Mondays at ten is a day and time embedded in eighteen writer’s heart and souls. It is when the Writers’ Circle of St Croix meets, and has done for over thirty years. “Mondays at Ten” is also the name of the fourth anthology published by the group.
Founded by Rosamond Hughes and Emy Thomas, long-time St. Croix residents, the membership ebbs and flows much like the tides around the island. Currently the Writers’ Circle is made up of those ‘bahn’ here and others who got here as soon as they could.
With the rhythm of Monday mornings disrupted by the pandemic, the group has not met in person since March and, loathe to read our words over the impersonal ether avenue, a decision was made that it was time. Time to put together another anthology and, after a great number of titles were bandied around — we are wordsmiths, after all — we settled on the most prophetic — “Mondays at Ten” — because we will meet again.
Next came the vexing question of how. How to choose the best writings from a disparate and distanced group of men and women? As the leader of our group of miscellany, with assistance from Janet Newman and Jeff Anderson, I decided we would make the publication process as real to life as possible. Eighty-three blind submissions went to three selectors, Emy Thomas, founder, journalist and memoirist, Susan Kraeger, co-leader of the Carib Lit Book Club and Lenny James, a poet and essayist. Scoring guidelines awarded points for creativity, plot development, imagery and characterization. Those submissions were whittled down to 50 entries.
There is, though, one extra short story. Written by BR Snow, a prolific writer of cozy mysteries who joined the Writers’ Circle for the twelve months he was on island, but who sadly died shortly after leaving. Bernie Snow was generous with his guidance, gentle with his critiques and humorous to boot. A short story he wrote and read to us is at the end of the anthology, along with a tribute written by Janet Newman.
Stories take readers from a tall tale by Jeff Anderson about extra-terrestrials arriving at the Very Long Baseline Array by Cramer Park to a tropical island fantasy — who knows, it could be St. Croix — by John Booth. A poem by William O’Donnell talks about ‘the duchess’ of Queen Mary Highway. Another, by Judith Lordi, is an ode to the memories of a sister and mother that imbue her garden with serenity and hope. Lenny James recounts an exchange with a fractious toddler at a checkout counter, while shoppers and the mother look on in amazement. Enjoy “Polysandory” by Cynthia McVay, who writes about Isaac, Jack, Sandy and others — for even those familiar with St. Croix, it takes a moment to realize it is a love poem to the beaches.
Included are three short pieces by self-described recovering celebrity dirt-miner, Fran Weinstein about interviewing Bob Hope and others. Moving to a Caribbean island has moments of ‘what have I done’ as well as delight — one such saga is recounted by Harry Bunn. Others recount the aging process, as in Marcy Gelb Delbick’s “The Flip Side of 45,” while Marsha Broussard has traced a family’s roots back from the Louisiana cotton fields to France, turning a genealogical journey into a family fiction.
Jamaican-American writer, Monica Rowe-Abbott, takes us on a trip to Haiti, as well as describing her feelings after the George Floyd tragedy, the latter written in patois. Critically acclaimed novelist, Elizabeth Bartasius, has three short stories included. Helen Engelhardt, an author and poet, is represented, as are Jan Hart, JD Havilland, Dan Lord and Molly Winkelman, who writes of sailing the waters around the Virgin Islands.
Whether fact or fiction, poetry or prose is your favorite genre, “Mondays at Ten” is an anthology depicting life as we know it, and sometimes life as we imagine it. The book is wrapped up in a vivid cover, designed by a Writers’ Circle member, William O’Donnell, and is a stylized banana pod, which brings a clock to mind, arrayed on a Crucian sunset, or maybe it’s dawn. It doesn’t matter, because “Mondays at Ten” showcases the writers’ love of St. Croix and the written word.
“Mondays at Ten” is available on Amazon or at Undercover Books in Gallows Bay and the Caribbean Museum Center for the Arts in Frederiksted.
— Apple Gidley leads The Writers’ Circle of St. Croix and is a novelist. Her books, “Fireburn” and “Transfer,” relate to St. Croix from the 1870s through 1917.