Introduction and Table of Contents
Introduction and Table of Contents
In the weeks leading up to the publication of this issue of sx salon, we have lost two major figures in Caribbean literature—Michelle Cliff (b. 1946) and Austin Clarke (b. 1934). Whenever we lose such integral parts of our cultural landscape, we are forced to reflect on their contributions—those already made and those we might have hoped to see in future. There are various overviews on both Cliff’s and Clarke’s works available in myriad formats and nothing I write here will be sufficient, so I would like to use this small space to raise the question of the flow of information about their deaths. The New York Times ran obituaries on both writers, but Austin Clarke’s obituary ran the day after he passed, while it was a full week after Michelle Cliff’s death before her obituary was published. There are many factors that probably contributed to this, including Cliff’s life-long insistence on privacy, but the difference is especially striking in a world that now runs on instant access to information.
With Cliff’s death, I wondered about the lack of spaces for the Caribbean literary community to exchange and share information. Authoritative spaces that other sources—blogs, social media postings, Wikipedia—might point to as reliable references for announcements of this type. I thought, we should not be relying on American or British commercial media to tell us about our own. But with the immediate response to Clarke’s death, I am thrown back into confusion about who gets attention and access, and how, because I realized that that type of acknowledgement is what I would have wanted for Cliff. I don’t have answers, because there are too many unknowns, but I want to raise these particular questions about unequal access, not to sources so much as to space within these already authorized sources. And to ask if we should, and how we might, create such reliable and reliably updated sources ourselves.
sx salon has this question of access at the heart of its mission. Access not just in terms of our open, online format but also in terms of the length and linguistic register of our pieces. Our periodical nature means we will not have daily news with each issue, but it also means that sx salon can provide thoughtful discussions about current issues and concerns in the Caribbean literary community. In this issue, for example, we present the timely discussion “Haiti in the Hispanophone Caribbean Literary Imaginary,” guest edited by sx salon book review editor Vanessa K. Valdés. As Valdés states in her introduction to the section, “a careful consideration of the impact of Haiti and the invocation of the country in the cultural productions of neighboring Spanish-speaking countries is long overdue,” and the stellar group of writers in this discussion—Raphael Dalleo, Marc Olivier Reid, Marianna Past, and Erika V. Serrato—together “set forth new possibilities for the field of Hispanic Caribbean literary studies” that we hope will inspire further careful attention to discourses on Haiti.
In this issue we include new short fiction from Geoffrey Philp and poetry from Yuan Changming. We also include reviews about recent publications in the field: Raj Chetty reviews Maja Horn’s Masculinity after Trujillo: The Politics of Gender in Dominican Literature; Omaris Z. Zamora reviews Urayoán Noel’s In Visible Movement: Nuyorican Poetry from the Sixties to Slam; Brandon Mc Ivor reviews Andre Bagoo’s Burn; and Autumn Womack reviews Krista Thompson’s Shine: The Visual Economy of Light in African Diasporic Aesthetic Practice. Rounding out the issue we have two enlightening and inspiring interviews. In the first, Sheryl Gifford interviews Faith Smith for the fifth of her sx salon interviews with Caribbean women scholars. In the second, we present the first half of Hyacinth Simpson’s conversation with librettist and performer Nicole Brooks, whose unique Obeah Opera warranted a two-part discussion.
Thanks for being part of the sx salon crew. We hope you enjoy this issue.
Kelly Baker Josephs
Table of Contents
Discussion: Haiti in the Hispanophone Caribbean Literary Imaginary