I find myself thinking a lot about place and space these days—about how the specific human geography of where I am colors my view of things (and how useful, therefore, it is to remember that there are certainly views from elsewhere that will look very different from my own). But also about space itself, terrain as it exists beyond what humans make of it. One of my students, during a class conversation about The Fourth Century, wondered out loud about Édouard Glissant’s extensive descriptions of landscape in that novel and whether they are intended to support and amplify the human stories being told or whether the landscape has a (parallel? interruptive?) story of its own. Questions of space, place, and the human relationships we forge with and within these dimensions seem particularly germane as the broader public begins—not early enough and not urgently enough—to grapple with the scope of the climate crisis and the range of possible futures it portends.
In this open issue of sx salon, three very different contributions to our discussion section engage the themes of space and place and reflect on how Caribbean people shape and are shaped by their natural and built surroundings. Carol Bailey’s essay on Kei Miller’s collection The Cartographer Tries to Map a Way to Zion reflects on land stewardship versus land ownership and how Miller summons distinctively Caribbean linguistic and rhetorical strategies to decertify Euro-imperialist epistemologies and reclaim Caribbean spaces from the psychological and material conditions they produce. Rojo Robles examines the 1968 documentary The World of Piri Thomas as a collaboration between the Nuyorican poet Thomas and the African American photographer and filmmaker Gordon Parks, elaborating the ways that each brings his particular poetic and visual engagement with the New York cityscape to their joint “denunciation of poverty and systemic abandonment.” And finally, Amílcar Sanatan interviews the Trinidadian poet and activist Colin Robinson, discussing the transnational trajectories of Robinson’s work and his insights into LGBTI organizing, movement building in diverse geo-cultural locations, and writing as “a site, a tool for testimony, for narcissism, for license, for pleasure, for adventure, for remediation, for risk.”
Also in this issue, Canisia Lubrin reviews Wordplanting, by Kendel Hippolyte; Laëtitia Saint-Loubert reviews Lo terciario / The Terciary, by Raquel Salas Rivera, and Ricantations, by Loretta Collins Klobah; Alejandro Stephano Escalante reviews Escenas transcaribeñas: Ensayos sobre teatro, performance y cultura, by Lawrence La Fountain-Stokes; Daniel Arbino reviews Night-Blooming Jasmin(n)e: Personal Essays and Poetry, by Jasminne Méndez; and Matthew Davidson reviews Empire’s Guestworkers: Haitian Migrants in Cuba during the Age of US Occupation, by Matthew Casey. Our Prose and Poetry section contains poems by Janine Shand and Geoffrey Philp and a short story from Justin Haynes.
A final note: as this issue was in production, we received news of the death of Dr Victor Chang, whose work as a scholar and teacher of Caribbean literature at the University of the West Indies' Mona campus was formative for so many of us, myself included. We are all the poorer for his passing. Walk good, Dr Chang.
As always, we hope you enjoy reading, and we welcome your feedback: firstname.lastname@example.org
Rachel L. Mordecai
Table of Contents
World-Making Words—Canisia Lubrin
Kendel Hippolyte, Wordplanting (Leeds: Peepal Tree, 2019)
Trans . . . lation, ‘That Third Thing That Gives Value’ to Contemporary Puerto Rican Poetry—Laëtitia Saint-Loubert
Raquel Salas Rivera, Lo terciario / The Terciary (Oakland, CA: Timeless, Infinite Light, 2018), and Loretta Collins Klobah, Ricantations (Leeds: Peepal Tree, 2018)
Caribbean Literature, Visual Art, and Performance as Resistance—Alejandro Stephano Escalante
Lawrence La Fountain-Stokes, Escenas transcaribeñas: Ensayos sobre teatro, performance y cultura (San Juan: Isla Negra, 2018)
Blooming in the Pursuit of Wellness—Daniel Arbino
Jasminne Méndez, Night-Blooming Jasmin(n)e: Personal Essays and Poetry (Houston: Arte Público, 2018)
The First Haitian Migrants and the Unevenness of Empire—Matthew Davidson
Matthew Casey, Empire’s Guestworkers: Haitian Migrants in Cuba during the Age of US Occupation (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2017)
Poetry and Prose