Small Axe: Taking criticism seriously

Submitted byJeeraik009 onFri, 09/10/2010 - 15:40

The latest issue of Small Axe: a caribbean journal of criticism is now available and it is, as usual, well produced. The journal edited by cultural anthropologist David Scott and supported by a collective of some of the Caribbean's best critical thinkers, has built its reputation  on a commitment to interrogating conceptions of class, gender, nation, culture and race related to the region. Its sustained quarrelsomeness for almost a decade has meant that the journal's scholarship is of necessity impeccable and the recent experience of having my own article vetted by its editorial team confirms that process even while applauding its focus on quality.

This summer issue,  although not themed, still holds to the collective's basic principle that debate is not the prerogative of any single creative form or genre but instead resides equally in literature, non-fiction, poetry, interviews, visual arts. Its offering of essays such as Carter Mathes's, Circuits of Political Prophecy that explores cross-currents between the thinking of Martin Luther King Jr and Peter Tosh alongside its showcasing of winners from its most recent literary competition such as Ashley Rousseau's story, The Color of Green Lizards, demonstrates this commitment to diversity. These, combined with the visual projects of artists such as Nikolai Noel's The Dimming (featured on the cover) and Satch Hoyt's Hybrid Navigator, that are also carried through to its SX space online demonstrates that the journal is also a platform for artists and writers whose works are yet to be fully acknowledged. Even more compelling and consistent with its professed interrogation of tradition is Lorna Goodison's response to the theoretical unstitching of her autobiography From Harvey River by Donnette Francis and Sandra Pouchet Paquet. The back and forth between this time-honoured writer and her scrupulous critics shows that argument is alive and well in the region mainly because journals such as Small Axe take themselves so seriously.