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A Likkle Miss Lou: How Jamaican Poet Louise Bennett Coverley Found Her Voice

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Claire-Louise Bennett's debut novel Pond was my favourite novel of 2016 and one I'd rank in the top 10 of the decade, so I have her mentally filed alongside similarly brilliant wordsmiths under "I would happily read her shopping list," and here, via her narrative avatar, I had that pleasure: Indeed, for all her digressive self-narration, her imperiously delivered opinions, it is not always easy to know what our protagonist feels about the events of her life. When she reassures Dale that she barely thinks about what he did, she seems to be telling the truth, but in the aftermath she cannot really determine if she is upset or not, even as her body shakes—which, to this reader at least, is a response that should provide some kind of answer. What it means to be upset is physically expressed but not articulated as emotion. Our narrator is in one way thoroughly devoted to the project of living out who she is, leaning into her tastes and proclivities. But this comes at a certain cost, and, for her, the cost is self-knowledge.

Checkout 19 by Claire-Louise Bennett | Goodreads Checkout 19 by Claire-Louise Bennett | Goodreads

The adventures of a young woman discovering her own genius, through the people she meets--and dreams up--along the way. Bennett was married to Eric Winston Coverley, an early performer and promoter of Jamaican theater, from 30 May 1954 until his death in August 2002. [5] [15] Together, Bennett and Coverley had a son, Fabian. [16] [17] Death and funeral [ edit ]Bennett identifies herself as a writer when she’s writing, and resists the label at other times; she is wary of the “they” that seems to crop up repeatedly in contemporary discourse, and alive to the idea that language itself has been shaped by the dominant classes throughout history, with particularly scorching effects for the working class and for women. Asked recently to write about a book that changed her life she says she realised that Marx and Engels’ The German Ideology, which she studied at A-level, had had a profound effect. “After that, I just thought: ‘Oh, my God, everything’s just made up. And it’s made up by the ruling class, and there isn’t such a thing as reality. It’s all just ideology, and it’s there to suit them, and we’re all a load of plebs. And I’m not. And they can shove it!’” She renewed her involvement with the annual little theatre movement pantomime, helping to create a distinctly Jamaican institution out of what had begun as a pale imitation of English models. Dubbed "the first lady of Jamaican comedy", she was regarded as the pre-eminent Jamaican theatre personality of the 20th century. The frequency of being here is both what Bennett responds to in others – Quin’s work, she says, “doesn’t feel just like experimentation. That feels like someone really trying to get at what being alive at that moment feels like and is like” – and what she tries to represent in her own work. She’s been writing since Pond came out, she explains, but for a time – perhaps in part because of talking about the book so much in interviews and at events, and feeling herself pinned down by others’ descriptions of her work – she struggled to come up with something that felt like a book. After her year at RADA, Louise hoped to continue her studies in the Caribbean, most notably spending a period of time in Trinidad. In a letter to the British Council, she wrote that ‘after a very profitable year of studies at the Royal Academy…I have come aware of the fact that the natural end of my course lies in the West Indies’.

book to shake the world anew’ Sebastian Barry Checkout 19: ‘A book to shake the world anew’ Sebastian Barry

My idea is, not as others have done before, to encourage my people to accept a form of art totally unsuited to their personalities, but to apply the excellent English methods of culture to the wealth of native material we possess. There is in the West Indies, a large amount of undeveloped art, which, thanks to the Royal Academy, I could make into valuable contributions to the cultural development of my country. Writer of prose and poetry in Jamaican Dialect, for Sunday Gleaner and other local newspapers and magazines. Though she and her husband moved to Fort Lauderdale early in the 1980s, and to Toronto in 1987, they kept in touch with Jamaicans and their cultural identity. Miss Lou used to say: "Any which part mi live - Toronto-o! London-o! Florida-o! - a Jamaica mi deh!" (Wherever I live - Toronto, London, Florida - I am in Jamaica.) Jamaica's culture and dialect were woven into Louise’s artistic craft. She wrote numerous books and poetry in Jamaican Patois, a language which has become symbolic of Jamaica’s vibrant culture. It is spoken primarily in Jamaica and the Jamaican diaspora. Indeed, Louise was influential in championing Jamaican Patois as an artistic medium. Towards the novel’s close, a deep friendship is ruptured by a double dose of trauma, gesturing to the pitfalls of confusing life and literature. Even so, its most vital relationships remain those between its narrator and the volumes that pile up around her.Miss Lou and Eric raised many children including her stepson, Fabian Coverley and adopted daughters Christine, Althea, Odette and Simone. In 1987, Eric became very ill and so, at Fabian’s invitation, they migrated to Canada. Eric died there on August 7, 2002 and Miss Lou on July 26, 2006. She was buried on August 9, 2006 at the National Heroes’ Park, Kingston alongside the reinterred remains of her husband. In comparison to Part III the other six Parts act rather more like accompanying movements to the central piece, containing echoes of the same riffs, themes, phrases and anecdotes, with variations of their own. Indeed I might recommend the reader begins with Part IV, as the easiest way in to the novel, although clearly this wasn’t the author’s intention. From time to time in the history of a nation, there emerges someone on the national scene who seems to embody the very psyche of its people; capable of distilling, interpreting and expressing its collective wisdom, its hopes and its aspirations, its strengths as well as its weaknesses. In Jamaica, Louise Bennett is such a person.” (Corina Meeks, 1987) Met oog voor de muren waartegen een auteur kan botsen (de eigen achtergrond en sekse, de correctheid bij historische fictie), vraagt ze zich af hoe vrij ze werkelijk is. Juist deze zoektocht loodst haar naar een ongekende vrijheid, want boven elke regel en obstakel overheerst ‘dat constante verlangen om uit je eigen huid en naar een andere werkelijkheid te ontsnappen.’ Elke situatie – tot een wachtrij aan een saaie supermarktkassa toe - kan een aanleiding vormen voor een mentale vlucht waarbij zelfs een onderwerpend keurslijf de vleugels van creativiteit niet kan kortwieken.

Checkout 19 by Claire-Louise Bennett – a life in books Checkout 19 by Claire-Louise Bennett – a life in books

Louise began her studies in the autumn of 1945. A report written by RADA provides an insight into Louise’s time there. Praised for her intelligence, enthusiasm for learning, and interest in all aspects of the English theatre, Louise seems to have impressed the tutors. Interestingly, the report also notes that ‘she found a friendly reception from our staff and students.’ The home of IOTP is the Caribbean Military Academy (CMA) Newcastle, which is located at the Newcastle Hill Station, St Andrew, Jamaica.Although she lived in Toronto, Canada for the last decade she still receives the homage of the expatriate West Indian community in the north as well as a large Canadian following. Her interest in that culture was not only creative but scholarly. As drama officer for the Jamaica social welfare commission in the 1950s, she travelled all over the island, and continued the study of Jamaica's folklore and oral history that she had begun in the early 1940s. She lectured on drama and folklore for the extramural department of the University College of the West Indies and shared her knowledge of Jamaican folklore and language with many scholars. A Phenomenal Woman – the Hon. Louise Bennett-Coverley." The Weekly Gleaner, North American ed.: 21 August 2006. ProQuest. Web. 4 March 2016. She attended Ebenezer and Calabar elementary schools, St. Simon’s College, and Excelsior High School in Kingston. In 1945, she was awarded a British Council scholarship to the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) in London, England. Hohn, Nadia L. (2019). A Likkle Miss Lou: How Jamaican Poet Louis Bennett Coverly Found Her Voice. Toronto, ON: Owlkids Books. pp.Author's Note. ISBN 9781771473507.

Louise Bennett-Coverley | Books | The Guardian

This book is a series of seven (partly auto-fictional?) first person chapters (essays?) - the first written in a plural “we”. Sporadically brilliant, sometimes maddening, and occasionally collapses under the weight of Bennett's ambitions to hybridize fiction, autofiction, and personal essay. But it succeeds admirably in representing the sharp and hyper-focused subjectivity of her first-person narrator, a working-class young woman from the West Country slowly fashioning a self through her literary education, only some of which happened at school and university. Always raw-- emotionally, intellectually, formally, stylistically-- but with a strong underlying sense of structure. In 2011, photographs, audiovisual recordings, correspondence, awards and other material regarding Bennett were donated to the McMaster University Library by her family with the intention of having selections from the fonds, which date from 1941 to 2008, digitized and made available online as part of a digital archive [16] A selection of Bennett's personal papers are also available at the National Library of Jamaica. Launched in October 2016, the Miss Lou Archives contains previously unpublished archival material including photos, audio recording, diaries and correspondence. [23] The holdings of the Miss Lou Archives were donated to the Library by Bennett as she prepared to take up residence in Canada. [17] Awards and honours [ edit ]Morris, Mervyn (1 August 2006). "Louise Bennett-Coverley". The Guardian . Retrieved 28 November 2015.

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