Friday, 22 September 2017

Lisa Tomlinson Lauded at her Book Launch at the University of the West Indies

By Neil Armstrong

Dr. Lisa Tomlinson signing copies of her book at the University of the West Indies, Mona Campus.

A few hours after flying into Kingston, Jamaica and resting up during the downpour last Thursday (Sept. 14), a childhood friend dropped me off at the Undercroft, University of the West Indies, Mona Campus.

My friend, Dr. Lisa Tomlinson, was launching her first book, The African-Jamaican Aesthetic: Cultural Retention and Transformation Across Borders, published by Brill Rodopi.

Lisa is a lecturer at the university in the Institute of Caribbean Studies. I met her at York University many years ago. She insisted that I had to be there-:) My plan was to enjoy the event and make a few notes.

Although I hadn’t seen the UWI campus in many years, it was familiar territory and felt more so when I saw Lisa’s mother, Gwendolyn Tomlinson, and sister, Sherldine Tomlinson, who had flown in from Toronto the day before for the event. Another sister, Karen Tomlinson, was in Toronto but witnessed the event via WhatsApp video.

In her welcome remarks, Dr. Donna Hope, senior lecturer at the Institute of Caribbean Studies, said it was the born day party for the book and congratulated Lisa for the cultural significance and critical value of her work in the life of the academy.

She noted that this was Lisa’s first single-authored work and underscored that it was the end of countless hours of research and writing.

Dr. Donna Hope, senior lecturer, Institute of Caribbean Studies welcoming those in attendance.

Professor Waibinte E. Wariboko, dean of the Faculty of Humanities and Education, said the author’s work sits firmly into multiple locations. He alluded to a force that is pulling many of us back to Jamaica and that in this case, Lisa had become a pull for her family to fly in for the launch.

Wariboko saluted Lisa for the bold step that she has taken and her multidisciplinary approach where she is able to make significant contributions to many departments at the university.

He highlighted Lisa’s contribution to the growth and development of scholarships in the humanities and education.

Opening remarks by Professor Waibinte E. Wariboko, dean of the Faculty of Humanities and Education.

Dr. Sonjah Niahh Stanley, director and senior lecturer, Institute of Caribbean Studies, lauded Lisa for completing the publication of a book, noting how taxing the process can be.

“There’s a certain fire…she’s a go-getter…likkle but tallawah,” she said, noting also that the institute encourages rigour in scholarship and the book was an important milestone in the body of Caribbean scholarship.

“As an academic it’s write or perish,” she said.

Dr. Sonjah Niahh Stanley, director and senior lecturer, Institute of Caribbean Studies makes opening remarks.
Schontal Moore, lecturer, School of Education read excerpts of poems written by Una Marson and Canadian dub poet, Lillian Allen.

Schontal Moore, lecturer, School of Education.

Professor Carolyn Cooper, author and literary scholar, shared her review of the book noting that in the classroom of the former marginalized child becomes the teacher.

“Home is a drifting terrain.”

Professor Carolyn Cooper presents a review of the book.

After Lisa spoke about why she wrote the book (which I wrote about a few weeks ago in an article in the Gleaner), there was a duet by Dr. Novlett Plunkett, senior education officer, Ministry of Education, and Hugh Douse of the UWI.

Dr. Novlett Plunket, senior education officer, Ministry of Education and Hugh Douse of UWI sing Nina Simone's "To Be Young, Gifted and Black."

There was a dance performance by Nastacia McFarlane and presentations of the book to the UWI’s library and the National Library of Jamaica. 

Nastacia McFarlane in dance.

Dr. Lisa Tomlinson talks about her book.

Dr. Tomlinson presents a copy of her book to Monique Forgie-Scott of the National Library of Jamaica.

Dr. Tomlinson presents a copy of her book to Audrey Saddler of the UWI Library.

Left-right: Dr. Sonjah Niahh Stanley, Professor Carolyn Cooper, Dr. Lisa Tomlinson and Dr. Donna Hope.

The author's proud family: mother, Gwendolyn Tomlinson, in middle, sister, Sherldine, right, and a friend.

Left-right: Sherldine Tomlinson, Dr. Andrea Davis and Gwendolyn Tomlinson.

Professor Carolyn Cooper, Lisa Tomlinson and Sherldine Tomlinson.
 Natural Touch Vegan Café of Orchid Village Plaza catered providing lentil balls, sweet and sour tofu, ital stew, june plum juice, banana fritters and plantain.

There were some familiar faces in the audience including Mervyn Morris, poet and professor emeritus at UWI, and Jamaica’s first Poet Laureate since Independence in 1962; Dr. Ajamu Nangwaya, Institute of Caribbean Studies, UWI; Dr. Andrea Davis, Chair of the Department of Humanities, York University; and Nadi Edwards of the Department of Literatures in English, UWI.

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