Walking / Writing for Rebirth – #CCF

tumblr_inline_noebygCAc21sdx8um_1280

This week I chose to review A Philosophy of Walking by Frederic Gros; a book drawing attention to how walking has been an integral factor in the lives of many great thinkers, and the role it plays in the creativeness of the mind. I specifically concentrated on Chapter 14: Regeneration and Presence. It focuses on the pilgrim’s long journey as he encounters various landscapes and ‘holy places’, shedding his old self and creating anew. My response to this chapter was to write it out multiple times, all the while stripping it of words each time I rewrote it. The last re-write is representative of the rebirth of the pilgrim.

The above description is from Versia Harris’ response to A Philosophy of Walking by Frederic Grosthis week’s addition to the Fresh Milk Books Tumblr – the online space inviting interaction with our collection in the Colleen Lewis Reading Room.

For new Critical. Creative. Fresh reviews, look out for our #CCF responses and see the great material we have available at Fresh Milk!

Christian Campbell’s First Blog Post: Begin Again

One of Fresh Milk’s current resident artists, Toronto based, Trinidadian-Bahamian writer Christian Campbell, shares his first blog post about what he has been working on during his time in Barbados. Read more from Christian below:

It feels like either we just got here yesterday or we’ve been here for six months. But it’s neither—time is a good Anansi like that. Or maybe not Anansi, but something more sinister. A real thief of too-much, this mythical creature called “time.” Time has been the big subject of all I’ve been working on here—revising a book project, putting the finishing touches on another, working on new essays, new poems.  The pain of time, the problem of beauty, the problem of representation itself. I’m also developing a crick in my neck from listening to D’Angelo’s new genius joint—his first album in 14 years. Or maybe is just chikungunya.

In addition to being a trusty assistant for Kara’s Repositioned Objects installations, I had the pleasure of teaching two workshops at Fresh Milk on “The Art of the Essay/The Essay on Art.”  I always try to cultivate a kind of community of ideas when I teach. But this was different; we had that and something else. After all, this wasn’t a classroom—it was a dairy farm, in the open air, with life happening regardless. So whether or not the cows, roosters, key lime-coloured lizards, secretish rats, vicious mosquitoes and welcome committee of dogs were also doing the writing exercises, I can’t be too sure. But some of them were certainly participating in the discussion.

My workshoppers were very timid at first, terrified even, and then, gradually, open, courageous, brilliant and deeply honest. We were working on the “essay,” which means “to try,” but we were also working on transgression, “creolization” (of forms), translation, and, as always, freedom.  I challenged them in big ways to completely re-think “criticism” and they responded by testing their own limits, taking risks and beginning to slay the demon of doubt.  Most of them (maybe all) are millenials—anxious, lost, savvy, luminous and seriously talented. I’m very inspired by Tristan Alleyne, Khalid Batson, Kaz Fields, Versia Harris, Amanda Haynes, Katherine Kennedy, and Kwame Slusher.

Fresh Milk Wkshp

We landed in Barbados just before Independence Day and I could see my students (and myself) very clearly as the afterlives of Independence—its gains and its many, many failures. They were pretty clear about the ways they don’t fit into prevailing paradigms in “Caribbean” literature and culture. Teaching them also forced me to confront my own doubts and fears, my own need to be far more courageous. All of them are all over social media and tech-savvy. I’ve been thinking about the ways I’m a bit old-fashioned about my relationship to technology as an artist and critic.

On December 13, partly inspired by my students, I initiated what I’m tentatively calling “The Martin Carter 70 Project.” December 13 was the 17th Anniversary of the death of Martin Carter (7 June 1927-13 December 1997), one of my great, guiding spirits. I decided that, beginning with December 13, I would record a poem by Martin Carter every day for the next 70 days, one day for each year of life Carter spent on earth. Here is the first recording, “This is the Dark Time, My Love”:

I see this project as a way to honour Carter through “Shango Electric” (to reference David Rudder), new technology; to be possessed by his words; to test my endurance and commitment; to create a ritual of renewal. After my first post, I learned that I should record on garageband for better sound, then upload to soundcloud and finally upload to my Facebook page. Each recording archives my thanks to him and the ghost of his voice through mine, as well as the traces of my life at a given time—the hoarseness of my voice in the morning, the tiredness of my voice at night, the vocalizing choices I make in relation to the text, the sounds of the world all around me. My poem-choices spring from a range of urges, sometimes to comment anew on the events of the globe and sometimes to comment on my interior.

Gratitude to D’Angelo, my students and Martin Carter for reminding me that you can always begin again.

Sasha Link and Shea Rose at Workman’s Primary School

On Thursday, June 20th Fresh Milk resident artists Sasha Link and Shea Rose visited Workman’s Primary School in St. George. Sasha presented a creative writing workshop to the Class 4 children titled ‘The Duality of Gift-Giving,’ pictures from which can be seen in the gallery below. Sasha and Shea also went into St. George Primary School and St. George Secondary School on the following day, and the sessions were thoroughly enjoyed by all.

Thanks very much to Sasha and Shea, and to all of the schools for having us there!

Photographs by Mark King