||May 22, 2005
An anthology of articles,drama,stories,lyrics and poetry by Bahamians, about the Bahamas for Bahamians and those who want to know about the Bahamas
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The Commonwealth of the Bahamas
The country is an Atlantic archipelago of 700 coral islands and cays straddling the Tropic of Cancer. She has been independent from England since 1973, although Queen Elizabeth 11 of the Bahamas, through a Royal Governor, remains the titular Head of State. Her abundant resources of sand, sea and climate make the country a premier tourist destination.
Bahamians also have a rich, genetic heritage, and their hybrid vigour has brought them success in science, the arts and athletics.
Although the Country’s population is only 300,000+, statisticians have declared the Bahamas Team to be the winner of the ‘2000 Olympic Games’.
‘Passing Jacks’ paints word pictures of our people and our islands. It will prepare visitors for their Bahamian experience, and it will remind Bahamians of who and what they are.
At least twice a year, you and everyone else should take leave from heavy-duty living, check the fishing gear, and keep watch for any passing jacks. The truce won’t affect life’s outcome too much, and you may not catch any fish; but at least it will demonstrate your continuing interest in being human and not a robot.
Our personal choices for philosophical beach combing are two very significant anniversaries:
• New Year’s Day, when good ideas and resolutions abound, and we’re full of optimism for the future.
• The early mornings of our Birthdays, when we pessimistically wonder how much time we’ve got left to implement all the changes we’ve planned.
Anyway, as brain death is so prevalent these days, we’ve decided, as a post/ante exercise for the Millennium, to share some entries from our thirty-five year old, literary diary. These entries, straight from the PC, are in random and undated order. You won’t find an index, and we’ve both had our appendices surgically removed
We did consider re-organizing the data, but that robot image kept cropping up in our minds. In the end we went with a random, jack-flow presentation. It reflects how we felt, how we feel and, hopefully, how we will feel.
Life, in the short run, is beautifully disorganized – thank God.
Some sophisticated reader might like to link an ‘entry’ with a date or an event… but beware: ‘Country Air’ was written twenty-five years ago, and the same problems are still causing trouble to our Country and to our World. We shouldn’t have to remind you that ‘Voting Blues’ merits a re-print every five years.
Some lyrics changed their wording according to the settlement in which we were plying our profession. Also, over the years, constant revision of style, if not philosophy, kept our minds sprightly. For example ‘Teacher Blues’ was changed yesterday - we couldn’t resist the temptation of current events.
Nevertheless, one urge remained and remains constant:
We need to write again today,
Type the lines to thread the thoughts,
Scattered in our dusty attic minds... like pearls?
See, there's a couple of tarnished ideals -
A refurbishing rub would do them good!
Brass, alas, not gold, as once we thought.
Eye-pictures of frozen time await a new recall;
And aeolian guitars will sound a thrum of tunes
Blending sights and delights into swinging dance!
Come, shake our kaleidoscope:
You will see, as once we saw,
And now can see again
Come, read the page,
And for this moment,
Let us share our lives.
(The newest addition to our literary treasury)
“Let me tell ya bout back in da day, bout how it was when I was young.”
Sound familiar? No doubt upon hearing this, you would heave a great sigh, get comfortable, and prepare yourself for a good, long listen. Ours is a culture rich with tradition, and oral history is one of our oldest traditions.
If you want to know about ‘back in the day’ – how things were done, how people lived and loved, the real story behind Bahamian culture, ask your Grammy. If you want to read it, you will have to look long and hard, and more than likely, you will not find a great wealth of resources.
There are a few authors who have taken up the task and committed our stories to paper – but they are indeed few. It is for this reason that we must celebrate and embrace the established Bahamian writers and the new addition to the collection.
Vangerry Oldham is no newcomer. Oldham has graced our libraries with ’Inside-out’, ‘Long Memory’, a musical play ‘Belthera’. ‘Devil’s Vacation’ is in preparation.
Now, after years of hard work, Vangerry has done it again. ‘Passing Jacks’, the culmination of thirty-plus years of inspiration, is 157 pages of pure, simple, authentic and superbly satisfying Bahamian literature.
Gerry Oldham has a writing style that reflects his years spent as a teacher; it is clear, concise, and to the point – which is always: The Real Bahamas.
The husband and wife team of Van and Gerry Oldham has generously poured out its joint hearts into the creation of this anthology and offer it up to be kept and held dear by Bahamians. Eleuthereans – do you remember ‘Cuz Archie? What about the Fishers? Teachers – do your students know about Andy Deveaux? Bahamians – do you know the words to the National Hymn?
If your answer to any of these questions is ‘No’, then ‘Passing Jacks’ should be on the top of your ‘things I buy today’ list. It is our responsibility to ensure that our cultural history remains a viable, tangible thing to be passed on for all to know. It is a gift to our children that cannot be left to dry on the lips of the last one told.
‘Passing Jacks’ offers a glimpse into the ‘true’ Bahamian culture, and takes you deeper than you’ve been before. Oldham himself will tell you that there is more to this Country than Junkanoo, and he lays it all out in his newest to Bahamian literature.
There is so much more than text between the covers of this collection. There is warmth, a feeling of familiar that unfolds as soon as you read the dedication:
‘Come and see…
What we have seen!
Come and live…
Where we have been!
Share our hearth,
Reap the fruit,
Our seed is sown.
Posted by the authors for:
‘The Nassau Guardian’, Bahamas
These authors have accomplished what others only dream about. They have put together articles, essays and poetry that pay high tribute to the beauty and history of the Bahamas and Bahamians.
The interweaving of colloquialisms is particularly engaging – “What’s a crooked legged ass with a hump on he back?” (p.18)
“… the girls down there are conchy-joe.” (p.39)
There is an interesting mix of forms throughout: rhymed poetry, haiku, prose, choral readings and plays. I liked many of the pieces, particularly: “Bake Day” and “The Name of a Man”.
The authors give a wonderful sense of life in the Bahamas and Bahamian diversity. I believe this book could be easily marketed through readings at local stores and shops for tourists. It is also appropriate for education conferences. I think the spacing of photos and special images is effective.
Posted by the authors for:
Evaluation by “Writer’s Digest” (Self-published books Competition.)
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Reader Reviews for "Passing Jacks"
|Reviewed by Van Gerry
by Vangerry Oldham
There is no denying the value that can be found in Passing Jacks. For this book is a collection of enjoyable short stories, poems, and plays. All of which are centered around island life in the Bahamas. Within this book you will find stories of imaginative telling, for example the tale of a wealth being discovered with the help of a drunk pig. The poetry is a pleasure to read and touches the soul, as poetry should.
What I found most interesting is that there a multitude of plays contained in Passing Jacks that I personally would like to see produced. Anytime the experiences and opinions of another culture can be displayed for all to enjoy we should all embrace the experience and learn. In this regard alone the book is worth the purchase price.
However, every story, poem, and play has been tossed into this volume with little regard to order. An index isn't included and I found this disconcerting considering the size of this collection. The author even points out the intentional design behind this. But it would be nice for the appearance of an index, in the least, to aid the reader in finding that favorite entry. The other oddity is that the page numbers are centered at the top and the author and title of the book are centered at the bottom.
None of this is reason to pass this one over; the book contains far too much value for anyone to ignore. Passing Jacks remains a worthy addition to anyone's personal library.
Gloomwing Review by David W. Hoffman
Softcover ISBN: 1-4116-6872-3
E-Book ($5.00) Softcover ($13.18) available at http://www.lulu.com/content/169542
Vangerry Oldham's Lulu Storefront
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Printing: Physical copy not reviewed.
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