Building Our Own Table: Sandra Sealy
Meet the founder of the Caribbean Writers Facebook group
Today it’s my pleasure to introduce Sandra Sealy, an old friend - and one who has been doing her own work to redress inequity in the writing field by providing a platform for others. We first met more than a decade ago when we were the only Caribbean writers we knew who were online. That’s changed, thanks in no small part to the space she has created. Please meet Sandra Sealy.
Sandra, tell me briefly about your background prior to founding the Caribbean Writers group on Facebook.
I am a multi-genre award-winning writer, author, and multi-passionate cultural practitioner with cultural admin experience at a community and national level, with a background in marketing.
Give me the elevator pitch for Caribbean Writers
Caribbean Writers is a group for Caribbean writers, of course. It started as the main Facebook presence for the Seawoman's Caribbean Writing blog and has become a dynamic entity with close to 2K members from 45+ countries.
And tell me about Caribbean Writers in more detail?
For 14 years, it's been providing a safe space for Caribbean writers (at various levels of experience), lovers of Caribbean literature & those wishing to connect and celebrate each other. The main content focus is industry and regional arts news, publishing and other opportunities and tools highlighting the Caribbean region and the Diaspora.
What inequity were you trying to redress/address, and why is this important?
The group was primarily for literary artists of an under-represented region who needed a space to share/ celebrate/ get inspired/promote and encourage. It was also a space where Caribbean writers could meet potential international readers/ markets seeking/appreciating their work.
It’s crucial that our stories are unapologetically told by ourselves in our tongues, dialects, creole and nation languages – from our contemporary writers and celebrated stalwarts. It’s important that we build and network together.
How’s it going? What has the response been?
There’s been a great response! Even when I may not tend to it from time to time, it continues to grow. Writing can be a lonely pursuit, so people are seeking tribes. I think it's because one of the main planks I insist on is for members to to focus on sharing rather than only promoting their own work.
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What’s next for Caribbean Writers?
I’ll soon be unveiling an updated logo. Plus, since it's a labour of love, I'm working towards monetizing it at a particular level via online branded merchandise (tee shirts etc) in the near future to celebrate the 2K milestone.
I’m also planning the development of courses and associated material, an anthology production in the future, and continued collabs eg. special days of observation like Caribbean Literature Day (July 12th)
In relation to racism, what is your vision for the future?
That ALL arts spaces become havens for self expression without fear of being shut down or banned. As I tell the children I work with as a creative writing tutor, Art expresses truth. If it's effective, it's supposed to make us feel something. We don't have to agree with each POV but we can learn from it.
I’m quite horrified at the growing list of books being banned especially in certain regions of the US. For example, I CANNOT believe that at least TWO of Toni Morrison's books are included - unbelievable!
Thanks, Sandra. Folks, paying attention to the Caribbean Writers group is a great way to find new authors with different perspectives. Please also follow Sandra on LinkedIn and Instagram and check out her other ventures.
© Sharon Hurley Hall, 2022. All Rights Reserved.
I am an anti-racism writer, educator and activist, Head of Anti-Racism at Diverse Leaders Group, and co-host of The Introvert Sisters podcast. If you value my perspective, please consider upgrading to a paid subscription.