A selection of recent articles written by Stephen Weir and published in newspapers, magazine and websites. The articles are posted in chronological order. Stephen Weir lives and works in downtown Toronto, Canada. His motto? Always busy. Never bored.
Janice Lynn Mather’s New Book - Uncertain Kin - just dropped
Linked Stories From Nassau.
People Just Don’t Understand
By Stephen Weir
Wow – the young-uns knew a long time ago what an incredible story-teller Bahamian Canadian author Janice Lynn Mather is. And now it is the adults turn to discover this Governor General's Literary Finalists with this week's release of her new book Uncertain Kin.
The Vancouver based writer first made a name for herself here in Canada with her first two books, Learning to Breathe and Facing the Sun. Not only did the Young Adult titles make a splash with junior high schoolers they won awards and were nominated for some biggies too. She has just returned to the bookstore shelves with her first adult work of fiction.
Uncertain Kinis a collection of linkedstories about the lives of women and girls living in The Bahamas and Canada. Eighteen strange haunting stories introduce us to women and girls searching for identity and belonging during moments of profound upheaval.
“I like to refer to myself in the third person,” she told the Caribbean Camera. True to form Mather describes herself as though she was standing on the sidelines watching herself in the distance.
“Janice Lynn Mather is a writer and a Bahamian. She is also a vegan, an introvert, a book hog, a drifter off in meetings, an intermittent blogger, a yogi, a grower of food, a brewer of kombucha, a purveyor of all things natural, the owner of an afro, a homer for sunshine, a collector of essential oils and a glutton for the sea.”
Third person, or First person, she doesn’t talk much about herself beyond saying that she went to university in Canada, is married with a child and lives in Vancouver. Mather however will talk about this book and what lies ahead for her career.
“Yes, there are parts in the various stories that might seem dark and mysterious, but a lot of chapters are based on things that happened (in the Bahamas) that I haven’t forgotten,” she exclaims.
Murders. A crying baby found floating in a floating boat cradled in the arms of her by dead father. All the chapter length tales are steeped in the folklore of the Bahamas. “The stories dips in and out of time,” Mather explains. “We see Priscilla as a young (15 years old) pregnant girl staying in hiding at her grandmother's place. When we see the character again, she is a grandmother herself.”
The Caribbean runs deep. When I ask her if she returns to Nassau often, the answer is that that prior to Covid she tried to get back yearly.
“Do you miss the Caribbean?” I ask. “Of course, but when people here ask me how I could leave Heaven, I have to laugh (people just don’t understand everything is not what it seems.)”
In "Mango Summer," little girls from a village begin disappearing from their beds during one lush, steaming August. In "Morning Swim," a jogger, newly diagnosed with cancer, makes a sinister discovery on the beach. In "Boyo," a woman new to this country struggles to plant roots in Vancouver a city that doesn’t seem to want her or her young son.
This extraordinary collection of stories won’t be difficult to find in the bookstores. Its cover could be a metaphor for the emergence of this new voice in Canadian literature. A beautiful woman floating on her back, lightly kick paddles down into a darkening green blue sea.
What next? Wait out the launch and the media blitz that comes with it, then, she says its hopefully back Nassau for a visit. If it is ever slow again she will juggle parenting with finishing the next book she has already started.
For The Caribbean Camera Everything Is Local The Caribbean Camera Newspaper just celebrated its 21 st anniversary. If there had been a party, we might have been able to get publisher Anthony Joseph (pictured below) to tell us how he manages to keep the Toronto Black community newspaper afloat during a time when he is unable to sell advertising; distribute his 24-page weekly newspaper; and pay journalists (including me) all since the arrival of the Covid shutdown. The paper and its online website is considered the voice of the Caribbean community in the GTA. The paper is written by journalists who have a connection with the Caribbean (most learned their trade in Trinidad) except me. The 65-year old publisher gives his 80 something Trinidadian born editor a small honourium, has assist with his basement digs and from time-to-time makes sure that the editor gets his three solids . Everyone else fends for themselves. Pre-Covid the Caribbean Camera was given away free at Patty
A Caribbean Art Exhibition Of Epic Proportion Opens Friday At The AGO. Only the Hoopla Is Missing By Stephen Weir Curse the Toronto Covid shutdown. This Friday there should be balloons, fireworks, and revellers in the street to mark the opening of Caribbean-centric art exhibition the likes Canada has not seen before. But, the reality of the age is that on Friday morning the Art Gallery of Ontario will quietly open its Dundas Street front doors on the exhibition Fragments of Epic Memory , a detailed exploration of the complex history of the Caribbean in this made-in-Toronto major exhibition. The big show is an amalgam of a huge collection of historic photographs of 19 th and early 20 th century life in the Caribbean displayed beside contemporary Caribbean Canadian artists including Ebony Patterson, Rodell Warner, Sandra Brewster and Zak Ové. The black and white photographs many dating back to the 19 th century (and many never seen in public), are from the recently acquir
It is a Two-Fer Day for St Lucian Canadian poet Canisia Lubrin By Stephen Weir Oh what a day it has been for one of the country’s most successful poets. Canisia Lubrin has just learned that she has won one of the world’s richest poetry prizes. She also had been told today that she has won a Canada Council administered literary prize too! 37-year old Canisia Lubrin is the Canadian winner of the 2021 Griffin Poetry Prize. She will receive $65,000 in prize money for her latest book The Dyzgraph x st . The Prize describes The Dyzgraph x st as a “spectacular feat of architecture called a poem … it is about contemporary capitalist fascism, nationalism and the climate disaster, where Jejune, the central figure, grapples with understanding their existence and identity.” The Griffin Poetry Prize was founded in 2000 to encourage and celebrate excellence in poetry. This year 682 books of poetry, including 55 translations from 28 languages from 14 different countri