Stephen Narain

"Break a vase," Walcott says, "and the love that reassembles the fragments is stronger than that love which took its symmetry for granted when it was whole. The glue that fits the pieces is the sealing of its original shape. It is such a love that reassembles our African and Asiatic fragments, the cracked heirlooms whose restoration shows its white scars. This gathering of broken pieces is the care and pain of the Antilles, and if the pieces are disparate, ill-fitting, they contain more pain than their original sculpture, those icons and sacred vessels taken for granted in their ancestral places. Antillean art is this restoration of our shattered histories, our shards of vocabulary, our archipelago becoming a synonym for pieces broken off from the original continent. And this is the exact process of the making of poetry, or what should be called not its ‘making’ but its remaking, the fragmented memory…"


Image: Janine Antoni, Touch, Hoyes Arte

In the November 2013 issue of the Caribbean Review of Books, Nicholas Laughlin reviews Into the Mix, an exhibit of ten artists that ran at the Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft from February to April 2012. On the artist’s—and citizen’s—search for balance, Laughlin writes:

"Art is always a high-wire act, with no safety net. The artist must find a point of equilibrium between ideas and materials, ambitions and limits, creative autonomy and the expectations of audiences, private intentions and public communication. And, as Touch makes obvious, balance is a process, not a state. It means holding steady a centre of gravity: a negotiation among mass and momentum and energy. On this depends stability and mobility. The tightrope walker keeps moving, or else she falls, and her successful journey is an ongoing compromise between her own mass, tension in the wire, and universal gravity.”

Toni Morrison on Home, war, memory, and masculinity.


Image: Tiphanie Yanique

Happy to be reading at the Harlem Book Fair World Fiction Festival with A. Naomi Jackson and Tiphanie Yanique in a panel moderated by NGC Bocas Lit Fest organizer Nicholas Laughlin. The event will be held at Columbia University on Friday, July 11 at 1:30PM. Tiphanie is launching her novel, Land of Love and Drowning, the night before at Greenlight Books in Brooklyn. The novel is already receiving rave reviews.

The inimitable Lupita Nyong’o on braiding her friends’ hair. She graces the cover of the July issue of Vogue.


Dwight Garner writes in The New York Times: ”Along the way, [Birmingham] explains not just why Joyce matters, but also why good history matters. ‘Nearly a century later, the reactions to Ulysses can feel overblown—like hype from like-minded friends and bombast from journalists trying to sell papers,’ he writes. ‘These days, Ulysses may seem more eccentric than epoch changing, and it can be difficult to see how Joyce’s novel (how any novel, perhaps) could have been revolutionary. This is because all revolutions look tame from the other side. They change our perspectives so thoroughly that their innovations become platitudes.”

A New York Times profile argues, “black literary writers with African roots (though some grew up elsewhere), mostly young cosmopolitans who write in English, are making a splash in the book world, especially in the United States. They are on best-seller lists, garner high profile reviews and win major awards, in America and in Britain. Ms. Adichie, 36, the author of Americanah, which won the National Book Critics Circle Award for fiction this year, is a prominent member of an expanding group that includes Dinaw Mengestu, Helen Oyeyemi, NoViolet Bulawayo, Teju Cole, Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor, and Taiye Selasi, amongst others.”

Photographer Alessandro Vannucci photographs Cambodian “nagas,” monks dedicated to “Buddhas, reincarnated souls to whom a new opportunity has been given to elevate themselves even if during the past life their acts weren’t good enough to continue along the inner light path.”

"Q: For Christians who hold the view that marriage is between a man and a woman, do you think they’ll become a smaller group over time?

A: It’s hard to know. There has never been a period in world history where same-sex relationships were more routine and normal than in Hellenistic culture at the time of Christ. Does Jesus ever mention the issue? I bet it must have been all around him. You can get in a lot of trouble eating oysters if you are a literalist about Leviticus. I’m a great admirer of the Old Testament. It’s an absolute trove of goodness and richness. But I don’t think we should stone witches. And if you choose to value one or two verses in Leviticus over the enormous, passionate calls for social justice that you find right through the Old Testament, that’s primitive. There are a thousand ways that we would all be doomed for violating the Sabbath and all kinds of other things, if we were literalists.”

On the power dynamics in pornography.

"Mr. Addo, who honed his muscles using a mango tree as a pull-up bar and concrete blocks for dumbbells, is a two-time former winner of the Mr. Ghana bodybuilding championship. Years ago, his chiseled physique, bowling ball biceps and camera-ready smile brought him fame across his homeland in West Africa. Today Mr. Addo uses his imposing muscles and hard-won expertise to help frail seniors like Mrs. Friedman restore their balance, mobility and strength."


"She’s taught the world to see music differently, too. The 17 videos for her latest album capture the star in a head-spinning variety of attitudes and alter-egos: as a beauty pageant contestant; as a moll with a flapper haircut; as a roller-disco queen; as the leader of a militant street mob with her hair dyed green; as a Houston homegirl, vamping on a street in the city’s hardscrabble Third Ward, with a nasty-looking dog on a leash; as a stripper, an ardent lover, a wife; and, in ‘Blue,’ as an earth-mother-with-child, strolling a sun-dazzled strip of Brazilian coastline with her daughter, Blue Ivy. … If Beyoncé is the dominant figure in 21st-century music, perhaps it’s because pop has circumnavigated back to its 19th-century vaudevillian roots, to a time before disembodied voices came to us through hi-fi speakers or noise-canceling headphones, when music was, exclusively, a performing art."

The New York Times magazine profiles ”the woman on top of the world”

Maya Angelou, the memoirist, poet and author of “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings,” died Wednesday. Her manuscripts are being preserved at the Harlem-based branch of the New York Public Library.

"Unthinkable" by Alicia Keys