy Greenaway attracts special attention. Apart from publishing her own magazine on-line, Shirley Osborne’s philosophical Tolerance is No Virtue rightly belongs to the academic section. Recent writers of fiction include JoAnnah Richards, Doreen O’garro and Theo Semper whom the UWI Open Campus Literary Festival has brought to our attention. While the famous M.P. Shiel is far away and long ago, he deserves mention since his birth is registered in the island.

Poetry has an impressive roll call, with Archie Markham who leads the class highly acclaimed internationally. Others who have brought out volumes include Fergus, Clover Lee, Chadd Cumberbatch Yvonne Weekes and Elcia Daniel, whose Trees Have Hands has just been released and reveals a competent poet of great sensibility. In addition many of our writers of verse have been included in Anthologies with the likes of Chanelle Roach national prize winner, Shirley Spycalla and Jamal Jeffers among them. Edgar White is also a poet of class; and both Irish and Greenaway have published poems also.

Haycene Ryan’s book is a compilation of newspaper articles, largely, and he may well have set an example for some of our columnists to follow. There are respectable writers among these too. Claude Gerald is only one example of these, especially if we include an able line of newspaper editors such as Laurel Meade, Howell Bramble and Bennette Roach.

One is not claiming uniqueness for Montserrat. But to have writers of the calibre of Barnes, Bradshaw Browne, Burns, Grace Cassell, Warren Cassell, Cumberbatch, Daniel, Edgecombe, Howe, Irish,  Lee, Markham, Weekes, White and company  coming out of our minuscule square miles, is worth writing about. Writing is development and potential for development and when we add the many thinkers among us who may not have published but have forwarded ideas one wonders why we are always so dependent, sometimes on mediocre talent. It is true that the mushrooming of printing and publishing companies facilitates what is essentially self-publishing, but many of the books have genuine merit. They will have to be judged on their own internal quality. It is worth noting though that this is just a listing and not an analysis of the writings. The Literary Festival deserves credit too for facilitating book launches and hopefully stimulating Montserratian writing and publishing.

Finally, while one sought to be inclusive, it was difficult to be totally comprehensive; so I apologise to those whose names have been inadvertently omitted and welcome information which would lead to a more perfect compilation. Thanks to Dr. Burns for triggering this piece; she is a scholar and professional of the present and the future.