Toronto Public Library’s Jamaica 50 Series

The Toronto of Review of Books brings you podcasts, interviews and book reviews following the Jamaica 50 series.

More than 230,000 people of Jamaican heritage live in Canada; almost 160,000 in the GTA. In celebration of that community’s long history, and of Jamaica’s independence, the Toronto Public Library and the group Jamaica 50 are holding a series of author events at libraries across Toronto. The series started today and ends May 28, with the best-known Jamaican-Canadian writer, Malcolm Gladwell—frequent contributor to the New Yorker and author of Blink, Outliers and The Tipping Point.

August 6th, 2012, will mark the 50th year of Jamaican independence. After the island’s “discovery” by Christopher Columbus came centuries of first Spanish, then English rule, the death of the indigenous Arawaks and the importation of enslaved Africans. Since independence, Jamaica has become a dichotomy of heaven and hell to many Canadians, a beautiful country with a big tourist industry and a female head of state, but also plagued with violence, not least of all vicious persecution of gay Jamaicans, some of whom have become refugees in Canada.

The first author talk was with Peta-Gaye Nash, short-story and children’s books author, this Saturday at the Maria Shchuka Branch. On Monday, three poets, including Quentin “Vercetty” Lindsay, who is in this video performing his spoken word piece “Through the eyes of a child”, will speak at Malvern.

Mary Lou Soutar-Hynes, Jennifer Walcott, Quentin “Vercetty” Lindsay

April 16, 7-8 pm, Malvern Branch

Jamaican-Canadian Mary Lou Soutar-Hynes is a former nun, and now an Ontario poet/educator with a special interest in writing and language education. She has lived in Toronto since immigrating here in 1969. Mary Lou’s poetry and non-fiction have been published in Arc, Canadian Woman Studies, Lichen, Surface and Symbol and the chapbook anthology, Six from the Sixth. Her first poetry collection was The Fires of Naming (Seraphim, 2001). She is co-author with Trina Wood, of The Writer Within: Dialogue and Discovery (Harcourt Brace, 2002). She is a member of the Writers’ Union of Canada and the League of Canadian Poets.

Jennifer Walcott grew up in Jamaica and in Canada, where she has lived for many years. She has worked in community development and education and is currently a secondary school teacher of English. She is published in the collection, Calling Cards: an Anthology of Caribbean and Canadian Writers, and has had poems in journals and websites.

Quentin “Vercetty” Lindsay is a self-proclaimed Artvist who and knows no boundaries when it comes to his artistic expression. Feeling obligated to spread a message of social change through the innovation of different art forms, he uses his art to empower others. He is currently studying at the Ontario College of Art and Design University towards a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree, which he feels will aid him in his dream o of travelling and teaching around the world. “We cannot create change if we are not creative.”