Full Bio

ABOUT STEINBERG HENRY

Steinberg HenryI am from the island of Dominica in the Eastern Caribbean. It is wonderful! It is a Republic and is officially known as Commonwealth of Dominica.
It is usually described geographically as being located or positioned between the French departments of Guadeloupe to the north and Martinique to the south. Find reference to that sentient geography and geology in chapter 5 of my 2011 publication titled “An Unassuming Love.” You’ll find the lines that say “It is a rock in Earth’s geologic scheme of things, once described, along with its other sisters/brothers, as a linking-bead in the chain of islands, a connect in the archipelago.” Like my father, I find the island fascinating every time.

Fred Alpheus Colberg Henry was a village historian and my mother Daisy Augusta Andrew an accountant at Geest Industries, Portsmouth Branch, northern Dominica. To tell you who my father was, I must tell you the story of Michel Rolph-Trouillot, the Haitian cultural anthropologist who in the foreword to his spectacular “Peasants and Capital: Dominica in the World Economy,” described Fred Henry as his “most respected critic. He led in cultural anthropology at Johns Hopkins University.

My mother’s life narrative can be found in my first publication titled “As She Returns” which I launched in 2009. At the time, it was fraught with typos and in 2016 – 2017, I took the book out of circulation and rewrote it, giving it chapter headings given my newly-acquired skills working with screen readers and keeping in mind those who are visually impaired and who wish to access my work. My mother was visually impaired in the latter years of her life. She died at 81.

“As She Returns” has been retitled “As She Returns Now” and surely, I will tell you when it is available

Around 2010, my sight began to blur. In the midst of that transformation I wrote “An Unassuming Love: Black Memory, A Traveloguer And Cricket” which was launched in 2011 at the Metropolitan Cricket Club, Lithonia, Georgia. “An Unassuming Love” shatters perception or ways of seeing — it frequently disconnects and connects, shifting from subject to subject matter only to finally connect again. It is my secret text, since it is so coded!

In 2014, “Calypso Drift” was launched. Part One and those to follow, arose out of a need that I had to find sense of archiving history in Dominican calypsos and other existing genres such as Cadence-Lypso and Bouyon. During earlier days of my research, Dominica’s “Robin” Alleyne helped me source a few wonderful songs, but it occurred to me that in the next thirty years somebody would just need to trace — and remember I wrote trace – lyrics from songs of the past. And, while that past would include those songs of the 1950s and before as sung in the chante mas, it became clearer to me that those emerging compositions in and of the 1980s and beyond, especially those after 2000 were going to be seminal to the structuring of any coherent cultural and social history of Dominica in the future . Song keeps history safe!

In between those adventures, smaller projects continue to break out, burgeon and /or suggest themselves. These smaller projects are likely to become the stuff, the essence of my life story — clearly speaking to the human spirit and in tones of alacrity encouraging and supporting all who cross my path.

I have four gracious children, six grandchildren, two brothers and two sisters. In 2017, my wife Jeanne and I celebrated our thirty-sixth wedding anniversary.

And of course, my loved-ones are exceptional human beings. Not only do they constitute my writing and editing team; like Frances Peter, they guide me and look in and out for me. Selah!

BRIEF WRITING HISTORY
I took to writing at any significant length around 2003 when I began recording my interests in songs and what they said about the society in which they were produced. I was in New York then; the new arrivant fascinated as usual with body movement, communication, material science, trains and architecture.

But my mind was in Dominica — my thoughts emerged with ideas Dominican in an American context. I had no choice but to move between these two fields, these two texts, each with its own attractions. As the 21st Century advanced, communications technologies became central to its articulation and, between Dominica, the Caribbean and North America where I was positioned, a literary map began to be codified using these technologies to watch, listen, record, find and share.

And though writing for real unfolded in New York’s artistic environment, seeds were sown in my consciousness in another time by another caring people. I think this happened before I was six and seven years. And who can doubt power in and of those teachers who taught me up to twelve years? That’s collective history to be audio-recorded, and filmed given current social media archives that persons keep in photographs. Another story, another archive I gather.

Hey, between 1968 and 1974 while at Dominica Grammar School, I think I read excellent literature with Josephine Josephs, Alwin Bully and one teacher who dressed like a Muslim then though we did not think Muslim in 1972 – 1973. I think his name was Newton Shillingford. He taught us Sherlock Holmes and his character’s “heavy bands of astrakhan … strapped across his double-breasted coat.” Ha-ha! Well, we also read William Shakespeare’s “Macbeth,” William Golding’s “Lord Of The Flies,” and Charles Dickens “Great Expectations.” We didn’t read V S Naipaul, Earl Lovelace or even George Lamming, not to mention Edward Brathwaite.

I must’ve written cool lines then, because while at Dominica Grammar School, chief psychiatrist at Princess Margaret Hospital Dr. John Royer would invite me to read poems whenever the psychiatric unit held its annual concert. John Royer understood then the vital role that social relations played in the wellbeing of patients deemed mentally ill or imbalanced.

I must tell you that in 1973, at the end of my stint in Four Technical at dominica Grammar School, I received a copy of George Lamming’s “Water With Berries” for what they called then “good performance” Yes, there was technical then. Chapters 27 and 28 in my 2014 publication “Calypso Drift” says a bit about those times.

After having left high school, I discovered the beauty and wisdom in and of my father. He taught me everything. To this day, all I have to do is formalize it. Yes, even while both of us were in Dominica we wrote letters. My love for writing, searching and researching grew and developed throughout my years with him …

While employed as teacher between 1974 and 1977, he exposed me to so many wonderful texts, ideas and practices in everyday life that writing this now, flows his energy to my fingers. It is sign of the abundant and he in his humility has told me often that father/son relationships are beautiful to write, to record.

During that time while I taught at both St. John’s Primary and Portsmouth Secondary, I read poems on radio on a weekly show. This encouraged me to write even while I entered fields of adventure in knowing from my father’s literature selections in French and English and, with brothers such as Irvin Knight, Clement James, Maurice Prince, Stafford Waldron and Augustus Williams. Portsmouth was a vibrant intellectual and creative space then in music, dance, literature, religious and political debates and the influences that came with a seaport touching the islands of Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados, Grenada and the Grenadines to the south and those along the northern archipelago.

And after having written teaching methodologies, letters, poems and private essays, I delved into doing radio — writing on the airwaves. At that time a few friends were calling on me to publish; little did they realize, I was writing each day on the electromagnetic spectrum! I even read at Dominica’s historic 47-day strike in 1977.

Having graduated from the Caribbean Institute of Media and Communication in 1984, I took to producing radio and television features and documentaries, writing poetic prose into their very bodies!

During the late 1980s while a graduate at University of Windsor, I experimented at a few recitals.

“Calypso Drift” emerged from traces in a Master’s thesis written at that said university, though the mass of reflections uncovered in its 500 pages represent a radical interior gaze and attempts at looking at historic property, albeit intellectual in song lyrics.

I wanted to archive, as I refer to the process of writing, aspects of Dominica’s song-culture as represented in calypso for generations to come. One day somebody is going to want to know who were these songpoets, what did they sing, how did they dance, what did their lyrics say about the society, who were the bands, the musicians, what did they use as instruments, who were the commentators, the sponsors and, how did the people dress, comment on song and fight for their favourite songpoet.

It seems vague now, but over the decades the precious need for remembering these lyrical and melodious moments will call out to those moderns, these iGens, and appeal to them to use their technologies to find, uncover, discover and indeed recover!

In 2011, I published a book titled “An Unassuming Love: Black Memory, A Traveloguer & Cricket.” This 171-page book is a West Indian/Caribbean code. I wrote it when I was not thinking about writing. It therefore emerged effortlessly and I love it!. It provokes a culture of linearity and objectivity while advancing an inclusive African/West Indian/Caribbean identity. Sacred messages are hidden within its lines.

“As She Returns,” was my first publication in America. It is my mother’s story and in great measure, mine. It is the narrative that binds me to her and simultaneously reveals me to me. It constitutes the genesis of my advocacy — early methods for intervening into the disability discourse with my mother counseling that if you’re going to speak about this gene thing you should speak gently. Its content is great, but at the time it was fraught with errors. I have since re-written the book and it is due for a second publishing soon.

My books are always in three formats: paperback, hard cover and electronically —

The e book versions of my books are accessible to all, particularly those who’re visually impaired and use screen readers. You, using tablets, kindles and those accessible technologies to come should find the e book beautiful!

Those to be published will surely continue to be increasingly accessible. This is my business. I hope you find this site navigation-friendly!