Oct. 29, 2003 — The newest book by Caribbean calypsonian and scholar Dr. Hollis "Chalkdust" Liverpool will be launched at an event Sunday afternoon, Nov. 2, in the Chase Auditorium on the St. Thomas campus of the University of the Virgin Islands.
The 5 p.m. event introducing "From the Horse's Mouth" is co-sponsored by the V.I. Carnival Committee and the university's social sciences division.
The book is a socio-cultural history of the factors, both inside and outside of the Caribbean, that shaped the calypso in Trinidad and the Caribbean, said a UVI release. It takes the reader down memory lane, and back beyond most living memories as well — highlighting major events in the development of the art form from 1900 to 2003.
The book has been 30 years in the making. Liverpool, assistant history professor at UVI and longtime noted calypsonian "Chalkdust," began the research for the book in the early 1970s but it was not until the summer of this year that he wrote the book.
"This book is invaluable," the author said, explaining that most other books written on the subject of calypso have used secondary information. Information for his book came from "the horse's mouth" and thus the title. Interviews were done with calypso greats like the Roaring Lion and Lord Smiley. Of the 10 calypsonians interviewed for the book, seven have since died: No longer answering roll call are Lord Pretender, a calypsonian of the 1920s; Mighty Unknown, who said he sang calypsoes "since the Rock of Gibraltar was a pebble;" Lord Beginner, who died in 1981; Lord Iere, who died in 1974; Ras Shorty I, who died in 2000; Young Killer.
How fortunate that the foresighted author, starting more than 30 years ago, saw the need to talk to the calypsonians and preserve and present their own views of their individual and collective histories.
Dr. Liverpool has the perfect blend of disciplines to pursue this topic: As "Chalkdust," he has recorded and published 28 albums/ CDs of calypso compositions. He taught primary and secondary levels in Trinidad and Tobago over 35 years, and later served in that country's Ministry of Culture during the 1990s. In addition to his UVI position, he is also the director of The Carnival Institute of Trinidad and Tobago. He has published seven books, numerous book chapters, and journal and magazine articles. So he approaches the topic from both sides: Who is the singer of calypso? and, at the far side: How does he fit into the web of culture and history?
Many photos enhance the book, which a reader might expect from the effective collage of historical portraits on the cover. Lyrics are frequently quoted at length.
Speakers at the book launch will include V.I. calypsonian Glenn "Kwabena" Davis, vice president of the St. Thomas Carnival Committee; and Dr. Vincent Cooper, professor of linguistics at UVI.
"From the Horse's Mouth" will be available after the launch at the UVI Bookstores on the St. Thomas and St. Croix campuses and from Dr. Liverpool at the Social Sciences office. For more information contact Dr. Liverpool at 693-1273 or by e-mail.
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