100+ Voices for Miss Lou is an anthology of poetry, tributes, interviews and essays by 107 contributors that took me two years to put it together. The anthology is a homage to The Honourable Louise Bennett-Coverley whose work and life have been sources of inspiration, and have helped me to develop as a poet and a social/cultural activist. While many Jamaicans want to trap Miss Lou in a bandana and smiling , I know her as a warrior who had to fight numerous battles to stand in her own shoe, and this collection is to help shatter the very narrow box into which we have imprisoned Miss Lou.
Putting an anthology together is perhaps harder than writing a single collection of poems or stories or even a novel because so many people are involved with personalities and a different sense of deadline, and also their own agenda, which might not dovetail with yours the editor. While I cannot say that when the idea of the anthology came to me that I knew what I wanted it to be or even knew the different sections, no I did not. What I knew was, it was intended to fulfil a promise I made to Miss Lou when I first interviewed her in 1987. In 1987 when I entered the doctoral programme at the University of California, Berkeley, I initially thought about writing a biography of Louise Bennett, but after the first of two interviews, the project seemed overwhelming so I abandoned it. An excerpt of the interview is included in the anthology.
Readers will enjoy contributions by the obvious suspects such as Mervyn Morris and Carolyn Cooper, both of whom have done extensive work on Louise Bennett as well as poetry and essays by Joan Andrea Hutchinson, Mutabaruka, Amina Blackwood Meeks, Linton Kwesi Johnson, then some wonderful surprises by Kei Miller, the essay on her war poems by Dalea Bean and the marvellous sharings and tributes by Lorna Goodison, the former Poet Laureate, and the former Prime Minister, PJ Patterson and the Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, Oliva Grange. While most of the pieces are first time publication, there are a number of pieces that have appeared elsewhere. Also, in order to get the diversity of voices and include a number of persons who worked with Miss Lou, but who aren’t writers, I ended up doing eleven interviews…the work was enormous and demanding making this anthology come alive.
I have gotten a lot of queries about the cover image which is by Tommy Ricketts, and my first and only consideration for the cover. Tommy Ricketts has six other images in the collection and this work came about as a request from me to him, when I were organizing Miss Lou’s centennial, and hosted an exhibition of Tommy Ricketts unorthodox images in the foyer gallery at the Regional Headquarters of The University of the West Indies, Mona. This image, like the others, debunks all the popular and loved images of Miss Lou dressed in her folk costume, regale with a bandana. Instead, in an attempt to have readers and lovers of Miss Lou see the fierce strategic side of her, she is armed with a nib pen, her weapon of choice, her sword strapped on her back and behind her are two male elders, also armed with pens, who have allowed her into the valley of liberation. This image shatters any box into which others might want to confine Miss Lou, who is more than a comic, more than a smiling sweet woman who promoted the Jamaican language and legitimize our nation language.
The importance of 100 + Voices for Miss Lou is not just s tribute to her, but more importantly, a place where lovers of Louise Bennett-Coverley’s work and the work of those who were touched and moved by her generosity of spirit can find in one single collection, a rich, diverse body of work that reveals the range of Louise Bennett’s contribution to Jamaican culture. It is a teaching tool as well as a full read for those who love literature.
My goal as a writer is to publish at least 50 books before I transition from this life and to have them all made into movie and translated into 200 languages. I am affirming 3 Netflix Series: Love’s Promise; Until Judgment Comes and Bake-Face and Other Guava Stories…
I am also working on a children’s picture book of Miss Lou, which I plan to have out next year.
I welcome your help and sponsorship to make these dreams a reality.
Please note, 100+ Voices for Miss Lou is available at the following locations locally and internationally:
§ The University Bookshop, The UWI, Mona Campus
§ Kingston Bookshop Limited
§ Fontana Pharmacy
§ Books & CD’s (located at the Norman Manley International Airport)
Sangster’s Book Stores Limited
Buy a copy for yourself, and buy a copy for a local library or school. I thank you for your support.
The eBook is available at:
Amazon (Kindle and Paperback) click here
BookFusion click here
For orders and customer service in the United States, Caribbean and Latin America contact Longleaf Services, Inc.
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