Monday, 26 March 2012

The Hope Zoo Kingston Jamaica

Welcome to the most comprehensive, yet unofficial, fan site of the Hope Zoo, Kingston Jamaica

Updated July 15, 2013.
The Zoo has announced that on July 21, 2013 the entry fees will be 
Adults $1,500   Children $1,000


Address: The Royal Botanical Gardens at Hope, Old Hope Road
Use second gate on Old Hope Rd above Mona Prep.
Hope Blvd gate in Hope Pastures is usually closed.

Telephone: 927-1085
Opening Hours 
Regular: Monday to Friday Sunday 10:00 a.m. last ticket sold at 5:00 p.m.
Saturdays, Sundays, Public holidays 10:30a.m. last ticket sold at 5:30p.m. closed on Christmas Day.

Ages 3 to eleven J$300; Ages 12 and up  J$500
Special rates for groups and seniors.
There is a parking fee for the gardens, but visitors to the zoo are exempt from this fee. Tell the security guard that you are going to the zoo and you will be given a ticket that will be validated at the zoo entrance after you have bought your entry ticket.
Zoo parking is on a the grass field beside the shell bandstand.

Special Encounters
Petting Zoo J$200 per person - book two days in advance
Budgie Aviary J$200 per person - on the hour in the afternoon

Facilities and snacks
Wheelchair and stroller access throughout
Unisex restroom - no diaper station
Covered picnic benches and tables throughout property
Snacks including popcorn, frozen novelties and drinks sold inside.
Small child bounceabout $50 - (occasional)

Exhibits (as at March 11, 2013)

Water fowl feature - flamingoes and ducks
Scarlet Ibis
Peacock (roaming)
Love Bird
Raptor - hawk and falcon
Parrot and parakeet
Owl - Barn Owl and Jamaican Brown Owl
Blue Heron (wild) nest above the central crocodile enclosure

African Lion - arrived June 2013
White Tail Deer
Cappuchin Monkey
Spider Monkey
Collared Peccary
Zebra - arrived March 2013
Shetland Pony

American Crocodile (two enclosures)
Snake House - boa, python
Jamaican Iguana
Cuban Spiny Iguana

Jamaican Pond Turtle
American Red Eared Slider

Koi in water fowl feature
Koi in a garden water feature near gazebos

Phone: 876 9703505   876 9271257    876 9703504

Official Pages of Hope Zoo - not associated with this blog
Twitter: ZooKingston

My blog collection on Hope Zoo

Visit to Hope Zoo March 10, 2013

Zebras at Hope Zoo

Hope Zoo December 2012

Hope Zoo Iguanas Get Head Start

Hope Zoo November 2010


Gwyneth Harold is the writer of the young adult novel, Bad Girls in School

My website:

Sunday, 25 March 2012

Hope Zoo Iguanas Get Head Start

It was a magnificent moment to learn from a proud zookeeper that Iguanas are being reintroduced into the wild through the Head Start programme, that was set up to rescue the Jamaican Iguana from extinction.
Started in 1994, with input from the Hope Zoo, the programme has received a recent boost with measures in place to reduce mongoose populations in selected areas, so that the Jamaican Iguanas has a greater chance of surviving on their own. Many of the cages that have housed them are now empty or greatly depleted. This was really great news to me, and topped an outstanding visit to the zoo.

The petting area is now open, and and Uncle Stone, a great communicator, did a sensitization that included touching animal bones and skins and also a live bird, mammal and reptiles. This was a great experience for adults and children alike, and an additional $200 per person to the entry fee.

Another add-on encounter is at the budgie apiary where you can offer food to hundreds of budgies. They perch on your arm and nibble grain from your hands. This is an additional $100 per person. Speaking of birds, plumage of the Scarlet Ibises is changing changing from pink to magnificient scarlet.
The visionary Hope Zoo developer, Kenny Benjamin,
who is often seen at the Hope Zoo

The monkeys are also a delight. Sookie, the spider monkey, now has the full run of her enclosure and she is a gregarious and swings from arm to arm, or from her tail - a true performer, and it will be great when more of her species join the zoo exhibits. I am not sure how it started, but Mr Alex, the Capuchin, now happily mimics one of the Zookeepers for fun. Some of the wise donkeys are also curious and will seek engagement with you. In the same enclosure, the female ostrich will seek the interest of tall human men. The Emu is far more shy and stays away.

Large gazebo
Construction work is ongoing, as more covered areas are being built strategically about the property. I also paid a moment of silence after seeing the sliced trunk of an ancient mango tree that was felled in the name of development.

One of the covered areas has a statue of a smiling holy monk at the entrance; a sign perhaps that sculpture from Asia is included in the landscape plan; be prepared for a discussion about the woman at the entrance. For more articles on Hope Zoo, see the links at the end of this article.
Hindu female spirit of clouds and water

Monday, 19 March 2012

Radio Silence - All Five Episodes


Sponsored in the Youth Link by Mother's
The Great Jamaican Patty Company

  1. Triple Threat, Double Jeopardy
  2. Mosquito 1
  3. Hawk Eyes for Reggie
  4. High Wires
  5. Navigating
This is the second season of a young adult adventure series that involves the glorious intrigue of flying in the Caribbean.

Suitable from as young as Grades 7 to 9. Characters are sophisticated Caribbean youth.
Can be further developed for audio, film or television.

If you liked this, you will also like the first season. Fly Guy.

Spoiler Summary

A near mid-air collision causes pilot, Christopher "Kit" Khouri, to doubt the professionalism of Montego 
Bay's air traffic controllers before his friend, the determined Detective Avis Moore, reveals that they are
victims of a diabolical scheme by the reclusive ICT genius, Reginald Bowers. His goal is to control satellite
communication across the entire country.

Kit and Avis believe that they can convince him to use his developments for good, but find their efforts lead them to dangerous exposures on the deserted cay, Great Goat Island, where Bowers has his lair.

He traps them but they escape, debilitate his antenna and force him off the cay. Their efforts return good ICT service to the island, but Bowers' whereabouts are unknown.

Gwyneth Harold is the writer of the young adult novel, Bad Girls in School
Review of novel

Radio Silence - (5) Navigating


Episode 5

After successfully collapsing a satellite-blocking antenna, pilot Christopher Khouri and detective Avis Moore were chased off Great Goat Island and into the Caribbean Sea. Not before Avis was mauled by a guard dog.

“Please, no sharks,” Christopher prayed as he scanned the surface of the sea. A few feet away, Avis was struggling to swim to the cay, their best chance for survival, but the current was slowly pulling them into open water. After a lot of effort, they passed close enough to the outlying mangroves, grabbed aerial roots and hung on to rest. The water there was calm and dark and the mangroves impenetrable.   
“Eyes, eyes!” Christopher gasped. He saw a pair of dark brown eyes emerge from the swamp and re submerge. Despite his fright, he reasoned that it was not a shark…but maybe a crocodile.
“Manatees,” Avis said. If they are here there is a channel through the mangroves that we can follow. It might be a dead end, but it might just go to the other side.”
Another movement was a second manatee that had come up for air before slipping back into the murky water. Avis swum to the spot where the animal submerged and went under herself. A few seconds later she called to Christopher from behind the mangroves, urging him to follow.
Christopher, always uncomfortable in open water, realised that swamps were no less disturbing. Keeping his eyes open, he went down and groped through the roots towards a bright spot. When he came up, he had joined her in a quiet lagoon.
“How is your leg?” he asked.
‘Hurting, but I am not losing blood. Let’s go.”
The progress up the lagoon was easy and enchanting as they passed a small group of manatees quietly feeding. It terminated in dense mangroves and when they eventually got through, they were on the leeward side of the cay and a few feet away from the two parked planes. Christopher insisted that they stop so that he could rip the sleeve off his t-shirt and make a rough bandage for Avis’ wound.
“Reggie is going to set our plane on fire!  Stop him!” she hissed.
Reginald was on the airfield walking towards the taildragger with a burning torch. Christopher sprinted towards his childhood friend, confident that he was close enough to catch and overpower him.
Reginald turned towards Christopher and waited. When they were an arms length away, Reginald pulled a weapon from his waist and delivered an electroshock to Christopher’s ribs. Christopher felt a stab of pain as he lost control of his limbs and fell hard. As he tried to regain his composure, he could only watch as Reginald walked to his plane and started the single propeller engine. Goats scampered as he taxied into position, sped up and was airborne. By the time Avis reached Christopher, Reginald’s plane was receding behind the highest of the cay’s dunes.
“Reggie, our mad genius. We need you,” Christopher said; sad but confident that the nation’s radio frequencies were safe, for now.
By Gwyneth Harold

Gwyneth Harold is the writer of the young adult novel, Bad Girls in School

Radio Silence - (2) Mosquito 1



Episode 2
Mosquito 1

After a near mid-air collision, airplane pilot, Christopher Khouri, agrees to secretly meet his friend, Detective Moore where he learns about a mystery.

Christopher Khouri shuffled through the throng in Times Square, Downtown searching for Avis. Even at dusk, hawkers were busy calling out their wares. He felt a tug on his sleeve; it was her urging him to stand in the street: a traffic jam of handcarts, cars, bicycles and pedestrians. He tried to move to a less congested spot, but she persisted, “This is the safest place. Satellite microphones can’t hear us in this crowd.”

If his childhood friend had not been a police Detective, Christopher would have written-off Avis Moore as crazy, especially when she added: “Radio signals are being manipulated. We are under a terror attack.”

A woman nearby sucked her teeth in disgust as she looked at her cellular phone.
“Mi tyad a di drop call! From weh day not even one of me cell phone dem a work.”

Avis spoke directly into Christopher’s ear: “Every telecoms company on the island has an upsurge of dropped calls and internet service disruptions. Air traffic controllers are reporting that communication with satellites are being deliberately blocked at the ionosphere.”
“I barely escaped a mid air crash today because of radio silence,” said Christopher. “We were blaming the air traffic controllers. Who could do that?”
“Someone we know.”
“So go arrest them.”
“It’s complicated.” Avis cupped her hands and showed Christopher the words on her phone screen: Reggie Quito. “Our intelligence intercepted this correspondence from a foreign law enforcement agency. It is a code name.”
Christopher whistled. “Mosquito Reggie from down the road? Reginald Bowers?”
“It must be,” she hissed. “He turned our nickname for him into this alias. You know he has a PhD in atmospheric electrical something or other.”
“You are the police, call him in.”
“Kit, Reggie is our friend, let’s give him a chance to explain. Maybe he is in trouble.”  
“He is trouble. I nearly died up there. Do you even know where he is?”
“My guess, in a lab on the deserted cay, Great Goat Island. He knows it well from fishing trips with his father and uncles. Also, years ago he told me that he landed his plane on the old military airstrip over there…you do know that Reggie has a pilot license?”
“Nothing Reggie can do would surprise me. But living on that unhealthy, vermin-infested swamp is another matter. If we do find him, and if he is tampering with the ionosphere, then what?”
“We convince him to stop before he is arrested for terrorism.”
 “We have anti-terrorism laws in Jamaica?”
“No, but countries with whom we have extradition treaties, do. Let’s go tomorrow. We don’t have much time.”
“The one time I flew there, I barely found enough clear space to land the chopper. An airplane needs a smooth runway.”
“Mosquito Reggie lands there,” she reminded. “Thought you were a better pilot than he.”
By 7:00a.m. the following day, Christopher and Avis were already in Papa Romeo flying over the mangroves of Great Goat Island.

By Gwyneth Harold

Gwyneth Harold is the writer of the young adult novel, Bad Girls in School

Radio Silence - (1) Triple Threat Double Jeopardy


Episode 1
Triple Threat, Double Jeopardy

On a routine flight across Jamaica, airplane pilot, Christopher Khouri experiences the unbelievable. Have the air traffic controllers lost it?

"You are off the pink line, get back on the line!"

Christopher Khouri gently steered the taildragger Papa Romeo back on the instrument panel's navigation track to the Sangster International Airport. He preferred to approach Sangster a bit lower and tighter but, as his pilot 
passenger was a stickler, he kept to the rules.

It was a clear afternoon over Ironshore when Christopher called in to Sangster Radar to announce his arrival in
their zone. He eased off the throttle to begin a slow, gentle descent to 1,000 feet.

Thirty seconds of radio silence elapsed. Christopher switched on Sangster Tower as a backup, and called to both.

"Papa Romeo approaching. Requesting permission to land."

The radio silence was as if they were travelling over a desolate part of Earth and not five miles from
Jamaica's busiest airport.

"Why don't they answer? Turn up the volume," insisted the passenger.

"It is up," said Christopher. He twisted his neck like a bird to look at all the sky around them. He knew too well
that if he saw anything meaningful, there would only be time to whisper a prayer. Just then, a radio
squawk tore the silence. Sangster Tower was clear and insistent.

"Kilo Alpha, keep climbing and veer South 180, over Flower Hill! Papa Romeo, stop descent and turn right. Repeat, hold altitude and go North, 340 degrees immediately!"

Christopher pushed in the throttle and cranked the yoke right. The wing dipped and the taildragger shivered from
the effort to stop descent. What was empty sky a moment before now had a bright glint some distance away

and the hulk of a turbo airplane was directly in front.
They were in double jeopardy.

The air traffic controller’s instruction for both Kilo Alpha and Papa Romeo to turn right and
to maintain different altitudes put plenty of sky between them but Kilo Alpha still had to avoid the hills above Montego Bay and the turn put Christopher directly across the Sangster takeoff runway.
If there was any reason for the jumbo's pilots to execute a missed approach, they would pull up and maintain the same direction, and even if they missed Christopher, the air turbulence generated by the jumbo’s huge engines and body would toss the smaller plane, causing it to lose lift and plummet to earth.
The jumbo's roar preceded its approach and the pilots slanted the fuselage to a ten degree flare between up-tilted nose and lowered tail.
Christopher saw the landing gear emerge from the shadow of its white belly and prayed that no pelicans
were on the tarmac to force the pilots to defer landing.

He watched the cockpit descend, then there was nothing more.

His passenger was livid.
"This insane incident must be addressed at the highest level!”

When they were safely on the ground, Christopher checked his phone and read a text message from his
childhood friend Avis.

"Must c u ASAP cnr Beckford and Princess. Don't call!"
"B at ur hse @ 5."
"2 risky. Dwntwn @ 6.”

By Gwyneth Harold

Gwyneth Harold is the writer of the young adult novel, Bad Girls in School
Review of novel

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Pursue African Publishers - A Igoni Barrett Urges at Kingston Book Festival 2012

Pursue Publishers in English Speaking African Countries
Nigerian Short Story Writer Igoni Barrett Urges at 
Kingston Book Festival 2012

Nigerian short story writer with Jamaican roots, Igoni Barrett, encouraged Caribbean writers to seek publishing opportunities in English speaking African countries. Barrett, who was speaking at the Kingston Book Festival on March 16, said that Kenya and South Africa have populations of about 40 million and 50 million respectively and Nigeria 150 million people; and books for a Jamaican market can be sold where English is spoken.

Seek publishers in English-speaking African Countries
Speaking of overcoming distribution problems between writers and booksellers he said, "The key is partnership" and that South Africa is known for having a very vibrant publishing industry. 

"As you submit work to publishers in Jamaica in the Caribbean in the US, in the UK and Canada it is also important that you go beyond. South Africa is a place I would advise you to publish. Many well-known writers started publishing in South Africa. The local publishers, who you probably have not heard of publish good, well-packaged books, promote you and sell your books locally and strike a deal with a UK publisher. People like Nadine Gordimer, and Nobel Laureate John Maxwell (JM) Coetzee started that way," he said.

Speaking of the kind of books that sell well in Nigeria, Barrett said that text books, self help books, memoirs, political books, and popular fiction do well, benefiting from the country's large population. 

"The publishing house I worked for (Farafina) published a social studies supplementary text book, at the time the book was produced, Farafina, was not sure how well it would do and produced two million copies, the copies were sold out in three months," Barrett said. He noted, however, that fiction did not sell anywhere nearly as well.

He said that cultural similarities between Caribbean countries like Jamaica and English speaking African countries arise a shared language, physical appearance of the people and linkages through history. 

Journals in Nigeria would welcome Caribbean writers
"I can see how the success of (books) in the Jamaican market will be transferrable to the Nigerian market or the Ghanian market or the Kenyan or South African market...A business book written for a Jamaican market can be sold in Kenya, for example," Barrett said.

He also highlighted cross cultural opportunities in the area of journal publishing.

"Until I came to Jamaica I was not aware of the Jamaican Journal, which is a journal I would like to submit work to. In Nigeria there are several journals that feature the work of Caribbean writers and I can see the Jamaican Journal doing well in Nigerian universities; so there needs to be closer ties," he said.

Barrett also said that the selling price of books by African writers in Jamaica bookstores can be reduced if Jamaican publishers got the rights to publish African writing for the Caribbean market.  He gave the example of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's Purple Hibiscus that sells for the equivalent of J$300 in Nigeria but was for sale for J$1,500 in Kingston.

Barrett arrived in Jamaica to participate in the Two Seasons Talking Trees Literary Fiesta 2012 that was held in Treasure Beach on February 25. His travel was supported by the Tourism Enhancement Fund of the Ministry of Tourism. Special partner for the 2012 fiesta was Jamcopy, the Jamiacan copyright agency.

Gwyneth Harold is the writer of the young adult novel, Bad Girls in School
Review of novel

Respect for times past through folklore, short stories and a biography

Respect for Times Past through folklore, short stories and a biography

Part 4

The brisk sea breeze that whipped through the Cassia Trees shook the frame of the main tent at the Two Seasons Talking Trees Literary Fiesta on February 25, and added drama to the stories being weaved by the writers. Inspiration came from times not so long ago in the presentation by Fern Leucke and writing of Roland Watson-Grant and Mark Thomas.

In the segment, Best of St Bess, folklorist Fern Leucke, transformed by full makeup and costume into an indomitable district Ma’am, reminded all why the cultural objects of yesteryear such as the wash hand basin and carbolic soap, hand sewn embroidery, and the coconut brush allowed people to live in dignity.

Of the calabash, now replaced by Igloos, she said, “Packy, calabash, gourdy it was a very important chappy in them days…have plenty use.”

She ended her segment by reciting lyrics “Mek we pull togedda and no pull gainst one anneda. Unity is the power to build a better Jamaica.”

Roland Watson-Grant
Roland Watson-Grant
Roland Watson-Grant brought the house down when he read from his short story, Bad Bad Habit, which also harked back to times, now past.

“Sister Bernadette was tall but each year her back bent a millimeter or two, like one of the ancient, arthritic trees that stood brooding in the churchyard. Her roots went way down. Some say she was there right after ‘Let there be Light’. Church members feared her next to the Most High and I used to imagine that even terrible angels sucked in their bellies or shifted to one side when Sister Bernadette came barreling down the creaking mahogany corridors.”

In his opening remarks, Watson-Grant, who received a short story award from Lightship Publishing International said that at an event in the UK a poet laureate reeled off the names of Jamaican writers. His short story, Big Carrot Coloured Alien Machines, was a tribute to the imagination of children.

Mark Thomas
Mark Thomas
Public Relations Practitioner, Mark Thomas, selected segments from the childhood memories of Winston Chung Fah as written in the unpublished manuscript Football Revolutionary: Biographical Accounts of the History of Jamaican Football through the life and times of Winston Chung Fah.

“Lucas, Kensington and Wembley, the chief of the cricket clubs in Kingston and St Andrew. Thirteen bastions for the gentleman’s game within a three square mile radius, that’s a lot for any part of the world, more than rum bars. There were only two clubs in West Kingston, which was far more populated than the East. The biggest, Wembley, named after the famed London soccer stadium, was the most gentrified….I would never be accepted in one of those clubs, but I never stopped trying.”

Thomas said that the book was almost complete and he was presently seeking to collaborate with a good editor.

The 2012 Two Seasons Talking Trees Literary Fiesta was held with the special partnership of Jamcopy (, the Jamaica copyright agency.

Saturday, 17 March 2012

Aston Cooke’s Junkanoo Jamboree Read at Two Seasons Talking Trees Literary Fiesta 2012 Music, humour and very serious land issues

Aston Cooke’s Junkanoo Jamboree Read at 
Two Seasons Talking Trees Literary Fiesta 2012
Music, humour and very serious land issues

Part 3

Shelter, as basic human need, piqued the interest of playwright Aston Cooke for his major work for the Jamaica 50 celebrations – the musical Junkanoo Jamboree. The manuscript taps into matters of natural justice and takes on the technical aspects of land ownership through the dynamic medium of the Junkanoo – a Christmastime street spectacle in Jamaica.

Playwright, Aston Cooke, with actors Dahlia Harris, Dorothy Cunningham, Akeem Mignott, Fabian Brown.
The four scenes read at the Two Seasons Talking Trees Literary Fiesta on February 25 were by actress and playwright, Dahlia Harris; actress, Dorothy Cunningham; Edna Manley School of Drama student, Akeem Mignott; and theatre practitioner, Fabian Thomas. The production is due to raise curtains in May, featuring The University Players.

Fabian Thomas expertly read about four roles,
some back to back
Cooke describes the script as being a slice of Jamaican life set in the rural fishing district Junkanoo Beach Village which is populated by the dignified poor who live in small, but well appointed, wooden houses. There is a proud but dying tradition of Junkanoo costume making in the village.

Using humour to keep the audience close to the serious issues, Cooke introduced a plot fraught with tension between proud leaseholders on the beachfront settlement, Junkanoo Beach Village; its indebted landowner, Mrs Terrelonge; and owner of the nearby Quadrille Heights Hotel, Mr Buckingsworth, who corrupts public officials in his scheme to acquire the land.  

Corrupt Public Official: “Run out all of the backward Junkanoos out of the parish….Them don’t pay not one cent of property tax, not one iota.”

Mr Buckingsworth: “This is the deposit, signed and sealed…..Nothing stopping you now, you know. Seize the whole village, and sell the property to the highest bidder, which is me.”

Gender was another sub theme from the selection. The sustaining spirit of Junkanoo is the female spirit, Mamma Lundy, yet the costume players must all be men and the characters lament the shortage of good, strong men to competently play Junkanoo.
Miss Gizzada (Harris); Miss Precious, (Cunningham);
Trevor (Mignott)

Miss Gizzada: “Woman don’t business in Junkanoo business….If you find one strong man eena Junkanoo Village unno send call me.; Him can lead my parade anytime.”

Intergenerational conflict also beset the trying villagers as the youth say that Junkanoo has no value in these times.

Miss Gizzada: “Dancehall is export industry you know Mam. Export to USA, Canada, Japan, England and Foreign!”
Miss Precious: “Portmore is not foreign.”
Miss Gizzada: “Close enough.”

There is further intrigue as the best Junkanoo dancer in the village, Trevor, is being enticed by a young lady of Quadrille Heights to dance for them.

The Jamaican flavour of public demonstrations are also expressed in the script with more militant themes than the now blasé, “We want justice.”
Chorus: “We nah lef yah! We bolt down and lock down; we barricade and tie down.”
Two Seasons Talking Trees Literary Fiesta was staged with special partner, JAMCOPY, the Jamaican copyright licensing agency.

Friday, 16 March 2012

Talking Trees Poets Explored Emotions, Prophets and Real Lives

Talking Trees Poets Explored Emotions, Prophets and Real Lives

Part 2
The writers at the Two Seasons Talking Trees Literary Fiesta that was held on February 25 at the Two Seasons Guest House did not limit the reading of their work to humour and good memories, but also delved into social issues.
Christine Craig

Christine Craig used the island of Jamaica as her muse and started her reading from the unpublished poem, Pura Vida that is inspired by the healing tranquillity of Treasure Beach.

“And now here it is: A small boat on a dark sea, a night full of stars, rising and swirling; a sense of music moving in the air, chilling the moon and stars. Scenting the sound, it is possible to hear with heart and mind, to taste with skin and eyes, a clear saltiness in the air and the deep thick smell of the ocean. I want to drift here quietly forever, not thinking, barely breathing.”

Craig moved away from the idyllic landscape to give a glimpse of the emotional chasms of Estelle, a mother coping with life as an unemployed domestic worker. 
“Weep, weep for us women who speak of Kingston.”
St Ann Saturday is a community reflection of a woman who died alone although she had six adult children living abroad.

“Starapple leaves, double toned, bend quiet over the steady walking; walking for Miss Martha bound to rest. The path she walked: food to market, children to school, Sunday to Church; steady walking. In the end, alone, under the starapple leaves, a hush fell over her.”

Kalilah Enriquez
Kalilah Enriquez admitted that her job as a reporter had led her muse into hard news subjects of serious crime, including murder.
“The men let it rain only inside their lungs, stood there blank faced, sunken-chested, as if awaiting their turn.  And his ghost will never bother a soul, not even his killer, for the first time he rested in life, was in death,” from And.
Enriquez read a poem that she wrote while still in her home country of Belize and that was dedicated to a well-known talk show caller, Irene Wallace, who lost two sons to violence, Enriquez wrote:

“The song is more than metaphor, and the mothers are left to mourn on the morning shows with bodies to bury and young lives unaccounted for….Making men of boys is more than ease.”

Fabian Thomas
Fabian Thomas showcased his range of feelings with poems about relationships; responses to the movie, The Colour Purple in Celie’s Reply; and his highlight for the day, his Jamaica 50 poem Two Score and Ten.

“This black green, gold nation state has spawned the most influential artist of the millennium; Jamaica, the father of black consciousness and for black pride; I pledge my heart forever; bred, fed and unleashed to the world the fastest man on the planet; Jamaica, we have witnessed the days of Dudus, to serve with humble pride, these last days it looks like more skin a bleach now than clothes, but still we rise soaring like Captain Barrington Irving Jr; Jamaica land we love, ready fi di nex two score and ten.”

Michael Abrahams
Recording artiste, Michael Abrahams, performed his work with energy and rhythm, touching on the controversial subjects of the past year and also furthered the discussion with his remarks on religion. He closed his segment with an ode to the performance of the Jamaican athletes at the International Athletics Association Federation (IAAF) World Championships, Daegu 2011.

“The record was ours, but could we go faster; and could we achieve it without Asafa?.... Jamaica get gold in record time, faster than any had run before in 27.04. The only record in Daegu that bruk! Only Jamaicans posed beside the clock. Bringing the games to a grand climax, creating history pon the track. The last anthem that they did play was from the island of JA. Big up the black and gold and green.”

Malachi Smith
Foundation dub poet, Malachi Smith, returned to Talking Trees for a second year, and in a 25-minute set filled the tent with his mellifluous voice: sometimes plaintive, sometimes militant. He started his segment with a tribute to the conscious reggae artistes of his homeland. The quote below recalled Garnet Silk.

“The prophet changed to the morning, he chanted to the evening to the rock sounds of Silk like a quilt of coolie dry bones filling them, warming them down in Jamaica…..The prophets saw Zion in a vision, Mamma Africa stretching forth her hands, the dry bones could not understand but rapture out of Babylon. A man is just a man.”

Smith took the audience to a frenzy of excitement as he recalled the USA Presidential race of 2008 in the style of a championship horse race. His closing poem was his undying love for his homeland in the biblical style of a epistle expressing a man’s love for a woman.
Two Seasons Talking Trees Literary Fiesta was staged with special partner, JAMCOPY, (, the Jamaican copyright licensing agency.

Thursday, 15 March 2012

Two Seasons Talking Trees - A Most Inspiring Day

Two Seasons Talking Trees – A Most Inspiring Day

Part 1

Easton Lee
Two Seasons Talking Trees Literary Fiesta delivered “a most inspiring day”, according to a very satisfied member of the audience. Well-known and new Jamaican writers brought life to their own work on the grounds of Two Seasons Guest House (, Treasure Beach, St. Elizabeth, on Saturday, February 25.

Tallawah Magazine ( editor, Tyrone Reid, declared that the Fiesta “featured a host of strong presentations”, and named writer-playwright-Anglican priest Easton Lee as the “bonafide highlight”.  Before launching into hilarious tales, Lee explained that “None of what I write, I invent. It’s out of my experience, what I hear, what I see. Sometimes you combine two stories and make one.”

“It was their regular Friday night spree where they shared stories as they consumed round after round of their favourite white rum. For the past hour they were at it until the talk got around to horses,” were some of the lines of his final tale which was about a race at the now defunct Gillnock race course in St Elizabeth.

Newer voices were also well received. Melanie Schwapp read from her first novel, Dew Angels, which follows the protagonist, Nola Chambers, through her life’s journey. The excerpt gave the lead up to the moment where a child lost trust in a parent who should have been caring and protective of her.

After opening with a haiku type poem, Monique Morrison did a clear delivery of her poem, The Poetry Eater. “The poet does not know that some eat his poems from white plates with elaborate blue patterns with knife and fork, dabbing the clean corners of their mouths while their tongues dance with energy and appreciation…Some tear his poems like Boston Jerk Pork, letting the spice burn the fingers, the tongue, the stomach and burn all the way back out.” Then she moved easily into love poems.

An insightful discussion on writing for children gave panelists Diane Brown, Jean Forbes, Sharon Martini, Kellie Magnus and moderator Suzanne Francis-Brown, herself a writer for children, the opportunity to share their different experiences of how they came to be writing in the genre and their experiences and approaches to publishing. Writer of Max and Me, Sharon Martini, a resident of Treasure Beach, said that her writing for small children aimed to create fun and whimsical stories featuring black children. Martini ended her contribution to the discussion with a song, self-accompanied on guitar.

Multi award-winning author, Jean Forbes, writes for ages 8 to 12 “when the parents stop buying books if they ever did buy them”, she remarked. Several of her stories are included in books and audio tapes available only in government-funded primary schools. Her encouragement to writers is, “With the new media, the power is shifting. We have to be a little bit more entrepreneurial. We cannot wait on publishers, we have to take the material and get it out ourselves.”

Children's Writers
She also spoke to the value of comics. “Boys will read a comic in preference to what is a chapter book or story book. Comics are fine but you have to promote your material. You have to go into the schools, you have to read to them. You have to ask some of the agencies that when you are giving books it would be so nice if you could give them ours, but you cannot convince them if you do not go with them and read for them.”

Kellie Magnus, who writes for age 8 and under and has her own children’s media company, Jackmandora, also repeated the importance of reading to audiences as a way to promote your material. Magnus showed how she had overturned popular wisdom on the limitations of local publishing. She remarked that before she started publishing, “I was appalled at how few [local books for children] there were and how badly they compared in terms of production values with the English and American books on the shelves.” According to Magnus, if she followed popular wisdom, her first Little Lion book should have sold 3,000 copies over five years. However she happily reported that, “We put the first Little Lion out, it sold 5,000 copies in six months. It is now in its fourth printing. We have done two books since then that have continued to do well.”

She reads in one school per week all through the academic year and said that she listens to the children, notes that they do not want to be babied, and incorporates that feedback in further work. She also said that that today even the rural children are very urbane and, as a publisher, she has banned “donkey stories” as the children do not relate to that. She wants more Manning Cup and Champs stories. She later read from her work, Billy Bully.

After writing for age groups 12 and under, Diane Brown now writes for an older age group. Her route to publishing also started with a Ministry of Education project for primary schools. Brown related a bit of the recent history of publishing for children in Jamaica which included the writers’ group, the Children’s Writers’ Circle, and the Pebbles Series from Carlong Publishers. Brown has written time travel books which is fun but helps to introduce history to children. She read from Island Princess in Brooklyn, featuring the feisty 13-year old barrel child, Princess McQueen, who wants to live with her grandmother in Jamaica instead of migrating to Brooklyn. It involves emotions children do feel in those environments.

Two Seasons Talking Trees Literary Fiesta did have a children’s programme managed by Ingrid Blackwood. The children came on stage towards the end of the day to deliver a skit that they had rehearsed during the day. Effie Mills from Treasure Beach closed the children’s segment.

JAMCOPY (, the Jamaican copyright licensing agency, was a special partner for the literary stage. The opportunity was used to urge writers to become a member to protect their copyright.

Gwyneth Harold is the writer of the young adult novel, Bad Girls in School
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