Tuesday, 5 May 2015

ON THE RADAR: Five news and culture stories we are talking about

What will become of the space at 2 Oxford Road that was home to the now-defunct Mutual Gallery? Two years after curator Gilou Bauer and her small admin staff were asked by owners AIC to pack up shop as they could no longer be accommodate rent free, the place now resembles a shadow of its former self. When TALLAWAH dropped by last week and peered through the glass, the floor was strewn with old newspapers and pieces of tattered cardboard and other refuse could be seen heaped in the corners. Attempts to get a response from AIC proved futile.

The announcement of a new book by Marlon James is always cause for rejoicing, especially given his recent spate of success with the internationally acclaimed A Brief History of Seven Killings and the previous bestseller The Book of Night Women - in the wake of his triumphant debut with John Crow's Devil. According to Upscale Magazine, the Jamaican author, who lives and teaches in the States, is nearing the completion of his next magna opus, which he will only describe as "an African version of the Lord of the Rings." Interesting. This one sounds like a hefty and complex blockbuster in the making, but we're not worried. Judging by his track record, James consistently delivers literary gold. And did we neglect to mention that HBO has optioned the screen rights for Seven Killings? No surprise, since the novel, which has the 1976 assassination attempt on Bob Marley's life as its core, ended up more Best-of-2014 lists than we can count.

Barbara Gloudon also a book in the works. Newly retired from radioland (where she hosted RJR's Hotline for decades with disctinction), the veteran playwright is pressing the accelerator as she writes down her reflections for a memoir that's long overdue. TALLAWAH glanced a few of the completed pages on her office desk at the LTM last week, but Gloudon says the as-yet-untitled project is still at the infancy stage.

Still in the literary world: while we await the next staging of the Calabash festival (May 2016!), Justine Henzell and co are busy diversifying the brand. Up next: a screenwriting workshop for which scribes have been selected to take part based on a criteria of skill, creative imagination and storytelling prowess. In years past, Calabash hosted local workshops in fiction and poetry conducted by the estimable Kwame Dawes and the now missing-in-action Colin Channer.

Vybz Kartel ruffled feathers with Teacher's Pet; T.O.K delighted fans with Taking Over, and now Kern Spencer appears poised to intrigue us with his brand-new family project Following the Spencers. By all appearances, CVM is blazing a trail when it comes to delivering home-bred reality TV sharing unique Jamaican stories with boldfaced names attached. Esteemed former Gordon House colleague Dr. Donald Rhodd says he isn't knocking Kern Spencer's hustle. "I haven't seen his show yet, but I'm very impressed by his initiative," Dr. Rhodd told TALLAWAH on Sunday at the Baby Bump and Beyond expo at the Jamaica Pegasus, where he was busy promoting Camp to the World. "I think Jamaican reality shows are good for our image in general. We tend to look at the foreign shows featuring Hollywood celebrities, while we have such a rich culture here. We need to be showing the rest of the world how we live."

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