BCLF Cocoa Pod is a Caribbean storytelling experience in which writers of Caribbean heritage narrate their own stories. Each story is a seed, a nugget of an original work of fiction, rich with the rhythm, pitch and intonation of the one who wrote it. It is Caribbean storytelling told in the best way possible - in the voice of the place(s) that inspired it, imbued with the magic and accents of the region. BCLF Cocoa Pod is an original production of the Brooklyn Caribbean Literary Festival (BCLF)Follow the Brooklyn Caribbean Literary Festival on IG and FB @bklyncbeanlitfestVisit www.bklyncbeanlitfest.com
Episode 16 | What A Mother's Love Don't Teach You - Sharma Taylor (Jamaica)
2021 BCLF Short Fiction story finalist, Sharma Taylor, is the author of this powerful and evocative debut novel set in Jamaica. At eighteen years old, Dinah gave away her baby son to the rich couple she worked for before they left Jamaica. They never returned. She never forgot him.
Eighteen years later, a young man comes from the US to Kingston. From the moment she sees him, Dinah never doubts - this is her son. What happens next will make everyone question what they know and where they belong.
A powerful story of belonging, identity and inheritance, What a Mother's Love Don't Teach You brings together a blazing chorus of voices to evoke Jamaica's ghetto, dance halls, criminal underworld and corrupt politics, at the beating heart of which is a mother's unshakeable love for her son.
Episode 15 | Pleasantview - Celeste Mohammed (Trinidad & Tobago)
Coconut trees. Carnival. Rum and coke. To many outsiders, these idyllic images represent the supposed easy life in Caribbean nations such as Trinidad and Tobago. However, the reality is far different for those who live there—a society where poverty and patriarchy savagely rule, and where love and revenge often go hand in hand. Celeste Mohammed’s Pleasantview, set in a fictional town, reveals the dark side of the Caribbean dream.
Episode 14 | Neruda on the Park - Cleyvis Natera
The Guerreros have lived in Nothar Park, a predominantly Dominican part of New York City, for twenty years. When demolition begins on a neighboring tenement, Eusebia, an elder of the community, takes matters into her own hands by devising an increasingly dangerous series of schemes to stop construction of the luxury condos. Meanwhile Eusebia’s daughter, Luz, a rising associate at a top Manhattan law firm who strives to live the bougie lifestyle her parents worked hard to give her, becomes distracted by a sweltering romance with the handsome white developer of the company her mother so vehemently opposes.
As Luz’s father, Vladimir, secretly designs their retirement home in the Dominican Republic, mother and daughter collide, ramping up tensions in Nothar Park, racing towards a near fatal climax.
A beautifully layered portrait of family, friendship, and ambition, Neruda on the Park weaves a rich and vivid tapestry of community as well as the sacrifices we make to protect what we love most, announcing Cleyvis Natera as an electrifying new voice.
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Episode 13 - BCLF Short Story Fiction Story Contest (Part3) | Summer's End - Lisa J. La Touche
In my writing I explore realistic themes, grounded in Caribbean life, culture and folklore. I am interested in relationships - familial, romantic or platonic - my stories lean towards relationships among women, mostly.
I explore relationships with our people's history and I like giving a voice to our rich landscape, as if nature is a character.Summer's End examines the relationship of a little girl with her grandmother, family and place. It is told from the little girl's POV.
Episode 13 - BCLF Short Fiction Story Contest (Part 2) | Cashew Heist - Stephanie Ramlogan
‘Cashew Heist’ by Stephanie Ramlogan edged its way to the front of the 2019 shortlist for the BCLF Elizabeth Nunez Caribbean-American Writer's Prize. If there was a story that was flawless, Stephanie’s was as close to ideal as it comes. Witty and rife with the authenticity of a Trinidadian English creole voice, readers of all cultures, ages or backgrounds, could easily commiserate, if not empathise, with the inner-workings of her prepubescent protagonists’ minds. Cashew Heist is a mischievous story about two siblings' attempt to smuggle snacks during one of their seeming endless afternoons at their mother's workplace.
While Stephanie leverages all that is unique and colourful about her Caribbean/Indo-Trinidadian identity and culture to inform her writing, it is her broad worldview that makes her a writer of universal quality - something that is often difficult for writers of a particular distinction to achieve.
In an era that is rapidly embracing indigenous voices, identities and diversity as global currency, Stephanie is a prime example of what happens when all people, especially women (moreso women of colour) are given the opportunity to tell their stories.
Episode 13 - BCLF Short Fiction Story Contest (Part 1) | Vizay - Hadassah K. Williams
Hadassah K. Williams is the recipient of the 1st BCLF Elizabeth Nunez Award for Writers in the Caribbean.
Her winning submission ‘Vizay’, tugs at the center of the complex, emotional ordeal that is the US visitor’s visa application process in the Caribbean. Comedic in its delivery, Hadassah fashions for readers a story from a commonplace, highly recognisable experience especially to Caribbean residents. Her protagonist however, is an inversion of the typecast visa applicant. Instead of a down-on-his-luck-hapless fella looking towards America as a way out, her protagonist is a proud, gainfully-employed invited guest to a wedding. The story implicitly examines bias, power relations and attitudes between the United States and the small island worlds from which they do business, because to be certain, non-refundable application fees is big business.
'Vizay' is a plucky, irony-filled, tongue-in-cheek rejection of the idea that every Caribbean person is dying to visit America. This story's event is action is neatly packed within a single visit to the American embassy and ends on a surprising high note.
In an era that is rapidly embracing indigenous voices, identities and diversity as global currency, Hadassah is a prime example of what happens when all people, especially women (moreso Caribbean women) are given to opportunity to tell their stories.
Follow Hadassah's musings and career on Twitter @hkwriter