What Calypso Taught Me About Writing

This is coming up on being one of my most shared articles – and, yes, I’m the one doing the sharing. It is an abridged version of an article previously published in Antigua’s Daily Observer newspaper and built from a 2007 presentation at a Calypso Association conference. This version was published in the 2008 edition of the Antigua and Barbuda International Literary Festival magazine. I’ve since shared it on the Caribbean Literary Salon (2010), when that was still a vibrant space for Caribbean writers, to positive feedback. “Spot on,” said one, an Antiguan; while a non-Antiguan wrote, I love this article for the homage it pays to calypsonians. The parallel Hillhouse makes between Short Shirt’s Nobody Go Run Me and Selvon’s Lonely Londoners intrigues me. Having read Lonely Londoners, I’m curious to hear the song.” So, of course, I welcomed the opportunity share Short Shirt’s signature album (Ghetto Vibes): http://itunes.apple.com/us/album/ghetto-vibes/id261551153


Digging through some old papers, postings and such in preparation for a couple of upcoming panels at the VI Lit Fest and Book Fair, I came across this piece I wrote some time ago about the influence of calypso writing on my writing. It’s an article published locally and regionally now which was extracted from a longer piece I presented at a calypso conference a few years ago (2007). Anyway, it remains true and I felt like sharing.

I have no doubt that calypsos provided some of my first lessons in writing. While my sister and I frolicked, acting out the tunes, the lessons were taking root, as was a certain idea that stories weren’t just about people in English boarding schools or anywhere else across the water. To this child, Star Black, a cowboy in a relatable setting, was as larger-than-life as John Wayne silhouetted against the blazing…

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