fangirling | new follows: Kathryn L Christopher & Chris Paul Lai

A good reader never stops looking for material.

Image not mine.
Disclaimer: I have only actually read one of these books. Guess which.

I’m making a concentrated effort to expand my reading to include more Jamaican and Caribbean authors. Sometimes I get lucky and the universe pushes these writers ever so easily into my path. Sometimes I get luckier and I find that I’m genuinely interested in their content.

Most recently I have fallen in love with Kathryn L Christopher‘s poetry. She is a self-styled Afro-Trinidadian woman writer whose themes broach topics about navigating womanhood and the disapora. Her lines and words are poignant, soul-stirring. They have an easy, familiar rhythm, like stepping down the path to the first house you ever lived in.

She reads like an older sister, giving advice to every young woman in the world. And there is of course the rhythm-and-blues vibration of a coloured voice, a Caribbean flavour. It’s a little bit jazz, a little bit rocksteady.

I am utterly envious of the fluency with which she speaks her culture. And I am utterly convinced that no one deals with the issues of sex and love and social pressure like black women. Or women in general. We have a way of carrying these experiences like women of old carried buckets of water atop their heads. We make it look easy. We make it look good.

Speaking of love and sex, my other new follow is author and economist Christopher Lai (of Living the Lai) whose content at first did little to earn my respect. I’m always so sceptical of bloggers who discuss man-an-ooman ‘tory as the main feature of their blog because it’s so easy to get people interested in that topic. Plus, hasn’t everything been said already?

But Lai’s voice offers a fresh perspective on the more common material in male-female relationships with inventive (if sometimes predictable) posts. His surprise slant of being in a committed relationship soothes stings that would otherwise smack of bitterness and gives credence to advice that would otherwise sound like empty words. I find myself (surprisingly) looking forward to reading his blog.

Of course adding more people to my ever-expanding reading list is perhaps not the wisest choice as I transition into my final year of medical school. But I am nothing if not defiant.

One Love: Jamaican Blogger Tag

You guys. Oh your God, you guys. I have been tagged in my first ever blogger tag (which is a lot that that primary school game of tag except EVERYONE WANTS TO BE IT).

It started here at JaBajaNas (who I don’t know personally but who clearly is awesome for even coming up with something like this) and I was tagged by Shelley of Sweet and Sour Ramblings.

The Rules: 

  • Title your post “One Love: Jamaican Blogger Tag”
  •  Link back to the blogger who tagged you ( you may add a brief definition of what a tag is for the benefit of your readers)
  •  Copy and paste the rules at the beginning of your tag.
  •  Copy and paste the questions as well so readers know what’s going on.
  •  Answer the questions (No duh!)
  •  Tag seven other (untagged) Jamaican bloggers to continue the trend. Kinda forces you to make friends, no?
The Questions
  1. Why did you give your blog its name? (If it is named directly after you, try and make your answer interesting. eg: Did you feel nervous at all about putting your name out there? Did you just lack creativity at the time?)
  2. Why did you start blogging and why do you blog now?
  3. Do you think being Jamaican influences your blogging style?
  4. What do you think about the increase in bloggers in Jamaica?
  5. What is your favourite thing about being Jamaican?
  6. Ackee and saltfish or “ (mackerel) run down”?
  7. Stew peas or stew chicken?
  8. Tastee Patties, Juici Beef Patties or Mother’s?
  9. Pantucky or KFC?
  10. What do you hope to be the future of blogging in Jamaica?

My Answers:

1. Why did I give my blog its name?
Secret: I have been wanting to be asked this question for quite some time now. I have always loved reading, but I’ve only recently begun to appreciate my given name. I think my name makes a unique statement about me, and the associations with my eponymous avian counterpart are fun to consider. The “Well Read” in Well Read Robin functions as both an adjective and a commendation, by the way.

2. Why did I start blogging and why do I blog now?
I started blogging in 2007 because my friend was doing it. Seriously. And then she stopped and I continued avidly, mostly because of fanfiction and fandom (that’s my Livejournal here). Then I met WordPress, which looked like rl srs bznz y’all, and now I blog because I want to get better at writing and telling stories.

3. Do I think being jamaican influences my blogging style?
No, with a caveat. My blogging style is basically my writing style which is heavily (and almost exclusively) influenced by European authors and one American blogger in particular. However, there is a likkle-but-tallawah Jamaican voice inside me that comes out at odd times. The reason I stay away from Jamaican-isms on this blog is that I feel like I never get the flow quite right.

4. What do I think about the increase in bloggers in Jamaica?
I think there need to be more Montegonian bloggers! But that’s my bias talking. I think the surge of Jamaican bloggers is great, but there needs to be more decentralization of the demographic. Most Jamaican bloggers are either from Kingston or living in Kingston and blog with a Kingstonian mindset which is not so far removed from the larger Western mindset. I want to see a blog by a Jamaican from rural St. Catherine who can talk with equal poise about her life in the country as well as the latest Kesha song.

5. What is my favourite thing about being Jamaican?
Being able to call this country home. Jamaica is one of the prettiest places ever and our country has such a rich history that I’m so absolutely proud to be part of this heritage.

6. Ackee and saltfish or mackerel rundown?
For the non-Jamaicans reading this: this is what ackee and saltfish looks like and this is mackerel rundown. When it’s made properly, with coconut milk and yumminess, mackerel rundown wins hands down.

7. Stew peas or stew chicken?
So again: this is stew peas and this is stew chicken. I have a strong dislike for stew chicken, simply because most people prepare it with a lot of bone and very little chicken. Plus stew peas usually goes with pork or oxtail or some other such delicacy so it’s delicious.

8. Tastee Patties, Juicy Patties (because that is the name of the company) or Mother’s?
Mother’s is actually a Kingstonian thing, so I never really had it until I moved here. And then I had a phase where I thought I preferred Tastee to Juicy, but I was really just mixing both of them up.

9. Pantucky or KFC?
Pantucky = jerked chicken made in half of a drum by a man on the side of the road.

Real drum pan chicken made by a real drum pan man.

I have never actually seen a female drum pan man. Strange. Pantucky, because they are always around when you’re really desperate for food, so it invariably tastes really good.

10. What do I hope to be the future of blogging in Jamaica?
I hope blogs get more readers as time goes by. Jamaican bloggers are already getting recognized by TV personalities, so I want to see blogging get more attention from the average guy on the street. I want blogging to be a part of the literary revolution that Jamaicans need; I want people to want to read, and I feel like blogs are ideally placed to make that happen.

The Tags: 
I barely know three Jamaican bloggers, let alone seven!

  • GavRo of Doctor Gargamel (who is kind of like a student Dr. House)
  • Ken of Mr. Multilingual (who is all kinds of linguistically brilliant)
  • Farah Colette of farah colette (who lived my alternate life and survived to tell the tale)

And in keeping with the spirit of “hey let’s make friends with this game”, here are three bloggers hand-picked from the JA Blog Awards nominees and one past winner, none of whom have any idea who I am:

  • Kimi Small of TheSmallGirl (who sounds like someone I’d want to be when I grow up)
  • Charissa from DANCE Jamaica (because I never thought I’d find a blog about dance in Jamaica and it is awesome)
  • Lecia-Gaye (and her hubby by extension) over at JustHitchedNowWhat (who sound like pretty interesting folks)
  • Sean of From a Boy to a Man (whose blog I was first introduced to last year; his Tumblr always has interesting/humourous musings)

*ETA: So JustHitchedNowWhat has already been tagged. Mea culpa. But I am stubbornly not going to remove her (simply because I have no one else to replace her with).

Interim

I have exams this week and all, but I still find the time to go blogging, researching what to blog, and to generally faas inna peepl bizniz. I’m kinda happy with what I found, and I better be since I’m using much-needed study time to go frolicking through the interwebs.

Jamaica Writes
We’ll kick start with Jamaica Writes.com. Where has this blog been all my life? A website where writers and photographers embark on a writing/photography challenge? This. Is. Totally. Awesome. The latest challenge has been 62 words attached to a photograph, and the posts have been overwhelmingly good.

Moore Talk JA
And then there’s Carla Moore’s blog which is kind of a companion to her vlog on Youtube, and her social commentary is totally awesome. As a Jamaica living in Canada, her blog has a distinct yardie feel to it, and then half her posts are done in Creole which makes it even better.

Veritas
And rounding out the awesomeness is the winner of several awards last year at the JA Blog Awards, Veritas aka Mr. Editor. This man’s blog gets crazy traffic, and he too is into the social commentary thing. And I am probably being weird about this, but ohmygoodness he reminds me of myself:

Male. Jamaican. Student. I have an avid interest in Politics, Literature and Art. I’m often controversial, and rarely apologetic. I say the uncomfortable things and challenge the established thinking.

Robyn. 19. Jamaican.
med student.
avid reader. ardent writer. hapless dancer. spiritual seeker.
scientific. logical. creative.
sarcastic. polite. reserved. curious.

You see it too, right?

Ahem.

Silliness aside, I encourage anyone who’s reading my blog to check these guys out. I love finding fellow Jamaican bloggers, because it reminds me that I’m not alone. And that this idea to blog isn’t totally insane because there are Jamaicans out there who get it.

Shout out to JA Blog Awards (even though their website is sorta defunct right now) and all Jamaican bloggers, no matter where in the world you’re blogging from.

Pax.