sx salon 33

Literature and the Sir George Williams University Protest

• February 2020

Editor’s note: sx salon 33 was composed, and this introduction written, before the full weight of coronavirus/COVID-19 as devastating global pandemic had borne down upon us in the Caribbean and the Americas. I have decided not to amend the text below, and not to withhold publication of the issue, because I want to fully honor the tremendous work of our contributors and guest editors. But I hope that publication of this issue will not be taken as an attempted gesture in the direction of “business as usual.” These are deeply difficult times; for myself, I am especially grateful to the artists and thinkers who have sent and are sending their gifts out into the world to comfort, challenge and inspire us all. Stay safe.


sx salon is very pleased to present this special issue, “Literature and the Sir George Williams University Protest,” coedited by Ronald Cummings and Nalini Mohabir. The issue is the fruit of the Protests and Pedagogy conference convened at Concordia University in February 2019 to commemorate and reflect on the fiftieth anniversary of the Sir George Williams University protest (January–February 1969). Cummings and Mohabir were part of the organizing team for the conference; their essay “On the Poetics of a Protest” serves as a more lucid and compelling introduction for this issue than any I could provide. I thank them for entrusting to sx salon this wonderful collection of critical and creative reflections on that historic event and its reverberations throughout the political and cultural spheres of the Caribbean.

My other task here is a more somber one: our sad season of loss in Caribbean letters continues with the death, on 4 February 2020, of Kamau Brathwaite, whom sx salon had celebrated as recently as February 2018 with issue 27, “The Brathwaite Effect.” There are some figures whose life-work is so significant and their passing so unthinkable that our first response is a profound, almost stunned silence. Even now, weeks later, it’s hard for me to know what to add to the emerging obituaries and tributes. But Brathwaite’s understanding of the power of the Word was deeper, more intimate, and yet more comprehensive than that of perhaps anyone else I can name. He would surely not want us—the Caribbean community whose histories, experiences, and expressions were his rigorously and tenderly explored subject over a lifetime of brilliant creation—left Word-less by his passing. So we sing Kamau Brathwaite on to join the ancestors. We thank him for his life, his words, and his work, and for the vision he gave us of our homespace, our Caribbean. Asé.

Rachel L. Mordecai


Table of Contents

Introduction and Table of Contents—Rachel L. Mordecai



“A Haunting Call for Redress”—Janice Anderson
Review of M. NourbeSe Philip, Bla_K: Essays and Interviews (Toronto: Book *hug, 2017)

“1968’s Revolutionary Echoes”Jeanette Charles
Review of David Austin, ed., Moving Against the System: The 1968 Congress of Black Writers and the Making of Global Consciousness (Toronto: Pluto, 2018)

“Girls Always Elsewhere: A Port-au-Prince Story”—Nathan H. Dize
Review of Emmelie Prophète, Un ailleurs à soi (Montreal: Mémoire d’encrier, 2018)

“For the Love of Theory”—Laurie R. Lambert
Review of Dionne Brand, Theory (Toronto: Alfred A. Knopf Canada, 2018)

“On Reading Maps and Memory”—Amílcar Sanatan
Review of Canisia Lubrin, Voodoo Hypothesis (Hamilton, Ontario: Buckrider, 2017)


Discussion—Literature and the Sir George Williams University Protest

“On the Poetics of a Protest: Literature and the Sir George Williams University Protest”Ronald Cummings and Nalini Mohabir

“Writing to / for / with Coralee”Stéphane Martelly

“Confounding the Void: The Sir George Williams University Computer Center Occupation in H. Nigel Thomas’s Behind the Face of WinterKaie Kellough

“Hamidou’s Crossroads: Kaie Kellough’s Fictional Meditation on the ‘Sir George Williams Affair’ in Dominoes at the CrossroadsH. Nigel Thomas

“Decolonizing Futures: Dialogues across the Francophone and Anglophone Caribbean”Raphaël Confiant and H. Nigel Thomas


Poetry and Prose

poems: “Neuvaine” / “Novena”Stéphane Martelly, trans. Kaie Kellough

poems: “Immense and Clumsy” and “Long Tale”—Nancy Anne Miller

poem: “Bush Pickney”—Shannon T. Smith

poems: “Colonial Burdens” and “Marronage”—Mónica A. Jiménez


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