A Conversation with Curdella Forbes
A Conversation with Curdella Forbes
As both creative writer and critic, Curdella Forbes’ has made contributions to Caribbean letters that seem to emerge from what Carole Boyce Davies identifies as “the Caribbean creative/theoretical,” “that luminal space where the imagination feeds each of these streams and willfully brings them together repeatedly.”1 Forbes identifies Jamaican society as one that “has always conducted a passionate love affair with fiction.”2 These words can also describe her own fondness for the Jamaica she grew up in, which is depicted in her fictional works Songs of Silence (2002), Flying with Icarus (2003), and A Permanent Freedom (2008). Mervyn Morris characterizes Forbes’s fiction as “eloquent” and “moving,” qualities reflected in prose informed by her experiences with yard storytelling.3 In the last story of the children’s book Flying with Icarus, the mythical River Mumma tells the protagonist Oscar that extraordinary books are written by those who inhabit the ordinary yet have “learnt the secret of weaving words so others can see the magic that is there all the time.” River Mumma’s philosophy captivates Oscar and inspires him to write about her. At the story’s end, a little boy opens the cover of the book that Oscar eventually writes to find that its author “had looked into the world with love.”4 Similarly, Forbes’s fiction is born from an “ordinary” upbringing in rural Jamaica, one transformed by storytellers whose love of place animated their tales. Her critical publications include From Nation to Diaspora: Samuel Selvon, George Lamming, and the Cultural Performance of Gender (2005). Forbes presently teaches in the Department of English at Howard University in Washington, DC. I was honored to speak with her there in September 2013.
Sheryl Gifford: Your fiction highlights the inventiveness at the heart of Caribbean dialect, its poetry. You have said, “For me, writing in Jamaican language is both about authenticity and about politics—it is a political act.”5 How do you bring together these three elements—dialect, authenticity, and politics—in your work
Curdella Forbes: Maybe I ought to mention that I write in English as well. Each of my books move between the two, and off the bat I would say I write more in English than in Creole. It depends on a lot of things having to do with the voice in my head at the moment of writing but also with what I’m trying to accomplish. As a Jamaican, I think in both languages. I can’t not use Creole; when I say authenticity, I am using that in a very simple way, really. My characters are Caribbean people; they are for the most part Jamaican people, and that’s how they talk. But there is a way I deliberately work with the language to pull out precisely what you said, the poetry and the craft of it. I was reading [Derek] Walcott the other day and laughing, because he says the writer “purif[ies] the language of the tribe,” and I thought, “That’s horrible!”6 Well, it sounds horrible—there’s how people really talk, and there’s some other place where the talk is crafted in a particular way to get to the heart of its poetry, really. The Creole is amazingly poetic and inventive, so I’m always trying to reach after the bone of it, if you like. I am very conscious about the way the language is honed in metaphor—its lyricism and poetry—and I try to be faithful to that. I write mainly with my ear, though, and if I’m going to write something, I listen to people more, and I listen in different ways. For example, when I am going to write male characters, I have to listen to men because they talk so differently than women do. I invent a lot, but much of it also comes naturally out of the way the people speak. In Flying with Icarus, the title story has a market scene in which the little girl goes to the market, and the women are admiring her, and one of them murmurs that she is “pretty like money.”7 I remember my editor just laughing and saying, “This is amazing!,” but that’s how people talk at home, as you know: “Boy, she pretty like money, eh?” There’s a whole discourse there, you know? “Pretty like money”—the scarcity of it, the preciousness of it for poor people. And so when people see it, they think, “Oh, so this is real money,” that kind of thing. I love the language; I really do love it.
SG: In A Permanent Freedom, your acknowledgments reveal that you had had the name of one of your characters, Aliun, in mind for years. Then you researched it and found not only that the word existed but that you had embodied it perfectly.8
CF: Yes, the angel Aliun. I just made up that name out of my head. These uncanny things happen to me all the time, no matter if I’m writing or not. When I finished the book, I thought, “I wonder if there could be a name like that?” So I looked it up online, and there it was. Everything I wrote in the front part of that book really happened. It was quite scary but nice. I had a similar experience with Ghosts, when I was in Barbados.9 I was there for the CSEC [Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate],10 and I was lying down in the hotel room, not really asleep but in a sort of in-between space yet still very conscious. And I saw this image of what seemed like a street in the US. It was dusky, and the leaves were beginning to fly up and down because there was a wind scurrying along the street. I saw an old man turning at a gate, and I went up to him for some reason and was talking to him. He seemed like a writer from the francophone Caribbean, René Depestre, and he was showing me a book, and he was saying, “Look, there’s no——.” He was searching through the book and just weeping and weeping and weeping. And I said, “Look, there are all these names there. There’s [Alejo] Carpentier, there’s Walcott, and [Robert] Antoni, and that’s you, there. You’re all there.” And then the leaves of the book started falling out. They were all over the place, because the wind was coming up, but his weeping had changed to weeping with relief because I’d assured him that all the names were there. I got up and wrote this down immediately, because I figured that it must mean something. Why did I dream of this old man, and why a man like René Depestre? Then when I wanted a cover for the book, my publisher couldn’t come up with an idea, so I asked a friend of mine if he would think of a cover for this book for me. He came up with what you see on the cover of Ghosts: a book with the pages falling down on the floor. He had immediately said that’s what he had in mind; he didn’t know how, but he knew that the book with the pages flying out, scattering as if in wind, had to be at the center of it. I told him that, yes, I’d dreamed about that, the cover of the book Ghosts. Anyway, I have these really uncanny stories that are true.
SG: How do you think about the process of writing stories? Particularly fiction.
CF: I think a lot about the nature of writing, what it does, what it can do or can’t do, its limitations . . . so there’s always that metafictive aspect of my work. [The nature of writing] obsesses me. I’m very conscious of the work as factitious: I’m creating this thing out of the void, so to speak; I’m creating this lie which has to function. I’m very self-conscious about that, so I think that must be apparent. I’m always wondering, “What does making a story do? What does telling a story do? What’s it for? Where does it come from?” So I think I’m working [metafictively] in many ways, probably more so in A Permanent Freedom and Ghosts. It’s something I’ve always thought about, obviously in different ways as I’ve grown older. I grew up being immersed in stories, and it was not just in reading but from my family. We had those stories all the time. My grand-uncle told the most amazing stories. We would love to have him around because of that, and he made them up. This was a man who couldn’t read or write, but he was endlessly creative. He would tell us all the legends—Three-Foot Horse, Whooping Boy, and Ananci, all of them—and his were always gruesome, the really arcane characters of folklore. And he was always in the story. I don’t remember my grand-uncle ever telling us a story in which “Ananci did so-and-so,” or “River Mumma did so-and-so.” It was always, “I was coming from so-and-so and I met River Mumma.” He always saw himself at the center of these stories. In his own way, he was a master craftsman. I was surrounded by that.
Of course, these were stories that had no boundaries; they were just what happened. There was no demarcation between what you might call this logical, rationalist space and what happened in what I call the otherworldly one. There was a guy in my district called Sammy Lookup, because he was always looking up, and I asked my mother, “Mama, why is Sammy always looking up in the sky?” And she said, “Well, River Mumma stole him and kept him for twenty-one days, and when he came back, that was the mark on him.” It made perfect sense to me. I just accepted it. A separation of [those] worlds has never been part of my repertoire. Getting the concept across to my students is a challenge, though, unless they’re from those communities that have listened to those stories and internalized them as part of their deep psyche. Still, it’s very hard for them to accept it even then.
SG: Do you see that inherent connection to the otherworldly space disappearing?
CF: I think maybe in some ways. Even today, when I was talking about Nine Night in class and we were looking at a video—it was the Nine Night for Trevor Rhone—I could see even the Caribbean students struggling to get a sense of it.11 People don’t have exactly those kinds of community sit-downs any more. Those societies have changed. Technology alone shifted that—a lot, I think. In Jamaica there are still pockets of it [that are] pretty much intact, but it’s hard to tell without systematic research, and especially because I live outside now. It differs across the Caribbean and perhaps in the very rural communities you might have quite a bit of it, but I think it’s changing quite a bit.
But I also think I am in a kind of in-between space where that is concerned. It’s hard for me to say, “Oh, we’re losing that,” because the minute I say that to myself, I respond, “No, what we’ve really done is refigured it in new ways.” Everything changes and acquires a different kind of meaning; the accretions of history endure. In Jamaica there isn’t a Carnival any more—well, there’s a kind of Carnival—but it has transmuted itself into so many other spaces, like when people demonstrate in the streets. It’s in the dancehall culture and so on, diffusing into other spaces because the performance serves other functions. Perhaps children don’t think of their dreams or their grandmother’s stories as truth, so maybe it comes in other forms.
SG: Like a lot of Caribbean writers, you frame these kinds of experiences critically as well as creatively. How do these paradigms of writing intersect for you?
CF: There is a level at which we have never had a big separation between the literature and the theorization, certainly not in the Caribbean, because the writers have always been very concerned to theorize their literature. This is not only because of their curiosity about the nature of writing as writers but also because writing is a political act. That’s why so many of that whole generation, the [George] Lammings and the [Wilson] Harrises and the [Derek] Walcotts, viewed writing theory as similar to writing fiction; they were saying, “This is how you should read my literature,” really. And that is why so many of their texts are metatexts. You can actually use the literature to teach the theory because it emerges from it, and that tradition has always been there. I find a lot of the women writers do that in this generation; you’ll find it in Erna Brodber, for example, who is a metaphysical philosopher in an Africanist way. Most writers do that; they’re always theorizing in the writing, in the poetry, and in the fiction, so at that level I wouldn’t say that there is a big separation.
What I do find, however, is that quite a bit of theorization produced in metropolitan spaces seems to run the risk of worlding the literature. One of the things that I have been seeing for a long time, but now theory’s sort of catching up with, is this diasporan kind of celebration that came out of theorization, such as when [Paul] Gilroy’s book The Black Atlantic became famous, and people were using the concepts from [Antonio] Benítez-Rojo.12 I’m not discrediting these wonderful theorists at all, but we have used them to do this kind of facile crossing. In other words, I found that the trauma has tended to be elided a lot more in the theorization coming out of metropolitan spaces than that actually exists in literature itself. The literature is showing this ongoing trauma in different configurations. I think that is changing, but that is something that I have noticed.
I do have a sense too that the way Caribbean is perceived in the region is very different from the many ways it is perceived here. Part of that is because people in the Caribbean don’t necessarily think of themselves as “Caribbean.” They think of themselves as “Jamaican,” or “Trinidadian,” or whatever they think of themselves as in terms of national identity, and there’s a huge amount of conflict, really, among nations. You read the papers and you see the kinds of treatment that Jamaicans and the Guyanese say they get from hosts in Barbados and Trinidad and so on, and it’s pretty horrific; there’s no kind of seamless Caribbean, as it were. And if they invoke the term Caribbean, it’s usually contingent, depending on the context, so we talk about the “West Indian” cricket team, for example, which is not “Caribbean” so much as it is “West Indian.” We talk about the “Caribbean” examinations called the CSEC but quarrel about CARICOM, and now there is debate about whether it should be dismantled and thrown away.13 But by and large the concept Caribbean is a construct that operates here in a very different way, so I think one has to be careful about criticism and the risk of worlding. One of the things I keep in mind is that, yes, there is a general history that is shared, but different parts of the Caribbean have different histories, and when you are talking about a particular country, you need to have the specifics. You can’t generalize, and there are some generalizations that really bother me, especially when people are talking about those so-called smaller islands. It’s easy to drown them out by imposing a sort of blanket conception that may be truer for the larger islands, but even there it’s questionable, because the larger islands themselves have such different experiences and cultural expressions. So that’s how I think of it. And I really think about it; the other day, I was making an argument about the Hindu elements in Shani Mootoo’s Cereus Blooms at Night.14 I was really nervous writing about it—terrified, actually. I spent a long time on it; I researched; I spoke to Indo-Trinidadians. I just didn’t want to say something that was offensive or irresponsible, so I took my time with it.
SG: Your comment regarding a shared general history brings to mind a quote in your critical work From Nation to Diaspora. In it, you recognize the feminist view that “the male-dominated academy [has] ignor[ed] women’s issues,” and point out that “it must be acknowledged that women to some extent acquiesced” in this “silencing” because of the “collective excitement which suppressed other considerations.”15 How did you see feminism unfold within the shared history of the Caribbean you knew?
CF: I stated that fact very cautiously. I think the major concern was for the larger collective, a “we’re all in this together” kind of thing, so the emphasis was on independence, on freedom from colonial rule. That is a history of our nationalisms, so women’s rights didn’t become a focus of the agenda until the larger questions had been settled. It was a kind of acquiescence: “Let’s talk about us West Indians.” Once we settled that big political question, we could start to look at other things, and I think you see this very much in the fact that feminist criticism began to emerge at the end of the 1970s and throughout the 1980s, so that speaks for itself. When I was in school, I didn’t remember anybody pursuing this idea of the women’s rights within the nationalist movement. Obviously it must have been something that was discussed. I’m saying there was to a large extent this idea of a kind of acquiescence, and by that I don’t mean that women felt that women should be silenced; I just think it didn’t become a focal part of the discussion at first. The body of criticism bears it out, and my own experience at university bears it out. There were women who were feminists [such as] Lucille Mathurin Mair, who did that historical study of women in the early 1970s, but she was the exception.16 There were people like Una Marson writing and so on, but in a general sense, the push was toward the collective, which always was in male-masculine terms.
I tend to listen to the interiority, what goes on in the community, and that’s one of the reasons why I object to the idea of women’s silence. Women have always been very vocal; they may be silent in texts, but texts are not life. I remember people used to have a lot of conversation around us when we were growing up as children, and we probably heard more because the adults didn’t think we were there. If there wasn’t something we were meant to hear they’d say, “Go. You’re a child, and this is big people business.” But they talked politics a lot; they talked religion and philosophy a lot. My mother used to have a friend who would come from a place called Occasion Call, and he and she would palaver the whole day about everything: Rhodesia, Busta, the whole works.17 That’s what they did. This was something that was replicated in many yards when I was growing up. I always heard political talk around me, but I never heard this big discourse about women; it was an “us,” an “us-ness,” not a “woman-ness” or a “man-ness.” Of course, in school, when we talked about the writer, we wrote the universal his, which is perhaps why I’m now struggling with s/he, because he was first. So it’s not unique to us; it’s been the history of nationalisms.
I don’t know why women should squirm about the facts; I don’t know why we should think we have to be ideal persons so we shouldn’t admit that “women to some extent acquiesced.” We’re just people, and these things happen. It doesn’t mean we’re not concerned about it, but these things happen. It sounds horribly clichéd, but what I mean is that we don’t have to be ideal; we shouldn’t gloss it over in order to prove a point, because we don’t have to be superhuman. A lot of women were/are very patriarchal in their thinking; a lot of men are not. The ideal feminist—I don’t know who she is. She’s somebody we strive toward, maybe. That’s what makes life interesting.
I think it was also very complicated; I don’t know that I can point to any one reason why the woman question wasn’t a big part of verandah talk. Maybe it was different in other parts of the country, on other verandahs where people were more “educated.” But with regard to the women in my childhood—apart from the fact that it was men the society was used to seeing in power—in a sense those women thought they were [just like] men. At the level of their everyday sense of themselves they didn’t feel inferior; they were really tough women, often very vocal. They envisioned—and worked for—their daughters getting an education and taking their places in the professions. Paradoxically, they socialized their daughters to keep in the private space and their sons to roam the piazzas. They helped create the status quo. Then the daughters grew up in the generation when the nationalist project had been given its chance and had shown itself to be full of holes, including the holes where their presence was an absence. So they started making noise.
SG: There is a connection in your work between the communal interiority you discuss here and individual interiority. One of the themes that emerges in your fiction—through the female characters, in particular—is that of forgiveness on an individual level. Do you think it determines the community’s coherence as well?
CF: I think so. Certainly on historical levels. My conversations with some women of my mother’s generation have bothered me. The women are very, very bitter. I hadn’t realized how widespread that was and how bitter they are about the past, about the possibilities that were destroyed before they began. In many cases it’s about their parents, and actually their fathers. Of course, the fathers themselves came out of situations in which oppressing their daughters was okay, that this was love in process. I am interested in what this has done to people; I’ve seen people as they’re dying struggle with letting their bitterness go. There’s one woman I’m thinking of who was facing her own death and was troubled by that. She was eighty-odd years old, and her last encounter with her father was at the age of seventeen, yet she felt that what he did had scarred her for life.
But the forgiveness, you see, was not so much about him as it was about her, because it is it what has made her. The way he treated her is part of a history that comes out of the colonial history. It’s also part of a history that I’ve apprehended not simply from talking to women I know, so for me it has always been starkly real, and I’m just stunned. I don’t know why I should be stunned, because intellectually I know it happened all the time. It’s just that when you meet face-to-face the products of that, it’s really quite horrific. There can be no community of the self when one is carrying this thing in the body. In fact, I believe that’s what killed her in the end.
SG: When I spoke with Sandra Pouchet Paquet, she told me that she didn’t get her citizenship until she moved to Florida and could “see home.”18 Your creative and critical works evidence the strength of your connection with Jamaica. What made you decide to relocate to the United States? How did you, and how do you, think of this place, this space that you’re now in?
CF: Well, I came here ten years ago. I have lived in other places, but I grew up and lived most of my life in Jamaica. So [relocating] was a conscious decision. I wanted to be elsewhere for a while [but] I didn’t want to be in the United States. Having applied for a job, I resisted coming, and I put all sorts of roadblocks in the way, and they all fell apart, so I came. The first three years were extremely hard. Just to put that in context, most of my family is still in Jamaica. I go home pretty frequently. Most of the people I talk to, because I conduct a lot of my private life by phone, are Jamaicans who are living here, or in England, or at home. I talk to my family pretty much every night. I talk to my friends who have become Jamericans because of Barack Obama. I go home because of family or sometimes to work, which is two to four times a year. So that’s the context in which it was extremely hard.
I used to wake up in the middle of the night, and my stomach would be looping like I was on a roller coaster. This went on for three to four years. I was really torn; I felt I was ready to go back home, because being here in the United States . . . it wasn’t a place I could connect with. Even the landscape was difficult for me, because I do a lot of walking, and landscape for me is pretty important. I hadn’t given up my job here because I wasn’t sure I would want to stay in Jamaica, so I simply asked for more leave and packed up everything and went back home. I said, “If I’m going, I’m going for real. I’m not going to go half-and-half.” But once I was there, I was miserable. The reasons I had left Jamaica were the same; they hadn’t changed. So I came back to the US, and it’s funny: the moment I decided I was coming back, the roller coaster in my stomach stopped because I had made a decision. It wasn’t that it was easier, but in a way it was, because I had made a decision and that created a space of calm in my spirit. And I decided I was going to live here.
So I started living here, taking an active part in the community and so on. I campaigned very fiercely for Barack Obama, and his becoming president made a difference. It isn’t that his election made me feel that I “belonged” here. It was more that the way he had been treated, and the way people have been willing to hold the whole country for ransom just to get at one man for the color of his skin—that made me realize that I had elected to live here, and so I had a stake in how the country was run, in what happened here. So I campaigned for him in the 2012 elections. I think when you get to that place, it becomes home, whether you phrase it that way or not. Home is putting your bags down, even if you keep a packed one under the bed, just in case, or carry one in your head just for living.
I got a green card when I came back, the same week Barack Obama was inaugurated. I settled down, bought a house, planted my gardens, and so now I kind of live very much in an in-between space in my head. I am not troubled the way I was. I spoke to friends who were here before me and everybody told me that it would take about five years. For three years, though I was going back to my apartment, I never said I was “going home.” I would say, “I’m going back to the apartment.” So it has become home in a way, but there is a way that is a question sign, and for Jamaica too. Every time I go home I feel very much my outsiderness. I feel my outsiderness here too. Do you remember when people would take up houses, just lift up a house and put it on the back of a truck? And two weeks go by and there’s no brown space where the house was because the grass has grown back already? As soon as I get to the airport and the customs people ask, “When are you going back?,” I say, “You can’t ask me that; I’m showing you a Jamaican passport! I feel like I’ve lost home already, and you’re trying to take it from me again?” [Laughs] So I really live in two places.
But I always have to go home—to Jamaica, I mean. I think of myself as a camel; each time I make these trips I say to myself, “I’m topping off my humps for the sojourn in the desert until next time.” Often I feel I cannot write or even talk about Jamaica as it now is, because it’s changing in ways in which I can’t participate, and I don’t know it intimately in any of its changes. A part of me feels fraudulent. [Perhaps that’s why] my last book Ghosts is set in a fictional place in the near future—it’s a way of negotiating that loss.
Sheryl Gifford is a senior instructor in the Department of English at Florida Atlantic University. She wishes to thank Curdella Forbes, Elaine Savory, Sandra Pouchet Paquet, and Evelyn O’Callaghan for their kind participation in this series, which was inspired by her dissertation, “Re-Making Men, Representing the Caribbean Nation: Authorial Individuation in Works by Fred D’Aguiar, Robert Antoni, and Marlon James” (Florida Atlantic University, Boca Raton, December 2013).
1 Carole Boyce Davies, “Preface: The Caribbean Creative/Theoretical,” in Keshia N. Abraham, ed., The Caribbean Woman Writer as Scholar: Creating, Imagining, Theorizing (Coconut Creek, FL: Caribbean Studies Press, 2009), xi.
2 Curdella Forbes, “Jamaican Children Reading: A Reflection,” sx salon 13 (August 2013).
3 Mervyn Morris, back cover, Songs of Silence (Oxford: Heinemann, 2002).
4 Curdella Forbes, “The Boy Who Went Through the Pages of a Book,” in Flying with Icarus (London: Walker, 2003), 171–72, 173.
5 Pearson Schools, “An Interview with Curdella Forbes, August 2010,” 4.
6 Derek Walcott, “What the Twilight Says: An Overture,” in Dream on Monkey Mountain and Other Plays (New York: Noonday, 1970), 9.
7 Curdella Forbes, “Flying with Icarus,” in Flying with Icarus, 93.
8 “I discovered that not only did the name Aliun, meaning ‘supernatural being,’ or ‘elf,’ exist, it had almost twenty variants, including a name as familiar as Alvin.” Curdella Forbes, acknowledgments to A Permanent Freedom (Leeds: Peepal Tree, 2008), 7.
9 Curdella Forbes, Ghosts (Leeds: Peepal Tree, 2012).
10 Students take CSEC examinations on completion of their secondary school education.
11 Jamaican playwright Trevor Rhone died in 2009. A Nine Night held in his honor was posted on YouTube. See “Jamaican Traditional Wake (Nine Night)” at www.youtube.com/watch?v=GASavNsDqlo.
12 Paul Gilroy, The Black Atlantic: Modernity and Double Consciousness (London: Verso, 1993); Antonio Benítez-Rojo, The Repeating Island: The Caribbean and the Postmodern Perspective (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1996).
13 CARICOM is an acronym that originally stood for the Caribbean Community and Common Market, an alliance of newly independent Caribbean countries initiated in 1965 that was “intended to unite their economies and to give them a joint presence on the international scene” (“The Caribbean Free Trade Association,” Caribbean Community Secretariat). CARICOM is presently undergoing a three-year reform process: “[To] bring about Change within our Community—moving from the current state where the efficacy of regional integration is frequently questioned and its impact and value not readily apparent, to one where targeted results for the benefit of the People of the Region, can be planned, monitored, measured and so seen and appreciated by our People and our Partners” (Caribbean Community Secretariat, 2013, www.caricom.org/).
14 Shani Mootoo, Cereus Blooms at Night (New York: Grove, 1996).
15 Curdella Forbes, From Nation to Diaspora: Samuel Selvon, George Lamming, and the Cultural Performance of Gender (Kingston: University of the West Indies Press, 2005), 5.
16 Lucille Mathurin Mair, A Historical Study of Women in Jamaica, 1655–1844, ed. Hilary McD. Beckles and Verene A. Shepherd (Kingston: University of the West Indies Press, 2006). This publication was originally Mathurin Mair’s doctoral dissertation, which she completed at the University of the West Indies in 1974. According to the University’s website, Mathurin Mair made history as the first person to write a dissertation on women. This work “forever influenced the research on women and gender and was the foundation for a plethora of other work on the topic.” “Ambassador Lucille Mair,” Department of History and Archaeology, University of the West Indies myspot.mona.uwi.edu/history/ambassador-lucille-mair (accessed 31 March 2014).
17 The apartheid state of Rhodesia became a Free State in 1979 and attained independence as Zimbabwe in 1980. Forbes refers to the system in Rhodesia as well as to the Civil Rights struggles in the United States throughout the 1960s—exemplars of the oppression of black people in different places around the globe—being very much a part of conversation and debate among rural Jamaicans during her childhood. “Busta” is the “affectionate nickname of Sir Alexander Bustamante, popularly considered a ‘buster,’ a champion of the common man, and a tough article.” Frederic Gomes Cassidy and Robert Brook Le Page, eds., Dictionary of Jamaican English, 2nd ed. (Mona: University of the West Indies Press, 2002), 61.
18 Sandra Pouchet Paquet, “‘This Is How I Know Myself’: A Conversation with Sandra Pouchet Paquet,” sx salon 9 (May 2012).