Monday, April 26, 2010

A few comments on Daisy Chain

Several recipients of the daily e-mailed Daisy Chain extracts have been writing with feedback. See a few of their comments below.

I feel like an addict ... every day I hurriedly check my email for Daisy Chain updates. My only complaint is that the excerpts are too short. That's because I'm greedy. I get reading and don't want to stop. Great great great ... I can't wait for it to be launched.

Comment via email from recipient of daily email extracts - Virma B., Ottawa, Canada


I like all the descriptive passages here which is just about every single line you wrote! You are good at so many things. This is terrific writing ... it really draws me. Thanks for sending.

Comment via email from recipient of daily email extracts - Lynn, California


You are a talented writer. In just the space of these brief extracts, you create an unsettling ambiance, real characters about whom we are at least curious, and you hook the reader. I can't wait to read the book and see if you sustain these effects consistently. I enjoy your style, particularly the way you parenthetically insert information. It creates an ostensibly relaxed atmosphere in contrast with an underlying tension.

Comment from recipient of daily email extracts: Jeanne Mason, co-editor Trinidad Noir


I haven't read a novel in many years now as I've been following my urge to explore psycho/spiritual material. So this is the first novel I am experiencing in a long time and with only the first two extracts I'm delighting in the way the words and images play out and that it's from your stream of consciousness. Thanks for sharing!

Comment from recipient of daily email extracts: Vanessa Soodeen, Spain


If this book has a colour, it is yellow, like the sun, like the hearts of the daisies on the cover, like promises. If it has a mood, it is of longing, searching, of hopeful expectancy. The women here think, listen, wonder, seek, explore, embrace. Go at this smorgasbord at your own pace - savour each titbit as it is presented or gobble them up like I did, only to go back and sample again the ones that struck and need some careful chewing over.

Review from award-winning writer Barbara Jenkins (Trinidad) who has read the whole book


"Oh Gad!!!!!!"

Comment via email from recipient of daily email extracts - Patrice Charles - after reading the extract from Myrna Christie:

An extract a day (until the launch) of DAISY CHAIN

A stream-of-consciousness novel by Elspeth Duncan
Launch of e-version:
Friday May 7, 2010
6:00 - 7:30 p.m.
National Library/NALIS, P.O.S.
You are invited.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Extracts in body of email from now on

Some people who are receiving daily Daisy Chain extracts via email have alerted me to the fact that they're seeing "gibberish" in between the lines of the extracts. I am not seeing it on my laptop screen, but I am assuming it is some kind of html. Not sure what's causing it.

So, from today I will be sending the extracts via email only (in body of email) to those on the list. If you have been reading on the blog and wish to continue receiving extracts until the May 7 public reading, simply send me your email address and I will add you to the list.



Friday, April 23, 2010

Extract from MARGARET

(This extract, taken from a few paragraphs into MARGARET, follows MRS MARTIN)

... The typing stopped and she heard David’s chair scrape back, his feet come thudding down the corridor. There he stood in the doorway, unshaven, hair like bush, coffee cup in hand.

“Finished?’ she said, smiling.

“No. Just going to get a refill.”

“Stay a while. I’ve got us free front row seats to a great concert.”

“When. Tonight?”

“No. Now.” She motioned her head toward the window.

David looked blank. “Mmm? What are you talking about?

“Not hearing it?”


“Listen.” She paused, closing her eyes. It was the one simple thing she had to do every morning before getting out of bed. Listen to the birds.

“Look, honey, let me just get my coffee and finish this off. We can talk later.”

Eyes still closed, she listened to his feet padding down the hallway to the kitchen ...



(The woman in this chapter/extract is somehow connected to the one in the next)

An extract a day (until the launch) from ...

Daisy Chain
A stream-of-consciousness novel by Elspeth Duncan
Launch of e-version:
Friday May 7, 2010
6:00 - 7:30 p.m.
National Library/NALIS, P.O.S.
You are invited.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Extract from MRS. MARTIN

(Short extract taken from midway in Mrs. Martin's chapter, which follows on from CLARA)

It didn’t matter that he was so much older. It didn’t matter that he looked as if he was pieced together from an assortment of domestic items (ears like handles, nose like a cup hook, teeth like discoloured piano keys). He was the first person who had ever been kind to her and she began to think that maybe this was what love could be.

Every lunchtime he would ride his bike over to the library (where she worked as a receptionist) bringing something special from the bakery for her desert.

Monday: Custard filled bun

Tuesday: Strawberry donut dusted with icing sugar

Wednesday: Batch of freshly baked star-shaped cookies sprinkled with little coloured dots

Thursday: Chocolate brownie

Friday: Cheese twists and lemon-filled dough-drops

On afternoons after work he would ride back to the library to meet her, so that he could walk her home. Three miles is far when your knees are bad, but she was worth it. At the time she lived alone in a small apartment up the stairs of an unpainted four-storey building in a “rough neighbourhood”, he called it. Young men loitered by the corner. Street lights did not work. Garbage stank to high heavens. Rats, the size of puppies, frequently ran across the road to get to the other side. Either that, or they sat heavily on the steps, like pets waiting for their owners ...



(The woman in this chapter/extract is somehow connected to the one in the next)

An extract a day (until the launch) from ...

Daisy Chain
A stream-of-consciousness novel by Elspeth Duncan
Launch of e-version:
Friday May 7, 2010
6:00 - 7:30 p.m.
National Library/NALIS, P.O.S.
You are invited.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Extract from CLARA

Her eyes skate around the park. Mainly men today, for some reason. Hardly likely that such a delicate chain would belong to one of them. Don’t women come to the park at this hour? Ten thirty a.m. Perhaps they’re at work or, if they don’t work, they’re at home cooking, cleaning and washing either plates or dirty laundry. Or maybe not. She doesn’t want to perpetuate stereotypes.

There’s another woman, walking towards her. Well, not towards her as such. In her general direction. But ... she now appears to be passing through the park on her way to somewhere. Doesn’t look like she’s returning to look for her lost necklace. Otherwise she’d have a more frantic or purposeful gait to her walk. Her eyes would be scanning the horizon looking for the patch of grass where she was when her chain fell. Instead, she looks dreamy and slow, as if with every step she’s savouring the memory of something, someone.


Her mind goes back to the two butterflies who had been dancing around the daisies earlier. Maybe, before them, two lovers were there, dancing also, lounging in the grass, sleeping, hugging or making love. In their embrace, the chain must have lost its place on the woman’s neck.

Forget who it belongs to. After all, she found it, so it’s meant for her ...



(The woman in this chapter/extract is somehow connected to the one in the next)

An extract a day (until the launch) from ...

Daisy Chain
A stream-of-consciousness novel by Elspeth Duncan
Launch of e-version:
Friday May 7, 2010
6:00 - 7:30 p.m.
National Library/NALIS, P.O.S.
You are invited.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

51 women in 7 days

In November 2006 I undertook an online international writers' challenge called nanwrimo. Our mission was to write 50,000 words or more in one month. I overcame various challenges (computer breaking down, being very busy, etc) to write over 50,000 words in 7 days total. It was a marathon of writing which showed me that once you decide to commit to something, it can be done.

The speed at which I was writing meant that I had no time to stop and think of what to write. It all just "came out" as is, in an unstoppable flow. Looking back at what was created, I would say that non-thought was to my advantage. I don't think I would/could have written what I did if I had been putting deliberate thought into it. It would have become what "I" wanted it to be as opposed to what it is meant to be. Apart from going back afterward and fixing some spacing and a few spelling errors, there was no editing. Part of the magic of the book is that it is what it is. When you read it you will understand.

The resulting work is a 135 page stream of consciousness novel entitled "Daisy Chain", featuring fifty-one women, each one linked to the other in a series of eclectic "snapshots" or "stories", each in their own style. You could say it was as though these women had dictated their stories to me and I wrote them down.

At the time, I felt that ideally I would like to make the book into a large coffee table novel (words and images). This will happen, but for now I'm forging ahead with a spontaneous plan. A few days ago I was struck by inspiration to upload Daisy Chain as an e-book. To support this - among other things - I am going to have a chain of readings to launch the link and promote it.

The launch/first reading will be at the National Library (NALIS in Port-of-Spain) on Friday 7 May, 2010 from 6:00 - 7:30 p.m.

Six women will read extracts from six of the fifty-one women. The readers are:
Patti-Anne Ali
Vanessa Duncan
Carolyn Harnanan
Carol Hosein
Jameela Khan
Joanne Ali- Nandalal

From tomorrow until the day of the reading I will post (on this blog) extracts from various women in the chain. You are welcome to check in daily and read them, to get a taste of the whole.

Those of you who will be in Trinidad at the time are invited to the first reading. Stay tuned.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Women, we need you for an ambient film shoot

Karishma, my camera which shoots miracles.
20 women are invited to participate in a short ambient film shoot:

SHOOT DATE : Sunday 25 April 2010, 3:00 – 8:00 p.m. in St. Augustine (location details from Patrice - see below for her contact info).

You are a dancer and/or feel comfortable moving freely. Over 18 yrs. of age. No acting experience or special body type required - only movement.

Wardrobe: Fitted black top or vest. Black pants.
Please bring a working torchlight.

Refreshments will be provided.

Music Production: Irukandji
Listen to examples of his music here

Director/Camera: Elspeth Duncan
See some of her videos here

The first collaboration between Elspeth Duncan and Irukandji was "Raindrops on Skin".
See it and hear it here.

Be a part of the second collaboration: "You Are Calling". Contact Patrice Charles at 729-3255
or by Wednesday 21st April for more information and to confirm.

Thank you.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Winning streak

A few days ago I won the By-My-Art t-shirt competition. And today, the Prep's Garden video (featured above) which I shot late last year won the TV/video category of the IICA/CARDI Excellence in Agricultural Journalism Award 2009.

As I sat in the prize giving ceremony today, waiting to hear the results, I thought of how great it would be to win ... not just for winning's sake, but because I know the children, their parents, their teachers and the entire school were so excited and pleased when I did the video ... and would be thrilled if it won.

Looking forward to going to the school (my old primary school - The University School) and surprising them on Monday morning at assembly, by announcing the victory.

Splitting the prize money will be the cherry on top.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Women Build "The Promise Home"

Short doc project (2008/9) 5 schoolgirls and openly HIV+ mother of two, Lorna under guidance of Happy Hippy Productions.
Women, be a part of T&T's first Habitat for Humanity: Women Build, April - May 2010. You could be one of many female volunteers coming together to raise funds, provide food and drink for each other and construct a new home for Lorna (HIV+ woman featured in the above short documentary) and her family - husband and two children. The name of this new house we will be building together is "The Promise Home".

Contact Carlene Pooran at Habitat (782-4663) asap for more information and to register as a volunteer.

Most of you will remember the other short doc I worked on - INVISIBLE (2007) - which also resulted in a partnership with Habitat to build a new home for (then homeless) HIV+ Veronica and her two children. Habitat continues to do invaluable work, constructing homes for families in need.
Veronica's House (2008)
MORE ON THE HENRY FAMILY HERE (info supplied by Habitat) Mr Curt Henry and Mrs Lorna Hamilton Henry Barataria
The Henrys are the proud parents of two young beautiful children under the age of six years old. Mrs Henry is a very vocal advocate for the National HIV/AIDS coalition, as she is HIV positive. She is quite aware of the ways in which the disease can disrupt ones daily life and will do all within her power to help others avoid contracting the virus. Unfortunately, her beloved husband damaged his spinal cord and is unable to work a regular job. Consequently, they have been walking on a very, very tight financial rope within recent years. The family's home is made up of termite eaten rotting boards and a rusting galvanize roof which is on the verge of collapse Part of the outer wall at the front of the house which was made of plyboard has since collapsed and is replaced by fabric. The bathroom/toilet facility is outdoors, which further makes it an unsafe dwelling for the children in particular. The house is unlivable and at present they have been sharing a room in Mrs. Henry's mother's house. We can do so much to bring some safety and security to this most deserving family. This project has been named "The Promise Home" as it will symbolize the promise Mrs. Hamilton-Henry has mde not only for her children but significantly for herself. This legacy that she wants to leave for her children is one of strength, determination and hope. She is afflicted with this disease but that does not mean her life and dreams are over. Women can build and by joining forces and working together side by side, we can help this family build "The Promise Home". (Release from Habitat for Humanity TT)

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

V is for Vote. V is for Victory.

The winner
Soon we will be voting for our new Government and (first female) Prime Minister. In the meantime, people voted for t-shirts. The results are below. Love won.

Also, I didn't even realise my father had voted ... much less correctly guessed the top 5 designs in their Guess-the-5-winning-designs part of the contest. He wins a free t-shirt.

(Updated: Correction - it's actually my mother who won the free t-shirt, but she sent her votes via email and daddy's name is on the email. So the organisers thought it was from 'Julian Duncan').

Below is the e-mail from the organisers.

And The (5) WINNERS Are!

1. Elspeth Duncan: 34 votes

2. Jean-Marc Hunt: 19 votes

3. Ibrahim Miranda: 19 votes

4. Mario Lewis: 15 votes

5. Tamara Tam-Cruickshank: 15 votes

6. Omar Lewis: 12 votes

7. Seon Thompson: 11 votes

8. Hassan Hajjaj: 10

9. Hadassah Emmerich: 8

10. Raimi Gbadamosi: 8

Julian Duncan is the WINNER of a free By-My-Art T-shirt for predicting the winning designs.

By-My-Art will like to sincerely thank all the participating artists who gave their time to prepare and submit their designs. Without your contribution this project would not have been possible. Most importantly we want to thank [YOU] all our By-My-Art supporters. Our journey has only just begun.

We have some very new and interesting developments to share with you as the Trinidad and Tobago Fashion Week gain momentum. Look out for new announcements and giveaways.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

EVOLVE. Vote now.

The image above is my submission to the By-My-Art t-shirt design competition. It was selected as one of the top ten. The organisers are asking people to vote online for their top five t-shirt choices. (Rationales written below each t-shirt). Please do not vote here on this blog. See the information below and vote either on their Facebook page ( where you can see the other t-shirts ... or send them an email with your top five choices in order of preference.

Thank you for voting.

See info below from BY-MY-ART.



Vote Now

By-My-Art need your vote for the top (5) t-shirt designs.

You are welcome to cast your vote for the top (5) t-shirt designs and we might also have a surprise for you.
All you have to do is tell us which (5) T-shirt designs you will wear.

The 10-finalist designs will be shown on bymyart’s Face book page and our blog: You can cast your vote and leave your comments on either: on our Blog or Face book.

The members of the By-My-Art Jury will count your vote and listen to your comments.


The process of voting is as follows:


· You have one-week to cast your vote and tell your friends.

· Online visitors can choose the By-My-Art blog, Face book or email to cast their vote for their favorite [5] t-shirt designs in the period between 3 April 2010 to 11 April 2010, 12: am.

· Do remember, you can only vote once for you favorite top [5] t-shirt designs.

The names of the winners and their designs will be will be revealed 12 April 2010 on By-My-Art’s blog site and Facebook

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Testimonial from J. M-F.

Open house showing window lamps in progress - in the studio I had at the time
I first saw Elspeth's window lamps at a group exhibition at CCA7 - her studio space/work had an aura that none of the other artists in residence had, and I think it was because her multimedia offerings were so interactive; the soft glow from the window lamps in the corners were also a soothing presence. I left the exhibition feeling fresh, positive, hopeful.
The Dream House Window Lamp
Years later, I asked Elspeth if she would be part of a video I was producing on the Arts & Entertainment sector in T&T. While her segment never made it into the final cut of the video, the footage we filmed marked the beginning of the incredible journey that was the Dream House Window Lamp. One of the things that stuck in my mind was the distinction made between kairos and chronos (the universe's schedule and man-made time) and I made a point of attending the unveiling of the window lamp at Alice Yard. My husband and I participated in submitting our dreams (written on a piece of paper) to the Dream House window lamp - and one of our dreams come true - our son - is sleeping on my lap as I write this: testimony that the universe listens and positive thought/action/art can make a difference. Kairos. Everything in its time.

J. M-F.

How did my classified ads work?

Some weeks ago I put two classified ads in the papers to see what would happen. It was my first time doing this.

In response to the ad above, I got one call from a man who said he was a photographer and he wanted to work for me. He sounded earnest, saying he had just "come back" from abroad and was looking for photography jobs. I told him the ad was for my services. He continued trying to sell himself by saying that he was into photographing all kinds of things. Realising that he was intent on being hired and would hear nothing else, I said: "Sorry, we're not hiring at this point." He told me to keep him in mind. I put down the phone thinking "Well, at least he's proactive in looking for employment avenues and trying to sell himself."

My second ad (above) got three responses, none of which were about proofreading. Either they didn't know what "proofreading" meant or they just read the 'Get your writing right' part.

The first caller was a woman who told me that she wrote short stories and was wondering if I could publish them for her. I told her that I wasn't a publisher, but I could proofread and edit her material. We chatted for a while and she said she still had work to do on the pieces and would get back to me. I somehow don't think she will ... but you never know.

The second was a man who called and asked if I write letters. When I asked him what kind, he said "Business Letters." An 'astute' business person looking to make money off of any opportunity would probably say with enthusiasm (even if they don't do this): "Yes! I write business letters!" Then, they would get someone to write the letters for them and mark up the price so that they make "a little something" off of it. Well, that's not my strategy, so I just told him: "The ad is for proofreading services."

The third was a woman who called and said "I saw the ad for getting your writing right." She wanted to know if I could help her 8 year old daughter who needs help with her handwriting. I explained to her what proofreading is and she apologised. As I put down the phone, my heart went out to her. I thought of how earnest she had sounded as a mother - as though they had tried many avenues to help the little girl, none had been successful and they were reaching out to this ad that promised she could "get her writing right". The part of me that feels sorry for people in certain situations wanted to call her back and offer to try ... but I didn't bother. At the end of the day I don't know how to begin helping a little girl to improve her handwriting and "business" isn't about feeling sorry for people.

The 'old me' would have gone and tried to help them in some way and probably would have ended up having an interesting experience as a result of it. But ... I guess I'm changing.

Anyway, that was my classified ad-venture. Four interested people calling in one month isn't bad. At least it shows that people do read the ads and respond ... even if they're calling for something else.