Sharmaine Lovegrove has launched an online magazine dedicated to Caribbean literature.
Pree offers new contemporary writing from and about the Caribbean, including fiction, non-fiction, essays, interviews and experimental writing giving the authors “international visibility far beyond the islands”.
Lovegrove is publisher of the magazine, which is self-funded, and also publisher at Little, Brown imprint Dialogue Books, which is dedicated to inclusivity. Joining her at the online magazine is editor-in-chief Annie Paul, who is based at University of the West Indies, and editors include Jamaican writer and environmental activist Diana McCaulay, cultural analyst Isis Semaj-Hall and New York-based essayist Garnette Cadogan. The magazine’s creative director is designer Nerys Hudson.
Lovegrove revealed the first issue, 'Crossroads' on Twitter, and said that she and “an amazing group of people from Jamaica” had developed the new magazine which had been “a year in the making”.
The journal’s team were receiving submissions from “vivid pieces of finished work”, including work written in Caribbean vernaculars, English and representations of both. Pree will be published biannually with the next issue’s theme entitled ‘Pressure’.
Lovegrove told The Bookseller: "There are already lots of literary festivals such a Calabash and Bocas but the actual publishing of stories was a great concern. Many of the Caribbean authors that you have heard of needed to go to America or the UK to be published and that was it own issue. There was also a lack of agents and publishing houses in the Caribbean so we thought a publication celebrating writing from the region would be the perfect place for new and established writers a platform and for agents and publishers a space to discover a range of different voices."
She said: "We started planning in April 2017 when I was in Jamaica for Easter. It was before I knew about my role at Hachette and before Dialogue Books was an imprint. The timing around the conversation about Windrush generation only highlights how we have been left behind despite our great contribution to international culture. I am really proud to be giving something back and highlight the brilliant talent from my beloved region."
In her publisher’s letter, Lovegrove references how the “world is in a state of flux”.
“As I write this, the Motherland that colonised many Caribbean islands and made them a focus of slavery is being held accountable for its disgraceful treatment of the Windrush Generation: people from all over the West Indies who came to Britain to help rebuild it after the war in exchange and hope for different life,” she wrote.
“That the stories of the Caribbean have been ignored for so long is one of the greatest tragedies of modern literature. Our islands are rich with cultural heritage, a cacophony of vernaculars, and offer a lens on the world from totally unique vistas.”
The former bookshop owner added: “We cannot help but go forwards in life, yet it is vital to reflect on what came before. All four of my grandparents were born in Jamaica and it’s important for me to give back and be part of something meaningful, expressive and tangible to those who are writing the Caribbean from all perspectives.”
"I have spent my life reading Sam Selvon, Derek Walcott, Jamaica Kincaid, Linton Kwesi Johnson, Jean Rhys and Audre Lorde, learning about the world from their perspective and understanding my roots and culture through their words. More recently it’s been a joy to celebrate the works of award-winning writers Marlon James, Monique Roffey, Kei Miller and Nicole Dennis-Benn and discover the likes of Vladimir Lucien, Diana McCaulay and Edwidge Danticat. As a publisher in London, England I am proud to publish Patrick Chamoiseau in English as his strong, complex characters from Martinique have stayed with me for a long time. Our aim is to bring writers like these into your life and to show off the Caribbean and its literary might.”
Lovegrove said the team's aim was “to bring writers like these into your life and to show off the Caribbean and its literary might”.
In her editor’s letter, Paul wrote about attempting “to create a powerful and agile platform for Caribbean writing, one as capable as a dragonfly of migrating across oceans, moving in any direction, and changing direction suddenly”.
Her letter reads: “Thus, although the opening team involved in this inaugural edition of Pree is largely Jamaican, plans are afoot to vary this in future editions. I feel blessed and highly favoured to have had the opportunity of being ‘selector’ for this first issue of Pree, and am grateful that 85% of the invited writers submitted without hesitation.”
For more information, visit preelit.com.