The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

Caribbean writers encourage young writers

Two renowned Caribbean writers were welcomed to the University Law School Atrium for book signing and a series of readings and conversations, regarding the current social livelihood of their countries on April 19.

Diana McCaulay and Yolaine M. St. Fort read passages from their award winning works as part of the event “Readings and Conversation with Caribbean Writers,” to students and faculty to give insight on the current social conditions of their countries and to encourage inspiring writers to pursue their passion.

The event was hosted by the President’s Multicultural Advisory Committee (PMAC), the Office of the Provost, the Committee for Latin American and Caribbean Studies (CLACS), Student Government, Inc. (SGI),  University Libraries, Academic Affairs Committee, Haraya, the Pan-African Students Coalition, and the Caribbean Students Association.

Diana McCaulay, an award winning newspaper columnist and environmental activist from Jamaica, read the beginnings of her award-winning novel, “Dog Heart” to the audience to portray the issues of race and class in Jamaica.

“For me, I write to make sense of the world,” McCaulay said.

“I want people to walk away from my books knowing more than the stereotypes of Jamaica.”

Yolaine M. St. Fort, a writer of Haitian descent, read excerpts of her poetry including her works from “A Poem for Haiti: for the Crowns of Your Heads”, which illustrated stories of life in Haiti after the 2010 earthquake.

“I take my journal with me and I go everywhere,” St. Fort said. “When I went [to Haiti] after the earthquake, I needed to purge in a way and just write things down.”

After the readings, there was a question and answer session where students and faculty asked questions regarding the development of writing over the decades, how individuals can take steps to publish their writing and possible social change in the Caribbean regions.

The writers discussed how they wrote with the incentive not only to expose the reality of their social situations but to ultimately encourage individuals to be aware of the reality, and take action and get involved in the solution.

McCaulay talked about how she hoped people would go beyond simple solutions for the world’s problems.

“[When] a child asks you for money, I started thinking about what would happen if you really tried to help beyond just giving money at the moment, which I don’t think really helps in the long term,” she said.

“I guess I want to ask the question, what’s our responsibility as individuals to help people who need our help.”

St. Fort explained that she not only writes for herself, but for her readers to establish a personal connection with what she is saying.

“The message for me when people read my work is for them to remember and for them to become active participants,” she said.

“When people become more interested and when people hear a poem and say I can connect to that or I wanted to help out in whatever shape or form I think that’s amazing.

Sophomore Reginald Amedee, an English major, said the event helped encourage him as a writer of Caribbean heritage.

“When I come to something like this, it is very inspirational for me and it keeps me motivated for me to one day get published,” he said.

“I’m of Haitian decent and to see Caribbean writers really come and share their work is really cool.”

Senior Bradley Jacques said he thought the stories were informational and will hopefully cause a change in years to come.

“I thought it was a very important event, they opened the eyes of everyone who may not have understood the reality of the Caribbean,” he said. “For those that were uninformed before now I think its good they understand what’s going on and maybe they would want do something to help improve the future.”

McCaulay said that getting published would be a challenge to anyone who wanted to write, but encouraged students to stick with what they wanted to do.

“If you want to you want to write, you should just do it like the Nike sign says,” McCaulay said. “It’s taken me a very long time to have the courage to write all the way through and stick to it and get it published.”

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