Tuesday, 30 November 2010

AWARDS SEASON WATCH: Kids Are All Right, Winter’s Bone top Spirit Award nominees

SCREEN GEM: The film festival hit Winter's Bone leads nominees for Feb. 26 Spirit Awards.

On the heels of the recent staging of the 2010 Gotham Independent Film Awards, the countdown to awards season in Tinseltown is officially on. Two of my indie faves, Winter’s Bone and The Kids Are All Right, have emerged the top contenders for the upcoming Film Independent Spirit Awards (which annually salutes the ‘little man’ in Hollywood), announced Tuesday morning. No surprise there. Winter’s Bone picked up seven noms and Kids racked up five. Both films are up for Best Feature, joined by 127 Hours, Black Swan, and Greenberg. As expected, the buzzworthy drama Rabbit Hole earned four nods, including acting nominations for Nicole Kidman and Aaron Eckhart.

Notable snubs, however, include Ryan Gosling (after his superb Oscar-nominated turn in 2006’s Half Nelson, he seemed a lock for Blue Valentine); Robert Duvall (early reviews praised his excellence and subtlety in Get Low) and, perhaps most startlingly of all, Julianne Moore for Kids. (The possibility of double lead nominations for Moore and Bening seems to be waning at this point). I was also secretly rooting for Halle Berry to score a nod for her labour-of-love project Frankie & Alice. Oh, well.

Here’s a breakdown of the key categories for the awards, set for Feb. 26:

Best Feature
127 Hours
Black Swan
The Kids Are All Right
Winter’s Bone

Best Director
Darren Aronofsky, Black Swan
Danny Boyle, 127 Hours
Lisa Cholodenko, The Kids Are All Right
Debra Granik, Winter’s Bone
John Cameron Mitchell, Rabbit Hole

Best Male Lead
Ronald Bronstein, Daddy Longlegs
Aaron Eckhart, Rabbit Hole
James Franco, 127 Hours
John C. Reilly, Cyrus
Ben Stiller, Greenberg

Best Female Lead
Annette Bening, The Kids Are All Right
Greta Gerwig, Greenberg
Nicole Kidman, Rabbit Hole
Jennifer Lawrence, Winter’s Bone
Natalie Portman, Black Swan
Michelle Williams, Blue Valentine

Best Supporting Male
John Hawkes, Winter’s Bone
Samuel L. Jackson, Mother and Child
Bill Murray, Get Low
Jon Ortiz, Jack Goes Boating
Mark Ruffalo, The Kids Are All Right

Best Supporting Female
Ashley Bell, The Last Exorcism
Dale Dickey, Winter’s Bone
Allison Janney, Life During Wartime
Daphne Rubin-Vega, Jack Goes Boating
Naomi Watts, Mother and Child

Best Screenplay
Lisa Cholodenko & Stuart Blumberg, The Kids Are All Right
Debra Granik & Anne Rosellini, Winter’s Bone
Nicole Holofcener, Please Give
David Lindsay-Abaire, Rabbit Hole
Todd Solondz, Life During Wartime

MODERN FAMILY: Lisa Cholodenko's The Kids Are All Right earns 5 Spirit Award noms.

Monday, 29 November 2010

DIANA McCAULAY: The author on tackling family history in second novel, making sense of the world

LIT WORLD: Author Diana McCaulay (right) receives warm congrats from Culture minister, Olivia Grange, on being named Best Novelist at the Nov 17 National Creative Writing awards ceremony in Kingston.

With the praise for her debut novel, the inspiring, attention-worthy Dog-Heart, still fresh, writer and environmentalist Diana McCaulay turns her precise, incantatory lens on her Scottish family roots for her second offering, Huracán, which has already picked up an award before arriving at the publishers.

For many readers, your award-winning first novel Dog-Heart was pretty hard to shake. What did you make of the acclaim for your debut release?
It was great. I have wanted to write books since I was young. In the book, a woman tries to help some young boys, and so I believe that what the book deals with is a very common thing in Jamaica, and people could relate to the circumstances. Also, people like reading about contemporary Jamaica and the language. It wasn’t difficult to read.

Are any of the characters based on actual people you’ve encountered?
I had an experience like the one presented in the book, but I made up the rest. It’s really fiction based on ideas that came from facts. And I believe all fiction is like that – rooted in some fact.

Your new novel, Huracán, recently copped a silver medal in the 2010 National Creative Writing Competition. What’s this one about?
It’s loosely based on my family history. It’s more ambitious and longer. It’s about three generations of a Jamaican family: an abolitionist in the 1780s, a missionary in the 1880s and a modern-day native living in the 1980s. I’ve always been interested in my family history [her ancestors hail from Scotland] and how they came to this side of the world. It’s a mix of history and contemporary fiction.

Why do you write?
It’s how I make sense of the world. So even if I don’t publish or show it to anyone, I still write. I’ve been writing actively since I was about 13, but even before then I had my first short story published at around five or eight.

What do you want your next work to explore?
The complexities of Jamaican life. I am trying to build an understanding of things avoided by the Jamaican society – issues people tend to shy away from – and get people talking about them through fiction.

Sunday, 28 November 2010

STAGE PREVIEW: Actor Paul Campbell preps insightful new one-man show for Miami showcase

A LIFE IN FULL: Paul Campbell to take viewers into his world with upcoming production

Fresh off his battle with cancer, Jamaica-born actor Paul Campbell is ready to take audiences on a journey of his life, a journey that included stardom and homelessness. Premiering 8pm, December 11, 2010, at the Miramar Cultural Centre, Paul Campbell: The Life and Times of a Jamaican Movie Star is a first-hand, honest and compelling story that delineates aspects of the life of the versatile Jamaican actor, mapping his growth as a human and an actor. Along the way, the stage piece also offers a gritty and humorous perspective of Jamaican life and culture that many will find astounding, enlightening, or simply just jaw dropping. It's testament of pure perseverance that the overseas-based actor has endured the heights of fame and the depths of despair.

Campbell earned acclaim in his debut title role in the film The Lunatic, a film that has now become a comedic classic. His next big role was as the notorious and unforgettable villain Priest, in Dancehall Queen (1997). Two years later he portrayed the larger-than-life heroic cop Capone in the highest grossing film out of Jamaica, Third World Cop. Yet, Paul Campbell: The Life and Times of a Jamaican Movie Star is one of Campbell’s most gratifying roles.

“We are very excited about this project, because it’s surreal in the sense that I get to connect with the audience in a real-life setting, and take them on my personal journey by fusing live theater and hi-def interactive segments,” says the venerable Campbell. “Most importantly,” he adds, “It is a platform that has helped me launch Stretch, whose mission is quite simple: take the guns out the hands of today’s youths and replace them with cameras and encourage them to ‘shoot with the camera not with the gun!’”

Call it payback, but for the actor so readily identified with violent characters, Campbell is determined to encourage young people to explore alternatives to violence, and insists on engaging teens on every leg of the 25-city tour of “Paul Campbell: The Life and Times of a Jamaican Movie Star.

Meanwhile, tickets for Paul Campbell: The Life and Times of a Jamaican Movie Star are US$32.00 and are available at the Miramar Cultural Centre Box Office, 2400 Civic Center Place, (Red Road, North of Miramar Parkway), online at MiramarCulturalCenter.org or by calling 954-602-4500. The show is a presentation of Campbell’s production company Cine Enigma, The Miramar Cultural Centre and Riddims Marketing.

Friday, 26 November 2010

KANYE WEST: The controversial rap megastar kicks his career into overdrive with superlative fifth album

MASTER STROKE: West turns rap on its head with latest release

Amidst his latest, still-lingering media tiff (with morning TV anchor Matt Lauer, no less) rap megastar Kanye West is back to jostle for the top spot on the album charts with his new creation, the curiously titled My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy (Def Jam). This is a spectacular, hypnotic 13-track record that is nothing if not an instant-classic recording.

Via this latest disc, West shows indisputable proof of his genius as a hip hop revolutionary. What’s more, this is rap music like it was meant to be: menacing beats, intricate rhymes and rhythms, lush and flawless instrumentation. As with each of the rapper-producer’s previous four albums, the music consistently pushes the status quo into a new realm and challenges the mind, all the while entertaining and charming your socks off.

The central character may be possessed of bottomless reserves of ambition and spellbinding creativity, but his A-list collaborative recruits make sterling contributions. On the incandescent “All of the Lights,” pop sensation Rihanna and a lineup of 12 guests (Alicia Keys, Elton John and Charlie Wilson, to name a few) show up to lend some star power. A beastly Jay Z, Pusha T and Swizz Beatz are superb standouts on the enchanting, addictive “So Appalled,” a stadium-bright meditation on dreams, human relationships and standard of living. But it doesn’t get any better than the all-star-powered “Monster,” which leans on the mean lyrical skills of Nicki Minaj and Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon and Jay Z.

A gigantic leap from West’s last effort, 808s and Heartbreak, each song on the new album kills. The ego-driven yet lyrically excellent “Power” is a gem of a lead single, as the 9-minute clip for the remarkable follow-up track “Runaway” elevates the game as far as videos by rap stars go. If I were to name all my favourite tracks on the album, every single one would probably make the final cut. Still, the rhythmic beauty and clever lyricism on “Devil in a New Dress,” “Blame Game” (featuring vocalist John Legend) and the sublime opener “Dark Fantasy” are hardest to shake.

Not unlike his genre-bending music, Kanye West remains a controversial and compelling figure in the entertainment industry, whose travails have commanded headlines ever since his advent on the scene. Not one to hold his tongue (Taylor Swift can testify), West never shies away from topics and scenarios that can potentially make others uncomfortable. Which is why he is a man idolized, feared and despised in equal measure. Has ‘Ye officially become the man the world loves to hate? His reputation is duly earned but, in any case, no one can hold a candle to the man’s ever-evolving musical intellect that gets a glittering showcase on this latest release.

Epic and mind-blowing, West’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy is a sonically pleasant peek into the rapper’s spectral visions, dreams and desires. By far the best rap/hip-hop album of the year, it’s a powerful artistic statement that takes listeners adrift in time and experience. You can’t help but surrender to the raw passion and luminous intensity of the priestly protagonist. Tyrone’s Verdict: A+

JAMAICA HOUSE SPOTLIGHT: Out and About with PM Bruce Golding

Chairman of the National Housing Trust (NHT) Howard Mitchell (left), gives advice to a contributor who is seeking a home improvement loan as Prime Minister Bruce Golding listens. Mitchell was participating in the Wednesday, November 24 edition of the Prime Minister’s radio call in programme, Jamaica House Live, where the focus was on the new initiatives of the National Housing Trust. At far right is Managing Director of the NHT Cecile Watson.

Prime Minister Bruce Golding received a courtesy call from representatives of the Young Entrepreneurs Association (YEA) at Jamaica House on Wednesday, as part of the YEA’s National Entrepreneurship Week. The Prime Minister called on the group to assist government in helping to understand the challenges that would prevent young people from going into business. He noted that government is aware that it has a lot more to do in terms of putting in the institutional framework, establishing policies, removing the bureaucracies and providing venture capital and other credit facilities. Photo shows PM Golding greeting the President of the YEA, Stephen Spence.

The resident representative of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Minh Pham, greets Prime Minister Bruce Golding on arrival for the launch of the Human Development Report 2010 (20th anniversary edition) and the Jamaica Survey of Living Conditions 2008-2009, at the Jamaica Conference Centre in Kingston on Tuesday morning. The survey is the result of a partnership between the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the Planning Institute of Jamaica and the Statistical Institute of Jamaica.

Sunday, 21 November 2010

ROMAIN VIRGO takes the reins in his music career, and is busier than ever

FLYING SOLO: Singer Romain Virgo pursues a big, important career like his musical heroes.

Three years after breaking out as the Season Four winner of Digicel Rising Stars, singer Romain Virgo keeps ascending. Countless concert performances and an acclaimed, hit-laden album to his credit, the 20-year-old reggae-pop sensation is about to embark on his first solo tour, a month-long engagement that will see him delighting crowds in Austria, Italy, Norway and a host of other European states. TALLAWAH sat down with the singer last week to discuss his expanding career in the spotlight, reaching a wider audience on tour and how his mom motivates him to be his best self.

Last month you performed on a successful US tour as the opening act for deejay Capleton. How did that tour come about?
His management team and mine are very close so they linked us with the idea. The promoter who was doing the show wanted a singer, and we decided to go with it because we knew that me and Capleton would blend well together on tour. And he’s one of the artistes that I really respect and look up to. I’ve been listening to him for a long time.
You have been performing on the road a lot these days. Tell me about the experience of being able to reach a broader audience with your music.
It’s good because all of the places we toured, I was performing there for the first time. What I realised was that though some of the people never saw my face before, they knew most of the songs. So by me going there to perform, they were able to put a face to the music. It was one of the greatest experiences of my life to go on stage and see people singing, especially the songs you weren’t expecting them to know. It was just amazing.
When did you first decide to become a singer?
In high school. When I was on [the TV J show] All Together Sing, people were always encouraging me to enter Rising Stars. So the motivation was always there. It was around that time that I seriously started considering a career in music.
And how does your family feel about your current spate of success?
First of all, it kinda makes my family feel more comfortable with me doing music. The entire community back home [in Stepney, St. Ann] is like my family. They are very excited and happy for me. They support me 110 percent, especially my mommy.
What kind of advice do they give you?
Mommy always tell me to never give up, even before now, and before I started [attending] Edna Manley College. I even told her one day that I was going to enter Rising Stars and win and use the money to pay for college. So the reaction from my family [about my success] is one of pride. It’s all love from my entire family.
I am astounded by the quality of the lyrics you wrote for your first album, Introducing Romain Virgo? Tell me about your approach to the craft of songwriting.
I’m from a poor family so a lot of what I write is from my experiences. And sometimes people will share things with me, and I get inspired to write a song. For me, it’s not hard to write; you just have to know how to structure the lyrics properly for the song to work.
How do you plan to top the success of the debut album?
Right now promotion is key. People in the industry are realizing more and more that albums nowadays are not really selling, so you have to try to get people to listen to you more on the live scene. You have to reach out there more, and that is what my team and I are working on.
Were you at all surprised by the overwhelmingly warm reception the album received?
Definitely. It’s been almost three years since I have been recording original material. So to put out an album this early and get that kind of response is surprising. On tour, people were buying the album at the shows and that felt good.
What plans do you have to close off the year?
Well, apart from the tour in Europe that I have coming up, I am also looking forward to performing in December on the GT Taylor show, maybe Sting and definitely Rebel Salute early next year. That’s where my focus is.
Musically, who are you listening to right now?
The great ones who have been there like Bob Marley, Dennis Brown, Beres Hammond and Alton Ellis. I also enjoy listening to artistes like Jah Cure, Queen Ifrica, Chris Martin and I-Octane.
So what have you learned about yourself this year?
My confidence has risen to a higher level. I used to be so nervous going on stage, but now I don’t watch the crowd; I just think of the music and the message.
No pressure?
It’s no pressure because of the love that I have for what I do. I don’t see it as work. I enjoy what I do and that helps me to keep the stress away.

BRIGHT LIGHT: Virgo delights fans on the New York leg of his US tour with Capleton last month.

MAYLYNNE WALTON: Can the actress finally get some Actor Boy respect?

PORTRAIT OF THE ARTIST: Maylynne Walton is still waiting in the wings.

She has appeared in some of the most acclaimed, award-winning stage works to hit the Jamaican theatre scene over the last decade, yet actress Maylynne Walton has not yet snagged an individual Actor Boy statuette for any of her luminous, captivating performances. Notice I said not yet, as it’s my firm belief that all that could finally change in the looming awards season, where Walton will be up – yet again – for consideration, this time for her thoroughly outstanding turn as Annie Palmer in the Fairfield Theatre’s musical adaption of White Witch, one of the finest productions of 2010.

Indeed, Walton, a dedicated brilliant actress with a fantastic body of work by any standard has been in the running over the years for roles in such productions as Uptown Bangarang, Making A Killing and After Mrs. Rochester, but she has returned home empty-handed each time. Good, but not quite good enough in the eyes of voters? Or is it simply a recurrent case of ‘Not my moment this time?’ In any case, that Walton has never snatched an Actor Boy win in her career means simply that she is still yet to arrive as a bonafide actress of note. Plain and simple. And it’s high time, the woman gets her due, and that knockout performance in White Witch seems the perfect platform to set things straight.

But not so fast. As in previous years, she will have to get past some incredibly rock-solid competition; after all, actresses like Denise Hunt (Second Chance), Dahlia Harris (Puppy Love), Nadean Rawlins (Appropriate Behaviour) and Nadia Khan (Against His Will) who are all gunning for another career nomination – and the coveted statuette – also gave some of their best work this year, and are no pushovers. Can Maylynne still eke out her first win? It remains to be seen. But you can be sure of one thing: it's not a race for the faint of heart.

WHITE RAGE: Maylynne Walton (with Philip Clarke) turns it out in White Witch.

THE GOLDINGS: PM Bruce Golding welcomes the Colombian President, Mrs. Golding steps out for book launch

Prime Minister Bruce Golding (right) greets Colombian President, Juan Manuel Santos Calderon, on his arrival at the Norman Manley airport in Kingston on the weekend. President Santos expressed his government’s delight at being invited to Jamaica. He said relations between Jamaica and Colombia were good but that there is room for improvement. Santos also noted that he was looking forward to discussing a number of issues, including the joint exploration of oil and gas, trade, a common fight against narcotics and terrorism, and environmental protection. “Our relation with the Caribbean in general, and Jamaica in particular, is of tremendous importance, and I look forward to discussions with the government of Jamaica,” he told PM Golding.

Chair of the Jamaica Early Childhood Development Foundation (JECDF) and wife of the Prime Minister, Mrs. Lorna Golding (right), congratulates author Veronica Carnegie on the launch of her new book, Leaving Home and Other Stories, which delivers humorous and heartwarming short stories about contemporary Jamaica. The launch was held at the Kingston and St Andrew Parish (Tom Redcam) Library on November 18. Mrs. Golding delivered the main address. Children writers Diane Brown and Hazel Campbell also presented copies of their books to Mrs. Golding at the function.

GYPTIAN’s Moment: Is a Grammy nomination up next for the high-riding reggae crooner?

BIG WIN: Gyptian accepts his award for Best Reggae Artist at the recent Soul Train Awards in Atlanta. Is a Grammy next?

Radio hits? Check. A well-received latest album? Check. A Soul Train award for Best Reggae Artist? Check. Reggae singer Gyptian, whose fast-rising career is taking him international places, seems to be on a major roll these days. And with the announcement of the 2010 Grammy nominees for Best Reggae Album less than two weeks away (the noms are revealed December 1), many pundits are betting on the crooner to snag a nod for his VP Records release, Hold Yuh. Personally, I wouldn’t be surprised if he does; this is Gyptian’s moment and Hold Yuh is, actually, a very good album, one the best Jamaican releases of the year.

I’m not alone in my thoughts. “The chance is better for Gyptian because his music and videos are on rotation on US radio and TV,” shares Rhona Fox of VP, via email. “He just won the Soul Train Award this week. So he will most likely be a contender for the Grammy.” And what about other possible hopefuls like Romain Virgo, whose self-titled debut album was also very well-received. “Romain has yet to break out of the traditional reggae circuit whereas Gyptian is already on Billboard, etc.”

‘A DANCE FOR GRACE’ has noble objectives but fails to rise above its hurdles

HOW THEY MOVE: Dance and drama collide in A Dance For Grace

At one point in the film A Dance for Grace, a character suggests that one of the benefits of residing in a small town is that “everybody cares.” Expounding on this sort of sentimentality – amidst an energized blend of drama and dance routines – the makers behind the film try to tug at the heartstrings but, sadly, their efforts to appeal in this fashion fall terribly flat. Instead, weighed down by mediocre performances and a style of amateurish filmmaking more suited to documentaries, A Dance For Grace (Tower Isle Productions) comes off as a project aiming to be too much at once but not much, really, in the end. Still, considering the dignified (though formulaic) intentions behind the film’s execution of its primary subject of redemption and second chances, its hopeful heart seems to be in the right place.

Spearheading the project, Jamaican-born Orville Matherson dons the triple crown of star, director and executive producer to bring to life the story of Ricky Myers, a paroled drug dealer ordered to take over a dance class at a mostly-white high school in small-town rural Georgia. When Grace, a beloved senior townie, ends up in hospital desperately in need of money for a life-saving operation, the students (under Ricky’s leadership) decide to enter a national dance competition to use the prize money to fund Grace’s urgent surgery. Elsewhere, a hot-blooded cop is trying feverishly to nail Ricky for anything that will land him in jail; a strong-willed woman cop, on the other hand, appears to be in his corner.

Matherson, an actor with some degree of conviction, tries gallantly to fit into Ricky’s size 11 shoes, and the enthusiastic response of the cast, particularly the students, to the conflict at the centre of the story is admirable – a trip to Jamaica to learn of the country’s rich dancehall culture (and the latest dance moves) is a delightful, if momentary, highlight. But the production suffers from many of the same problems as other films in its class; a regularly unfocused script and the absence of attention-worthy acting blunt the film’s purpose. And for a movie with a considerable portion given over to dance choreography, the energy comes in irregular spurts. If A Dance For Grace is meant to be an inspiring, affecting ode to change and salvation, the audience is eventually robbed of an emotional payoff. Tyrone’s Verdict: C

Saturday, 20 November 2010

LISTEN UP: Pop sensation RIHANNA lets the sunshine in on sexy, flirty fifth album, ‘Loud’

RIHANNA'S REIGN: The pop singer brings sexy back with stellar new album, Loud.

Colourful, catchy, lighthearted pop characterized her debut release Music of the Sun and its sassy follow-up A Girl Like Me. She was a Good Girl Gone Bad on the hit album that spawned the Grammy-winning global smash “Umbrella.” Then it was all about the dark, sombre fare for the confessional fourth album, Rated R. Now a more risqué, teasing Rihanna has emerged in time for the release of her sunny, sexy new album, Loud (Def Jam), arguably her most coherent effort to date.

It’s always something new with the singer (affectionately called RiRi by the countless fans that adore her), who continues her evolution from Bajan pop princess to glam pop-R&B goddess, these days sporting a head of fiery red tresses. The catchiness of her lyrics and the honey in her voice are probably the only unwavering elements one can pinpoint when talking about Rihanna’s growth and success. And speaking of catchy lyrics, there’s enough hot stuff on Loud to totally rule radio. You have to give Rihanna credit; the girl knows how to drop a hot single to not only blaze the airwaves and video playlists but stay on the tongues of her loyal listeners.

Boasting lyrics like “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but chains and whips excite me,” the album’s rumoured third single “S&M” (one of three StarGate-produced tracks) sets the tone for the overwhelmingly sexed-up vibe here. “Skin,” with its deceptively smooth air, is a vicious, in-your-face bedroom romp on which Rihanna purrs lines like “You know I like it rough.” As for the guest spots, fellow sexpot Nicki Minaj does not disappoint on the finger-snappy, dancehall-influenced “Raining Men”; Drake shows up for the funky, flirty “What’s My Name?” (which currently sits atop the Billboard Hot 100) while Eminem is featured on the sequel to their domestic drama hit “Love The Way You Lie.”

To say that Rihanna doesn’t skimp on the merriment and sensuality would be an incredible understatement. Blissful lead single “Only Girl (In The World)” might be the definitive track on the CD, but on the soaring, ballad-esque “California King Bed,” her voice is at its most appealing, and even when she switches up the groove with the hedonistic jam “Cheers (Drink To That)” the girl can seemingly do no wrong. And don’t even get me started on the vibrant, reggae-tinged “Man Down” (which reminds me of Melanie Fiona’s sleeper hit “Somebody Get Me”), for which Rihanna – as a fresh murderess – turns to her rich Caribbean roots.

As Loud proves, very few in pop can blend fun and sexiness for a successful album quite like ‘Little Miss Sunshine’. It’s indisputably another winning disc worth your attention. You had fair warning on Rated R’s rubbery hit “Hard”: That Rihanna reign just won’t let up. Tyrone’s Verdict: A-

DOWNLOAD: “Cheers (Drink To That),” a bonafide, feel-good jam, and the chart-topping nugget “What’s My Name?” (featuring Drake)

Friday, 19 November 2010

CREATIVE WRITING AWARDS: Culture minister urges writers to protect their work

PRIZE WINNER: Culture minister Olivia 'Babsy' Grange congratulates Fabian Thomas, who copped gold and bronze medals for his poetry in the 2010 Jamaica Creative Writing Competition.

In an era of widespread intellectual property theft, there is hardly any action more important to a serious writer than safeguarding his creative output. This in mind, culture minister Olivia ‘Babsy’ Grange on Wednesday strongly urged awardees at the 2010 Jamaica Creative Writing Awards ceremony (hosted by the JCDC) at New Kingston's Knutsford Court Hotel to make a point of getting their works protected.

“It is important to protect your creative work. By joining JAMCOPY, you will be able to protect your work and earn from your work,” Grange said in her brief address to the audience gathered at the Knutsford Court Hotel in New Kingston, as she offered warm congrats to the winners who took home medals, merit awards, trophies and cash prizes for their winning entries. “Your victories mean you are following in the paths of several great and eminent writers. Today you have the opportunity to build on a great legacy.”

Saluting the work of writers in the categories of poetry, short stories, novels, essays and plays, the JCDC handed out dozens of bronze, silver and gold medals to awardees from across the island, and special trophies to the top entrants in their respective categories. A multiple awardee for her short stories, Karen Hutchinson was named Best Overall Writer.

(Get More: TALLAWAH JAMAICA has additional photo highlights and the list of class awardees and top overall entrants. Click HERE)

WINNERS' CIRCLE: JCDC Executive Director, Grace Silvera (centre) poses with (from left): Claro Marketing Officer, Peta-Ann Hamilton, and top awardees in the 2010 Jamaica Creative Writing Competition - Karen Hutchinson, Diana McCaulay, Twanda Rolle and Person Clarke - at the annual awards ceremony, hosted at the Knutsford Court Hotel on Wednesday.

TALLAWAH MONITOR: ARIF and SIMONE welcome baby girl + JANICE BUDD joins the Observer family

AND BABY MAKES THREE: It’s a beautiful baby girl for media veteran Simone Clarke-Cooper and her disc jock hubby Arif Cooper, who welcomed Aaryn Cooper to their nest close to a week-and-a-half ago. Weighing a delightful 6.5 lbs, baby Aaryn is the first child for the couple, who have been wed for five years. She is the third child for Arif, who has two sons from a previous marriage. “Naturally, they are very happy at this time,” says a friend of the Coopers. “It’s their first child together.” Simone, who is doubtlessly enjoying her first taste of mommyhood, returns to the FAME FM airwaves in January.

JOURNALISM JOURNEY: Bringing her vast wealth of knowledge and years of experience, seasoned journalist and former radio news editor Janice Budd has made the trek from the RJR Group to the Observer, taking up the position of Associate Editor (Sunday Publications). In her new post, Budd holds the responsibility of co-ordinating editorial content for the paper’s flagship publication, The Sunday Observer. Asked about making the transition from radio (and TV) to a print environment, Budd said, "I love words and I love writing, so it has been easy."

Thursday, 18 November 2010

JAMAICA HOUSE SPOTLIGHT: Out and About with PM Bruce Golding

His Excellency Alexandre Ruben Milito Gueiros presents a gift of appreciation to Prime Minister Bruce Golding when he paid a call on him the morning of Thursday, November 18 at Jamaica House to bid farewell. The outgoing Brazilian ambassador paid tribute to the leadership role that Jamaica played in the region which contributed to the success of his mission and to improved technical co-operation between Jamaica and Brazil. The ambassador will take up a new assignment in The Netherlands. PM Golding said he was particularly pleased with the establishment of the centre of excellence which he said got off to an impressive start and that efforts would continue to establish a mission in Brazil.

Prime Minister Bruce Golding greets widow of Professor the Hon. Barry Chevannes OJ, CD, Pauletta, at the funeral service to celebrate Chevannes' life and legacy on Monday, November 15, at the UWI Mona Chapel. Professor Chevannes was awarded the Order of Jamaica (posthumously) at a special function last Friday at King’s House. In his address Prime Minister Golding said the work Chevannes had performed made him an icon who has left a legacy that everyone must treasure and work hard to build on.

Prime Minister Bruce Golding was among those who laid wreaths at the shrine of persons who fought in the great wars during National Remembrance Sunday on November 14 at the National Heroes Park in Kingston. The day is traditionally observed on the second Sunday in November and is used to celebrate those who gave their service and ultimately their lives in World Wars One and Two. On November 8, 1915, the first Jamaican contingent, under the command of Major W. D. Neish, was sent off to serve in the First World War. On that day, 500 men sailed slowly off into the unknown looking for adventure, a chance to serve God and country. Last Sunday paid tribute to those who never returned, as well as those who survived, some of whom were able to turn out for the ceremony and were greeted by Governor General Sir Patrick Allen.

Prime Minister Bruce Golding (centre) enjoys his time with the 2010 youth mayors during their courtesy call on him on November 17 at Jamaica House. Minister of State with responsibility for Local Government, Robert Montague (third left), presented the youth mayors to the Prime Minister. The youth mayor programme is an annual activity of the Department of Local Government in the Office of the Prime Minister. Among its objectives is to make Jamaican youth more aware of the operations of their parish divisions, councils and municipalities. Youth councillors are nominated by their division councillor. At their parish youth council they participate in debates from which a mayor is selected. The current batch of youth mayors will serve until October 2011.