I have the pleasure, the absolute delirious delight, to introduce this first issue of Still Vexed. The first time Still Vexed, was uttered, it was literarily, in our direction and in our jest. Our Bermoothes, so angry, strange, and unwieldy.
In this issue, we have the most strange, unwieldy, and at times angry contributions appearing. In short - tempestuous. And what the highly honorable Barbadian poet Kamau Brathwaite identified as, speech that evaded an imposed structure, exclaiming, “The hurricane does not roar in pentameter.”
Here, our Bermudianess is put to the table, examined, questioned, and at times shouted. And while we sought to keep this issue from the confines of any sort of theme, our contributors all submitted pieces that exhibited an innate state of home. As if, rendering from our fingertips was impossible to disconnect from.
Bermudians make Bermudian art.
And here we exist, in the plenty. If not all dispersed to some degree and insular to some other degree, but still here.
I happened upon a 20th-century piece of amusement while curating this issue. An American artist wrote an article in 1918, emphasizing Bermuda’s natural beauty, and our charming “native bungalows.” He sends a charge out to other American artists and writers to, “…colonize [Bermuda], from our best society, our literary men and women, our artists, our actors, our professors, scientists, and ministers, our skilled mechanics, and day-laborers.” As if, Bermuda did not already have and hold the quality for such a community.
As if our home were for sale - such as it seems to be, our culture, commodified, our accent, repeated, printed on belts and hats and our cultural icons, consistently pimped out as mascots rather than folkloric holders of tradition, of monument and the sacred.
Bermuda has been written about as if there were no Bermudians to write about it. We have been colonized and re-colonized in greedy hands, eyes, and those who see fit to only profit from our agreeable views.
When in fact, this island is a home of its own art and artists. One that constantly appears as a conspiring muse and hindrance to that very art. We leave home, consult home and return home. Bermuda always being in the veins, if even not in the forefront. Home being a thing we revolve around in our work - because who better to confront it than us?
In this issue, we have Bermudian voices, that work within the boundaries of their relative homes. How it shows up in their art, how it informs the very muscle, how it even reminds us of our strange and evolving identities.
Because the revolutions of home are just that, revolving, we strain under the eaves of memory, still hold that bruise, that cut, that improperly healed fracture. We are gathered of the pieces, an assemblage of a quickly tarped roof in a storm’s wake, or a middle of the street ramp of rotting wood and concrete block able to be disassembled at a moment for coming traffic. We come back here even when we forget to.
We are a collective howl, us Bermudians of art. We are a ruckus - when Jourdain and Strachey wrote their 17th-century pamphlets about us - they were astonished, bewildered, taken aback at the immensity of sound that Bermuda was. How piercing and uncomfortable and blood curdling the screech.
We are descendants of strange beasts. Found nowhere else but here. Jutted out in the Atlantic, at the far reaches of a torrential alley of current and storm.
In these pages you’ll find, what I hope is akin to turning your key in the door and walking into the smell of banana bread, or cassava pie, or if, you’re extra lucky, shark hash & Johnny bread.
I hope it’s like walking into a place, you already know. With a shark oil hanging readily, on the wall.
And in that breath,
"A Bit of Native Architecture"
Lawren, Joseph. “To Live in Bermuda.” The Art World, vol. 3, no. 6, 1918, p. 534.