BIM: A literary heritage
Say the word “heritage” and we think mainly of customs, traditions, buildings and sites of historical importance. Add the written component, and Bim magazine stands out as the most significant marker of our Barbadian literary heritage.
Having made its first appearance under the editorship of E.A. Cozier in 1942, the magazine was taken over shortly afterwards by Frank Collymore. The means for printing and publishing were meagre, but Collymore’s passion fuelled his vision for Caribbean writing at a time when some argued that no such entity was possible.
In those early years, Bim magazine became the cradle for young writers such as Barbadians George Lamming, Kamau Brathwaite, and Austin “Tom” Clarke. Later, writers such as Karl Sealy, John Wickham, Bruce St John, Timothy Callender and Earl Warner, among others, would become regular contributors.
Since Frank Collymore‘s vision was one that embraced the entire region, however, Derek Walcott, Samuel Selvon, Roger Mais, and Edward Baugh, among others, became the voices through which Caribbean people would discover their many experiences shared in common.
The fiction in this coming December issue BIM: Arts for the 21st Century, continues to reaffirm its regional character in that the publication features the work of Anglophone, Francophone and Spanish writers.
In her poem, Hommage, Evelyne Trouillot pays tribute to the woman whose strength persists, though “la pénombre a épousé sa silhouette/ et la vie a violé son sexe.” The poems of Pablo Armando Fernandez are mostly reflective. In El Antes en el Tiempo, he concludes, “Hecho el trayecto que en la palabra/ nos identifica, todo memoria,/ el Antes, resucita” (Having made the journey that identifies us in the word/ every memory, the past, lives once more.)
Ann Limm, a finalist in the 2013 Bocas Poetry competition, writes with the well-known forthrightness of the Jamaican woman. In her poem Immerse she tells of “the rub a dub I hanker after/in a smouldering room with boom boxes/and a man/pinned to this grey and black dress/that when accessorized with pink snake/-skin belt, skirts middle thigh.”
Linda M. Deane is no less striking in her poem Close To Home. This poet focuses our attention on the disturbing fact of vagrancy in our societies: “that piss smell that carries up and downwind, the rags,/ the matted mud hair . . . the wild, doan-carish air/ the rant turning the air blue . . . ” .
In what I call “the artlessness of art”, Edward Baugh, sums up in For Attention, the complacency with which we treat communication from dear friends only to regret later: The date of her letter: 22/04/01. I wish I could remember when she died.”
One is struck by Danielle-Boodoo Fortuné’s unique imagination, somewhat similar to that of the late British poet, Sylvia Plath: “Today she lets you in, / mines the cracks/ in her bones with the/ point of her tongue/ and listens … After all, a heart too soft/ will fail, collapse in the lung/send you fumbling for a body / to breathe for you.”
John Robert Lee dedicates his Poems of Copiapó to Kamau Brathwaite. One can almost hear the voice of our elder griot: “my soul waits/ for the sound of the wheel/ for the grate of the weary winch/ for my portion of miracle.” Kwame Dawes also pays tribute to one of my favourite poets, the late Seamus Heaney: “to see that break in time/is to kill something in us, again, each time,” while Mark Mc.Watt has recently added photography to complement his major poetic talent.
Olive Senior, Edwidge Danticat and Ramabai Espinet prove that is spite of their different metropolitan locations, their roots remain strong in their writings that are highly evocative of their Caribbean experience.
The fiction in this coming December issue is no less striking. Christine Barrow’s Yellow is a well-crafted piece combining elements of nature, innocence and tragedy. Hazel Simmons-McDonald’s Mirror shortlisted for the Hollick Arvon prize, explores the complexities of love relationships. Double Frank Collymore Award winner, Karen Lord, excites our interest in her unusual piece entitled Haunts.
In The Big O, Robert Sandiford reveals what is still not possible for a talented black musician in today’s Western diaspora. In his extract, Tightrope, Ronald Williams shows the obvious talent we have seen in his previously published works.
We are also happy to have the work of artist, Alison Chapman-Andrews, featured in this coming issue.
We hope that Barbadians and the entire region will continue to support BIM: Arts for the 21st Century as the magazine keeps its commitment to presenting the work of significant Caribbean writers.
•Esther Phillips is an educator, poet and editor of BIM: Arts For The 21st Century; email [email protected]