Thursday, April 30, 2009

The interview

Sign outside shop of little old woman in Balandra who says she makes everything "with love".
N.B. the key ingredient written at bottom of her blue window 'menu'

Just a quick note to say that the interview won't actually be on until 8 p.m., so I will share the link with you after that.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Me and my music - starting over & getting back out there

We start the season with our Featured Guest Elspeth Duncan who embellishes the title of 'Caribbean Artist' as she is quite proficient in the Visual and Musical Arts, Film and Culture. We took her out from behind the camera and shone a light on her, recognizing her vast achievements over the years. So, look out for our featured guest this week on Caribbean Cultural Riddums, only on

(Adrian of Caribbean Cultural Riddums)
(From the archives):
Performing at the launch of my "INFINITE" CD

Yesterday I was interviewed by Adrian Simmons of Caribbean Cultural Riddums. It was a 40 minute interview that will come on air tomorrow (internet streaming). I'll share the link when it is up ... even though I feel a bit 'shy' to share it, since I haven't seen/heard the edited version yet and I have no idea how it will all come across. Maybe everyone goes through that feeling when being interviewed on camera. "Did what I say make sense?" ... "Was it a bad hair day?"

Well, whether it was a bad hair day or not, there is no escape. You and others will see it.

We essentially spoke about 'what I do' ... music (mainly), video/film, photography, etc. and what inspires me. I felt like I was rambling ... but that's because there's so much to say and one thing leads to another ... and sometimes I go galloping off from the original question.

Adrian had asked me to bring my guitar, to perform in the studio. I played a snippet of "Infinite" (from my INFINITE album) and sang the whole of "Beloved" (from the same album). I closed the interview with a special drum offering from Dandelion.

I guess I'll find out how my 'performances' came across when I see the link. I haven't performed in ages and, as a result, I don't think I've grown in and developed that art. I've never even really considered myself 'a performer' (even though I used to 'perform') ... so I need to become one. It would take time, commitment, learning, constructive advice and practice to help me know and become who I am as a performer, to hone my own style and present myself on many levels to an audience.

Even something as simple as ... who do I look at when I'm singing? Some people close their eyes. Some stare at one person. Some look at everybody in turn. Some stare at the floor or at their fingers on the instrument. Some stare at an object or gaze into the distance. I think I've done all of the above.

I recently made the decision to get back into my music, to start performing regularly (whenever I get or make the opportunity to), to do what is necessary to get better, to be serious, confident and committed and to take up and make the most of musical opportunities that come my way. It will be interesting and will require personal evolution on many levels. It's not an overnight thing.
N.B. In all of these archival shots my hair is short. Sheared off and grown back a few times in between.
Now it's long.
Time to do NEW music and update the whole package.

I haven't done any new music in a long while - partly because (i) for a while I became more immersed in video/film and (ii) my Roland keyboard workstation (on which I've created all my instrumental music since 1998) is now dead. But a recent long distance collaboration with a musician in Toronto (with whom I've collaborated before) got me inspired to start back ... embarking upon the exploration of music creation using software.

It is an exciting journey full of promise. Lots to learn as I develop.

"New" music is a relative term. Some people don't even know I do music ... much less know the music itself! So even 'old' pieces would be new to them. This also goes for billions of people the world over who don't even know me ... a small drop in a vast ocean.

If you've never heard my music and you want to, you can click on the REVERBNATION link on the right hand side bar. I've only featured five songs - some with lyrics and singing and some only instrumental (done on my now 'dead' keyboard). When I put some of my new music I will let you know.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

An interesting dream

Leaf in floor of subway station in Toronto
Last night in my dream I was in Toronto. I was in a house or large studio apartment with several other people. I think I was a visitor, but I felt at home and was familiar with the place we were in. It was sunny and warm, maybe summer. We were preparing for some kind of celebration.

At some point, people started arriving, then some musicians walked in carrying drums and sitars and I realised that whatever we were celebrating would soon be getting started.

I was wearing the same clothes I had had on all morning as we were preparing, so I went to bathe and change. In a medium sized suitcase I had several pieces of clothing in various colours. I was drawn to a white pair of jeans (so white they were glowing) and an elegant white cotton shirt with very thin but visible brown stitching on its seams. My energy started to glow and heighten when I saw the white, so I knew I had to wear it.

In the room, by the window, there was another girl in a red t-shirt. She also had to change. We started talking and she was showing me something. I can't remember what, now, but it was visual - like photographs, but not quite. Whatever it was made me curious and I asked her what she does. She showed me a dropper and said: "I go around collecting colours from nature."

Somehow, even though we were in the room, she was able to demonstrate by touching a leaf out in the garden and gathering the green as a liquid in her dropper. It wasn't like she had taken something from the leaf, but as though the leaf had given something to her. I was fascinated.

The dream ended there, so I'm not sure what she did with the green. But maybe I instinctively wore white because I knew I would be the canvas.

Monday, April 27, 2009

After freedom, what follows?

Dried Petria flower in spider's web in garden
Truth comes.
She cuts the cord in the web of illusion.

After freedom, what follows?
The flower meets the sky again on a windy day.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Pitching stars

Last night I went stargazing and camping with some friends up on top the hill at the Tracking Station in Macqueripe. Although we had set up the tent upon arrival, we ended up sleeping outside on the tarpaulin, under the open sky. It was not as cold as I've experienced in the past being up there at night, but it was still nippy. Thank goodness for the sleeping bag.

One of my friends had brought his guitar, so we were singing some of our songs under the stars. I sang my song "Infinite", because the first line is: "I want to be the stars in your eyes ..." (apt for the setting).

Our guitar renditions attracted a little boy who eagerly crossed the dark field to be with us. "I play guitar," he announced. "I"m going to lessons." We handed the guitar over to him, he played some chords of popular songs, then invited his little sister and teen brother to come across as well. The teen brother, who was quite a good guitarist, played some popular songs and he and his siblings stayed with us until after midnight.

Every now and then someone would cry out: "A shooting star!" and Mitch, one of our friends, would say: "Don't call it a shooting star. That sounds too violent. It's a pitching star."

I was perhaps the only person who hadn't seen any yet. The little girl (who had seen quite a few) and I lay on our backs, looking up, waiting for more. Eventually I saw two, almost immediately one after the other. I made the same wish for both. These stars weren't the falling kind. They were the kind that zoom horizontally across the sky ... kind of like a huge Cosmic Being 'pitching' stars instead of marbles.

Saturday, April 25, 2009



i am


everything moves

around me
sands shift
currents pull

who what when will
move me


Friday, April 24, 2009


A friend sent me this today. I loved it. It's definitely worth watching and will take only 12:12 minutes of your time.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Translation of yesterday's reading

To know another language is to have a second soul.

- Charlemagne, King of the Franks -

The book cover (for now)
On the above book cover, I've stated my name as Elspeth Duncan. However, late last year the perfect French 'pen name' came to me. It's my middle name, Blanche (as the first name) ... and a particular French word which came to mind one day as my surname. This word/surname in itself is fascinating to me on different levels because of what it means and how it came about.

It doesn't resonate to write a French novel as Elspeth Duncan. Something just wasn't feeling right. So, when I start back writing Une Bouteille de Lucioles (A Bottle of Fireflies), I will change to my French pen name. I'm sure this will influence the energy, flow and direction of the novel.

Those who don't speak French didn't understand yesterday's reading of the first few paragraphs of the novel's introduction, so I'm providing a translation of it below. (N.B. you will see in the that I refer to it as 'the invitation' rather than 'the introduction').


The invitation

I am going to write a novel in French. This will be a very simple book. No big words, no difficult phrases. French isn’t my mother tongue. I’ve been learning it for some months in evening classes at the University. The language which I’ve been speaking my whole life is English.

Maybe you’re wondering why I’m writing in French if it’s not my mother tongue. Would you believe me if I told you that I don’t have a choice? I must only write in French. You could say that I was given an order … or perhaps, an invitation; an invitation to discover something that I don’t know yet.

Perhaps all that I’m saying now sounds strange. I understand if you think this. I’ll explain the reason soon. But first, let me ask you something:

What do you think of dreams? Do you believe that a dream can tell you something important that changes your life?

I love to dream. Each night when I go to bed, I know that I will see a free film on the screen of my mind. A dream is a window that opens to a vision of another life which we can’t see during the day when our eyes are open and our senses are occupied by the bustling world.

I’m going to explain the reason for this novel.

It all began one night – last week Monday. I was dining with some friends at home, celebrating a birthday. We finished around eleven o’clock and everyone was happy. A delicious meal, good friends, good conversation, laughter … We couldn’t ask for more.

At one in the morning, after washing the dishes, I went to bed. Soon I was sleeping very peacefully, like a baby in the arms of her mother. As usual, I began to dream. I don’t recall all that I dreamed, but I remember very well the woman who came to me in this vision. I was with some friends, somewhere in a white room when she came. Even though there were ten of us in the room, she didn’t look at my friends at all. You could say they didn’t exist. For her, I was the only one. She approached me, slowly, like a cloud in the sky on a day when there isn’t much wind.

She was very old, with skin like a dying flower: fragile, wrinkled, pale. And her hair, long and wild, rested like a silver lining around her small, intense face.

In a way, I wasn’t surprised or afraid when I saw this stranger who, evidently, had come to meet me only. Something about this old woman was innocent and glowing, almost like a cloud of fireflies in a child’s bottle. And her eyes, green and deep like the sea, contained secrets, stories and something else that I couldn’t understand.

(Continued in the rest of the 'the invitation' before launching into the actual novel)

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Ecoutez, s'il vous plaît. Je vais lire de mon roman Français.

Une bouteille de lucioles
Mes amis ...

This is a short audio file (5 mins exactement) of me reading the first few paragraphs of the (first draft) introduction to my French novel: Une Bouteille de Lucioles (A Bottle of Fireflies) ... which I've mentioned plusieurs fois on this blog.

For those who don't know, I'm currently learning French in evening classes at UWI. One day late last year I was inspired to start writing this novel. I felt it would be a more interesting way of practising, learning and remembering French ... rather than just going along with what was in the text book used in the class. At first I was compelled by it and couldn't stop writing. Then other aspects of life gradually took over and I slowed down ... and haven't been that consistent lately. In fact I've not written anything in ages. As a result, I've only reached Chapter 2. Maybe doing this will stir me to continue.

Please keep in mind (especially those who are French or who speak it fluently :) ... the written words and my delivery of them here are not an exercise in 'perfection'. For now they are what they are and it is a 'casual' reading. My intention is simply to share a first draft snippet of mon roman with you. Peut-être il y aura des fautes ... and I admit that my French pronunciation/reading isn't that hot ... mais anyone who speaks French will understand, which is the important part.

Peut-être this will be an encouragement to anyone out there who thinks they need to be 'perfect' before doing something and sharing it with others. Please don't think so. We all start somewhere, growing as we go and, hopefully, feeling comfortable enough to share something of ourselves along the path of our evolution.


This week's Sunday Scribbling's topic is 'Language'

Friday, April 17, 2009

Welcome to Trinidad and Tobago, President Obama

President Obama flies into Trinidad today for the Fifth Summit of the Americas
The Fifth Summit of the Americas is upon us ... focusing on the theme: "Securing Our Citizens' Future by Promoting Human Prosperity, Energy Security and Environmental Sustainability."

How ironic.

T&T GOVERNMENT: Citizens? What citizens? All we care about is hurriedly spending at least $500 million dollars to fix up the country so that it looks good for Obama ... and the rest of the world.

Quick! He's flying in today! Forget about the global financial crisis. Let's dish out about $1 million US to rehabilitate the airport so we can accommodate the US Presidential aircrafts and the other jets that are bringing in our important guests!

Paint all the lines, roadsigns, lightpoles, tree trunks ... in fact, paint every and anything on the road along the route from the airport to Port-of-Spain! We can't afford to let Obama see any of our infrastructure looking old and ratty! And never mind if the citizens are stuck for hours in traffic while we spruce up. They're used to it.

... i.e. the traffic, not the sprucing up).

Pave the roads and fix any potholes in areas where Obama and other foreign Heads of State have to pass! Build a wall (... and call it a 'berm') to hide the 'slums' in the Beetham so our important guests won't see the poverty!

And on that note,
drive around and pick up all the vagrants so it will look like we don't have a problem with homelessness and madness. Some of these social outcasts are running away, but hopefully not in the direction of the Summit centre!

Get rid of all the dogs on the street too ... whether they belong to people or not! Well ... maybe leave one or two in honour of Obama's canine 'mutterings'.

Pick up all the garbage on the roads and remove whatever's been clogging the drains for so long! Can't risk having Obama stuck in raging flood waters if it starts to rain.

Transplant some trees in strategic locations to make it look like we're environmentally conscious. But first let's massacre all vegetation that poses a security threat to the President of the US and valued delegates!

Quick! Dip into our limitless coffers! We said we would spend only $500 million, but let's take it to $1 billion! At any cost, we must put plasters over our festering sores! And we'll spend more if we have to. Got to make sure we look good.

He'll be here soon!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Rising Up

Dawn on the cliff.

We rise,
The Sun and I.