waves and murmurs february 2010


Things happen fast.

Take January 12, 2010, for instance. In Nassau, it’s an ordinary Tuesday night. There’s very little moon, if any. It’s a little chillier than normal, but warmer than it has been. And there are rumours of tidal waves and earthquakes away down to the south.

Take the whole of January, for instance: a month in which it’s almost possible to talk about the second blue moon in a row—the first having happened on December 31, 2009, so that you could still see it sitting there fat and full in the sky as the new year turned around, and so that at the end of January your brain told you that here you were again, at the end of another month, seeing your second full moon for the month again.

I write this to say that the world can change in an instant. In minutes, Haiti lost much of its capital city. For those of you who don’t know The Bahamas, Haiti is our nearest neighbour. There are those who would like to say it’s Florida, and there are those who’d argue it’s Cuba, but in truth, Haiti is both near us and in us. Migrants from Haiti sail up our archipelago daily. Kreyol, whether we admit it or not, is our true-true second language. Haiti’s blood has entered our veins, just as Haiti’s blood sped up freedom for us.

And because the world can change, and has changed, in instants this January, this editorial is more than a few instants late. And it’s probably going to be a few inches longer than usual too.

But never mind that. This issue of tongues of the ocean was put together in the shadow of the Haitian earthquake. The earthquake itself has not really changed the pieces that you will see in it, but it has influenced where they are placed, and some pieces have been added. And it has influenced me. Where this journal was originally started to give voice and place to Bahamian writers (and don’t get me wrong, that’s still its major purpose), I have discovered in me a streak of pan-Caribbeanism that runs deeper than I thought. Perhaps it’s not coincidental, then, that of all our issues, this one has the most included from “bredren and sistren”—our neighbors around the Caribbean, our cousins throughout the diaspora, our relatives from various motherlands such as India and China. It will be the first to publish pieces from each of the editors—a pan-Caribbean, pan-global group of women: Nicolette Bethel from The Bahamas, Nadine Thomas-Brown, a transplanted Jamaican, and Sonia Farmer, a Bahamian of European and Argentinian parentage. If all goes well and all technical issues work out, it will also feature our first poems in our Bahamian second language—Haitian Kreyol. There is at least one poem that was written specifically for the earthquake, Geoffrey Philp’s “Marassa Jumeaux”. And this issue’s Featured Writer, God spare life, will be Patricia Glinton-Meicholas, one of The Bahamas’ most formidable pan-Caribbean voices.

We can’t forget Steve Cartwright’s appropriately sombre and strangely wistful cover art. And no, Bahamians, he’s not a Bahamian Cartwright; I asked. He’s a cousin from the Southern USA.

We welcome them all. And you, of course, too.

Nicolette Bethel
February 2010

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