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Reading Groups

Unruly Islands: Uprisings and Revolts in Caribbean History and Fiction with BCLF (In Person or Online)

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4 Monthly Sessions Wednesdays, 6:30 pm EDT - 8:00 pm EDT December 15, 2021 to March 9, 2022

Online via Zoom

Meeting Dates:
Wednesdays, 12/15, 1/12, 2/9, 3/9

From Grenada to Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago to Haiti, the Caribbean has always wielded a power that belies the sun-washed beauty of its territories. Far more than your idyllic tourist destination, these islands are the outpost of some of the most defining moments of modern history, with a past underpinned by an unrelenting practice of resistance to all efforts of subjugation and control. The much-beloved, highly sensory Caribbean culture is an amalgam of the influence of people who dared to defy authority and insist on their humanity, the right to control their destinies, and the liberty to tell their stories, even if it meant bearing arms in the pursuit of freedom .

This winter, we take a close look at the way contemporary Caribbean literature depicts the turbulent eras of these unruly islands and their men and women whose sacrifices helped shape an ethos and birthed a legacy of activism and determination.

Led by Brooklyn Caribbean Literary Festival and friends, including Roland Watson-Grant, Katia D. Ulysse, Ruel Johnson, and Winston Phulgence.


Led by

  • Reul Johnson

    Ruel Johnson

    Ruel Johnson

    Ruel Johnson is a Guyanese journalist and literary writer, resident in Georgetown, Guyana.

    As a journalist and editorial consultant, he has held senior positions at Guyana Chronicle (Board Member, Special Projects Editor), British Virgin Island Standpoint (Features/Sports Editor), and Kaieteur News (Senior Editor), and conducted editorial consultancy work with CARICOM, and PAHO as well as other international organisations.

    For his literary arts work, Johnson has twice won the Guyana Prize for Literature, holding the record for the youngest person to have done so—in 2006, he received a Special Award in recognition of that achievement and having had two manuscripts shortlisted in the same year.  He is also a winner of Small Axe Literary awards (University of Indiana) for both fiction and poetry, in 2013.  His work has been long listed for the Prix Congrès Des Ecrivains de la Caraïbe (2015). Johnson has conducted literary arts and journalism workshops, and has served as Curator for the Read My World Literary Festival (Netherlands, 2014).

    In 2014, he was awarded a Prince Claus Fund (Netherlands) grant to further his advocacy and development work in cultural policy, the first and only Guyanese so far to have been recognized and awarded by the Fund. He has presented on cultural policy and the literary arts in Germany, Netherlands, Canada, the United States, Guadeloupe, Haiti, Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago, Uruguay, and Suriname.  From 2015 to 2019, he served as Cultural Policy Advisor to the government of Guyana. In 2016, he was the first Guyanese to be awarded a place in the Iowa University International Writers’ Program Fall Residency. In 2017, he was given an Award for Contribution to Guyanese Culture, by the Guyana Cultural Association of New York.

  • Winston Phulgence

    Winston F. Phulgence

    Winston F. Phulgence

    Winston F. Phulgence, a Historical Anthropologist working in Sant Lucia. He holds a BA in History from the University of the West Indies and an MA in Anthropology from the University of Florida. He completed a PhD in Archaeology at the University of York in the United Kingdom. His research interests include the commemoration of slavery and its legacies and the development and management of heritage across the contemporary Caribbean. He is currently the Dean of Academic Affairs at the Sir Arthur Lewis Community College and is also the President of the Saint Lucia Archaeological & Historical Society.

  • Katia Ulysse

    Katia D. Ulysse

    Katia D. Ulysse

    Katia D. Ulysse is the author of Drifting, a critically acclaimed collection of stories about Haitian immigrants living in the United States. Library Journal calls her novel, Mouths Don’t Speak, “beautifully written [and] recalls Toni Morrison’s Paradise.” Her work has been published in Rumpus, the Hong Kong Review, Peregrine, the Caribbean Writer, Meridians: feminism, race, transnationalism, among others; anthologized in Une soirée haïtienne, Us Against Alzheimer’s, Haiti Noir, Butterfly’s Way, and others. She wrote Fabiola Goes to School, a bi-lingual book for children. She has served as Writer in Residence at Goucher College. She received a BA in English Literature, a Master’s of Arts from Notre Dame of Maryland University. She taught in Baltimore City for fifteen years. Ulysse was born and raised in Haiti. She lives in Maryland with her husband, their daughter, and two demanding cats.


    Roland Watson-Grant

    Roland Watson-Grant

    Roland Watson-Grant is a Jamaican novelist, screenwriter and travel writer. His first novel Sketcher was nominated for an Amazon Rising Star Award in 2013 and has been translated into Turkish and Spanish. Roland has been featured in Ebony magazine and on reading lists in GQ. His non-fiction work has appeared in AFAR Travel Magazine and the Jamaica Journal and has been archived by the Smithsonian Libraries. His short fiction has been published by Granta, PreeLit Caribbean magazine, Paper and Ink, and Doek! Literary Magazine in Namibia. In 2021, Roland won the Regional Award for the Commonwealth Writers Short Story Prize. Roland is the 2018 recipient of a Musgrave Award for Literature in his home country. He is currently working on his third novel and a short story collection. Find Roland Watson-Grant on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

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