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Philip Nanton to launch new book – ‘Island Voices’

Philip Nanton to launch new book  – ‘Island Voices’

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Vincentian writer Philip Nanton will launch his new book ­– Island Voices next week.{{more}}

Nanton has made a name for himself as a performer of his own cast of characters from the imaginary island state of St Christopher and the Barracudas. Across the Caribbean and further afield, he has brought to life the voice of the irascible ‘Fish-head’ DeFreitas, Chief of Police, trying and failing to make his compatriots show their best face to the world.

Moving from one side of the microphone to the other, he has dramatised the intimate exchange of two “ladies of the heights” on their morning walk. To the delight of audiences, he has blasted the airwaves, as the radio presenter announcing the overshooting of a plane into a supermarket by the local airport. Now these “island voices” have been captured in full living colour in a beautifully produced book published by Papillote Press of Dominica. Each of Nanton’s “voices” is accompanied on the facing page by the photograph of specially produced artwork by fellow Vincentian Caroline ‘booops’ Sardine. From the fish-head motif that marches purposefully through its pages to the brilliant colours of the art-works’ borders, the design of the book is a delight.

As the Introduction explains, Island Voices has evolved over time and taken different forms. In 2008, it came out as a cd with performances by leading Barbadian actors, and went on to become a multi-media collaboration with booops. Her response to his words, in the form of almost life-size figures, box-installations and paintings, was exhibited at Bridgetown’s Zemicon Gallery and accompanied by Nanton’s performance. The book, the latest manifestation, allows us to appreciate booops’s naïve and joyful interpretations, alongside Nanton’s idiosyncratic and original dramatic monologues (and some dialogues). Without ever becoming negative, they take delight in poking fun at pretension, hypocrisy and social climbing in the context of the imaginary island state of St Christopher and the Barracudas, a place where anything can happen and the wrong thing usually does. The taxi driver, coconut water vendor, gardener, librarian, bar owner, labourer, lawyer and church committee member speak to us directly and in their own voices, in no way diminished by their confinement to the printed page.

The back-cover endorsements by poets Lorna Goodison and John Agard leave us in no doubt that Philip Nanton’s Island Voices has earned its place in the region’s literary landscape. Goodison admires “his acuity of voice and vision, his trickster’s intelligence and wit,” while for Agard, Nanton offers “an acoustic mirror in which to contemplate the collective foibles which connect the islands.” The Trinidad-based artist, Rex Dixon, takes pleasure in “the visual parallel of booops’s work against the rhythm of Nanton’s text.” We should all rejoice in this latest offering from Dominica’s Papillote Press, making the book a truly Caribbean showcase of talent and enterprise.

Island Voices the book will be launched at the Haddon Hotel, Monday, May 19 at 6 p.m. and will be available in bookstores throughout St Vincent and the Grenadines.

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