Friday, July 14, 2006

Colin Channer: Iron Balloons

Yesterday, I attended a book signing for Jamaican author, Colin Channer. The event was held at the Charles E. Sumner School Museum And Archives located on 17th and M streets in NW Washington. Channer was promoting the recently published, Iron Balloons: Hit Fiction From Jamaica’s Calabash Writer’s Workshop (Note: The workshop is designed to mentor and guide young Caribbean writers who are interested in a career in writing). The event was sponsored by Vertigo Books and scheduled for 6:30pm. I arrived a little after 6pm and found only one person sitting in the auditorium. I suspected a “cp time”(colored people time) event, but it’s understandable because people were coming from work. I found a front row seat until the program started. I have never met or heard of Colin Channer prior to Monday, but I recognized him right away when he entered the auditorium. I was on my cell phone at the time, so I gave him a smile and nod. He acknowledged my greeting with a smile and went to the back to greet the host. He came across as a really nice guy. They call him a “literary rock star,” but he seems to be handling that title with grace.

The room quickly filled up with a crowd of supporters and friends. The host introduced Colin Channer to the crowd. He told us all about the Calabash Writer’s Workshop and about the success they have had since the workshop’s inception. He then shared with us his short story that is featured in the book, Iron Balloons. The title of the story is, How To Beat A Child The Right And Proper Way. He said that this story was based on the great “beat down of 1972.” This was based on the sometimes-tumultuous relationship shared between his mother and older sister. I won’t go into the story because this is something that you have to read for yourself. The real treat was hearing him read this in patois. It also helped that he is truly a gifted storyteller. I could really see the characters he described as he read to us.

The reading soon came to an end and he took questions from the audience. This is where he showed his appeal as a “rock star.” He was completely animated during Q & A. He told us all about how he got started and more about what inspires him as a writer. It was the best book signing that I’ve ever attended and this, of course, compelled me (just in case my wife is reading this) to purchase the book that he edits, Iron Balloons. The book features different writers from the Caribbean including: Geoffrey Philp, Elizabeth Nunez, Kwame Dawes, Randolph Wallace, Sharon Leach, and A-dZiko Simbaand. Please go out and get this book at the cost of just $14.95. It’s well worth it!


Unknown said...

I am amaized at the breath that you have, on more then one occation have you mention a writer that I have not heard of. You must be well read. I'm reading that is doing mostly rereading poetry but I keep a list of writers that I want to get around to reading and I will add Colin Channer to my list.

Geoffrey Philp said...

Dear Stephen,
Great blog! Thanks for the mention and the support in attendance and purchase. Cuz you know, If we don't buy the books, then the publishers won't take a chance on th next writer who come along.
Have a great weekend!

Ananda said...

gracias for the information about colin channer. i got one of his first books a long time ago and started reading it. and then put it down for something else. i am gonna have to pick it back up and then finish it and go get his new book with the other folks for my beach week in september. you make the book readings that you attend come alive. thanks for the photos of colin too. awesome. enjoy your day. have a great weekend. peace, ananda

Stephen A. Bess said...

thank you! I'm glad that you are able to take something from my post. My goal is to recognize and celebrate writers like Colin Channer, Geoffrey Philp, you and others because the main stream media will often not.

Hello and welcome! Yes, I try to support as often as I can. As a matter of fact, I have to purchase your book. :)Reading writers from the Caribbean and Africa is like a whole new world of literature for me. It's a beautiful thing. Blessings

Thanks! I had to go solo on this one because I didn't find out until the last minute. I enjoyed it even though I didn't have anyone to share the experience with. Peace~

Anonymous said...

You are a great writer, your talent, compassion and natural ability to acknowledge others is undeniable. I surely hope you will publish soon!!!

Great weekend to you and your family :)

Stephen A. Bess said...

Thank you Tryphina. God bless you and enjoy your weekend

Anonymous said...

Hi Stephen!
Well, you are probably out for the weekend, and I am heading out soon. I must agree that you are so talented, and the seminar sounds facinating! Glad you were able to enjoy and attend.
Have a safe and cool weekend. (Well maybe you are not boiling away like we are here in MN)Take care!

the prisoner's wife said...

Bless...i LOVE Colin!!!

i've read ALL of his books (waiting in vain, satisfy my soul, passing through)...and he is an absolute GEM of a writer. i think eople sleep on his talent & lump him into the chick lit group of Eric Jerome Dickey & E Lynne Harris cuz he was in the collection with them, but dude is dope. period.

i would have loved to meet dude. he's fierce! beloved LOVES him too, mostly cuz he could relate to his stories (which all find there way back to Jamaica).

i'm so jealous! *smile*

Professor Zero said...

Your activities are always so cool, it's great!

the prisoner's wife said...

wha gwan star?
(ok...i'm inspired lol)

ok, so i went out & bought Iron Ballons last night lol. as soon as i'm done, beloved will read it.

"iron ballon cayaan bus'"

say word.

Anonymous said...

I've heard of Colin Channer, but never read anything written by him. Perhaps, I'll have to pick this book up. Seems interesting. And loved the pictures!! You make me want to pic of a camera and start snapping! Thanks!

Stephen A. Bess said...

Thanks! It's going to be 100 degrees in DC today. So, we're burning up too. Stay cool as well.

Word! lol! You're funny! :) I'd like to check out the rest of his books after this. He's a cool brother and so personable.

I'm looking forward to reading him. Funny...Colin describe writing as something that he had to do, but that he doesn't always enjoy the process.

I try to take advantage of what DC has to offer. It's a lot of fun! Thanks~

Thank you and welcome. I really love taking pictures. It forces you to look at life in a different way.

Lyrically speaking said...

Stephen thanks for sharing with us this book signing event, I've only attended one book signing about four years ago where I've met a group of writers, it was very informative and they inspired me to keep on writing. I'm glad you had a good time and the pics are great.

Stephen A. Bess said...

Thanks! I did have a really nice time.

NML/Natalie said...

I, like a lot of your readers have learnt and heard about a lot of things through your blog that I wouldn't have otherwise. Thanks :-)

Xave said...

Brother, we need to talk...

Stephen A. Bess said...

it's my pleasure. :)

Yes, let's do that.

Anonymous said...

Do you know anything more about this workshop...such as when will it be held again, where etc?

As a fan of Channer's writing and as an aspiring Caribbean writer myself, I would be very interested to find out.

Thanks for your great work.

Stephen A. Bess said...

Check out Geoffrey Philp's blog on my link. He's one of the writers in the workshop. He could give you information.

Thanks for the comment and best wishes~

Anonymous said...

Colin Channer is one of my favorite authors and I am always amazed that people are just meeting him!! The absolute best of his work, in my humble opinion, is his debut novel, Waiting In Vain. I read it twice in the same month, the third time within six months!! No easy feat since it is quite lenghty and filled with the rythyms(I can never spell that word : ) of his Jamaican heritage. It is rich with descriptive montages that only Colin can create and asks many of the great questions of modern life without answering any of them. Too sweet! Anonymous, I know that I am entering this discussion some 8 months late, but, life happens. Conner is very accessible and you may be able to reach him at:
Colin's biggest fan,
Sandi Matthews

Stephen A. Bess said...

Hello Ms. Sandi Matthews! It's never too late. I still haven't had a chance to read Colin's books. I've read his short story in Iron Ballons and if it is any indication of how good he is then I'm in for a treat. Thanks again.

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