ChickenBones: A Journal

for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes


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Skin takes us through blanket of night, seaweeds, the embrace

of the sea, interrupted sky, and rain storms.



Books by Drisana Deborah Jack

The Rainy Season / Skin

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Poems by Drisana Deborah Jack

Skin News Release


GREAT BAY, St. Martin (January 22, 2006)—St. Martin’s newest book, Skin, by poet/painter Drisana Deborah Jack, was released in The Hague, The Netherlands, on Saturday, January 21, 2006. “Drisana is now the first St. Martin writer to release a new book in the Netherlands,” said Jacqueline Sample, president of House of Nehesi Publishers (HNP). Skin, Jack’s second collection of poems, was published in St. Martin last week by HNP. Within hours, copies of the title with its strange cover design, was on its way from the Caribbean to the Dutch city. Jack was there to participate in the Winternachten International Literature Festival on January 20 and 21.

Plans for the book release started in November 2005 with the author, festival principal Ton van de Langkruis, and HNP. “We thought it would be a great idea to launch at Winternachten. Especially since Drisana was appearing on both festival days, discussing language politics, Caribbean women in literature, and reading her poetry alongside famous writers like Austin Clarke, Frank Arion, and Breyten Breytenbach,” said Sample.

“We expected that The Hague release would give Skin an immediate new audience and sales beyond the home base.”HNP was also busy securing international attention for Skin before its history-making feature for the St. Martin book. According the South African writer and critic Darryl Accone, “Skin is compelling.”

To Jacqueline Goffe-McNish of the State University of New York, “Skin takes us through  … the textures in this land of Lokhay; gritty salt …  continues the tradition of poets like E.K. Braithwaite, Mervyn Morris and Dennis Scott.” That’s no small comment.

For a clearer picture of how serious Jack’s work is being taken, one has to read the Introduction  to Skin by the New York-based Diaspora scholar Dr. Hershini Bhana Young. She calls the slim volume a “wonderfully sensual, fluid and powerful collection of poetry, born out of the Caribbean’s flux and flows.”

According to Jack on Sunday, “all went well at Winternachten,” where St. Martiners in the Netherlands were invited to attend the book release in the foyer of the Theater aan het Spui.

Jack, an MPC graduate and university assistant professor, hails from Cole Bay, where she is a member of the Bells, one of St. Martin’s oldest families.

By the way, the attention Jack’s artwork is getting is also jumping off the pages.   Dr. Young’s new book Haunting Capital (2005), dedicates an entire chapter to interpreting and comparing Jack’s art to a fellow artist. “This is tremendous,” said Sample.

“I am told that this is the first St. Martin painter to get this type of extensive critical evaluation in a scholarly book.” In her poetry and art, Jack has been developing salt as a St. Martin cultural/historical metaphor. She is also unique among the island’s writers and artists for her treatment of the “presence” of the hurricane, linking it often to the Middle Passage.

To author/literature expert Fabian Badejo, “It is clear from her writings that Dr. Young is impressed with Debbie’s work.

“When a young artist is fortunate to have a major scholar writing critically about his or her work it just ads immeasurably to the already endless possibilities of good art.” Jack is one of two St. Martin writers to end up in at least three important books published in the USA and in England in December 2005.

Badejo pointed out last Sunday on the Culture Time radio magazine, that we should read something remarkable in the fact that Skin is the second St. Martin book published in January 2006, in less than one week after Cul-de-Sac People by Mathias S. Voges and by the same publisher.

Drisana Deborah Jack is available in St. Martin at Van Dorp bookstore and  House of Nehesi and over the next few days at Amazon.Com  and in other bookstores.

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Compelling ... We are all migrants now, children and foundlings of diaspora.Darryl Accone, University of Witwatersrand, South Africa

Skin takes us through blanket of night, seaweeds, the embrace of the sea, interrupted sky, and rain storms.Jacqueline Goffe-McNish, State University of New York

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Introduction: Oceanic mothering


waterpoem 1


en memento mori 




waterpoem 2




for a son … seeking


subway musings


saturday night


memory lapse


on being home/sick


this little light of mine


a song for AXUM


in remembrance


the lovers


a salting of sorts


pieced together


legacy poem


a poet’s farewell 




this poem


to the light and other things of quiet beauty


waterpoem 3


waterpoem 4


waterpoem 5


motherliness or breast-feeding the diaspora


bitter water


About the author



Source: skin © 2006 by Drisana Deborah Jack •House of Nehesi Publishers • Philipsburg, St. Martin Caribbean •

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Drisana Deborah Jack was born in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, in 1970, to Caribbean parents. As a child her parents brought her to St. Martin, her mother’s home island, where she was reared in Cole Bay village. Jack graduated from SUNY at Buffalo with an MFA in 2002 but by then had already co-founded and acted with the Teenage Acting Company while attending the MPC high school, and published her first poetry book, The Rainy Season (1997), in St. Martin.

She went on to exhibit her artwork in the Caribbean, the USA, Europe, and Japan. Jack, A Caribbean artist by “geography and cultural/spiritual location, constructs … a personal/cultural history based on ancestral or re-memory using painting, video, photography, sound art, and poetry.” Her poetry has appeared in The Caribbean Writer and Calabash. Articles citing and reviewing her work have appeared in Today, The St. Maarten Guardian, Beurs- en Nieuwsberichten, Artpapers Journal, Buffalo News, and in Fabian Badejo’s Salted Tones – Modern Literature in St. Martin (2003).

Jack has recited her poetry and lectured on the cultural arts at readings and festivals such as No To The Franco-Dutch Treaty, CARIFESTA VI, VII, at the Studio Museum of Harlem, the Miami Bookfair International, Crossing the Seas, Poetry Africa, and Tradewinds. A leading St. Martin poet and mother of one daughter, Jack is an assistant art professor at New Jersey City University.

Awards and honors include a Caribbean Writers Institute Fellow (UM), Prince Bernhard Culture Fund and New York Foundation for the Arts grants, SUNY Buffalo Dissertation Fellowship, Photography Institute fellow, Lightwork Artist-in-Residence (Syracuse University), CEPA Exhibition Award, and a US National Endowment for the Arts residency at Big Orbit Gallery. skin is Jack’s second book of poems.

Source: skin © 2006 by Drisana Deborah Jack •House of Nehesi Publishers • Philipsburg, St. Martin Caribbean •

posted 4 March 2006

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#1 - Justify My Thug by Wahida Clark
#2 - Flyy Girl by Omar Tyree
#3 - Head Bangers: An APF Sexcapade by Zane
#4 - Life Is Short But Wide by J. California Cooper
#5 - Stackin' Paper 2 Genesis' Payback by Joy King
#6 - Thug Lovin' (Thug 4) by Wahida Clark
#7 - When I Get Where I'm Going by Cheryl Robinson
#8 - Casting the First Stone by Kimberla Lawson Roby
#9 - The Sex Chronicles: Shattering the Myth by Zane

#10 - Covenant: A Thriller  by Brandon Massey

#11 - Diary Of A Street Diva  by Ashley and JaQuavis

#12 - Don't Ever Tell  by Brandon Massey

#13 - For colored girls who have considered suicide  by Ntozake Shange

#14 - For the Love of Money : A Novel by Omar Tyree

#15 - Homemade Loves  by J. California Cooper

#16 - The Future Has a Past: Stories by J. California Cooper

#17 - Player Haters by Carl Weber

#18 - Purple Panties: An Anthology by Sidney Molare

#19 - Stackin' Paper by Joy King

#20 - Children of the Street: An Inspector Darko Dawson Mystery by Kwei Quartey

#21 - The Upper Room by Mary Monroe

#22 – Thug Matrimony  by Wahida Clark

#23 - Thugs And The Women Who Love Them by Wahida Clark

#24 - Married Men by Carl Weber

#25 - I Dreamt I Was in Heaven - The Rampage of the Rufus Buck Gang by Leonce Gaiter


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#4 - Letters to a Young Brother: MANifest Your Destiny by Hill Harper
#5 - Peace from Broken Pieces: How to Get Through What You're Going Through by Iyanla Vanzant
#6 - Selected Writings and Speeches of Marcus Garvey by Marcus Garvey
#7 - The Ebony Cookbook: A Date with a Dish by Freda DeKnight
#8 - The Isis Papers: The Keys to the Colors by Frances Cress Welsing
#9 - The Mis-Education of the Negro by Carter Godwin Woodson

#10 - John Henrik Clarke and the Power of Africana History  by Ahati N. N. Toure

#11 - Fail Up: 20 Lessons on Building Success from Failure by Tavis Smiley

#12 -The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander

#13 - The Black Male Handbook: A Blueprint for Life by Kevin Powell

#14 - The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates by Wes Moore

#15 - Why Men Fear Marriage: The Surprising Truth Behind Why So Many Men Can't Commit  by RM Johnson

#16 - Black Titan: A.G. Gaston and the Making of a Black American Millionaire by Carol Jenkins

#17 - Brainwashed: Challenging the Myth of Black Inferiority by Tom Burrell

#18 - A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose by Eckhart Tolle

#19 - John Oliver Killens: A Life of Black Literary Activism by Keith Gilyard

#20 - Alain L. Locke: The Biography of a Philosopher by Leonard Harris

#21 - Age Ain't Nothing but a Number: Black Women Explore Midlife by Carleen Brice

#22 - 2012 Guide to Literary Agents by Chuck Sambuchino
#23 - Chicken Soup for the Prisoner's Soul by Tom Lagana
#24 - 101 Things Every Boy/Young Man of Color Should Know by LaMarr Darnell Shields

#25 - Beyond the Black Lady: Sexuality and the New African American Middle Class  by Lisa B. Thompson

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Blacks in Hispanic Literature: Critical Essays

Edited by Miriam DeCosta-Willis 

Blacks in Hispanic Literature is a collection of fourteen essays by scholars and creative writers from Africa and the Americas. Called one of two significant critical works on Afro-Hispanic literature to appear in the late 1970s, it includes the pioneering studies of Carter G. Woodson and Valaurez B. Spratlin, published in the 1930s, as well as the essays of scholars whose interpretations were shaped by the Black aesthetic. The early essays, primarily of the Black-as-subject in Spanish medieval and Golden Age literature, provide an historical context for understanding 20th-century creative works by African-descended, Hispanophone writers, such as Cuban Nicolás Guillén and Ecuadorean poet, novelist, and scholar Adalberto Ortiz, whose essay analyzes the significance of Negritude in Latin America. This collaborative text set the tone for later conferences in which writers and scholars worked together to promote, disseminate, and critique the literature of Spanish-speaking people of African descent. . . . Cited by a literary critic in 2004 as "the seminal study in the field of Afro-Hispanic Literature . . . on which most scholars in the field 'cut their teeth'."

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Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes, and Black Women in America

By Melissa V. Harris-Perry

According to the author, this society has historically exerted considerable pressure on black females to fit into one of a handful of stereotypes, primarily, the Mammy, the Matriarch or the Jezebel.  The selfless Mammy’s behavior is marked by a slavish devotion to white folks’ domestic concerns, often at the expense of those of her own family’s needs. By contrast, the relatively-hedonistic Jezebel is a sexually-insatiable temptress. And the Matriarch is generally thought of as an emasculating figure who denigrates black men, ala the characters Sapphire and Aunt Esther on the television shows Amos and Andy and Sanford and Son, respectively.     

Professor Perry points out how the propagation of these harmful myths have served the mainstream culture well. For instance, the Mammy suggests that it is almost second nature for black females to feel a maternal instinct towards Caucasian babies.

As for the source of the Jezebel, black women had no control over their own bodies during slavery given that they were being auctioned off and bred to maximize profits. Nonetheless, it was in the interest of plantation owners to propagate the lie that sisters were sluts inclined to mate indiscriminately.

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The White Masters of the World

From The World and Africa, 1965

By W. E. B. Du Bois

W. E. B. Du Bois’ Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization (Fletcher)

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Ancient African Nations

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Negro Digest / Black World

Browse all issues

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The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan  The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll  Only a Pawn in Their Game

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for Slavery / George Jackson  / Hurricane Carter

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The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg

The Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804  / January 1, 1804 -- The Founding of Haiti 

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update 29 February 2012




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Related files:  Introduction   saturday night    a poet's farewell   waterpoem 5