Life in Poetry reading, writing, reflecting

Life in Poetry reading, writing, reflecting
April showers bring May flowers

Saturday, 11 April 2020

⌗AtoZ Challenge, 11th April, J is for Jamaica.

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Quote of the Day : Art like Life is an open secret.
Pursewarden in The Alexander Quartet by Lawrence Durrell.

Welcome to the 2020 APRIL A to Z Challenge

if you would like to know more about the A to Z Challenge, founded 11 years ago by Arlee Bird at Tossing Out,  read here

for my theme revealed , go here on Blogger
On Wordpress, read here 

Q will be a day to answer all your questions on my novel in progress, so feel free to write them down in your comment, on any day till then. On the 20th April, I will compile all the questions and answer each one on my Q post.

My Ninth extract will appear just after the first Annabella, half-way through the novel.

J is for Jamaica

Brief synopsis of plot and characters :

Mathilda, my first main character, is American and lives in New York City. She is a student at NYU where she is preparing a thesis on the origins and developments of African American Music. She is a first person narrator. Her timeframe is 2005. In my previous extracts, Mathilda has travelled to New Orleans and Jekyll Island, already met Annabella.

Bartolomé, my second main character, is Cameroonian and lives in Yaoundé. He is a professor of Mathematics at the University there. I will be using a third-person narrator for this character from his Point of View. His timeframe is the early '90's. In my previous extracts, Bartolomé has made a trip up North for his grand-father's funeral and decided to leave Yaoundé behind for good.

Annabella's story.

" I grew up in a small village, not far from Kingston as the crow flies, but nearly a day's trip by cart and donkey. Ma came from the back country, the Trelawny hills, she was Maroon. her childhood was rocked by the stories of Nanny of the Moon. Her parents were mortified when she married a gadjo from the town. But she brought me up in the Maroon tradition and entrusted me with the gift, as her mother and grand-mother had before her. My Pa didn't come from much, he lived in the shanty towns East of Kingston. he went to school until he was ten, then worked, running errands and help tend the small grocery store his mother kept. My GrandPa was a hired hand either on sugar plantations or small construction sites. Pa, Winston, didn't want to be like his father. He hung out in bars at night and performed tricks in between the musician's acts. Winston was deft with his hands and tongue : juggling, dabbing in magic and spinning jokes.

When Winston met Derajuh, my Ma, who came to town weekly to sell the family farm produce with Grandad, her black magic found an instant adept. The rest is history.
I have three brothers and two sisters. Us siblings came to Louisiana in the eighties to try our luck in the States. Winston and Derajuh established themselves near Kwame Falls,  on a farm of their own but Pa was bewitched by music then and made a few bucks as a musician in the sixties and seventies, coming regularly over on tour to play in clubs along the Gulf . He started with blues and jazz, then went onto crooner songs and soul, flourishing with the Reggae wave. He even participated briefly in the Kingston riots against the new government after independence, when two of his front teeth were broken, something even Ma couldn't fix. With his dreadlocks, it gave him an uncanny grin which still haunts me. "

The Café by Leonard Cohen

The beauty of my table.
The cracked marble top.
A brown-skinned girl ten tables away.         my change
Come with me.
I want to talk.
I've taken a drug that makes me want to talk.

Inna deYard, documentary 2019, watch here
Inna de Yard and Winston McAnuff, Live in Paris, here
new album, The Soul of Jamaica, listen here

Serge Gainsbourg, Couleur Café, 1965, here
                               Aux Armes etc.., 2010, Live recording in Jamaica, here

Missing Stratford-upon-Avon
Field squirrel near Anne Hathaway's cottage, July 2010

Black Swan on Avon, July 2010

Thank you for reading.
Gardening this morning, planting May flowers and reading on my deckchair in the spring breeze.


  1. This is a fascinating snippet - and I love your photos too. Black swans are native to Australia, and I am always thrilled to see them elsewhere.
    Stay well, stay safe.

    1. Thank you E.C. Happy you enjoyed the extract and the photos. Yes in Stratford upon Avon , there are large colonies of all kinds of swans, there is a wetlands shelter on the outskirts and they flock to the Avon in the centre everyday... where they are fed by locals and tourists. When I am there in the spring, I get up early and go down to write by the river and watch the swans and the rowing skiffs, all very peaceful.

  2. Hi Susan - I admire you for writing about the Jamaicans' way of life - and I love the quotes you've given us ... take care and well - Hilary

    1. Thank you Hilary for reading and commenting. Yes, though I only went to Jamaica, very long ago when a tiny tot, and don’t remember, I have always been fascinated by this island, its history and music. I read an interesting novel a few years back, partly autobiographical on the author’s mother who was a school teacher in Kingston before independence and came to Britain in the 50’s only to be shunned and having to take on base jobs like cleaning to pay her way through another set of diplomas to be able to teach again ... in England. It made me so mad at the time. Recently I saw a French film about Guadeloupe under Vichy, in 1942. A young woman who was the local school teacher was forbidden to keep her job and in the end, fled the island and joined up with the Resistance based on nearby Jamaica. The role played by the Martiniquais and Guadaloupeens in the Resistance was only recognized by the French government in the early 90’s !


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