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Charlotte Amalie
Tuesday, June 6, 2023
HomeCommentaryOpen forumRewriting the Virgin Islands

Rewriting the Virgin Islands

Dear Source:
This was a missed opportunity for those educators, students and writers who did not attend this year’s University of the Virgin Islands’ annual literature festival, held on the St. Croix UVI Campus this past week, April 20-24. The activities offered were workshops, lectures, readings, videos, films, an art exhibition and a play, presented by accomplished world renowned Caribbean artist, authors, educators and play-writers.
Because of prior obligations, I was able to sit only a few of the many workshops and activities, but those I attended were enriching and inspiring. As an artist, at this time in my life with the conditions in our Village needing to be addressed, "My pen is mightier than my paintbrush."
I am recently self-published, so I sat in on the Copyright and Intellectual Property Right Workshop, presenter by Carol A. Newman, Jamaica Office of Copyright. Ms. Newman’s lecture opened my eyes to a condition that I have been at fault, along with many others, is the not carefully reading the fine print in a contract.
My question was, since I am self-published and I did all of my own editing, deigning and layout, how much copy-write control does the publishing house have on my book, if I choose to change to a different company?
The answer was that I needed to go back and read the fine print to my agreement with the publishing house. The lesson learned, which I have heard many times before and did not listen to, now I will forever read every single thing before I sign any contract agreement, again.
The Book Bacchanal held at the Caribbean Museum Center for the Arts, Frederiksted, was an evening of authors reading excerpts from their writings. This was an opportunity to experience live readings, for me anything that I read of those authors, I will hear their voices as if they are reading or speaking to me.
The highlight for me was the play “Heaven 1986” by David Edgecombe, the fact that I enjoy being read to, a play is the paramount of the written word. Heaven had a timeless, universal theme of when wealth, power and authority is used to abuse the less fortunate, naive and vulnerable.
Not to give a review the play, the factor that stood out most for me was how each male attempted to bridle the young woman’s affection. Although she was not being forced into any of the decisions that she made, and her Youth spoke to her lack of foresight. During the Q and A on this topic, I expressed that what came to my mine was Bill Cosby’s legal woes.
Dr. Cosby / Mr. Hyde, I am of that generation when the date rape drugs of the time were alcohol, quaaludes, and Spanish fly. My position, which would be like that of any potential juror, that his lawyer just danced around the questions of his intent for him giving her/them Q’s, especially based on him admitting to touching her / them afterwards. What a Sleazy way to get next to a Woman!

Dr. Cosby, a psychologist, of all people should have known better than to put himself into such a compromised situation. Dr. Cosby has been indicted with some serious charges that the System had nothing to do with, he of all people should know the Nature of the Beast.
The System is using this to perpetrate that Black Men are not to be trusted, with President Obama it has been two steps forward, and now Dr. Cosby has placed himself in the position to put Us a step backwards defending him. If just one, it would still be one too many, I cannot defend him just because he is Black, that would be Unjust, in my humble opinion.
Since illustration is such an important component to book publishing, the integrating and involving the grade schools in the visual arts exhibitions supports bridging that gap between school to work. The fruits of one’s labor, coordinator Lucien Downes is a former art student, from Elena L. Christian Jr. High School.
Our history has to be written, rewritten and illustrated from our perspective. There is a big World market out there that needs access to a new truth. This will not happen if it is left up to the prejudiced, mind-controlling, self-interest for the profit entities.
I believe the way to reach the dysfunctional and the disenchanted Youth is to have their younger siblings be their mentors, showing them that they themselves should and could be doing better. From my experiences as an educator, to inspire and to encourage reading, I feel that the best way to address the literacy issues is through illustration. Students writing, illustrating and reading theirs and other students’ writings may encourage and inspire others to begin reading, much like how when they go home with a cold infecting everyone in the house.
No one person can take responsibility or credit for the success or failure of this literary program, but what efforts I witnessed made by Ms. Alscess Lewis-Brown, editor / festival coordinator, gives me the inspiration to make every effort not to disappoint her with my book proposal.
Title and introduction to the series: "Kiwan, the Hike Master"
Kiwan is a young member of the hiking association, who began at 2 yrs. and is now 19 years old still hikes with the group. The concept for the book series is Kiwan will be the interpreter for each of the hiking trails, as if he were Olasee leading the hike.
I have made arrangement with Olasee Davis, our renown environmentalist, to use the information he provides covering the history, the plants and the folklore described during the hikes that he leads throughout St. Croix, sponsored by the St. Croix Hiking Association.
Ms. Brown will be taking the text form each hike and develop the handout information into a dialogue format, and I will be doing the illustrations for the books. These books can eventually be made into animation form for broadcasting. The idea is to use Kiwan as a peer role model, to educate and to stimulate a conscientiousness for the preservation and the protection of our environment and our natural resources.
Image, the Virgin Islands has a tourist based economy, advertises and promotes a seven flags’ multi-diverse culture, yet we sell souvenirs made in CHINA and elsewhere, while we have high unemployment and a rising crime rate.
Since we advertise our Seven Flagsʼ History and our diversified culture, we should also be developing products showcasing to the World each particular. There are hundreds of stories and folklore that have much more potential than what has been developed. Stories written by students can be a source to inspire and to encourage literacy, and in addition to being prepared for publication and sale.
[Harry Potter Is a perfect example; this one product was developed from a single story, about a young boy and sorcery, has become one of the most profitable epics of all times. It is a billion dollar industry generated by the sales of paraphernalia: books, DVDs, dolls, posters, costumes, tee shirts, games, live appearances, etc.]
In preparation for the 2017 Transfer Day Centennial Celebrations, our intellectual properties, like what was presented and on display at this year’s book fair, should be what is marketed and then sold World-wide. Virgin Islands gift shops, hotel, lobbies, guest rooms, etc., should be decorated and filled with locally made craft products, prints, paintings and sculptures by local artists.
With all of the publishing potential that exist here in the Virgin Islands and throughout the Caribbean, the University of the Virgin Islands, as our highest level of education, should have already established it’s own UVI Publishing House.
The Paperless Book is another attempt to control information, Fahrenheit 451!
Ivan Butcher II, St. Croix

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