CLR Dub

Che Lovelace

I made this painting of a J’Ouvert morning on the Carnival streets of Port of Spain; and placed CLR James in the middle of it among the revellers.

Portrait of CLR James. 2020. Che Lovelace. Acrylic and dry pigment on board panels. 60x50in

I was thinking about that entire generation of artists, musicians, writers, scholars and people in various fields who had to leave…or felt compelled to leave the Caribbean especially after World War II, for the possibility of a better life and opportunities.

The Windrush generation who emigrated to the UK between 1948 and 1970 represents such a movement.

Detail. Portrait of CLR James. 2020. Che Lovelace

Of course while so many individuals went on to contribute in profound ways to the societies where they settled, I always wonder about that sense of longing  and sacrifice that surely goes along with a displacement so significant.

The notion of ‘Home’ as a place to operate from, as a place that inspires the voice with which one calls out to the world…this notion would suddenly have a new meaning.

But one also carries this ‘Home’ across the seas and protects it like a precious locket, sacred and treasured; not just for comforting but as an active tool with which to carve a little space out in what must have been a dense new place.

I have always felt for example that the underlying ethos of inclusion and participation as it relates to Carnival; Mas as we call it, is such a potent example of how, armed with small fragments of this idea called ‘Home’ a migrant community can help give shape to new places. Help those places somehow see themselves and their potential more clearly.

Maybe it was because the Caribbean immigrant had already sensed the potential for an inclusive society back in the West Indies, at least its beginnings, and had begun to find progressive ways to frame, process and heal from the harsh legacy of colonial history.

Detail. Portrait of CLR James. 2020. Che Lovelace

Maybe they saw human potential as bonded together, through street theater, music and communal creativity.

They may very well have held a secret optimism and expected the same potential from these new places.

Detail. Portrait of CLR James. 2020. Che Lovelace

While many of the Caribbean writers, from that generation especially, operated outside of the Caribbean; they seemed to really value that umbilical connection to the Caribbean space. These little dots of islands and the concerns and character of the people here remained a subject in their work.

Some returned periodically, some much less. But in a sense maybe part of them was always here.

Detail. Portrait of CLR James. 2020. Che Lovelace

So while I did make the painting as a homage to CLR. it really is his homecoming picture…a return to his original source.

Che Lovelace was born in San Fernando, Trinidad and grew up in the east coast village of Matura. Now based in Port of Spain, Trinidad, Lovelace’s art originates primarily from his experience of living and working in Trinidad and Tobago. His paintings which are rendered in a vivid assortment of pigments on combined  board panels, are strongly rooted in depicting the dense, highly charged layers of the Trinidadian landscape which he sees as physical, social and spiritual. 

Che received his fine art training at l’Ecole Régionale des Beaux-Arts de la Martinique. He has been a principal collaborator on  several arts, Carnival and entertainment projects including the Studiofilmclub and the recently established Friends For The Road J’Ouvert, a traditional Carnival project. His practice increasingly includes elements of performance which he absorbs into his painting process. 

Lovelace currently lecturers at the University of the West Indies Creative Arts department and has an upcoming solo exhibition at the Los Angeles gallery, Various Small Fires.

Upside Down Boat

Lelawatttee Manoo-Rahming

Ah whole village inna
inna upside down
upside down boat

ah airlock inna rafta
dreadlock rasta
rasta ooman an she pickney
inna village inna airlock
air block
wid rushin
rushin ocean

whoooooooooo shhhhhh
whoooooooooo shhhhhh

inna maelstrom
hu  hu  hu  hu
huri  huri  huri
cane
cane toad
inna hurricane 

plague upon plague
Dorian Covid-19
sea & sky one an
unseen virus
new  new  new
pneumonia
moanin inna ward
twenty-tree positive
plague upon plague

ah village mash up
mash up inna blink
blinkin winkin an nod
ah village drop asleep
inna upsidedown
ah upsidedown rafta boat
inna ocean swell
ah king tide

tied tuh each other
together do not blink
do not wink
wait fuh de eye
de calm inna de eye
buh Dorian siddong
jes siddong spreadin
wind an water
salt an detritus
inna village 
like ah virus inna village
ah village inna lockdown
inna airlock
inna upside down boat.

Lelawattee Manoo-Rahming is a Trinidadian Bahamian Mechanical/Building Services Engineer, poet, fiction writer, and artist. She has won the David Hough Literary Prize and the Canute A. Brodhurst Prize from The Caribbean Writer; the Commonwealth Broadcasting Association 2001 Short Story Competition; was shortlisted for the Hollick Arvon Caribbean Writers Prize for Fiction (2013); and longlisted for the Johnson and Amoy Achong Caribbean Writers Prize for Fiction (2019). She has also won Poetic Form Challenges in Robert Lee Brewer’s Writer’s Digest Poetry Blog. She has been published in WomanSpeak; AnthuriumPoui; Interviewing The Caribbean; The Commonwealth Foundation’s addastories; Akashic Books Duppy ThursdayCaribbean Erotic; Capitals; Thicker Than Water; We Mark Your Memoryand Pree. She is the author of two poetry collections: Curry Flavour (Peepal Tree Press, 2000) and Immortelle and Bhandaaraa Poems (a hybrid work published by Proverse Hong Kong, 2011).

God Save Duh Queen

Ide AMARI Thompson

Down home 
Down home 

This mussie a joke
Bui, this een 
No ant’em
To duh majesty
of dese islands.

This is enn no slave song 
No cry to our freedom
An’ like the las’ Mailbot rushing out 
From down home, with the tide

This is the cackle of the shackles 
On the feet of black sheep 
The singing of the slinging 
whip on the black 
back of Pompei 
An’ runnin’ 

Down home 
Down home 

Een make no difference 
cause ya still ga witness
the weight of the rain 
as HRH reigns 
long over us, 
in contempt 
of our beauty
no repay or oration 
on ya hard earn’ dolla’

Cause when ya 

Down home 
Down home 

She save us 
to be nuttin 
more dan subjects.

Ide Amari Thompson is a senior at the University of The Bahamas studying English and History. His work tends to focus on questions of place and person, identity and what it means to personally and socially inhabit different shifting ideas and circles. He grapples with questions of colonialism, independence, nation, identity and love. His primary medium is written works particularly poetry. His written work has appeared in the PREE online journal, the first issue of Onyx magazine in 2018 a creative journal for diasporic black writers based in the UK and in the NE9 exhibition “The Fruit & The Seed”  and “ REFUGE” (2019) both exhibited by the National Art Gallery Of the Bahamas. He also was a participant in the NAGB’s DoubleDutch exhibition “Hot Water” In 2018.