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AN EVENING IN GUANIMA Cover
BOOK REVIEW

AN EVENING IN GUANIMA

BY Patricia Glinton-Meicholas • POSTED ON Sept. 13, 2017

Glinton-Meicholas (Chasing Light, 2013, etc.) offers a culturally rich collection of Bahamian folk tales.

The Bahamas boasts a time-honored tradition of storytelling, and it’s through such short, fantastical tales that many children learn the importance of good manners, humility, respect for elders, the consequences of greed, and the gift of love. In this treasury, Glinton-Meicholas focuses on “the ol’ story,” or the traditional characters and motifs of her birthplace, Cat Island, also known as Guanima. These folk tales feature brief musical interludes or “sings,” often used to announce a main character or plot twist, to heighten tension, or to serve as call and response between characters. The players therein are often manifestations of good or evil, intelligence or stupidity, power or weakness. Beneficent behavior is rewarded, and bad behavior is punished; disobedience and selfishness are particularly called out—from the lazy Bouki, who bails on the responsibilities of cow ownership but hoards milk and meat, to a drummer’s son whose urgent need to play the instrument lands him in a dangerous competition with a witch. The author imparts valuable moral lessons through the experiences of tricksters and animals, as in a spiritual parable about the dangers of comparison in “Why the Serpent Has a Cleft Tongue and Crawls on His Belly.” The author carefully explains cultural references in footnotes, such as the meaning of a “fire half” (a hearth) or a “kukumakai” (a magic stick). Throughout, her poetic language evokes powerful visuals: she describes a carriage as “blacker than the heart of a hurricane,” a woman’s skin as “the colour of honey from bees feeding on wild marigolds,” teeth that “sparkled like sea-washed pebbles,” and a dancing couple “as beautiful as a pair of golden banana birds.” The Bahamian lexicon can be challenging to decipher, though; phrases such as “Borry dis, gimme dat! Das all you an’ yuh pa know!” may slow down the reading process.

An educational and fanciful journey through classic stories.

Pub Date: Sept. 13, 2017

Page count: 159pp

Publisher: Guanima Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 4, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2018

ADDITIONAL WORKS AVAILABLE

Chasing Light

CHASING LIGHT is Patricia Glinton-Meicholas' third book of poetry and a finalist for the International Proverse Prize 2012. A challenging and controversial complexity of opinion pervades the collection, accurately signaled by the double-entendre of the title. Taken as a whole, the poems express concern for humankind worldwide, with a particular emphasis on the life of women, particularly those with an African or Caribbean heritage. Glinton-Meicholas speaks equally for those she imagines to live colourless, passionless lives and those whose private relations are ample and fulfilling. She responds to regional and international events, particularly the troubles brought by local politics and attitudes, and by war. The poems show a person passionately aware and caring, conscious of deity in various manifestations and hoping for the world's salvation from this source. Nevertheless she acknowledges that man has free-will and that it is for man to exercise his free-will to solve or avoid problems. The writing with occasional lines in creole is sophisticated and rewards close attention from the reader.

Lusca and Other Fantastic Tales

Published: Sept. 30, 2017
ISBN: 9789768140289

Robin's Song