Maria, Maria: Hurricane Stories

Moderated by Geoffrey Philp, author of Hurricane Center, and MJ Fievre, ReadCaribbean coordinator. Presented in English. Please note that there is a short interlude between Part I and Part II. Please […]


Maria, Maria: Hurricane Stories

Authors:Geoffrey Philp, M.J. Fievre , Nancy Rosado, María T. Padilla, Celia Alexandra Sorhaindo , Kereen Getten


Moderated by Geoffrey Philp, author of Hurricane Center, and MJ Fievre, ReadCaribbean coordinator.

Presented in English.

Please note that there is a short interlude between Part I and Part II.
Please stay connected. Part II will start playing shortly after Part I.

Through poetry, fiction, and reportage, Caribbean writers share with the world the fury of hurricanes, showing how fierce winds and torrential rains frequently help determine national – and individual – courses of action. In this panel, authors from Dominica, Puerto Rico, and Jamaica explore the experiences and emotions following the wake of Hurricane Maria. Celia A Sorhaindo brings us Guabancex, a poetry collection that blurs the lines between realism and mythology; Orlando-based journalist María T. Padilla and retired first responder Nancy Rosado discuss Tossed to the Wind, the gripping account of the wreckage, despair, and displacement Maria left behind; and from Kereen Getten comes When Life Gives You Mangoes, the story about a young girl who can’t remember anything from her previous summer after a hurricane.

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Geoffrey Philp

Geoffrey Philp is the author of the novel, Garvey’s Ghost. His work is represented in nearly every major anthology of Caribbean literature. Born in Jamaica, he is one of the few writers whose work has been published in the Oxford Book of Caribbean Short Stories and Oxford Book of Caribbean Verse. He lives in Miami, Florida.

M.J. Fievre

M.J. Fievre was born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, and moved to the United States in 2002. M.J.’s publishing career began as a teenager in Haiti with the Young Adult book La Statuette Maléfique. Since then, M.J. has authored nine books in French that are widely read in Europe and the French Antilles. Her titles include I Am Riding, her first children’s book, written in English, French, and Haitian Creole; A Sky the Color of Chaos, a memoir; and Raising Confident Black Kids, Happy, Okay?: Poems about Anxiety, Depression, Hope, and Survival. She is also a long-time educator and frequent keynote speaker. In Badass Black Girl: Questions, Quotes, and Affirmations for Teens (Mango) M.J. explores the many facets of identity through a number of big and small questions including family and friends, school and careers, body image, and stereotypes in this journal designed for teenage girls. She calls for embracing authenticity and celebrating who you are, so here’s a journal designed to help readers nurture their creativity, self-motivation, and positive self-awareness. This journal celebrates girl power and honors the strength and spirit of black girls. It provides words of encouragement that seek not just to inspire, but to ignite discussion and debate about the world. Mary Cowper, in the Midwest Book Review, noted that “Finding the courage to live as you are is not easy, so Badass Black Girl is an ideal journal designed to help young girls to nurture their creativity, self-motivation, and positive self-awareness.”

Nancy Rosado

Nancy Rosado is a retired NYPD sergeant, whose disaster response experience includes 9/11, the Pulse Night Club and Parkland shootings, as well as hurricanes Katrina and Maria. María T. Padilla is the former editor of La Prensa in Orlando and founding editor of El Sentinel, the Spanish-language sister newspaper of the Orlando Sentinel. Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico as a high-end Category 4, and the storm surge, flash flooding, and countless landslides created widespread devastation. Thousands gathered what they had left and traveled to central Florida–already home to 1 million Puerto Ricans. In Padilla and Rosado´s Tossed to the Wind (University of Florida Press) Puerto Ricans from all walks of life, now living in Orlando and Kissimmee, describe in their own words the chaos and incomprehensible losses, living in uncertainty, and the anxiety of parents about providing for their children. But theirs is also a story of hope and endurance, as Puerto Ricans on the island shared what little they had and the diaspora in Florida offered refuge. Charles Venator-Santiago, author of Hostages of Empire called it “A clear, accessible, insightful, and at times profound description of the experiences of Puerto Ricans displaced to Florida in the aftermath of the devastation created by Hurricanes Irma and Maria.”

María T. Padilla

María T. Padilla is the former editor of La Prensa in Orlando and founding editor of El Sentinel, the Spanish-language sister newspaper of the Orlando Sentinel. Nancy Rosado is a retired NYPD sergeant, whose disaster response experience includes 9/11, the Pulse Night Club and Parkland shootings, as well as hurricanes Katrina and Maria. Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico as a high-end Category 4, and the storm surge, flash flooding, and countless landslides created widespread devastation. Thousands gathered what they had left and traveled to central Florida–already home to 1 million Puerto Ricans. In Padilla and Rosado´s Tossed to the Wind (University of Florida Press) Puerto Ricans from all walks of life, now living in Orlando and Kissimmee, describe in their own words the chaos and incomprehensible losses, living in uncertainty, and the anxiety of parents about providing for their children. But theirs is also a story of hope and endurance, as Puerto Ricans on the island shared what little they had and the diaspora in Florida offered refuge. Charles Venator-Santiago, author of Hostages of Empire called it “A clear, accessible, insightful, and at times profound description of the experiences of Puerto Ricans displaced to Florida in the aftermath of the devastation created by Hurricanes Irma and Maria.”

Celia Alexandra Sorhaindo

Celia Alexandra Sorhaindo was born in The Commonwealth of Dominica, West Indies. She was a member of the Dominica Link for Hands Across the Sea, a US based non-profit organization which aims to help raise child literacy levels in the Eastern Caribbean. Her poetry has been published in Anomaly, The Caribbean Writer, Moko on-line Magazine, Interviewing The Caribbean Journal, Susumba’s Book Bag and New Daughters of Africa (an international anthology of writing by women of African descent). Guabancex (Papillote Press) is her first collection of poems, explores her experiences and emotions, both during and after Hurricane Maria, a category 5 hurricane that hit and devastated Dominica on September 18, 2017. It was the worst hurricane recorded in history. Nothing would be the same after it.. The collection is named after the supreme storm deity of the ancient Taino people, which were located across Florida and much of the Caribbean. “We saw the worst side of nature, and the best and worst sides of human nature and went through incredible mental and physical challenges,” Sorhaido wrote in her website. “Things have not just returned to ‘business as usual’ […] For me, writing […] was a therapeutic exercise, a way of trying to make sense of, work through and process all that happened.”

Kereen Getten

Kereen Getten grew up in Jamaica where she would climb fruit trees in the family garden and eat as much mango, guinep and pear as she could without being caught. She now lives in Birmingham with her family and writes stories about her childhood experiences. When Life Gives You Mangos (Delacorte Books for Young Readers) is Getten’s debut novel. Twelve-year-old Clara lives on an island that visitors call exotic. But there’s nothing exotic about it to Clara. She loves eating ripe mangos off the ground, running outside in the rain with her Papa during rainy season, and going to her secret hideout with Gaynah—even though lately she’s not acting like a best friend. The only thing out of the ordinary for Clara is that something happened to her memory that made her forget everything that happened last summer after a hurricane hit. But this summer is going to be different for Clara. Everyone is buzzing with excitement over a new girl in the village who is not like other visitors. She is about to make big waves on the island—and give Clara a summer she won’t forget. Tae Keller, author of When You Trap a Tiger called it “A heartfelt and accessible debut about friendship, memory, and forgiveness.”

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