Sunday, April 27, 2014

Western Union's Reading Week in Montego Bay

Mrs. Tanya Fraser-Martin with a Gr 5 class
    Since 2010, I have taken opportunities to read from 'Delroy in the Marog Kingdom' at selected schools during Western Union's Reading Week. Because St. James had been the featured parish in 2013, no school had been chosen for 2014. However, they were happy that I volunteered to read, and that I chose Chetwood Memorial Primary as the venue. On Tuesday, April 8, in the afternoon,  I was joined by Mrs. Tanya Fraser Martin of Western Union's Montego Bay office. She is the Business Network Manager responsible for WU agents in Trelawny, St James and Hanover in Jamaica.  
    Between us we were able to read to four classes.
    I read excerpts from 'Delroy in the Marog Kingdom' to two grade 5 classes, one after the other. As usual, I got an enthusiastic response to my presentation which began with putting the frog in the pot.
   Meanwhile, Mrs. Martin read 'Slater Minnifie and the Beat Boy Machine' from "Flying with Icarus" by Curdella Forbes to another grade 5 class. The story is about a new boy in the class and a gang of bullies. Of the experience, Mrs. Martin said "They really loved the story and responded well to my questions. They listened intently, showed keen interest and I thought the story was ideal and relevant to their every day lives. The Teacher had a good command of the class. I enjoyed reading to them." Then she went to a grade 6 class to read from Diane Browne's "Island Princess in Brooklyn", the chapter about Jamaican's getting together to watch our athletes on TV.  

We also spoke to each class about the importance of reading stories for pleasure:
  1. Reading improves vocabulary, grammar and comprehension.
  2. Children who read 5 or 6 books in the summer holidays perform better in the following year than those who don't.
  3. Reading stimulates brain development.
  4. Reading improves performance in math... yes, math!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

JCDC Creative Writing Exhibition at St. James Parish Library

Dorothy Noel, Guest Speaker

The JCDC Creative Writing Exhibition Tour Official Opening took place at St. James Parish Library on April 3, 2014, with a small but appreciative audience. The schools present were Naz Prep and Herbert Morrison Technical High, with their teachers. Other schools which had confirmed their attendance didn’t put in an appearance, much to the disappointment of the hard-working organizer and Chairman of the function, Ms. Natalie Morris. After her opening remarks, she introduced Ms. Joan Pinkney, Licensing and Membership Manager of JAMCOPY, who brought greetings and explained the purpose of JAMCOPY
Joan Pinkney
Then came samples of creative writing. I read an excerpt from my silver-medal winning novel “The Last of the Marogs” in which Delroy travels through time and finds himself in a Taino village, at the beginning of the sixteenth century. It is the last book of the trilogy which began with “Delroy in the Marog Kingdom”.
Dario Shields
Dario Shields read an excerpt from Ghetto Born, God Raised, a book inspired by his mother and his circumstances. He hopes that through reading the book, persons will learn lessons about life and themselves. A student from Naz Prep read a poem by fellow student, Zari Gourzong. 
Mikail Clarke

Mikail Clarke, Grade 10 student at Cornwall College, a winner in the JamaicaVision 2030 essay competition, recited the poem “Mi Black, Mi Proud”.  He is also Junior Mayor of Montego Bay. Although young, his bearing, self-confidence, acting ability and awareness definitely qualify him for this position. 
Natalie Morris asking for more 'Open Mike' participants

                 The guest speaker was Ms Dorothy Noel, retired Publishing Manager at Carlong. She gave a wide-ranging address entitled “You can be a writer, too”, and began by quoting Indian Film Director, Mira Nair’s famous line, “If we don’t tell our stories, who will?” People should also write to develop self-confidence and as an outlet for artistic expression, as did Ben Carson, the famous neurosurgeon, in his book “Gifted Hands”. Then she outlined the qualities of a writer for the 5 categories in the JCDC Creative Writing Contest - poetry, short stories, novels, plays and essays.
All writers, she stated, have fertile imaginations, have a voice, edit and rewrite, read good books and are well read. Reading helps writers to see how celebrated authors use language and themes. For short stories and novels, Ms Noel recommended Diane Browne and Hazel Campbell, Jamaican children’s writers who have been published by Carlong. Her mention of Olive Senior’s “Summer Lightning” prompted me to reread stories in the anthology of that title.
For poetry, Ms Noel praised Kei Miller, whom she described as Jamaica’s best young poet. She urged us to read his new collection “The Cartographer Tries to Map a Way to Zion”, which illustrates the way in which a poet reaches for deeper levels of meaning. In relation to plays, the writer must bear in mind that the script is to be performed and therefore requires directions as well as dialogue. In order to maintain interest, the rhythm should vary. She also stressed the importance of having others read our work, and reiterated the point that writers need to edit and rewrite.
      After Ms. Noel’s address, and the Chairman’s closing remarks, we all moved to the entrance hall of the library where the Exhibition was set up. Ms. Morris then declared the Exhibition open. 

Naz Prep students reading award-winning poems

Opening of Exhibition

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Mountambrin Piano Recital - Mikhail Johnson

Nestled in the cool, rain-blessed hills of Westmoreland is Mountambrin, the home of Dr. Russell Gruhlke -  optometrist/farmer, Canute Gruhlke - manager of the property, and Lesbert Lee - wood-carver. It consists of the original house where Alex Haley wrote "Roots", a number of individual cottages in unusual architectural styles, the Mountambrin Tower, with views of the Westmoreland Plains,  and the Theatre Gallery, all surrounded by luxuriant vegetation in lovingly tended gardens.
If you are a lover of Classical Piano Music, be sure not to miss the recital there by Mikhail Johnson on Easter Sunday, April 20, 2014 from 2-4 p.m.

To reach Mountambrin, on the road from Montego Bay to Sav-la-Mar, take a left turn at Whithorn and drive a little over a mile up the road to Darliston. Turn left along Toad Road, signed to Mountambrin.  If you doubt you are on the right track, don't worry. After a mile you will reach your destination. Admire the views and vegetation along the way.
After parking, take the opportunity to stroll around the gardens and admire the sculptures before the concert begins.
Garden with Westmoreland Plains in the distance

Mikhail will be playing:
Bach Partita No.1 in G major (Praeambulum)
Beethoven Sonata No.6 in F major (1st and 2nd movements)
Debussy Prelude (from Suite Bergamasque)
in addition to works by  Rachmaninov, Teleman and an Original Composition by Mikhail himself.

Admission JA$1800.00, All Tickets will be Available at the Gate
Sudents with Id. JA$500.00
Music Student with Id; Free
Meals and Drinks will be Available for Purchase - dinner US$14.00

On Saturday, March 22, Dr. Russell Gruhlke had an informal get-together  to show appreciation to  Gayle Rich, the person behind the Music at Mountambrin. For over ten years, she has been bringing musicians from the US to play at Mountambrin. (See 'The Boston Piano Quartet'.) 
Patrons and musicians and their families enjoyed an appetizing meal of chicken, both curried and baked, with fried breadfruit, yam and green beans grown on the property. Dessert was a delectable mix of star apple and jackfruit (a Mountambrin speciality) with ice-cream. The diners generated lively conversation and much laughter. 

Jose, Canute, Elaine & Dr Rus  enthralled (Gayle's photo)
Among those present were Dr. Russell Gruhlke, Canute Gruhlke, Lesbert Lee, Gayle Rich, Steven Woodham, Elaine and Jose Oxamendi Vicet, Helen and Winston Williams, Bunny Rose, Mikhail Johnson, Maria Jose Parker, her husband Geoff and their two young children.

After dinner, we were treated to a wonderful concert. First, Steve Woodham on violin, accompanied by Maria Jose on the pano played:

From Porgy and Bess By Gershwin:
     My Man's Gone Now
     A Woman is a Somtime Thing
     It ain't Necessarily So
Theme from Schindler's List by John Williams
Liebesleid by Kreisler
Nigun by Bloch 
In the Style of Albeniz  by Shchedrin
Nocturne by Chopin
Mazurka by Wienawski
Danza Espanola by Manuel de Falla, and, 
Milonga sin palabras by Astor Piazzola, dedicated to Bunny Rose, 

 The lovely music of these world-class performers was enhanced by the acoustics of the Theatre Gallery.
Dr. Rus and Gayle Rich

Then Mikhail Johson took to the stage. He played some of the same pieces which he will play on Easter Sunday, together with pieces he played at his debut recital. Mikhail, in addition to
being exceptionally talented, practices consistently to strive for perfection.  
For the finale, Bunny Rose, famous for his cabaret performances, sang a variety of favourite songs, accompanying himself on the piano.

Bunny Rose and Steven Woodham  (Nov 2012)