"Pengreng" - The Sound Heard All Over Belize
For all of us, Kriol is one of the most important expressions of our "Belizean-ness", but many of us don't know how to write or read Kriol. Well, award winning Belizean writer and UB literature lecturer, Ivory Kelly is challenging everyone to embrace the language through her new publication entitled "Pengereng". Kelly launched her book today at the Image Factory and Courtney Weatherburne found out more about the stories featured in the publication and what message Kelly wants her readers to get.
Ivory Kelly - Writer
"Diana stares at the unread email for a long time. She contemplates deleting it, then changes her mind. Deep breathnice and steady. She straightens her torso to full height in the dining chair and clicks the email open."
Those are the opening lines of one of the short stories in Ivory Kelly’s new book “Pengereng.”
"For those of you who are not familiar with the word “Pengereng”,it is a Belize Kriol word for the noise Yasser mention that something makes when it falls especially something metallic when it falls to the floor. It also figuratively refers to a great disturbance or upheaval. I chose it as the tittle of the book because you will see that each of the protagonists experiences a major life upheaval, everything is going wonderfully, life is going great and then “Pengereng” things drop on the ground."
"It was earlier this year and I had just finished the manuscript for my second book, a collection of thirteen short stories and had begun to shop that book around trying to find a publisher. I am still in the middle of that grind but sometimes these things can take a while but in the meantime it occurred to me that two of the longer stories in that collection sort of speak to each other in some very interesting ways, they are two very different stories but both are about the death and loss of a baby, both are about motherhood and some particular challenges that mothers face, especially pregnant mothers in the face of broken or poor health care systems, when relationships go awry. It is also about fathers and the unique challenges that men face in society but stories emphasize the importance of land and home."
Aside from the themes in the story, the book also represents the first major work of fiction in the standard Belize Kriol spelling system. One of the stories was translated to Kriol and there is also an essay that re-introduces the argument that Kriol should be recognized as Belize’s second official language.
"I was in the middle of teaching myself, I started to teach myself Kriol and it is still an ongoing process and then so I thought the best way or the only way to really learn to write a language is to write in the language. So I decided to take the longer of the two short stories and translate it into Kriol using the standard system. Pengereng is more than a collection of stories we believe you will find engaging but also an important cultural project that brings to the forefront of our discourse and consciousness contemporary Mayan experience and the value of language in general including our Kriol Lingua 5:59 franca."
And speaking in the Kriol lingua franca, the only way the true “Kriol Gial” knew how to, Dr. Udz delivered the Kriol version of “Still Born” as a celebration of the language.
"Ih stay deh for a while contemplating but then ih change ih mind. Deep breathe, nice and steady. Ih sit up straight inna the dinning chair and click the email open. Dear Dianna, I know I di broke mi promise, sorry fi the intrude, I get yo email from the chapilin website, fi tell you the truth, I no even know why I di write but I guess I mi yo know, that I write wa letter to ah every year pan ih birthday. I go da mass, light a candle and then I come da mi office and write to ah. Now, that ih woulda mi turn 14 this year and ih birthday di come, I find miself the think bout ah even more."
There will also be another book launch tomorrow evening in Belmopan at 5:45 at the National Heritage Library and another launch will be held in San Ignacio on Saturday August 3rd at Wildfire Art Studio on number 1 Waight Street. The book will be available for purchase at the Image Factory, Brodies on Albert Street, and Dakers in Belmopan for $20. By next weekend the book will be available on Amazon.