“A crumpled heaven”

by Nicholas Laughlin on May 26, 2010

The CRB’s editorial engine is running again, though with the occasional cough and splutter — we’re not yet at cruising speed, as it were. But our May 2010 issue — our first in a year — is under way, with the first new reviews appearing at the start of the month and another batch published this week. Eventually we’ll settle into a more or less weekly schedule, with new material going live on the site every Monday.

Thus far, the May issue includes reviews of Anthony Winkler’s latest novel, Crocodile, and Geoffrey Philp’s book of short stories Who’s Your Daddy?; of collections of poems by Grace Nichols and Jennifer Rahim; of a book of interviews with Caryl Phillips, and of a literary study called Exhibiting Slavery: The Caribbean Postmodern Novel as Museum. We’ve also published the first instalment of a multi-part essay by Vahni Capildeo, recounting her recent visit to India for a literary conference — I hope this will be just the first in a series of longer prose narratives made possible by the CRB’s new format, in which we are unrestricted by printed page counts. And this week we’ve also published two new poems by Kei Miller.

The first of these, “This Zinc Roof”, is a sort of ode to the bare sheets of galvanised zinc — “this portion / Of ripple; this conductor of midday heat” — that both shelter and trap so many residents of the Caribbean’s desperate and depressed urban communities. When we planned to publish the poem this week, we had no idea that the events now unfolding in Kingston would give its poignant verses such a sharp and timely edge:

This that the poor of the world look up to
On humid nights, as if it were a crumpled
Heaven they could be lifted into….

This clanging of feet and boots,
Men running from Babylon whose guns
Are drawn against the small measure

Of their lives….

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