Posts Tagged ‘jamaica’

Christmasham ChristmasinJamaica
For me, there is simply nothing like Christmas in Jamaica. There’s a surfeit of riches that Jamaicans enjoy over the Christmas Season: Christmas caroling in the weeks leading up to Christmas; the almost palpable buzz of the elusive Christmas spirit in the streets, shopping plazas, buses, through open doors and roadside stalls; the excitement of the throngs heading to downtown for Christmas market; reggae-infused Christmas songs; Jamaican rum cake; festivals and parties galore; Jonkonoo and of course the camaraderie in Half Way Tree plazas on Christmas Eve to name just a few of my favorite things. So there’s nothing I would have wanted more than to follow in the footsteps of fellow Jamaican Tessanne Chin, winner of the 2013 The Voice competition who flew to Jamaica straight off her sensational win to celebrate Christmas in Jamaica with her family.

SeaPicAnd although there is nowhere else I’d rather be than in Jamaica at Christmas – barefoot outside a Portland villa, steps away from one of our famous sun-dappled beaches, bare feet deeply burrowed in powder-fine sand, sorrel drink in hand, pineapple glazed ham and escovitch fish waiting on the table – the next best thing is launching the book campaign for my debut novel Journey to the Land of Look Behind. That’s why I’m still offering the first the ThreeChapters_LandofLookBehind for free!

Now – at last –  after many years of perseverance, insights, countless rewrites and untold editing, my debut novel Journey to the Land of Look Behind has been published and is now available in both paperback and ebook versions. And I couldn’t be more thrilled and enthusiastic to share with the world what has been my passion and dream for some time.

Every woman  – as she comes into her own  – asks imminent questions that help define and inform who she is, what she’ll stand for and how she’ll navigate her way in this world – on her own terms or on others’.  This is the essential truth that propelled me to write  Journey to the Land of Look Behind, a story about a young woman who returns to her island home Jamaica to help care for the father who abandoned her and the aching tug-of-war and winding journey that leads to her authentic self.

So What’s the Novel Really About?

lookBehindCoverIndigo Wade, a brilliant engineer and aspiring sculptor, is frustrated with her son-child boyfriend, Reed, pressured by her domineering mother, Lena and struggling through a fractured relationship with her distant and indifferent father, Capo. An urgent, disturbing phone call precipitates a trip to Jamaica where past memories resurface, life lessons are learned and new beginnings are started. Sage advice from her Aunt Mercie helps her deal with antagonistic siblings left to survive the wreckage of lives abandoned by a father who skillfully navigates relationships like a calculated chess grandmaster and lays bare the spiraling, wounding trajectory through their lives.

Balanced on the threshold of two worlds, neither of which she fully belongs, Indigo must face questions that help her define her own truths. Who are we when stripped of easy monikers: daughter; father, sister, friend?  Should she give up her promising career to pursue her dream of becoming a sculptor?  Can she steer her father toward a place of redemption and at what cost?

NewOrleansSet in New Orleans and Jamaica, Journey to the Land of Look Behind centers around abandoned daughters who have been thrust into the world, fatherless, who have had to fend for themselves and find/claim their worth any way they can.  Countless Caribbean girls and women – not unlike black girls in America or in Africa and across the globe must make their way in life without the love and support of their father.  Not surprisingly, some of the most painful aspects of their lives are symptomatic of the wound of the fatherless daughter.  Their stories – with their themes of female identity, self-emancipation, abandoned or fatherless daughters  – are achingly familiar  are universally relatable.

Whether Caribbean, American or African, far too many of us grapple with the wound from the missing father and this is a tale about the travails of the wounded daughter.  As most of you know, I am a consummate storyteller and I feel that an intimate story, interwoven with some poignant truths and humor lighten this impactful story and the way it bleeds into the landscape of our lives is one worth telling.

In the coming weeks I’ll be blazing a trail with a kick-ass media campaign and promotion leading to several book signings in Jamaica, New York, New Jersey and New Orleans.  Hard copy and eBook versions are already available here on my website, on amazon.com, itunes and lulu.com.  To pique interests and set tongues wagging – in a great way! – Please take a moment to share with friends and acquaintances and post on your Twitter and/or Facebook timelines. You can still read the first  ThreeChapters_LandofLookBehind for free!

Look out for the JTLOLB book trailer, Facebook and Twitter posts as well as Kickstarter and Indiegogo campaigns.

Stay tuned for more…

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The club owner’s name is Popcorn the Legend, and he gestures toward the rugged parking lot in front of the Garden of Eden lounge. “Park here,” he says. “Support the bar, then go to Passa Passa.”

It’s almost 3:30 on a Thursday morning, and the narrow stretch of Spanish Town Road in the hinterland of West Kingston is clogged with thousands of revelers: Locals, Europeans and Americans jostle with Japanese dancehall-queen wannabes. Raw, salacious and unadulterated, Passa Passa is not your parents’ cookie-cutter vacation spot. The name is patois for “mix-up,” and it is a phenomenally popular dancehall street party that occurs Wednesday nights into Thursday mornings in Tivoli Gardens, one of the island’s most-feared “garrison” communities.

The big draw is the scantily-clad video girls with painted bodies gyrating and mouthing the lyrics to every song. Male dancers with names like Cowboy, Crazy Hype and Sri-Lanka dance in clusters, their movements synchronized. Vendors hawk peanuts, candy, codfish fritters, corn soup, snacks and jerk chicken. The affable, bearded “weedman,” a fixture at every Passa session, moves blithely through the crowd offering dried marijuana stalks that sell themselves. Maestro, the voice of Passa Passa, steps behind the DJ booth and whips the crowd into hair-pulling frenzy as he spins the latest club tracks—Nuh Linger, MySpace, Tek Weh Yuhself—chanting ribald lyrics about cunnilingus, loose women and homosexuality.

Come 7:30 a.m., when the party begins to wind down, bus drivers taking locals to work will smile tolerantly while maneuvering through the throng.

Passa Passa was created in 2003 by members of Swatch International sound system. Dylan Powe, chief executive officer for the event, explains, “It’s as authentic as dancehall culture comes, and we’re not interested in watering it down to make it more palatable.” It is ground zero for the culture: music, artists, dance, fashion, slang, as is evident by the frequent presence of luminaries such as Beenie Man, Sean Paul and Shaggy. But its success and longevity defies convention and history. More than entertainment, it presents a viable economic opportunity for Jamaicans.

But to understand why Passa might be a positive force, it’s necessary to know the culture of the communities known as garrisons. These communities—Tivoli, Trench Town, Concrete Jungle, Fletcher’s Land and others—are governed by gangs and “dons” who control their entrances and exits and act as a liaison between the community and political parties. Wars are fought to protect political boundaries and territories, and protection of political parties insulates the communities from law enforcement. Through Passa Passa, music and enterprise have become a catalyst for entrepreneurship, peace and community building. It’s also largely free from violence—the troublemakers avoid trouble lest they face a censure and backlash from the neighborhood.

Nearly 20,000 revelers flock to this ordinarily scorned community on a good night, bringing their spending money with them. As Popcorn told me, “an unemployed person can ‘trust’ [buy on credit] chicken, fish, cigarettes or a box of beer from a wholesaler and start a business. Sell, pay the debt and keep it going. Everybody profits.”

New artists come in the hopes of getting their music played, established ones come to test new sounds and discover the next big thing. Dancers—some of them once violent gang members—work to attract the attention from big-name entertainers, producers and promoters. These are opportunities to change their circumstances in ways neither a gun nor a politician can. Powe explains, “The community’s close proximity to the harbor, the market and as a main transportation hub for the island makes it a center for commerce. The fact that people here have always had their own shops, businesses and hustle is a natural evolution of what’s always been,” Powe says.

Ironically, Tivoli is represented in the Jamaican Parliament by current Prime Minister Bruce Golding. He neither condones nor condemns Passa, an event which arguably provides more economic opportunities for his constituents than his government can provide. Much of Passa’s staff are residents of the garrisons. If the roads flood after a rainstorm, the vendors lend their handcarts and drums to bail water and clean the streets, so the event can still take place.

Passa’s popularity and power as a social and cultural trendsetter has increased over the years. Thanks to cell phones, YouTube and MySpace, what goes on at Passa parties can immediately influence what happens in far-flung locales from Brooklyn to Tokyo to London. Corporate sponsors have also taken notice as evidenced from the strong presence of brands such as Jamaica’s Desnoes & Geddes, Digicel and Red Bull. Even so, the bulk of Passa’s business is derived from worldwide sale of CDs and DVDs, Passa parties packaged with DJ, artists, dancers and the sound system as well as the recently launched T-shirt line.

While the videolight is on, the community knows they have the attention of the world and, therefore, a stake in and accountability for their future. “It’s not only entertainment,” Powe says. “We’re developing a business model.”

“People may not want to live it, but they are eager to experience it. They love to say they had that drink at Passa.”

Denise Campbell is a freelance writer and copy editor in New York. She is the founder of GoldenPen Ink, a creative services business.

originally published on http://www.theroot.com/views/dance-could-save-kingston

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