South and north

by Nicholas Laughlin on June 9, 2010

From Adjie Gilas by Dhiradj Ramsamoedj

Self-portrait by Dhiradj Ramsamoedj, stenciled in an old novel; part of his Adjie Gilas installation. Photograph by Christopher Cozier

This week’s additions to the current issue of the CRB look south and north at a fascinating emerging artist and a major player in Caribbean publishing.

“A place to stand” is a portfolio of images from a recent project by the Surinamese artist Dhiradj Ramsamoedj, accompanied by an essay written by your own Antilles blogger. Ramsamoedj’s Adjie Gilas was created for Paramaribo SPAN, an exhibition of recent work by Surinamese and Dutch artists that opened in Paramaribo in February 2010. Christopher Cozier, artist and SPAN co-curator, also wrote a note about Adjie Gilas published on the project’s website last October. And one of Ramsamoedj’s self-portraits — a recurring motif in his work — was featured in the February 2010 issue of Town, the poetry-and-art broadside magazine co-edited by Vahni Capildeo, Anu Lakhan, and (once again) your Antilles blogger.

Peepal Tree Press, based in Leeds, has grown from its very modest foundation in 1986 to become arguably the leading publisher of Caribbean fiction and poetry, with dozens of new titles each year and a long and increasingly distinguished backlist. That makes Peepal Tree’s founder, publisher, and chief editor Jeremy Poynting one of the key people influencing the direction and development of contemporary Caribbean literature. “Writing worth keeping alive” is a conversation with Poynting about the state of Caribbean literary publishing and the Caribbean literary landscape, and in particular about the press’s new Caribbean Modern Classics series, which aims to bring an ambitious number of inaccessible but significant books back into print. “As a publisher and editor I’m very much in favour of contemporary writers being aware of where they’ve come from,” Poynting says.

I felt that readers were being deprived of good books, and that societies need a sense of their recent past. The Caribbean novel is still by far the best window on how Caribbean people have led their lives.

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