ISSUE FOUR: In a Free State

guest edited by Jovanté Anderson

Free to live. Free to yes. Free to no. Free to love. Free to bumboclaat be. Queer, un-queer, pansexual, transitioning, heteronormative, asexual. All of the above. It’s become a lot less “we’re queer and we’re here” and more that we’re really here, there and everywhere. We’ve dreamed of this day. We’ve yearned for it. Imagine then, what we might do when we have it? What will we DO in a free state

In Issue 4 of PREE, we take VS Naipaul’s words and bend them to query gender roles and sexuality in the 21stcentury as we examine Caribbean realities and responses when faced with changing gender norms and expanding sexual identities. The idea of freedom is a beautiful thing, but does that only hold when it’s our own sense of self we’re thinking of? What about when you have to respect the freedom of others? That’s a lot harder, isn’t it? But that IS freedom – freedom comes with responsibility. And strange as it might seem, “responsibility” might be the most contentious word in this whole discussion. 

For Issue 4 we solicited submissions from younger writers (ages 15 to 30) arriving at their own Caribbean identity intersections during this bold contemporary moment, where both politics and families are trying to untangle themselves from the limitations of hetero-normative traditions. As always, PREE interprets ‘writing’ broadly to include creative non-fiction and fiction writers, poets, essayists, graphic novelists, scriptwriters, photographers, comic-strip creators, videographers, film-makers and digital and visual artists.

Remember when Garvey spoke those words that Marley put to melody? “We are going to emancipate ourselves from mental slavery because whilst others might free the body, none but ourselves can free the mind.” Look from when Walter Rodney warned that oppression is at the center of statehood: “After all, if there is no class stratification in a society, it follows that there is no state, because the state arose as an instrument to be used by a particular class to control the rest of society in its own interests.” And in our deeds we try to dismiss VS Naipaul’s words, because we don’t want them to be true: “Most people are not really free. They are confined by the niche in the world that they carve out for themselves. They limit themselves to fewer possibilities by the narrowness of their vision.”

The question of freedom in the 21st century has to unsettle traditions. Cue drums, strings, horns, and the voice of Calypso Rose: “Let go me hand/ lemme jump up in di band. / I don’t want nobody /to come and stop me./ Leave me let me free up,/ me-self let me jump up./ (leave me a-lone,/ leave me) / So leave me alone/ I ain’t goin home.”  Jump up and sway into a free state with us. We’ve come too far to go home now.

Issue 4 will be doled out a little at a time, bit by delicious bit, as we did with Issue 3.

PS: This issue and the next one are specially supported by the Prince Claus Fund (PCF). Five of the most promising young writers in Issues 4 and 5 will be selected to attend a writing workshop in Kingston, Jamaica, May 24-28, 2020 under the auspices of PCF. More details on this will follow in due course. 

Anchor image: Laurent Bayly, Car-Hole-Rainbow, Saint Martin, April 2018. digital photograph.

Fiction

Cruising on Wrangler Avenue
Kaleb D’Aguilar

Starting Over
Katherine Atkinson 

Birdie
Yashika Graham

Poetry

On the Puerto Rican Summer 2019 Revolution
Beatriz Llenín Figueroa

Back Words
Topher Allen

Anything But Gay
Juleus Ghunta

Cruising for a Bruising
Adam Patterson

Warrior Princess
Rhea Manley

England, 2013
Kaleb D’Aguilar

A Conversation Named for Dragons
Kwasi Shade

Karst Cruising
J.A. VIII

ART-icles

Better Spent: Gender and Energy in the Caribbean
Marsha Pearce