Crossroads Issue 1: Letter from the Editor

ANNIE PAUL

annieAs the note on our theme says, the Caribbean has always existed at a crossroads of one kind or another, and nearly a quarter of the way into the 21st century, the Caribbean remains at a crossroads. The artist Christopher Cozier once said, after a residency in Johannesburg, that he often felt like someone standing at an intersection with a sign, rewriting and reorganizing its message, wondering if it was being understood or engaged.

There’s a similar feeling as we put out the first issue of PREE, an online portal to relay high-grade writing from, on or about the Caribbean. Will PREE be read as widely as we hope? Who will PREE’s audience be and how will they engage us? Will this kind of writing appeal to the younger generations growing up in an era when books have virtually become an endangered species? Will youngsters still yearn to be writers in the same way that some of us born in the 20th century did? Will the rest of the world be interested in what Caribbean writers have to say?

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Letter From the Publisher

SHARMAINE LOVEGROVE
Sharmaine

The world is in a state of flux. As I write this, the Motherland that colonised many Caribbean islands and made them a focus of slavery is being held accountable for its disgraceful treatment of the Windrush Generation: people from all over the West Indies who came to Britain to help rebuild it after the war in exchange and hope for different life.

That the stories of the Caribbean have been ignored for so long is one of the greatest tragedies of modern literature. Our islands are rich with cultural heritage, a cacophony of vernaculars, and offer a lens on the world from totally unique vistas.

We cannot help but go forwards in life, yet it is vital to reflect on what came before. All four of my grandparents were born in Jamaica and it’s important for me to give back and be part of something meaningful, expressive and tangible to those who are writing the Caribbean from all perspectives.

PREE brings all those elements together and we hope this space will become a home for publishers and agents to take a dip and spend time discovering voices that are new to them or hearing from someone familiar in a different space.

I have spent my life reading Sam Selvon, Derek Walcott, Jamaica Kincaid, Linton Kwesi Johnson, Jean Rhys and Audre Lorde, learning about the world from their perspective and understanding my roots and culture through their words. More recently it’s been a joy to celebrate the works of award-winning writers Marlon James, Monique Roffey, Kei Miller and Nicole Dennis-Benn and discover the likes of Vladimir Lucien, Diana McCaulay and Edwidge Danticat. As a publisher in London, England I am proud to publish Patrick Chamoiseau in English as his strong, complex characters from Martinique have stayed with me for a long time. Our aim is to bring writers like these into your life and to show off the Caribbean and its literary might.

PREE is a celebration of what brings the Caribbean together through words and I hope you enjoy discovering another area of our cultural talent.

Sharmaine Lovegrove
Publisher, PREE

The Counting-Up

INGRID PERSAUD

1. I was clearing out the wardrobe while my sister lounged on the bed drinking the last of my fresh grapefruit juice. She said being her only brother is not enough. She doesn’t clean her own house and she’s damn well not cleaning mine. Clothes, shoes, boxes all came tumbling out. Shoved right to the back was Mark’s old album.

‘Vijay, she picture in there?’

I flopped down next to her and flipped through the pages until we found what I knew was there. The first time I saw Sophie’s photo – smiling, in front an open window – Mark said that’s a college friend.

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Everybody Live Uptown Now

ROLAND WATSON-GRANT

Papa is on the lanai, drinkin’ in front of Caleb again. The man wouldn’t even touch a Red Stripe when we were growin’ up, so I don’t know why he would take up this habit in his old age. Then again, ever since that night – years ago – everybody change, including me. Caleb is only six, but I swear that little boy is going to be a journalist one day. He’s outside interviewing his Grandpa.

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Carousel

LEONE ROSS

He goes back home to lose his virginity: to the kind of sea town that is always disappointing on arrival, whether you come by train into the city centre, or by shuddering boat, dropping anchor under the gaze of sky-wheeling, grumpy seagulls. Whichever way, it’s always shades of brown and stained white walls, always a series of shops too graffitied, kicked and vomited-on to be special, and the smell of good fish in the air.

He was reminded, as everyone is, returning to a place like this, how unutterably small it was. It would be smaller each time he came back. Perhaps he wouldn’t return after this, so he could permanently avoid the feeling of being bigger than every building around him and every person here; avoid the suspicion that he smelled so much better, now.

But there was the matter of this virginity.

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Curry Duck

SHARON MILLAR

2018

The ceremony at the Shore of Peace was beautiful. Lucy hoped Grace was free now. When the fire had stopped flaring and there was not much that could be distinguished between pyre and the shape under the white shroud, the family left.

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