Note from the Editor-in-Chief
Literature, along with other cultural activities, is undergoing a revival of sorts in The Bahamas. Over the past two years, literary expressions have burgeoned. tongues of the ocean is one of the avenues established to channel and sustain that flowering, and one of its beneficiaries.
It’s therefore with pleasure that I turn over the editing of this, the sixth issue of tongues, to Marion Bethel and Helen Klonaris, co-founders of the Bahamas Writers Summer Institute, another of the activities that sustains and works to build Bahamian literary expression.
The Bahamas Writers Summer Institute
The Bahamas Writers Summer Institute is a Caribbean-centered creative writing program that brings together beginning and established writers in an exploration of craft, theory, and the relationship between imagination and culture.
BWSI believes that writers are not separate from our cultures, but rather play a profound role in the co-creation of our communities and the world. As Bahamian writer Keith Russell has said, writers “imaginatively examine the world that is, and story a world that can be.” In a Caribbean context these acts of imagining and storying are vital as we continue to name ourselves and possibilities of being in small and large places. –BWSI Website
In July 2009, the first Bahamas Writers Summer Institute in collaboration with the College of the Bahamas’ Department of English Studies took place in Nassau, Bahamas on the college’s campus over a period of five weeks. A talented student body of 25 beginning and emerging writers along with seven inspired faculty members made the inaugural session a resounding success. Dr. Nicolette Bethel directed the playwriting course, Maria Govan the screenwriting, Helen Klonaris the fiction, Marion Bethel the creative nonfiction and Obediah Michael Smith the poetry. Dr. Angelique V. Nixon and Krista Walkes lectured in the Caribbean literary imagination and Critical Theory courses respectively. During this programme we also held a successful “Writers Series” featuring various Bahamian writers who presented their work and discussed the craft with a public audience.
In the 2010 BWSI programme, Lelawattee Manoo Rahming directed the fiction workshop and Travolta Cooper the screenwriting. Helen Klonaris led the memoir workshop and Marion Bethel the poetry. The writer’s series was presented under the theme “Restorying the Bahamian landscape”. This year we added an optional course in art meditation to the programme. It was offered for one hour per week and was facilitated by Helen and Marion. We were also very pleased to be able to host a guest writer for this session. Olive Senior, a well known Caribbean writer, facilitated both a poetry and fiction master class. In addition, Ms. Senior gave a public lecture as well as a reading of her poetry and fiction.
In the two years since BWSI’s opening, BWSI participants have experienced success in various sectors, namely, the publication of their work locally, regionally and internationally, the establishment of an independent press, admission to international writer’s workshops and the continued development of their crafts in MFA programs.
The third BWSI begins July 4, 2011. We will be inviting yet another Caribbean writer to teach and dialogue with our students and the wider community. We plan to expand our program to include faculty and participants from other parts of the Caribbean and the diaspora. In order to do this we are seeking funding from local and international bodies and invite readers to inquire as to ways of enlisting your assistance in this effort.
In the aftermath of BWSI 2010, we are thrilled to have been invited by tongues of the ocean’s editor-in-chief, Nicolette Bethel to guest edit the October 2010 issue. We are excited to be able to showcase writers affiliated with BWSI, like Olive Senior and Christian Campbell, as well as the talented writers who have emerged out of the first and second summers of the community at BWSI. We celebrate and share them with you in these pages and look forward to your comments over the course of the next three months.
In creativity, hope & love
Helen and Marion